The question roots from the different views among the Muslim jurists about the basic conception of the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims in Islamic perspective. Such questions include: is the relationship built upon a peace, with the understanding that war is conditional? or is the relationship based on war, with the understanding that peace is an incidental?
Islamic scholars proposing the first view argue that fighting infidels is to defend Islam since they are fighting or disturbing Muslims. Such case is jihad al-daf‘’ (defensive jihad). In contrary, the Ulama said that the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims on the basis of war. They argue that fighting the infidels was due to their infidelity (kufr). They propose jihad al-thalab (offensive jihad). In addition, some orientalists suggest that Islam spreads by the sword. Strangely, there are many Muslims who urge the need to be aggressive in spreading Islam. Then why agree with the Orientalists?
In my opinion, the first view justifies best. The war that was carried out by Muhammad was on the basis of defensive jihad or because of particular reasons. Not merely to force and conquer the world to convert to Islam. These are my consideration to choose defensive jihad.
a) A juristic consensus (ijma’) that Islam doesn’t justify killing women, priests (non-Muslim religious leaders) and especially children in warfare. If the label of infidelity represents a cause of war, of course, all of them must be killed, especially the priests. It turned out that Muslims were even banned from doing so.
b) The war verses in the Qur’an are not absolute (Mutlaq), but Muqayyad, meaning limited and associated with certain causes. For instance, we can go to war only against one who attacks us first or in terms of self-defense. So, if the infidels ask for peace, the Qur’an commands to accept it.
c) The Qur’an encourages Muslims to establish good relations with infidels who do not fight and expell Muslims away, as mentioned in Surah 60 (Al-Mumtahanah): 8-9 and 4:90.
“Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” (Quran Surah Al-Mumtahanah: 8)
“..And if Allah had willed, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you. So if they remove themselves from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not made for you a cause [for fighting] against them.” (Quran Surah An-Nisa’: 90)
In conclusion, the basic concept of the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims, is based on the peace, not the war to force them to convert to Islam. This is clearly contradictory to the Quran:
“And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed – all of them entirely. Then, [O Muhammad], would you compel the people in order that they become believers?” (Quran Surah Yunus: 99)