How Muslims should respond to offensive Freedom of expression?
Muslims should respond in the light of the following Quranic verse, to others’ offensive freedom of expression:
لَتُبْلَوُنَّ فِيْٓ اَمْوَالِكُمْ وَاَنْفُسِكُمْ ۣوَلَتَسْمَعُنَّ مِنَ الَّذِيْنَ اُوْتُوا الْكِتٰبَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ وَمِنَ الَّذِيْنَ اَشْرَكُوْٓا اَذًى كَثِيْرًا ۭ وَاِنْ تَصْبِرُوْا وَتَتَّقُوْا فَاِنَّ ذٰلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْاُمُوْرِ
“You will surely be tried and tested in respect of your property and your lives, and you shall surely hear many hurtful things from those who were given the Book before you and from those who set up partners with Allah, but if you endure with fortitude and restrain yourselves, that indeed is a matter of strong determination.”
[Al-Quran Surah 3: Verse 186]
In the light of the above verse, two responses that are required from the Muslims in the face of other’s hurtful expressions, are: ‘Sabr’ and ‘Taqwa’.
‘Sabr’ has many meanings, including:
Patience: Capacity to endure hardship, difficulty, or inconvenience with calmness and self-control
Forbearance: Tolerance and restraint in the face of provocation
Composure: A calm or tranquil state of mind
Equanimity: The quality of being calm and even-tempered
Steadfastness: Quality of being, firmly loyal, unswerving and unchanging
Firmness: Determination and resolution
Perseverance: Steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose
Endurance: The act, quality, or power of withstanding hardship or stress
Self-constraint & Self-control: fettering, shackling of various urges, violent emotions and bad desires
The term ‘Taqwa’ also has many meanings including: preservation, restraint from evil, uprightness, integrity, moral soundness, uprightness, rectitude and incorruptibility of character, being cautious and conscience.
Another Quranic verse that is also worth consideration is as follows:
وَلَا تَسُبُّوا الَّذِيْنَ يَدْعُوْنَ مِنْ دُوْنِ اللّٰهِ فَيَسُبُّوا اللّٰهَ عَدْوًۢا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ ۭكَذٰلِكَ زَيَّنَّا لِكُلِّ اُمَّةٍ عَمَلَهُمْ ۠ ثُمَّ اِلٰى رَبِّهِمْ مَّرْجِعُهُمْ فَيُنَبِّئُهُمْ بِمَاكَانُوْا يَعْمَلُوْنَ
Do not revile those [beings] whom they invoke instead of Allah, lest they, in their hostility, revile Allah out of ignorance. Thus to every people We have caused their actions to seem fair. To their Lord they shall all return, and He will declare to them all that they have done.
[Al-Quran Surah 6: Verse 108]