Saturday, September 26, 2015

Freedom of Speech in Islam

Except for the very broadest strokes concerning obedience to the Prophet himself, peace and blessings be upon him, the Qur'an does not set down any specific system of government as obligatory.

Yet if we Muslims have a religious duty to speak truth to power, and clearly we do, we must address certain questions concerning government, citizenship, and freedom of expression. I want to begin that conversation. The protection of dissenting voices raised against political authority (or other elites) seems to me to carry an importance as weighty in our deen as it is in the United States Constitution.

I have no idea whether this position is a minority opinion or a majority one. I am not a scholar. But I know that bleary-eyed vigilantes in Bangladesh hacking people to bits for the "crime" of speaking their minds online stands for me as a nauseating contemporary example of sowing corruption in the land. The Quran says to turn away from vain speech. It doesn't say to execute those who engage in it.

Enough for today. I often skip long articles, I suspect you do too. More later. For a deeper dive, check out this excellent piece by Abdo and Lyons on freedom of expression.

 Freedom of Speech with Islamic Characteristics