Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Liberman, has been reported to have instructed Yisrael beytenu activists to buy thousands of copies of Charlie Hebdo magazine and distribute them for free. He has further stated that, “We will not let extremist Islam to intimidate us and turn Israel into a country that surrenders to threats and harms freedom of expression.” This sort of inflammatory rhetoric activities are causing a rift between the Muslim world and other countries. The Israeli FM’s words are muddying the waters and confusing observers about what actually is free speech.
The issue of freedom of speech or expression has become a controversial topic in the west because it is considered a fundamental value of their society that has come under attack after the Charlie Hebdo incident. As Muslims we need to understand the reality of freedom of speech or expression and the Islamic viewpoint towards it so that we can engage others about our beliefs.
Islam stresses the principle of freedom. In the pre-Islamic period the people were religiously, politically, socially, financially and even intellectually enslaved. The true religion of Islam came to establish freedom of belief, freedom of speech, freedom to criticize and freedom of thought.
Islam guarantees freedom of speech and criticism and even considers it obligatory when it concerns the interest of the entire Ummah, or affects other Islamic morals or common ethical values. In such cases Islam makes it mandatory upon every Muslim to speak truth and fearing none but Allah; it makes it obligatory upon a Muslim to command what is good and set right what is wrong; and to encourage whoever does good deeds and blame whoever does evil deeds. In this case, freedom of speech and criticism are deemed as an obligation.
Islam teaches its followers to respect other religions. It prohibits them from insulting those who worship other than Allah (SWT). The Almighty Allah (SWT) says:
“And insult not those whom they (disbelievers) worship besides Allah, lest they insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge.” (Al-Anam 6:108).
The freedom of speech is not without boundaries in Islam. A person cannot say anything he wants. True, he can speak freely, but not to the point that hurts others with his speech and opinions, regardless of whether he harms the general population of Muslims or specific individuals.
Insulting the Prophet (PBUH) is not a freedom of expression or speech:
Insulting the beloved Prophet (PBUH) is not the freedom of speech. The enemies of Islam are making the freedom of speech as a license to insult the Prophets (AS), spread the evil and mischief on the earth and as a mean of brutality and terrorism. It is terrorism to support the evils and disrespect other religions and their principles. Theyare makingsuch slogan as a shield for achieving their goals and objectives. It is a hypocrisy and Islam condemns it.
As Muslims, it is our duty to respect and honor our beloved Prophet (PBUH) in all circumstances. He (PBUH) should be respected and honored even after his death.Almighty Allah says:
“In order that you (O mankind) may believe in Allah and His Messenger (SAW), and that you assist and honour him (SAW).” (Al-Fath 48:9).
The real believer always defends his beloved Prophet (PBUH) with his life and wealth. He defends him with all possible means and ways, such as: With his tongue and his pen and refuses all false charges, blasphemies and insults that take place in the world concerning him.
Islam gives the right of freedom of expression to everyone, and he can practice it as long as he does not intrude upon the freedom and dignity of other people. There is no place for the propagation and spreading of evil and wickedness in Islam. It does not give anyone the right to use abusive or offensive language in the name of criticism and freedom of expression. Indeed, Islam gives everybody the right to have his own opinion within the boundaries and limits of morality. The self-created blames and misconceptions against Islam are to be cleared and removed through logical and natural ways. The Islamic way of freedom of expression is the only means which can poise the society and preserve communal concord.
Lastly, we condemn the evil and blasphemous statements and acts of Israeli foreign minister against our beloved Prophet (PBUH) and true religion of Islam. He will not be succeeded in his agenda, because Islam is a true and universal religion that will be prevailed all over the world. Almighty Allah says:
“They intend to put out the Light of Allah (i.e. the religion of Islam, this Quran, and Prophet Muhammad SAW) with their mouths. But Allah will complete His Light even though the disbelievers hate (it).” (As-Saff 61:8).