Freedom of Expression and Islam

Last updated on Dec 20, 2007

Posted on Dec 20, 2007

Alamgir Hussain – co author of “Beyond Jihad – Critical Voices from Inside” write on a desicritics article that the “Freedom of Expression” that people say “exists” in Islam was ONLY for Mohammad.  Not his opponent.  His principle was – while I will screw you and your beliefs, if you do the same, Allah tells me to kill you.  It simply became a revelation.  Rather interesting article!

Mr. Tahir Aslam Gora, driven out of Pakistan for his critical-of-Islam writings, wrote in The Hamilton Spectator on December 13 that freedom of expression has deteriorated even in the liberal West from what it was in Mecca during Prophet Muhammad’s time 15 centuries ago. Referring to the example of hounding of Bangladeshi humanist author Taslima Nasrin by unruly Muslim mob and an Islamic death-fatwa on her head, in Hindu-majority secular India, he wrote:
“Prophet Muhammad exercised his rights of freedom of expression in his full capacity by challenging the prevailing beliefs of the time and calling them mere lies. Despite the opposition to his claims, he had open and huge support from his allies. But today, in a so-called liberal and enlightened world, challenging some Islamic beliefs is not that easy.”

Mr. Gora is absolutely correct in stressing that Muhammad enjoyed a high degree of freedom of expression, but he fails to mention that Muhammad had killed other rights to freedom of expression at the same time. Mr. Gora is correct that Muhammad took full freedom in saying whatever he wanted about the religion, custom and forefathers of the Pagan Quraysh of Mecca. Muslim chronicler Baihaki records (in Proof of Prophecy) Muhammad’s disciple Amru ibn al-Aas’s testimony of Quraysh leaders’ discussion about Muhammad one day:
“Never have we had to tolerate from anyone what we have had to tolerate from this man. He slanders our fathers, criticizes our religions and divides our people, and blasphemes our gods. Such grievous things have we tolerated from this man…” The Prophet who was nearby and hearing this conversation, he responded, “Men of Quraysh! I will surely repay you for this with interest.”
Islamic historian al-Zuhri adds:
“The unbelievers of the Quraysh did not oppose what he [Muhammad] said. If he passed the place where they sat together, they pointed to him and said: “This young man of the tribe of Abd al-Muttalib proclaims a message from heaven!” This they continued to do until Allah began to attack their gods…, and until He proclaimed that their fathers who died in unbelief were lost [to hellfire]. Then they began to hate the Prophet and show their enmity to him.”
In trying to prevent Muhammad’s insults, the Quraysh sat with him in their sacred shrine of Ka’ba in 615 C.E. and requested him to desist from reviling and speaking evilly of their Gods. They offered to worship his God for one year, if Muhammad would reciprocate by worshipping theirs for the same period. In rejection, he responded [Q 109:1-6]: “Oh unbelievers, I worship not that which ye worship… To you your religion and to me my religion.”
In sum, Prophet Muhammad preached his religion in Mecca for 13 years insulting their Gods, customs, and ancestors and never did he receive any physical assaults of serious nature if at all. In 622, seeing no hope of progress of his stagnated mission in Mecca, the Prophet emigrated with all his disciples to Medina where his creed was making brisk progress.
After his relocation, Muhammad called the treatment of his community by the Quraysh “tumult and oppression,” which was in turned deemed “worse than slaughter.” In revenge, the Islamic deity revealed a series of verses, sanctioning Holy war against the Quraysh [Q 2:190-193], until the religion was Allah’s [Islam] alone. Muslims must slay the idolaters [the Quraysh] wherever found [2:193]. They must fight the infidels even if they did not like it, because Allah only knows what is best for them [Q 2:216]. They must “fight in Allah’s cause, and slay and be slain” [Q 9:111].


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