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IslamQA: Islam and freedom of speech

What is your opinion or view regarding freedom of speech and how does it affect humanity so far? Is there any good point to hold on to this principle? In my humble perception so far, it does harm more than good. It may be a good thing to point out things in an honest and straightforward way, but when it got brutal and offend and potentially break certain individual or group of people's hearts or mocks on their beliefs, I think it's when it gets too far.

Of course there are types of speech that are better left unsaid. But the problem is not there. The problem is with how we control speech. Who can we trust to control speech? Do we put it in the hands of clumsy and short-sighted politicians who will ban books, documentaries and films left and right according to their own ideas?

That is what happens whenever a country tries to control speech. So the solution, within our imperfect world, I believe is to defend the freedom of speech to the utmost. It is simply impossible within our human limitations to create a fair, just and ideal censorship system that only restricts harmful speech because such a system will always involve thousands of humans with their own ideas, agendas and shortcomings.

Rather than leaving it to the government to decide what books I can or cannot read, I want to decide for myself. If a book contains vile speech, then I will not read it. I do not want someone else to make this decision for me.

For these reasons I believe freedom of speech should be defended as one of the essential principles of any civilized system of government. If you try to restrict speech against a certain group because you consider their speech harmful, another group can easily do the same to you. A country for example may ban the Quran because it contains speech against homosexuality. The country may rule that the speech is offensive and harmful to the well-being of homosexuals so that it should be banned.

And God knows best.
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3 thoughts on “Islam and freedom of speech

  1. Anonymous

    I see your point. So freedom of speech is good and must be protected to the utmost. I am totally against government who prohibit or ban whomever wish to get their thoughts and hearts out there. I am only worried that this principle will be taken for granted by the people who do not understand the means to deliver their speech in a way that might destroy someone’s well-being. Like, murdering a character by depersonalize them or attacking their personal.

    Reply
    1. Ikram Hawramani Post author

      I understand your concerns. Some countries have libel laws while also having freedom of speech which prohibit things like character assassination. They also have laws that prohibit speech the calls for violence. So we can support such laws while also supporting the freedom of speech.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        I see. Thank you for responding so nicely.

        I’m starting to understand why we need freedom of speech. I watched a YouTube video explaining this and the topic highlights on why everyone is so offended nowadays (if you’d like to watch it, please see on YouTube “thoughty2 why is everyone getting so offended”).

        I do find it very strange that everything could drive someone crazy, even the smallest things. When I listen to the speaker, his arguments and explanations are solid and it involves the freedom of speech. I see now why we shouldn’t take anything personally and it’s up to us to respond to the event outside our own well-being.

        I am now turning away from the side of the group of people that offended by other people remarks that was suppose to be taken as a joke. I used to believe that we should not joke cruelly about an individual or a certain group, but now that I have grown more towards the objective side of viewing life, it isn’t seriously that bad after all.

        Reply

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