The myth of Islam as a religion of the sword

Seeing the protests resulting in the burning of the Danish Embassy about the cartoons got me thinking of the Muslim Heritage website and the following section:

“Qu’ran III, 128: God has said `…. and those among men who pardon others, and God loves those who act rightly.’

“Aggression or violence by the use of the sword and Islam are nearly always depicted as co-existent. History though, reveals the complete opposite. From the early stages of Islam and during the whole of history of the Caliphate, it has usually followed the sunnah policy of general leniency, to all, especially the defeated. Hence, the entry of the Prophet (PBUH) in Makka was followed as Scott says: `with a magnanimity unequalled in the annals of war, a general amnesty was proclaimed and but four persons, whose offences were considered unpardonable, suffered the penalty of death.’

“Davenport narrates how in the early stages of Islam, the Prophet (PBUH) sent a messenger to the governor of Bossa, near Damascus, who was taken prisoner and murdered by the Christian leader. Three thousand Muslim men were duly equipped for retribution. The Prophet exhorted them to display their courage in the cause of The Most High. At the same time, however, he enjoined them to collect their booty not from the ordinary people, but from the public treasuries of the conquered state:

“In avenging my injuries, said he, `molest not the harmless votaries of domestic seclusion; spare the weakness of the softer sex, the infant at the breast, and those who, in the course of nature, are hastening from this scene of mortality. Abstain from demolishing the dwellings of the unresisting inhabitants, and destroy not the means of subsistence; respect their fruit trees, do not injure the palm, so useful to Syria for its shade and so delightful for its verdure.” The Prophet (PBUH)