Go to homepage
A. J. Toynbee, CIVILIZATION ON TRIAL, New York, 1948, p. 205: "The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam, and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue."
Latest Announcements:
Welcome to this new site, aimed at explaining Islam accurately for non-Muslims
List All Articles
Download Pack of 26 Leaflets
Search Articles:
Categories:
What Muslims Believe
Islam Explained
An Invitation to Think
Challenging Myths
 
Decrease Text Size ="Increase
Islam, Muslims and Free speech

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. Robert Briffault in the "Making of Humanity" [1] states the following:

"For Although there is not a single aspect of European growth in which the decisive influence of Islamic Culture is not traceable, nowhere is it so clear and momentous as in the genesis of that power which constitutes the permanent distinctive force of the modern world, and the supreme source of its victory, natural science and the scientific spirit The debt of our science to that of the Arabs does not consist in startling discoveries or revolutionary theories, science owes a great deal more to Arab culture, it owes its existence."

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 Muhammad , 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 wantonly insulting each other, is not practiced when it comes to Islam these days.

The Quran and the example of The Prophet Muhammad , encourage thinking and debate.

"Invite to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful speech; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious. For your Lord knows best who have strayed from His Path and who receive guidance." (Quran chapter 16, verse 25)

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 Shariah texts and has been written about by many scholars. The Prophet 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. This is aptly put by the Quran itself:

And insult not those whom they worship besides Allah, lest they insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge. Thus We have made fair-seeming to each people its own doings; then to their Lord is their return and He shall then inform them of all that they used to do." (Quran chapter 6, verses 108)

References:^
[1] Robert Briffault, "The Making of Humanity," London, 1938.
Categories: Challenging Myths, Islam Explained, | Tags: freedom, free speech,

The following articles are also linked to this article:
science: Islam and Natural Sciences Allah (God) says in the Quran: Travel through the earth and see how Allah originated creation; so will Allah produce the second creation (of the Afterlife): for Allah has power over all things. (Qu...
science, medicine: Islam and Medicine During the crusades, Europe at last began to establish hospitals that were inspired by the Arabs of near East.... The first hospital in Paris, Les Quinze-vingt, was founded by Louis IX after his retu...
science: The Quran and Science The suggestion that religion is at odds with science is, and always has, been alien to Islam. Nevertheless, it is a notion that has become prevalent within society today, largely due to historical exp...
spirit: Spirituality in Islam Islam has a unique view on spirituality, as it encompasses all aspects of the Muslim's life. Islam doesn't view 'spirituality' separately from everyday activities. All actions that...
science: Islam and Astronomy Islam invites man to reflect upon life and to study the Universe. The Arab society before Islam was in a state of complete decline and ignorance. They were a people who, despite many good qualities of...
jihad: What is Jihad? Never has there been a word more misrepresented in the media than Jihad. Humans have been fighting and killing each other for millennia, developing ever more effective ways and enhancing technology to...
intellectual: The Qurans Challenge And if you doubt any part of what We have revealed, upon Our servant [Muhammad], then produce a surah of its like, and call upon any other than Allah to bear witness for you - if what you say is true...
Shariah: Is there any good example of a state that implements Shariah today? With so much talk about Shariah in the news, a natural question to ask is Is there a Muslim country which implements Shariah now? Tabloid newspapers often say that if Muslims dont like living in th...
intellectual: To believe in a Creator is perfectly rational And He has made the night and the day and the sun and the moon subservient [to His laws,so that they be of use] to you; and all the stars are subservient to His command: in this, behold, there are me...
Shariah: What is Shariah? When the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the Anglican Church, suggested that some aspects of Shariah law should be incorporated into British law a tirade of criticism was launched at ...
secular: Islam and Secularism Democracy is a system of government where political power is said to be held by the people and exercised by citizens through their elected representatives. As humans make mistakes, it is considered th...
The Prophet, Muhammad: The Final Prophet "The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the believers. Each one of them believes in God, His angels, His books, and His Messengers. They say: 'We make no dis...
chapter: Can the Quran be translated? The Quran was sent down in the Arabic language from Allah to Muhammad with the angel Jibreel (Gabriel) as the messenger. It is the direct speach of Allah , so it cannot be considered Allah's wor...
intellectual: Belief through thinking Each religion has its own position regarding how one comes to believe and, as such, instructs its followers to come to believe according to this way as the optimum way.Islam also directs people on thi...
Various symobols or Arabic text appear on these pages, e.g. and . If you would like to know their meaning, please click here.
If you have a question or comment, then please contact us. Not all emails will be answered, however, if your comments lend themselves to serious debate, then you should expect a reply within a few days.
Cached: 21/8/2009 at 11:24