On Freedom of Expression and Religion

A very brief post about this very important subject. In my favorite format (bullets), I say:

  • Freedom of expression is a gift Allah (swt) has granted us. As a matter of fact, one of the elements of HisĀ Mercy is that he taught man how to express himself: “The Most Merciful * has taught the Quran *Ā has created man * has taught him articulate speech” [55:1-4]
  • Offensive speech, especially that of racist nature or that which encourages crime, is wrong and should not be allowed
  • I admit that there is actually a thin boundary between freedom of expression and offensive speech
  • Religion is one of the things that many people hold dear. People who are committed to their religion would find it offensive if you criticize their religion, beliefs, or religious figures. No matter how sensitive you try to be or how polite you are, it will be perceived as offensive
  • There are many calls to keep religion out of the domain of free speech and avoid this sensitive subject; hence avoid offense. I disagree with that. Why? Next bullet
  • I view religion as the true faith, belief, and way of life one must embrace. Therefore, it is an obligation that one deliberately seeks the truth and spares no effort in finding it. In that endeavor one should allow critical thinking, challenges, and even criticism.
  • We can’t stop people from being critical in such an important issue such as religion even though it may appear offensive. One should not get offended by an argument. One should get excited to think more, understand more, and, in the end, either confirms one’s belief or corrects it.
  • HOWEVER, I am against ridiculing, insulting, cursing, lying, etc. To me this is not free speech even if some want to include it. Well, it is a thin boundary anyway. “Do not insult those whom they worship other than Allah, for they may insult Allah in ignorance out of spite …” [6:141]