Question- When one reads history, they see that Islam and the Muslims waged many wars against others and that this was the teaching of Muhammad. When we look at Jesus, we see him teaching to spread his message with love and peace. Yes, I know that later the church digressed from this but that was their mistake. So how do you beleive in such a violent intolerent religion?
Answer- Bear with us, you've asked a big mutli-faceted question.
First of all, it is clear to me that you have only read about Islam from those who disbelieve in it and/or have an agenda against it. Would it be prudent for me to ask a Jew about Christianity? He will tell me one of two stories written in their holy talmud (keep in mind it is prophecies in Jewish books kept and recorded by Jewish Rabbis through which Christians trace their roots). He will tell you one of two stories-
1- This radical rabbi named Jesus strayed from Judaism and began build upon a big lie that he was the messiah. The large majority of the Jews (especially the rabbi's) pronounced him a liar and rejected him and finally for his heresy and mischief they sought to have him killed.
2- The other Talmudic story defends as to why they admitt some Jews followed him- He was a Rabbi who went mad traveled to Egypt where he learned sorcery and came back converting the people with his magic.
First of all I would like to help you to the truth as I myself was born in the west and was similarly brain-washed by the submliminal pre 9/11 anti-Islamic messages there as well as the outright openly bigoted post 9/11 era in the states. I personally know many converts to Islam who also began their search trying to clear up this dirty image which was painted in thier minds as a result of the history cirriculums in school, western/orientalist books on Islam, and the media in general.
The reality is that there were wars fought by Muslims and most of them by the just command of God very few of which were tyrannic conquering seeking power and wealth. The question you may be thinking of is why??? Well before answering that, we need to clear up another western born misconception which appeared in your question- The claim that Christianity spread by love, peace, and doves. This is an outright lie, the only reason Christianity is the worlds largest religion is because a Roman caeser called Constantine became Christian. Many converted with him simply for the fact that he is a symbol of the great Roman empire and in addition to that, through time there were many people torchered, killed, or expelled from the empire for rejecting the "prince of peace". After that, the blood bath of forced conversions and intolerance continued with the crusades. After failing to regain Palestine from the Muslims, Europe began many colonial/imperial missions accross Africa, Asia, and what is now called the America's. They forced their culture, religion and language upon these unsuspecting innocent people. The proof in this is that the official country language in many western and southern African and Eastern and South Asian countries is English or French and Spanish is the language of South America. That is not their mother tongue and it was made the official long before the modern empire of America and commonality of the english language.
As far as the bible is concerned, I've always had a hard time understanding the texts and their various explanations of Deuteronomy 20:10-17, 1 Samuel 15:2-3, Matt 10:34-36 as well as Luke 19:27 to name a few.
To answer the question I asked, which was a part of your question- Why did the Muslims figh in many wars?
When the Prophet (pbuh) was miraculously blessed with the amazing turn of hearts and conversion of the hostile Pagan Makkans after years of being attacked, tortured, oppressed, and sanctioned by them. God instructed the Prophet (pbuh) to send letters to the surrounding powers inviting them to Islam and testing the waters before entering these lands to call to the path of the Almighty. This is similar to how Moses did to Pharoah. Well, the Christian Byzantine king murdered the messenger whom the Prophet (pbuh) sent and then sent his headless body back to the Prophet (pbuh). The Persian Emperor became outraged and cursed the letter-bearer and told him that if it wasn't against ineternational practice he would have him mutilated. Instead he cussed the Muslim letter-bearer and claimed that the Arabs are merely slaves to the Persians and that He will send an army to have the Prophet seized, humiliated and prisoned. On the other hand, the Egyptian Chrisitan king sent a respectful no but thank you message while sending three beautiful maidervants as a nice gesture. The Ethiopian (Abyssinian) king voiced his will to embrace Islam, yet secretly because he feared what the church might do to him.
So as a result of this scenerio, the Prophet immeadiately sent armies to the closest and most clear threat which was the Byzantines who showed no respect. After the death of the Prophet (1 year after that), His successor in authority over the Islamic state and not in Prophethood, started sending armies to wage an all out war on both hostile powers in Persia and Byzantium who obviously will not allow a peaceful mission of spreading Islam in their lands. You must understand that- back then- the world was made up of empires and nomad lands. No borders and no free democracies. The world was in a perpetual state of war. So if the leader shows hostility to a group before they come, then you can garauntee that if entering these places they can expect all kinds of trouble unless they can take over the political authority of these lands.
And yes another miracle happened, these nomad Muslim warriors for the spread of truth and justice who were way outmanned and out-equipped toppled the Persian empire and Byzantine (half of the roman empire) in less than 50 years. They didn't force religion on anyone as there is a well known juristic principle of making a contract of a tax in return for freedom of like, religion, and trade in the Muslim lands for all non-Muslim believers in God (ahle-dhimmah). Throughout the centuries, it was the morals, uprightedness, and justice of islam and its law that attracted most of these people to become Muslim. So it is the opposite of what you thought. No one could say it is our history books agianst yours.
My two undisputable proofs are in the fact that accross the Muslim world you can find beautiful ancient churches and temples which are traced back to before the Muslim rule. Case in point Jerusalem, Bethleham, and Nazereth. There are 30 million orthodox/catholic Arabs accross the Middle East today whose roots go back also before the Muslim domination of these lands. This is roughly 10% of the Arab world. Secondly, there was never a war fought by the muslims anywhere near indonesia. Indonesia is the most densely populated Muslim country of close to 200 million Muslims whose ancestors learned of Islam through traders and merchants from the arabian Gulf.
If your thinking that this guy is a biased brainwashed muslim (hopefully you don't think I would lie which is a big sin in Islam). Here are some sincere fair historians with no agenda. Either unbiased atheists or real christians who tell the truth.
"History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam a the point of a sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated." (by: De lacy O'Leary "Islam at the crossroads" pg.8)
"The more important factor for the spread of Islam is its (just) religious law (shariah) which was designed to cover all manefestations of life" (Franz Rosenthal, "Political thought in Medievil Islam" pg. 21 cambidge press)
Feel free to get the book "The Spread of Islam in the World- A histroy of peaceful preaching" by sir Thomas Arnold.