Freedom of Choice
1. “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” (Al-Qur’an, 2, 256)
2. Religious freedom for non-Muslims in the Islamic state,
3. Judgement concerning apostasy,
Man’s energy is limited, and if he dissipates that energy in imbibing pleasures and carnal desires, nothing will be left to serve the cause of truth and the doing of good. When we apply these observations to the present civilization we would say that the human mind sometimes seems to be employed for positive constructive ends, which is good and admirable; but such activities as may lead to suffering, regression, psychoses and physical harm should be condemned, because they are the result of breaking loose of desires and pleasure.
It is for this reason that we say with confidence while the freedom of thought should be guaranteed, the indulgence of desire should be restricted.
So whenever freedom is discussed we must distinguish between these two approaches to conceptualizing it.
We mean that mankind has suffered throughout its history in most territories at the hands of false lords that have humiliated men. Much of human freedom and dignity has disappeared from the life of those who submitted to a lord other than God.
All forms of submission, fear, awe, absolute obedience should be given to none other than God-He is the only One who possesses the attributes of absolute perfectness. Only He is the absolute Rich, Able, Dominant, Arbiter, Just. It is impossible for God to be unjust, because injustice results from weakness and need, and God cannot be characterized with either.
Whoever submits to other than God surrenders as much of his freedom as he submits and humbles himself to other than his lord.
The false lords who deny people their freedom are of many types : corrupt scholars, monks, seers, rulers, and even inanimate things like money.
Some of these false lords went so far as to distort God’s scriptures revealed to his messengers, in order to legitimize their whims.
They corrupted those scriptures by adding foreign materials to them. Some of them went so far as to guarantee reward in the hereafter to some people or punishment to others, and to sell “indulgences”, promising paradise to some individuals.
Modern forms of accepting false lords are embodied in the materialistic philosophies of history, and in the enslavement to carnal desires and pleasures.
Accordingly, the essence of a call to belief in one God is a call to freedom and the lifting of oppressors’ subjugation of human beings.
It is in this way that man’s freedom is protected from being robbed by arrogant tyrants. It is by realizing this that man will not bow before any one or accept to be subdued by any body at all.
“There is no Compulsion in Religion”
The Holy Qur’an narrates in describing Pharoah, at the point of drowning, that he declared his faith in God as his lord and the object of his worship. But his belief was of no value at that time. Let’s read the verses :
The Scripture also narrates of a certain people :
“But when they saw Our punishment, they said : We believe in God – the One God – and we reject the partners we used to join with him. ‘ But their professing the faith when they (actually) saw our punishment was not going to profit them. ” (40, 84-85).
In the same way, repentance from sins and misdeeds is not accepted unless the individual performs it with resolution and firm intention.
The above point indicates one aspect of freedom-man’s freedom from all forms of supervision concerning his relation with his Creator. This relation is direct, and no intermediary whatsoever is allowed to intervene between man and his Creator, not even an angel or a prophet. This may be supported with the following verse from the Holy Qur’an, addressed to prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him :
The Condition of non-Muslims in the Muslim State Non-Muslims used to lead a normal life in the Muslim state, without being harassed concerning their beliefs or scriptures. Indeed, at the arrival of the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be on him, at Medinah, he included the following article in the document which represented a constitution for life in Medinah :
And the companions of the Messenger followed his lead in treating non-Muslims. Abu Bakr, may God favour him, told one of his army leaders :
“My commandment is that non-Muslims in the state should be treated kindly, and that pacts entered in with them should be kept. Any enemy who approaches on their side must be fought back. They may not be given a task that is beyond their endurance…”
In the same way, Ali, the fourth caliph, pledged :
“… whoever is given our covenant will have his life protected like our life, and his diyah (is guaranteed)..”
It is well-known to all that this tolerant attitude was not the result of weakness in the Muslim state.
It was adopted at the peak of power when the state was growing. It would have been quite easy to force people to Convert to Islam, but this was not done.
This attitude is adopted because Islam is confident that a sensible person will realize the perfectness and truthfulness of this religion, that it fulfills what is good for man and is in full correspondence with unalloyed natural creation.
Some people conspired to beguile Muslims by entering Islam in the morning and leaving it in the evening. That is what Jews did at an early stage in Al-Madinah to create mistrust among believers.
Having knowledge of previous scriptures, the Jews’ withdrawal after entry into Islam would cause some wavering Muslims to think that the people of the scripture must have found some drawbacks in the new religion which made them reject it. The real purpose
of that maneuver was sedition, to discourage people from accepting Islam or staying in it. Another reason for apostasy is the letting loose of one’s desire.
Therefore, it is essential to view Islam as a comprehensive whole and not as confined only to man’s relation with God, as non-Muslims regard it.
It is in the context of this that apostasy is seen to be a rejection of the general system.
and to ridicule its traditions and sanctities ? It is indeed ridiculous to expect the Muslims to tolerate such a situation. It is crazy to ask believers to guarantee a peaceful life to those who strive to desecrate their religion and to dismantle their social organization.
Therefore, we do not hesitate to say that tampering with people’s faith and corrupting morality and values have become a routine work for certain groups from among the Christian missionaries, who nurse a deep-set hatred for Islam, its Book, Prophet, and believers. They save no endeavour in their effort to harm an Islamic society and to disturb its peace.
Our judgement is confirmed when we observe the disgraceful attitude of certain countries of the free world – such as France, Britain and the US – towards Muslims in those countries that display a tendency to abiding by the injunctions of their religion-by adhering, for example to an appearance that conforms to Islam. The French have been especially unreasonable in their reaction to the
Islamic clothing of women , despite the terms in their laws concerning the right of every denomination to practice the teachings of their religion. But those people, on the pretext of security and protection of general order, have resorted to those disgraceful acts. It is relevant also here to recall all that befalls the Muslim minorities in Russia and Bulgaria. What has become known is outrageous; what is hidden may even be worse.
As for capital punishment for drug-related crimes, it is still sanctioned in many modern laws. Of course, the authorities which impose it regard this punishment as a strong deterrent to crime and a protection to society from its effects. No one would say that applying the death sentence in the case of such perpetrators is a violation of their freedom since their freedom has encroached upon the freedom of others, and has marred the peaceful serene life of others. Death sentence is also enforced in the case of high treason or similar convictions, and nobody would say that such punishments violate freedom. The concerned missionary institution would not criticize such practices, and that is why we question the intentions of the questioners.
To conclude this section about freedom of creed and apostasy let us quote some statements about the attitudes of other religions towards Muslims and the fanaticism and malice they show whenever there is a chance.
Gibbon, the historian, writes:
Many of those mosques were turned into brothels, pubs, stables or animals’ barns. Muslims were physically eliminated – in a quarter of a century twenty six million people were killed, and ingenious ways were used to torture and kill them. Other communist countries in the Soviet bloc followed the lead of the Soviet Union. Tito of Yugoslavia, for instance, exterminated about one million Muslims.
Even today, Islamic movements and parties are being chased in the Philippines, in Indonesia, and in East Africa, openly and publicly, let alone the secret operations in those countries.
Where, then, is freedom practised? Who is fanatic, and who is tolerant?
(3) See the Sirah of Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, pp. 148-149, and Tafseer of Ibn Katheer, Vol. 1ll, (pp. 246 – 247).
(4) A sum of money paid as compensation to the family of a killed person.
(5) Kamel Al-Diqs, International Relations, P.333
(6) Gustav Lebon, “Arabs’ Civilization”, p. 279
(7) Abdul-Rahman Al-Maidani, Jewish Scheming Through History, p. 446 ff, quoting from Jewish historical documents published in Jawad Rif at : “Islam and the Descendants of Israel”.
Extracted from “A Refutation of Doubts about Current Issues” published by Al-Manara Publishing and Distribution House