Freedom in Islam

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Islam considers freedom to be a natural right of the human being. Life becomes devoid of worth when freedom is not present. When a person loses his freedom, his inner self dies, even though on the outside, he continues to live; eating, drinking, working, and going through the other motions of life.  

Islam elevates freedom to such a level that it has made free thought the proper way of recognizing God’s existence.  God says:  
{There is no compulsion in religion. Guidance is clear from error.}  
The verse negates the use of compulsion in religion because religious belief is the mightiest thing that a human possesses. This makes it quite clear that compulsion is not tolerated in any other matter. It is also clear that the human being is independent in what she possesses and does without being subjected to the will of anyone else. The individual has free will and free choice.  

The Meaning of Freedom
 
 
Freedom is a person’s ability to do something or abstain from it based upon her own free will.  It is a special quality enjoyed by every rational human being.  With it, a person acts without the interference of others, because that person is not owned by anyone; not on the individual level, or on the level of the state, society, etc. 

Does “freedom” mean being left completely without any regulation?  
Islam’s recognition of freedom does not imply that it leaves the individual free of all restrictions and guidelines, because that kind of “freedom” is mere anarchy that gives free reign to lusts and evil desires.  It is well known that these vain desires bring more harm to the human being than they do good.  

For this reason, Islam forbids a person to force someone to follow them because no one's freedom is granted at the expense of another’s.  Everyone must be given freedom on both the individual and societal levels.  For this reason, Islam sets down certain rules and guidelines that guarantee the freedom of all.  These guidelines can be outlined in the following manner: 

A. The freedom of individuals and communities should never jeopardize the general order of society or destroy its foundations. 

B. The freedom of individuals or communities should never cause the loss of more general rights.  This is in consideration of their intrinsic values. 

C. No one’s freedom should violate the freedom of others. 

These regulations and guidelines show that Islam does not recognize individual freedom at the expense of the community, nor does it establish freedoms for communities at the expense of individuals.  Instead, it strikes a balance between the two, giving everyone their just due. 

Types of freedom: 

• Individual freedom with reference to material concerns. 

• Individual freedom with reference to more abstract matters.   
Individual Freedom in Reference to Material Concerns
 
 
Personal Freedom
 
As long as his activity does not transgress against the rights of others, a human being should be left to dispose of his own affairs in every matter that is of personal significance without fearing injury to his person, property, or reputation. Personal freedom implies the existence of two things; sanctity and security of the self.  

As for sanctity of the self, Islam places great emphasis on human dignity, and grants the human being a lofty status. It enjoins people to show respect for others and refrain from belittling them. God says:  

·         {Truly, We have honored the children of Adam}  
·         {And when your Lord said to the angels: “Verily I will place a vicegerent on the Earth.” They said: “Will You place therein those who will make mischief and shed blood while we extol Your praises and glorify you?”  He said: “Verily I know what you know not.”}  

These texts call to the honor, nobility, and sanctity of the human being and give consideration for human faculties. Islam places the human being on the highest level. For this reason, Islam considers transgression against one person to...
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