The following are excerpts from a lecture by Saudi Cleric 'Aed Al-Qarni, aired by Iqra TV on May 1, 2005.
'Aed Al-Qarni: When the Prophet Muhammad sent 'Ali to the Jews, the brothers of apes and pigs, he sent him to fight them. 'Ali, due to his bravery, courage, and fearlessness, thought it was all about cutting heads off. So the Prophet explained to him that there was something more important than killing them, and that is guiding them to the path of righteousness, and the goal is to draw them to Islam, so they convert to Islam, thus increasing the number of Muslims. We must show them the way to paradise before we slaughter them. This is the mission of Prophet Muhammad.
By Allah, if you guide a Jew or a Christian to the path of righteousness, it is better than slaughtering one or two thousand of them on the battlefield.