WaPo op-ed makes Islamic sense of free speech by denying free speech

Ahmadi spokesmen like the strutting Qasim Rashid and the execrable Harris Zafar, the author of this op-ed, carry water for the same Islamic supremacists who would cheerfully slit their throats if they were back in Pakistan, and instead target those who stand up for the Ahmadis and decry their persecution. Here, Zafar offers a manifesto for the destruction of the freedom of speech worthy of a true totalitarian.

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“Making Islamic sense of free speech,” by Harris Zafar in the Washington Post, January 14:

While many celebrated the winter holidays, news broke of the arrest in Saudi Arabia of liberal writer Turki Al Hamad for allegedly insulting Islam on Twitter. We also heard of another Saudi activist, Raif Badawi, who was arrested in June and will now continue with his trial, accused of apostasy for ridiculing Saudi Arabia’s religious police and making other comments that officials found insulting. These incidents have re-ignited the age old debate about the use of freedom of speech, especially with regards to Islam.

The difference between Islam’s view on free speech and the view promoted by free speech advocates these days is the intention and ultimate goal each seeks to promote. Whereas many secularists champion individual privileges, Islam promotes the principle of uniting mankind and cultivating love and understanding among people. Both endorse freedom for people to express themselves, but Islam promotes unity, whereas modern-day free speech advocates promote individualism.

This glossy Orwellian language, “uniting mankind and cultivating love and understanding among people,” actually means “imposing Sharia upon mankind, and subjugating non-Muslims as inferiors under its rule.” That’s the unity Zafar envisions.

Let me explain.

The ultimate goal of Islam is to unite mankind under a single banner of peace. The Koran– Islam’s holy scripture – says God created everyone in unity, but our own man-made differences has compromised our unity (2:214). In order to unite mankind, Islam instructs to only use speech to be truthful, do good to others, and be fair and respectful. It attempts to pre-empt [sic] frictions by prescribing rules of conduct which guarantee for all people not only freedom of speech but also fairness, absolute justice, and the right of disagreement.

Actually it doesn’t allow for the freedom of speech at all, as this article itself shows. And its idea of “fairness” and “absolute justice” includes the death penalty for apostates and institutionalized discrimination against non-Muslims and women.

The Koran instructs people to speak the truth (33:71), to speak in a manner that is best (17:54), to speak to others kindly (2:84) and to refrain from inappropriate speech (4:149). With Islam’s guidance to purify our intentions, it promotes free speech when our intention is to serve a good purpose, promote peace, bring people closer to God and unite mankind. If, however, our intentions are to insult others or promote disorder or division, we should refrain.

Zafar doesn’t mention Koran 3:28, which warns believers not to take unbelievers as friends (َأَوْلِيَا — a word that means more than casual friendship, but something like alliance), “unless you have a fear of them.” This is a foundation of the idea that believers may legitimately deceive unbelievers when under pressure. The word used in the Arabic is tuqātan (تُقَاةً), the verbal noun from taqiyyatan — hence the increasingly familiar term taqiyya. The Koran commentator Ibn Kathir says that the phrase rendered here as “unless you have a fear of them” means that “believers who in some areas or times fear for their safety from the disbelievers” may “show friendship to the disbelievers outwardly, but never inwardly. For instance, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Ad-Darda’ said, ‘We smile in the face of some people although our hearts curse them.’ Al-Bukhari said that Al-Hasan said, ‘The Tuqyah [taqiyya] is allowed until the Day of Resurrection.” While many Muslim spokesmen today maintain that taqiyya is solely a Shi’ite doctrine, shunned by Sunnis, the great Islamic scholar Ignaz Goldziher points out that while it was formulated by Shi’ites, “it is accepted as legitimate by other Muslims as well, on the authority of Qur’an 3:28.” The Sunnis of Al-Qaeda, among others, practice it today.

The most vocal proponents of freedom of speech, however, call us towards a different path, where people can say anything and everything on their mind. With no restraint on speech at all, every form of provocation would exist, thereby cultivating confrontation and antagonism. They insist this freedom entitles them the legal privilege to insult others. This is neither democracy nor freedom of speech. It fosters animosity, resentment and disorder.

Note the sleight of hand: “With no restraint on speech at all, every form of provocation would exist, thereby cultivating confrontation and antagonism.” Zafar is implying that the Muslims who riot and kill because of perceived affronts to Islam are not responsible for their own actions, but that those who supposedly provoked them are. This is an increasingly widespread confusion in the West, willfully spread by people like Zafar and his Islamic supremacist allies. In reality, the only person responsible for his actions is the person who is acting, not anyone else. You may provoke me in a hundred ways, but my response is my own, which I choose from a range of possible responses, and only I am responsible for it.

Rather than focusing on privileges, Islam focuses on the principle to avoid speech that causes separation and conflict. Our words should have a positive impact on people’s lives, promote truth and promote justice. We agree with former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, who once said: “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” Treating speech as supreme at the expense of world peace and harmony is an incredibly flawed concept. No matter how important the cause of free speech, it still pales in comparison to the cause of world peace and unity.

And who will decide what speech accords with “world peace and harmony,” and what speech does not? Why, Islamic supremacists like Zafar, of course. The argument that calling attention to the motives and goals of jihadists and Islamic supremacists so that free people can more effectively resist them will be dismissed out of hand.

Opponents of Islam claim it denies freedom of speech and censors those who insult Islam. This is factually incorrect. Islam does not prescribe any worldly punishment for unseemly speech. So people who insult should not be persecuted. Islam grants everyone the right to express disagreements with others. After all, the Prophet Muhammad called differences of opinion a blessing in society and never sought to censor or threaten those who verbally attacked him.

Actually, according to a manual of Islamic law certified as reliable by al-Azhar, the foremost institution in Sunni Islam, Islam mandates death for non-Muslim subjects of the Islamic state who mention “something impermissible about Allah, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), or Islam” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o11.10).

According to the Koran, disbelievers called him “a mad man,” “a victim of deception,” a “fabricator” and treated him as a liar. Some claimed he was taught by another person instead of receiving revelations from God. They called the Koran “confused dreams” and “mere stories of the past” and even tore it into pieces.

Through this all, he courageously endured all verbal assaults. Rather than calling for any punishment, the Koran instructs us to “overlook their annoying talk” and “bear patiently what they say.” The lesson here for all Muslims is that we are not to be afraid of insults. Rather, we must have the same courage as our Prophet to face such insults in the eye and respond with forbearance and calm, righteous speech. Muslims must learn how their faith instructs them to respond when they are verbally attacked. No riots; no violence. We respond to speech with speech, but our speech is to be better and more dignified.

Actually, Muhammad responded to insults by ordering the murder of those who insulted him, including Abu ‘Afak, who was over one hundred years old, and the poetess ‘Asma bint Marwan. Abu ‘Afak was killed in his sleep, in response to Muhammad’s question, “Who will avenge me on this scoundrel?” Similarly, Muhammad on another occasion cried out, “Will no one rid me of this daughter of Marwan?” One of his followers, ‘Umayr ibn ‘Adi, went to her house that night, where he found her sleeping next to her children. The youngest, a nursing babe, was in her arms. But that didn’t stop ‘Umayr from murdering her and the baby as well. Muhammad commended him: “You have done a great service to Allah and His Messenger, ‘Umayr!” (Ibn Ishaq, 674-676)

Then there was Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf. Muhammad asked: “Who is willing to kill Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?” One of the Muslims, Muhammad bin Maslama answered, “O Allah’s Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?” When Muhammad said that he would, Muhammad bin Maslama said, “Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Kab).” Muhammad responded: “You may say it.” Muhammad bin Maslama duly lied to Ka’b, luring him into his trap, and murdered him. (Bukhari 5.59.369)

So while antagonists and enemies of peace create slanderous videos, cartoons or advertisements – like the “Innocence of Muslims” film, Pamela Geller’s new ignorant NYC subway ads and Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon about Prophet Muhammad – let us not fall for their claim that an individual’s privilege to say whatever they want is more important than the higher principle of uniting people and saving this planet from a path of animosity, hatred and destruction. Rather than falsely accusing Islam of censorship, let us understand the beauty of giving higher consideration to mankind over our own personal privileges. And let us listen to the wisdom of the Khalifa of Islam, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who said: “Let it not be that in the name of freedom of speech the peace of the entire world be destroyed.”

Instead, Zafar and Ahmad would have it that authoritarian controls on speech be imposed in the name of a spurious Islamic peace.

Posted by Robert

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One thought on “WaPo op-ed makes Islamic sense of free speech by denying free speech

  1. Pingback: Understanding Al-iLah – The god of Muhammad, Islam and Muslims (Part 1) « Most Intolerant Religion

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