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The Concept of Freedom in Islam

Allah gave us Islam which frees mankind from all sorts of oppression one can face. When we submit to Allah, we find the path to freedom. Not only do we free our soul, but our mind, correct our behavioural patterns, abolish unjust laws, polytheism, slavery, injustice, and so many other things. We are freed from all evils as long as we actively seek to improve ourselves and to please Him. When we know there are consequences to our actions, we become more God-conscious of our actions and choices. Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ 

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you… ” (Surah Al-Hujurat 49:13)

The freedom in Islam is like the allowance of movement to a horse tied with a rope. It is like authority which implies responsibility and accountability and provides the justification for the day of judgment. This is the clear message of Islam to whole mankind on earth and under the sun: There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth different from error. Allah says:

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ 

“Except those who believe and do righteous deeds and enjoin (each other) to the truth and enjoin (each other) to [the] patience.” (Al-Asr 103:3)

Allah gave all mankind equality, regardless of race or nationality. Freedom, both as a concept and as a value, has been denied to many individuals, groups, and nations. It has been often misunderstood and abused. The fact is that no human society can a man be free in the absolute sense of the word. There must be some limitations of one sort or another if the society is to function at all. Allah says:

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ 

“And among His Signs (is) that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you love and mercy. Indeed, in that surely (are) Signs for a people who reflect.” (Surah Ar-Rum 30:21)

All mankind is morally free, with the ability to be immoral, or moral. We must nurture our morals to improve ourselves to make this world a place of peace, and a place to grow as servants of Allah. This means that man is born free from subjugation, sin, inherited inferiority, and ancestral hindrance. His right to freedom is sacred as long as he does not deliberately violate the Law of God or desecrate the rights of others.

Islam considers freedom to be a natural right of the human being, these guidelines can be outlined in the following manner:
  1. Freedom promotes kindness and helping one another
  2. Freedom never cause the loss of more general rights
  3. Freedom causes free rein to lusts and evil desires
  4. Freedom does not permit one to do just anything
  5. Freedom is an act of human beings from slavery
  6. Freedom of individuals should never jeopardize
  7. Freedom maintains all society intrinsic values
  8. Freedom strikes a balance between everyone
  9. Freedom gave women’s rights through Islam
  10. Freedom does not mean to exercise free will
  11. Freedom does not allow to keep racism
  12. Freedom enrage in the political system
  13. Freedom does not plague social ill
  14. Freedom remains social status barriers
  15. Freedom stay by every rational human being
  16. Freedom does not provoke mankind equality
  17. Freedom does not  arouse regardless of race
  18. Freedom does not leave completely any regulation
  19. Freedom does not individual free of all restrictions
  20. Freedom uphold vital rights for every human being
  21. Freedom of religion is, of course, a fundamental human right

Islam has enjoyed on man to realize this goal includes profound intellectual endeavours, constant spiritual observances, binding moral principles, and even dietary regulations. When a man follows this course, religiously, he cannot fail to reach his ultimate goal of freedom and emancipation. Personal freedom implies the existence of two things; sanctity and security of the self. Allah says:

وَإِن جَنَحُوا لِلسَّلْمِ فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

“If they incline to peace, then incline to it also and rely upon Allah. Verily, He is the Hearing, the Knowing.” (Surat Al-Anfal 8:61)

The Islamic concept of freedom is a faith, built on the following fundamental principles:

  • First, man’s conscience is subject to God only, to Whom every man is directly responsible
  • Secondly, every human being is personally responsible for his deeds and he alone is entitled to reap the fruits of his work
  • Thirdly, God has delegated to man the responsibility to decide for himself
  • Fourthly, man is sufficiently provided with spiritual guidance and endowed with rational qualities that enable him to make responsible, sound choices. Allah says:

سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْأَزْوَاجَ كُلَّهَا مِمَّا تُنبِتُ الْأَرْضُ وَمِنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ وَمِمَّا لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

“Glory to God, Who created in pairs all things that the earth produces, as well as their own (human) kind and (other) things of which they have no knowledge.” (Yasin 36:36)

A person must be allowed to carry out his or her religious duties without being rebuked, belittled, or threatened.  The position that Islam has given to Non-Muslims living in the Islamic State is one of the glorious facts of Islamic history and a sign of Islam’s greatness and magnanimity. When the Prophet arrived in Madinah, he gave the Jewish people a treaty of peace. Allah says:

وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا

“The servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say words of peace.” (Surah Al-Furqan 25:63)

Islam gives mankind the motivation to break free from the chains of all of today’s social ills. However, with freedom comes responsibility and dedication required to continue on the path of freedom by making healthy and righteous choices. If we slack in regards to any of these matters, we will fall back into the worldly prisons that we create for ourselves.

Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran:

  • “And hath made them safe from fear.” (Quran, 106:4)
  • “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” (Quran 2:256)
  • “If they refrain, then GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.” (Quran, 2:192)
  • “We made the Quran easy to learn – does any of you wish to learn?” (Quran 54:17 )
  • “Allah told us women were to have basic human rights as men.” ( An-Nisa’ 4:1)
  • “Proclaim: ‘This is the truth from your Lord,’ then whoever will let him believe, and whoever will let him disbelieve.” (Quran 18:29)

The Islamic concept of freedom applies to all voluntary activities of man in all walks of life. Islam teaches freedom, cherishes it, and guarantees it for the Muslim as well as for the non-Muslim. 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. Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا 

“O you who believe! Consciously revere Allah and speak a word right.” (Al-Ahzab 33:70)

However, while having free will, if we commit a mistake, knowing there will be consequences to be faced, we are more likely to seek forgiveness, and strive to lead a morally upright life. It is a perfect system. When a person faces oppression in any form, it destroys their self-image and naturally triggers a search within the self for spiritual growth, and seeking a higher purpose. Allah says:

لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ 

“Indeed, We created man in (the) best mould.” (Surah At-Tin 95:4)

However, freedom does not permit one to do just anything they please. We must stick to the teachings of Islam while striving and maintaining the freedom to keep our souls, and society intact. We are free to do as we want, but we must respect the fact that there are consequences to our choices. Allah is most infinite in His wisdom. He gave us free will because if we didn’t have free will, we would never seek to please Him and society would fall into destruction. Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُحَرِّمُوا طَيِّبَاتِ مَا أَحَلَّ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ 

“O you who believe, do not prohibit good things that are made lawful by God, and do not aggress; God dislikes the aggressors.” (Quran, 5:87)

The Islamic concept of freedom is a natural right of man, a spiritual privilege, a moral prerogative, and, above all, a religious duty. Within the framework of this Islamic concept of freedom, there is no room for religious persecutions, class conflict, or racial prejudice. The individual’s right to freedom is as sacred as his right of Life; freedom is the equivalent of life itself.