Saturday, February 20, 2010

Freedom of Speech According to Islamic Perspective

by Kamil al-Malizi

IPTA in this country recently has provided the stage for public speaking to allow students to make any speeches but they must follow the rule of speaks according to the University's rule. Because of this, many of my friends have asked me about the rules. I said, "If you have something very important to share, or you want to express about what you feel something that it is no rights on we(student), I cant avoid you from telling the truth. Just ignore the rules!". So, the question is, are we really understand what is the meaning of Freedom of Speech? Because of this, I did some research related to this slogan so that we can understand clearly about this matter. Not only for student but also for the people outside there especially for the ignorance!.

The concept of ‘freedom of speech’ is derived from the Capitalist ideology that is based on the belief that God and religion should be separated from life’s affairs (secularism). Human beings define how to live their lives free of the constraints of religion which is why freedom of individual, ownership, religion and speech are essential cornerstones of Capitalism. The right to speak and what are the limits of speech are therefore all defined by human beings.

This view completely contradicts Islam. In Islam it is the Creator of human beings Allah سبحانه وتعالى who gave the right of speech to people and defined the limits on what is acceptable and unacceptable speech.

The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
“Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, then let him speak good (khair) or remain silent.”

Khair in this hadith means Islam or what Islam approves of.

Every word a human being speaks is recorded by the two angels Kiraman Katibeen. Even the speaking of one ‘bad’ word may lead someone to the hellfire.

The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
"The person who utters a word which meets with Allah's favour may think it has not been heard, yet for this Allah will raise him to a higher level of Paradise. Conversely, the person who utters a word that stirs Allah to anger may give no thought to what he said, only to have Allah cast him in Hell for seventy years."

This is why the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم emphasised the importance of controlling the tongue.

Mu'az ibn Jabal narrated: I was in company with the Prophet in a travel, and one day I was close to him while we were travelling. So I said:
“O Messenger of Allah, tell me of an act which will take me into Paradise and will keep me away from Hell fire…shall I not tell you of the foundation of all of that?” I said: “Yes, O Messenger of Allah,” and he took hold of his tongue and said: “Restrain this.” I said: “O Prophet of Allah, will what we say be held against us?” He said: “May your mother be bereaved of you, Mu’az ! Is there anything that topples people on their faces - or he said on their noses into Hell-fire other than the jests of their tongues?”

There are some situations where Islam has obliged Muslims to speak out against oppression and evil (munkar).

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
"Whoever saw a Munkar, let him change it by his hand and if he cannot then by his tongue and if he cannot then with his heart and that is the weakest of Imaan."

Many Muslims nowadays are attracted towards the concepts of human rights and freedom of speech due to the medieval oppression waged against them by the corrupt governments in the Muslim world.

In the majority of Muslim countries today speaking out against the munkar and oppression of the governments is made illegal by the rulers and their agents. They brutally suppress all political opposition and try to silence Muslims through torture and imprisonment. Even in the west they are also moving towards silencing Muslims who criticise foreign policy or hold what they deem ‘extreme’ political views under the guise of anti-terror policy.

Despite all these limits they are trying to impose on Muslims speaking out, the fact remains that it is Allah سبحانه وتعالى who defined what is acceptable and unacceptable speech. Therefore if He سبحانه وتعالى obliges Muslims to speak out against munkar and oppression then no government in the Muslim world or western world can take away this right.

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
“The master of martyrs is Hamza bin Abdul-Muttalib and a man who stood to an oppressor ruler where he ordered him and forbade him so he (the ruler) killed him.”

Muslims who account their governments or speak out against oppression are not doing it because of freedom of speech or because the west allows them to speak. Rather they are doing it as an obligation from Islam even if it leads to death.

(These are my opinions and what I have learned.)


  1. It would be most helpful if you had a friend who could read your original draft and translate it into actual English instead of the pidgin mishmash we have to try to understand now.

  2. I will do this later. Thanks for commenting.