I am A Muslim and I Love Free Speech!

I am a Muslim and I love free speech. Not just like it, I absolutely love it. I do not love it because I am free to insult other religions or even politicians. In fact, I never exercise free speech to those ends at all. No, I love free speech because it enables me to listen to the other sides of the story. And that is tremendously valuable in my human journey.

Growing up, I led a sheltered life, from a religious point of view. I did not grow up in the West but in Malaysia, where Islamofascist elements within the government prevented me from having open dialogue with people of other faiths. It is actually a crime to preach to Muslims, even by Muslims who are ‘unlicensed’ to do so. And so when I came to the West, I experienced a supermarket of ideas. I enjoyed that smorgasbord like no other!

Of course there was criticism towards Islam and challenges to its truth. At first, it was uncomfortable to experience but now I realise that, unless you actually listen to criticism and provide a rational explanation or even an experiential one to refute the, you faith would be like a hollow shell. That sort of faith is not for me.

Today, my belief in Islam has been through the harshest of criticisms and yet (praise God) I still believe that it is a path to God. Moreover, I believe there are infinite other paths to God and that people should follow their own portions of the Truth as long as they are peaceful to others. Does it compromise my faith that I believe Islam does not have the exclusive claim to Truth? Absolutely not. Rather it just means that given my cultural positioning, Islam is the best path for me. I acknowledge the fact that religions are vehicularized by cultures and that cultures are subjective. Thus it is incredibly easy for me to abstain from eating pork but it may be quite difficult for someone who converts to Islam.

I understand at present that Muslims are mostly opposed to free speech. The excuse they give is that free speech must not be used for mockery and insults. But let us think about this for a second – are we not insulting other faiths by our very existence? The Quran speaks mostly strongly against the belief most Christians hold – that Jesus is the son of God or God Himself. If we expect the Quran to be allowed circulation (which it is, you can find the Quran anywhere in the UK), then why are we upset that criticisms against Islam are also allowed? True that some of the criticisms against Islam are visual images which are perceived as insulting, but who is to draw the line against what’s acceptable? If we Muslims are ok with criticising other faiths, then we must be open to be criticised as well. The stoicism in the face of such insults is what creates true faith, in my opinion.

I say to fellow Muslims, try to understand that we live in the world and the world is full of diversity. Muslims are the inheritors of the result of historical agencies. There are cultures which despise Islam and Muhammad simply because of its historical interaction with Muslims. Try to be understanding and magnanimous. This is actually beneficial to your faith. Free speech is beautiful.

About Farouk A. Peru
I am a human being in the world, blogging my existence. My thought systems may be found in my website: www.farouk.name

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: