In the exegesis of the Qur`anic verse, “You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind” [3: 110], Abu Huraira [may Allah be pleased with him] said, “The best of peoples for the people, as you bring them chained by their necks till they embrace Islam.” Is this the true exegesis for the verse in question?
This non-prophetic tradition by Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) is one of the numerous forms of benevolence ascribed to the Islamic nation even at times of war when Muslims are forced to defend themselves. The tradition discusses the relationship between Muslims and war captives. When Muslims go to war to ward off aggression, this war results in captives. Although many nations kill war captives without hesitation, the mercy of Islam does not dictate their killing but gives them the opportunity to live under the shade of Islam in spite of their aggression against Muslims. Once they taste the greatness and beauty of this religion and the forgiveness and clemency from a position of power it prescribes, they will hasten to embrace it in multitudes. Abu Huraira (may God be pleased with him) expresses his amazement at the greatness of Islam which admits aggressors turned war captives into Paradise.
And God the Almighty knows best