Freedom of Thought in Islam

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The world we live in contains societies with all kinds of beliefs.  Muslims living in such a world must be respectful towards all beliefs they come up against, no matter what they may be, and behave forgivingly, justly and humanely. This responsibility placed on believers is to invite people to the beauty of the religion of Allah by means of peace and compassion.

Islam is a religion which provides and guarantees freedom of ideas, thought and life. It has issued commands to prevent and forbid tension, disputes, slander and even negative thinking among people. In the same way that it is determinedly opposed to terrorism and all acts of violence, it has also forbidden even the slightest ideological pressure to be put on them. 

Forcing people to believe in a religion or to adopt its forms of belief is completely contrary to the essence and spirit of Islam. That is because according to Islam, true faith is only possible with free will and freedom of conscience. Of course, Muslims can advise and encourage each other about the features of Qur’anic morality. All believers are charged with explaining Qur’anic morality to people in the nicest manner possible. They will explain the beauties of religion in the light of the verse, “Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair admonition...” (Surat an-Nahl, 125), however, they must also bear in mind the verse, “You are not responsible for their guidance, but Allah guides whoever He wills.” (Surat al-Baqara, 272) 

They will never resort to compulsion, nor any kind of physical or psychological pressure. Neither will they use any worldly privilege to turn someone towards religion. When they receive a negative response to what they say, Muslims will reply along the lines of: “To you your religion, and to me, mine” (Surat al-Kafirun, 6) 

The world we live in contains societies with all kinds of beliefs: Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, deist and even pagan. Muslims living in such a world must be respectful towards all beliefs they come up against, no matter what they may be, and behave forgivingly, justly and humanely. This responsibility placed on believers invites people to the beauty of the religion of Allah by means of peace and compassion. The decision whether or not to implement these truths, whether or not to believe, lies with the other party. Forcing that person to believe, or trying to impose anything on him, is a violation of Qur’anic morality. 

A model of society in which people are forced to worship is completely contradictory to Islam. Belief and worship are only of any value when they are directed to Allah by the free will of the individual. If a system imposes belief and worship on people, then they will become religious out of fear of that system. From the religious point of view, what really counts is that religion should be lived for Allah’s good pleasure in an environment where peoples’ consciences are totally free.
 

Allah Has Made The Killing Of Innocent People Unlawful 

According to the Qur'an, one of the greatest sins is to kill a human being who has committed no fault: 

...If someone kills another person - unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth - it is as if he had murdered all mankind. And if anyone gives life to another person, it is as if he had given life to all mankind. Our Messengers came to them with Clear Signs but even after that many of them committed outrages in the earth. (Surat al-Ma'ida: 32) 

As we can see in the verses above, those who kill innocent human beings without a cause are threatened with evil punishment. Allah has revealed that killing one person is as great a sin as killing all mankind. Anyone who respected the prerogatives of Allah would not do harm to even one individual, let alone murdering thousands of innocent people. Those who think that they will escape justice and punishment in this world will never escape the account they must give in the Presence of Allah on the Last Day. So, those believers who know they will give an account to Allah after their death, will be very careful about respecting the limits Allah has established.
 

Allah Commands Believers To Be Compassionate And Merciful 

In this verse, Muslim morality is explained: 

...To be one of those who believe and urge each other to steadfastness and urge each other to compassion. Those are the Companions of the Right. (Surat al-Balad: 17-18) 

As we see in this verse, one of the most important moral precepts that Allah has sent down to His servants so that they may receive salvation and mercy and attain Paradise, is to "urge each other to compassion". 

The true source of compassion is love of Allah. A person's love of Allah gives rise to his feeling love for the things He has created. Someone who loves Allah feels a direct link and closeness to the things He has created. This strong love and closeness he feels for the Lord, Who created him and all mankind, leads him to display a pleasing morality, as commanded in the Qur'an. True compassion emerges as he lives by this morality. 

This high level of morality that is demanded from believers, described in the Qur'an, stems from their deep love of Allah. Thanks to their devotion to Him, they scrupulously abide by the morality revealed by Him in the Qur'an. Believers never try to make people feel indebted because of the compassion they demonstrate and the help they offer people, and do not even expect to be thanked. Their true aim is to try to gain Allah's good pleasure by means of the morality they exhibit, because they know that they will be called to account for that morality on the Day of Judgement.
 

Allah Has Commanded Compassion And Forgiveness 

Surat al-A'raf, verse 199, which says "practice forgiveness", expresses the concept of forgiveness and compassion which is one of the basic principles of the religion of Islam. 

When we look at Islamic history, we can see clearly how Muslims established this important precept of the moral teaching of the Qur'an in their social life. At every point in their advance, Muslims destroyed unlawful practices and created a free and compassionate environment. In the areas of religion, language and culture, they made it possible for people totally opposite to each other to live under the same roof in freedom and peace, thereby giving to those subject to them the advantages of knowledge, wealth and position. Likewise, one of the most important reasons that the large and widespread Ottoman Empire was able to sustain its existence for so many centuries was that its way of life was directed by the compassion and understanding brought by Islam. For centuries Muslims have been characterized by their respect and compassion. In every period of time they have been the most just and merciful of people. All ethnic groups within this multi-national community freely practiced the religions they have followed for years and enjoyed every opportunity to live in their own cultures and worship in their own way. 

All this shows that the moral teaching offered to humanity by Islam is one that will bring peace, happiness and justice to the world. The horror that is happening in the world today under the name of "Islamic Terrorism" is completely removed from the moral teachings of the Qur'an; it is the work of ignorant, bigoted people, criminals who have nothing to do with religion. The solution which will be applied against these individuals and groups who are trying to commit their deeds of savagery under the guise of Islam, will be the instruction of people in the true moral teaching of Islam. 

In other words, the religion of Islam and the moral teaching of the Qur'an are not the supporters of terrorism and the terrorists, but the remedy by which the world can be saved from the scourge of terrorism. 


2010-10-22 13:05:17

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