Freedom of Speech in Islam
By Aleena Zahid

The Merriam Webster’s Dictionary describes freedom of speech as: “the right to express information, ideas, and opinions free of government restrictions based on content and subject only to reasonable limitations.”
In today’s world, freedom of speech is seen as a basic human right. People should be allowed to do or say whatever they please as long as it is within certain limits. After all, that is exactly what the definition says.
But how does this relate to Sharia? (The Muslim code of Conduct.)
Islam allows freedom of speech to a certain extent, just like a democracy does. It does not tolerate ‘free speech’ which goes against the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH,) or insults Islam or another person.
This means people are allowed to have and express their thoughts on an issue as long as it is not demeaning to any parts of the Religion or to another person. Islam promotes love, peace, and forgiveness; not closed-mindedness and ignorance.
People around the world today have a terrible image of Islam; one that is promoted everywhere. Many of these people who know nothing about the true nature of Islam automatically assume that it doesn’t allow free speech. As you’ve seen in the article above, it does allow for it. After all, one of the things told to Muslims is to “think and question,” which shows that Islam not only accepts free speech… Islam actually encourages it.
There was an article in a Danish newspaper not too long ago that caused quite a bit of controversy, especially in the Muslim world. This article was let go because it fit under the law regarding ‘freedom of the press’ which is like freedom of speech. The Muslim world was outraged at the open insult to their religion and the fact that almost nothing was done about it.
Followers of Islam started to feel threatened by this event and started to worry about their safety. After all, they could come out of the Masjid (Mosque) and be cursed at by someone. After all, that would also technically be ‘freedom of speech.’ People argue that the swearing would constitute as a racial slur, but then again, so would discrimination against a Religion. That is exactly what was done in that article.
I just wanted people to know that Muslims are not closed-minded, ignorant, stern people who seek to destroy freedom of speech, and everything there is to do with it. In fact, it is the opposite. In Islam, this is encouraged and people should be aware of this fact as it is what is true.

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