People often ask “How does Islam work with liberty ? What does Islam say about freedom and liberty?”
I will try to explain the concept of liberty and freedom in Islam according to my own understanding step by step.
It’s important to highlight the majority of Muslim world today are not representative of such an understanding. Muslim world has been chained up by the authoritarian rulers and traditionalist clergy class shortly after the death of the Prophet Muhammad. The following diversion methods were used to divert the Muslims from God’s straight path, his system of submission, the Creed of Abraham:
- Meaning of the critical words in the Arabic language was altered over time to hide the message of the Quran.
- the Quran verses were translated into other languages wrongly and given different meanings.
- Volumes of books were written by scholars and so-called scholars to explain the meanings of the Quran verses which led to creation of man-made religions that are diverted from the message of the Quran.
- Narrations books (Hadith books) contradicting or rejecting the Quranic messages were written and they were accepted as a source of the Islam. The nonsense of “the Quran needs the hadiths to explain it” became the mainstream understanding over time.
- Judeo-Christian traditions and myths were accepted/implemented as an additional source to God’s message: Stoning to death, halal food, animal sacrifice, Mahdi, etc..
- Ruling and religious classes kept people away from the Quran by using propaganda such as “the language of the Quran is so high, you cannot understand it”, “The Quran can be understood only by scholars who study it for a lifetime.”, “The Quran cannot be understood by common people”.
- Muslims were guided to follow certain ritualistic practices instead of reading and understanding the Quran’s message.
The good news is God’s message in the Quran is still there and waiting for those who seek the truth. God blessed our generation with high technology which was not available to any others before us. Almost any Quranic study or any Quran translation is available to us at our finger tips. If you are interested in reading the Quran, you can find the Quran translations I suggest here .
Let’s get to it. First of all: What is liberty?
Liberty, a state of freedom, especially as opposed to political subjection, imprisonment, or slavery. Its two most generally recognized divisions are political and civil liberty.
Civil liberty is the absence of arbitrary restraint and the assurance of a body of rights, such as those found in bills of rights, in statutes, and in judicial decisions. Such liberty, however, is not inconsistent with regulations and restrictions imposed by law for the common good. Political liberty consists of the right of individuals to participate in government by voting and by holding public office.https://www.britannica.com/topic/liberty-human-rights
Next, what is freedom?
1 the quality or state of being free: such ashttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/freedom
a: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
b: liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : INDEPENDENCE
Chapter 1 – The foundation of the liberty in the Quran
Chapter 1 (aka Al Fatiha, the Opening) of the Quran tells us:
1:1 In the name of God, the Almighty, the Merciful.
1:2 Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds.
1:3 The Almighty, the Merciful.
1:4 Sovereign of the Day of Recompense.
1:5 You alone we serve, and You alone we seek for help.
1:6 Guide us to the straight path.
1:7 The path of those You have blessed, not of those who have incurred the wrath, nor the misguided.
A careful reader will notice that na’budu in 1:5 is “serve”, instead of the common traditional translation “worship”. That’s not a mistake in the translation, and it is tied to the topic of diversion methods explained in the beginning of the article. If anyone is curious about why “serve” is an accurate translation, I suggest them to study the meaning of the noun form of the same word: abd. (I will probably write another article about this later on, Godwilling)
So, let’s break it down and explain each concept mentioned in Chapter 1:
- Praise be to God –> not to political leaders, religious leaders, governments, etc..
- God is Lord of the worlds, He is the Almighty and the Merciful. –> No one is our Lord besides God: not political leaders, religious leaders, governments, etc.. God is the creator of everything and everything in this universe belong to God. We are to submit to Him. He is our Lord.
- God is the sovereign of the Day of Recompense –> Everything in this world will come to an end, we will end. God always exists. He is the ruler of the the Day of Recompense, the Day of Judgement. We will be judged by God according to the life we live and will be rewarded or punished based on our deeds. Our deeds in this life should be according to his faith system in the Quran. We will be judged by our Lord, the Almighty, The merciful. Not political leaders, religious leaders, not governments, etc..
- We are to serve God alone--> Our lives to be dedicated to God, our existence should serve God alone. We are to follow God’s system in the Quran to serve him alone. Not the tradition. Not the hadith. Not the mullahs, sheikhs, etc.. Not political or religious interest or power groups.
- We are to seek help from God alone. –> We are to turn God in times of need and despair. We are to pray and ask for His help and Guidance. Not political leaders, religious leaders, governments, etc.. God works in others to bring the help we need. God is the Lord of the worlds, He is the creator, and rules over anything in this universe. Changing the course of events in our life is not out of his power. He is the Almighty and the Merciful.
The verses above were put in the first chapter of the Quran for a reason: God wants us to submit to Him alone. God does not have any partner. We are to praise him, serve Him alone, and seek help for him alone.
These concepts set us free from subjugation to any political, social and religious class. We’re to be self sufficient, independent, and free individuals who serve God alone and seek help from God alone. With this mindset, we can better the diverse communities we live in today, and promote the Quranic ideals of freedom and liberty to make our world a better place to live in not for only Muslim communities but also for everyone regardless of our differences.
Submission to God alone is the ultimate freedom and liberty.
No Compulsion in the system
You may ask “what about the faith aspect of liberty and freedom in the Quran?”. God sent us his guidance thru the Quran. The Quran explains the faith system we are to follow in details. The name of the system is called “the creed of Abraham” in the Quran, click here and here for the verses.
Prophet Muhammad was the first one who submitted in his community to this system of submission to God alone. He was commanded by God to only deliver the message of God thru the Quran to the people in his community. He was a warner and advisor, not an enforcer. We are to take the same approach as him since the Quran verses also apply to us as well.
The Quran clearly states there is no compulsion in the matter of faith. People are to choose whatever they submit to. Submitting to God and accepting his system will result in them getting their reward in the afterlife. Rejecting it and submitting to other things will result in punishment in the after life. God and his book warn, we are free to choose whatever we want in this life; not in the afterlife.
God says in His book, the Quran:
2:256 There is no compulsion in the system; the proper way has been clarified from the wrong way. Whoever rejects evil, and believes in God, indeed he has taken grasp of the strongest hold that will never break. God is Hearer, Knower.
2:272 You are not responsible for their guidance, but it is God who will guide whoever He wishes. And whatever you spend out of goodness is for your own souls. And anything you spend should be in seeking the face of God. And whatever you spend out of goodness will be returned to you, and you will not be wronged.
18:29 And say: “The truth is from your Lord, so let whoever desires believe, and whoever desires reject.” ….
10:99 And had your Lord willed, all the people on the earth in their entirety would have believed. Would you force the people to make them believe?
3:19 The system with God is submission, and those who received the Book did not dispute except after the knowledge came to them out of jealousy between them. And whoever rejects the revelations of God, then God is swift in judgment.
3:20 If they debate with you, then say: “I have submitted myself to God, as well as those who follow me.” And say to those who have received the Book and the Gentiles: “Have you submitted?” If they have submitted then they are guided, and if they turn away, then you are only to deliver, and God is Seer over the servants.
5:99 The messenger is only to deliver. And God knows what you reveal and what you conceal.
24:54 Say: “Obey God, and obey the messenger.” But if they turn away, then he is only responsible for his obligation, and you are responsible for your obligations. And if you obey him, you will be guided. The messenger is only required to deliver clearly.
50:45 We are fully aware of what they say; and you are not a tyrant over them. So remind with the Qur’an those who fear My promise.
64:12 Obey God and obey the messenger. And if you turn away, then it is only required of Our messenger to deliver clearly.
109:1 Say: “O rejecters,”
109:2 “I do not serve what you serve,”
109:3 “Nor do you serve what I serve,”
109:4 “Nor will I serve what you serve,”
109:5 “Nor will you serve what I serve,”
109:6 “To you is your system, and to me is mine.”
(to be continued )