Right to Blaspheme Essential to Islam, But No Duty to Blaspheme
By T.O. Shanavas, New Age Islam
January 24, 2015
My prayers are with the people of France and with the victims of Muslim terrorists all over the world. If caricature of a prophet can disturb the respect and love of him in his followers, that prophet does not deserve my reverence.
Unlike the terrorists’ prophet, my Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the Qur’an stand tall on the side of free press by asking Muslims to ignore the insults and extend kindness and decency to mockers and in worse cases to withdraw from the source of mockery.
According to Qur’an, the right to blaspheme is essential to the Islamic order, but there is no duty to blaspheme or react violently to blasphemy.
“And verily messengers before you were mocked but in the end, the mockers were overwhelmed by the very thing they ridiculed.” [Qur’an 21:41.]
“Indulge [people] with forgiveness, [accepting] what issues spontaneously from people’s manners [of behavior], and do not scrutinize them, and enjoin kindness, decency, and turn away from the ignorant, and do not counter their stupidity with the like.” [Qur’an 7:199]
“You shall most certainly be tried in your possessions and in your persons; and indeed you shall hear many hurtful things from those to whom revelation was granted before your time, as well as from those who have come to ascribe divinity to other beings beside God. But if you remain patient in adversity and conscious of Him – this, behold, is something to set one’s heart upon.” [Qur’an 3:186]
“When you see those who engage in discourse about Our signs, the Qur’an, in mockery, turn away from them, and do not sit with them, until they discourse on some other topic…”[Qur’an 6:68]
“And obey not (the behests) of the Unbelievers and the Hypocrites, and ignore their insults, but put thy Trust in Allah. For enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.” (Qur’an 33:48)
None of the verses mentions the abridgement of free speech for non-Muslims even if it is painful, insulting, and indecent. In fact, free speech is abridged for Muslims because they are expected to ignore any mockery and make a polite exit from the scene in Verse 6:68. So, all Muslims must promote and defend free press. An honorable response from Muslims to insult or other matters is clearly defined in the following verses:
“And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel evil deed by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.” [Qur’an 41:34]