Assalaamu alaikum [peace be to you],
I'd like to make a few articles about Islam and free speech in order to provide an Islamic and Muslim perspective on the issue.
Islam has a history of over a thousand years of intellectual and scientific and progress. When Europe was in the ‘Dark Ages’ the Islamic society produced scholars that were to become the reference points for medicine , chemistry, mathematics, architecture and many other fields of science and engineering. According to historians of science , the Muslims were the cause for bringing Europe out of the darkness of ignorance.
freedom of speech, however, is not a necessity for progress and development. This is an assumption based upon Europe’s historical struggle against the Church that prevented intellectual progress and investigation. Muslims do not have the same historical baggage.
However, freedom of speech in its pure meaning, the unrestricted expression of oneself, does not actually exist, cannot exist and one would be dishonest or deluded to imagine it really does exist. If we examine Western secular states who advocate freedom of speech we can see that it has never existed. There are many restrictions; for example there are hate speech laws, defamation laws, libel laws etc. In reality people can express themselves within the context of the law, and not with the unrestricted freedom that is often implied in the media.
But, this illustrates a contradiction when Islam and Muslims are attacked under the banner of freedom of speech. There are laws in place to prevent offending religious minorities such as Jews, but no similar level of protection for others. Take the Danish cartoons insulting The Prophet Mohammed –peace be upon him-, as an example. If such cartoons characterising holocaust denial were produced they would be viewed as incisive and potentially prosecutions would follow. When it came to the Muslims it was a different story.
Even if one were to ignore the apparent contradictions, it can be argued that civilised society cannot engage with one another positively if anyone can say whatever they want. Initiating dialogue by abusing one another will not produce positive results. The norms of civility that prevent people from insulting each other, is not practiced when it comes to Islam these days.
The Qur’an and the example of The Prophet Mohammed –peace be upon him-, encourage questioning, rational thinking and debate. There are also many evidences that do not simply ‘allow’ accounting political authority, rather they positively oblige it upon each and every Muslim. The Islamic concept of ‘enjoining what is good’ and ‘forbidding what is evil’ is a well known matter from Sharee’ah texts and has been written about by many scholars. The Prophet –peace be upon him- once said: ”The best jihad is the word of truth to the tyrant ruler”. This must be done, and can be done by individuals, political groups, or an independent media. This is all reflected in our history and scholarship.
However, abuse, slander, gossip and unrestricted forms of expression that create hatred, discourage true dialogue, and generally degrade society is not allowed to the one who believes in Islam.
... to be continued, in sha'Allah [God willing]...from [link] with some changes
I hope this was beneficial.
Feel free to comment, agree or disagree. but if I see you using freedom of speech as a cover to make disrespectful and rude comments, direct insults to the prophet Mohammed -peace be upon him- or any prophet of God, and/or attempts to insult the Almighty God, then I'll use my freedom to click "flagged as spam" and "block this user".
If I'm right, it's from the God almighty. If I'm wrong, it's from myself.