By Ebru Altan
Freedom of thought and expression are an essential part of contemporary constitutional democracies, and a human right. It is essential that freedom of thought and expression, one of the most important rights of all people, no matter what their nationality, ethnicity or religion, be protected under the law.
In order for individuals in society to be regarded as “free”, they need to be free to express their ideas and feelings. People in societies where democracy prevails enjoy that freedom and can openly express their innermost feelings and thoughts.
Depriving people of freedom of expression will certainly give rise to a fearful, insecure and stunted structure because people will only be happy, healthy and productive when they are free to express their ideas as they wish, but when they encounter any restriction on that, they will inevitably lose their joy and happiness and ability to create, work and produce.
Democracy; the system that ensures internal harmony in society
The health of a society begins with democracy. Indeed, democracy will bring love, respect, tolerance, union, unity and brotherhood, bestow rights and freedoms such as social justice and equality, provide the people with a dynamic life and enhance the quality of that life.
People are created such as to seek a democratic environment in which ideas are respected. Allah has shown all mankind, through the books He has sent down from His presence and through the prophets, the paths of democracy, freedom of ideas and respect for opinions. Fundamental concepts such as tolerance, justice, love, respect, security and altruism which we encounter in the teachings of the prophets represent the essence of democracy and freedom of ideas. It is therefore fitting to say that democracy lies at the heart of the Islamic faith. The faith foresees an environment filled with peace in which everyone can live in freedom and freely express his opinions. All compulsion is strictly prohibited in Islam; everyone must be free to express his opinions and must not be persecuted on account of them. People must not be victimized because of their ideas and those espousing different ideologies and views must not be despised. Democracy also embodies these commandments in the faith and wants people to be free, psychologically comfortable, happy and at peace and to live in equality, love, peace and brotherhood. This perspective can only prevail in any society when people live by religious moral values. For example, social justice, the fundamental principle of democracy, can only be truly present in an environment in which the moral virtues commanded by religion prevail. The concept of justice, another core principle of democracy, is also something enjoined by religion. Our Prophet’s (saas) just and affectionate attitude toward both Muslims and people of other faiths, languages, races and peoples and equal treatment of everyone, regardless of whether they were rich or poor, represents the finest example of the concept of democracy.
A democratic environment is only possible with Islamic moral values
In Western countries, what comes to mind when the Islamic faith is mentioned is a bloodthirsty model devoid of the concepts of love, respect, compassionate, tolerance and democracy; that is against art, science and beauty and desires war. There is indeed a fanatical element that is responsible for Westerners coming to these false conclusions about the faith, and these fanatics do not abide by the affectionate, compassionate and kind moral structure that respects the opinions of others as Islam commands, but they nevertheless declare themselves to be “devout.” Millions of people therefore have a false impression of Islam and may regard it, may Allah forbid, as a religion that hinders rights and freedoms, that places limitations on art and science and that controls people’s ideas. The fact is, however, that Islam is a faith that bestows the freedom to think and express themselves on people and that protects their rights of all kinds. Several verses in the Holy Qur’an make this perfectly clear:
There is no compulsion where the deen is concerned. Right guidance has become clearly distinct from error. Anyone who rejects false gods and has iman in Allah has grasped the Firmest Handhold, which will never give way. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
(Surat al-Baqara, 256)
- So remind them!You are only a reminder.
- You are not in control of them.
- (Surat al-Ghashiyah, 21-22)
Say: ‘It is the truth from your Lord; so let whoever wishes have faith and whoever wishes be a disbeliever.’ (Surat al-Kahf, 29)
- Say: ‘Disbelievers!
- I do not worship what you worship
- and you do not worship what I worship.
- Nor will I worship what you worship
- nor will you worship what I worship.
- You have your religion and I have my religion.’
- (Surat al-Kafirun, 1-6)
The aim of a true Muslim is to possess the moral virtues commanded by Allah, and to live by and preach the faith as Allah teaches. And it is certain that when people live by the moral virtues commanded by Allah in a flawless manner, the long-awaited democratic environment will at ounce flourish across the world.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://fbcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/p480x480/7448_638109096217569_1904337306_n.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Ebru was born in Istanbul, graduated from the Bogazici University Business Administration Department. She is a regular TV host on A9 TV where she discusses subjects such as the origin of life, paleontology and the fossil record, genetics and biology on a daily basis. Her goal is to help bring about world peace, by presenting scientific evidence to intellectually refute those ideologies that cause war and conflict.[/author_info] [/author]