The Western media tends to support the claim that Islam was spread by the sword not voluntary conversion. Here is what one student wrote in my INTL 5265 Middle East Studies class: "I understand that it is a contentious point in the west, but only in public and media spheres, not so much in academic ones. Those who are familiar with the history of Islam know that Muslim armies never reached Indonesia, east and West Africa for examples. The existence of Christian and Jewish communities (their numbers started dwindling only in recent history) in predominantly Muslim countries also denotes coexistence between Abrahamic communities was congenial. From a theological perspective, one of the most important tenets of Islam, as you know, is the notion of “intention;” no act – prayer, charity, fasting, hajj, etc - is accepted in Islam without a firm announced intent behind it. No one can forcibly be converted to Islam. With that said, I do agree that Muslim soldiers, much like any other armies, were guilty of atrocious transgressions during wars, to include forcible conversion. Those transgressions – labeled “war crimes” today - were condemned by Islamic scholars and jurists. There is plenty in the Coran and Hadith to support that condemnation. "