It’s not befitting us Muslims to live in the shades of darkness of perception as to where our freedoms start and where they end.. It is equally not befitting us to murmur just what recurs in the media. Common sense dictates that we learn, understand about our position in the societies we’re living in, and spread the understanding instead of asserting the prevailing ignorance. With the Arab and Muslim nations living the most active political and social upheavals ever known to history, I found tackling such subject matter a necessity, may Allah help me add some insights that may enlighten your perceptions- Amen! While this article may not be as politically orientated as the headline may inspire and as some of you may expect, it does shed a considerable light on politics and scope of freedoms granted as part of Muslims’ life as much as it is for all humans around the globe, whether Muslims, Christians, Jews or even Buddhists. It is a fundamental element of interweaved set of fabrics forming human life and impacting each and every aspect of their living, wherever they may be. And of course when politics is mentioned social justice and freedoms come along. In a genuine Muslim society, sovereignty belongs only to Allah, i.e. the ruling authority is not the source of legislation, but rather implements the law of God, that is Shariah, and appoints who ensures its balanced and proper implementation as explained within the articles of Shariah itself, clarified and explained through the primary legislative sources of Islam, that is the Quran and Sunnah, and the secondary sources; Analogical Deduction, the Consensus of the Companions, and Maslaha Mursala, according to the priority hierarchy preferred by many, if not the majority of scholars. With the ruler having no divinity or supreme authority, justice has better chances, and the society, with all individuals representing all social standards, are given equal positioning, opportunities, and representation, and their freedoms are safeguarded under the Holistic umbrella of Islamic Shariah, itself abiding by the highly moral standards and fine teachings of Islam that enjoins justice and respect for people’s rights, without regard of their financial or social background, and prohibits violations of sanctities and rights of individuals. Similarly, in a just Muslim society the ruler is to be obeyed, except in very specific conditions which would be listed in a separate article God willing. Under just Islamic ruling, everybody, including the ruler, is equal, and all are protected, for all are committed to follow one all-inclusive law, that is the Shariah. All are bound by one line of standards. “It is not for a believer, a man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision.” — {Quran 24:51} This said, a person’s aspiration to rise to power should be bound by willingness to serve and ensure the implementation of the law of God that protects justice and guards people’s rights, and not by desire to control and benefit from the authority one’s granted, and consequently usurp people’s freedoms, rights, and wealth. There’s a bigger authority ruling over both parties, that’s the authority of law, the law of God, and both sides, the ruler and the society, must just obey and fulfill their due responsibilities assigned. Now let’s talk about the concept of freedom in Islam and what it entails. Not one single cult, legislation, or so-called religion valued the sanctity of human freedoms, with all it entail of civil, political, personal, and religious freedoms as did Islam to humanity. A Muslim is not able to understand the true boundaries of his freedom unless he learns his true positioning in Islam and what it stipulates with regards to his freedom, where it starts and where it should end, with a special stress on socio-political freedom, the lack of which is the core source of the prevailing poverty, corruption, social depression, and the like of many shortcomings suffered all over the world. In Islam, an individual is given the supreme freedom to chose his belief, Faith, without it being forced upon him by any other individual, authority, or a group of people. Likewise, a Muslim is granted freedom of identity, to be shaped, developed, and nurtured as he/she wishes it to be, and by extension to defend his beliefs and intellectual perceptions. No person is given rule over another one’s thought, identity, religion, or will. Islam does view such as violation of the sanctity of human rights and will, which is originally granted even in the choice of Creed. Thus and by analogy, in a Muslim Society, a man is given freedom to express, promote and propagate his own choice of constructive school/schools of thought, it is actually encouraged as part of Islam’s encouragement of creativity and enacting the bliss of thinking. Similarly, individuals are given the right to express, freely, their criticism of a matter, policy, or set of practices, so long as they violate the welfare of humanity, and so long as they violate the basic tenants of Islamic Faith and Doctrine. Yet, beware, this must be done wisely and in a manner that doesn’t encourage doubt, Fitna (discord), and bloodshed. Individuals should be given the right of Belief and the right to Practice their religion. Thus, Muslims living as minorities in Non-Muslim societies should be granted that right, same way Christians or Jews are granted such right in Muslim countries. Yet, no individual is allowed to spread and promote beliefs that go against Islam and the basic Creedal Facts in Islam- it is not acceptable. The protection of human rights and willpower is at the heart of the broad conception of freedom in Islam. Let me elaborate more. In Islam, freedom entails protection of a humane kind of life for all individuals. It also entails their protection against oppression and the possible corruption of the ruler, himself bound by a wider authority that is the Shariah. All should have equal opportunities for political representation, education, economic development, and by extension betterment of social standards. Islam stipulates that an individual has the right to speak up against the corruption of an unjust ruler, actually it is his duty to try to ward off his corruption and injustice, wisely. Islam condones no corruption of authority or abuse of power. Islam doesn’t approve of usurping people of their due powers, rights, or freedoms, but rather ensures their protection. These are, in brief, the essential fabrics of civil and political freedoms of a society according to Islam.   I recall the very famous quote of Caliph Umar ibn Al Khattab said to his governor in Egypt, Amr ibn Al As, whose son had hit an Egyptian Copt: “When did you enslave people whose mothers had borne them free?” This is one main and principle constitution in Islamic Shariah, i.e. safeguarding human dignity, freedoms and rights.   Stay tuned for Part II Wassalaam, Maha Youssuf Posted on: January 8, 2012