What does Quran say about freedom and liberty?
The Quran is the holy book of Islam and the source of guidance for Muslims. It contains many verses and teachings about freedom, which is a fundamental value in Islam.
Freedom in Islam means the ability to choose one’s beliefs, actions and way of life without coercion or compulsion from anyone. Freedom also entails responsibility and accountability for one’s choices.
According to the Quran, freedom is a gift from Allah, who created humans with intellect and free will. Allah says in the Quran:
لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ
“There is absolutely no compulsion or coercion in (opting for a particular) Deen (or a way of life or a system of beliefs and actions)” [2:256].
Freedom of choice is the birth right of every human being. Allah says in the Quran:
وَقُلِ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ ۖ فَمَنْ شَاءَ فَلْيُؤْمِنْ وَمَنْ شَاءَ فَلْيَكْفُرْ
“The Truth is from your Lord, whoever wills let him believe and whoever wills let him disbelieve” [18:29].
The Quran gives complete freedom of choice in worship by saying: “Worship what you will…” [109:6], although it enjoins man to worship only his Creator [112:1-4]. The Quran also gives complete freedom of choice in actions by saying:
اعْمَلُوا مَا شِئْتُمْ ۖ إِنَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ
“Do whatever you will…” [41:40].
It further says: “Indeed, this (Quran) is a reminder, so whoever wills may take to his Lord a way” [76:29].
However, freedom in Islam is not absolute or unlimited. It is bounded by the limits set by Allah, who knows what is best for His creation. The Quran says:
شَرَعَ لَكُمْ مِنَ الدِّينِ مَا وَصَّىٰ بِهِ نُوحًا وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ وَمَا وَصَّيْنَا بِهِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ ۖ أَنْ أَقِيمُوا الدِّينَ وَلَا تَتَفَرَّقُوا فِيهِ ۚ
“He has laid down for you as Deen (way of life) that which He enjoined upon Noah, and that which We have revealed to you (O Muhammad), and that which We enjoined upon Abraham and Moses and Jesus, commanding: ‘Establish this Deen (way of life) and do not split up regarding it'” [42:13].
The Quran also warns against following one’s whims and desires that may lead to deviation and corruption. It says:
أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَىٰ بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَنْ يَهْدِيهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ اللَّهِ ۚ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ
“Have you seen him who has taken his own lust (vain desires) as his god? And Allah knowing (him as such), left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart, and put a cover on his sight. Who then will guide him after Allah? Will you not then remember?” [45:23].
Therefore, freedom in Islam is a balance between individual rights and social obligations, between personal liberty and divine guidance, between human dignity and moral responsibility. The Quran says: “And say: ‘The truth is from your Lord.’ Then whosoever wills, let him believe; and whosoever wills, let him disbelieve” [18:29].
The Quran also says:
مَنِ اهْتَدَىٰ فَإِنَّمَا يَهْتَدِي لِنَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَنْ ضَلَّ فَإِنَّمَا يَضِلُّ عَلَيْهَا
“Whoever chooses to follow the right path follows it but for his own good; and whoever goes astray goes but astray to his own hurt” [17:15].
The Quran makes it clear that liberty goes hand in hand with responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions. It says:
إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ لِلنَّاسِ بِالْحَقِّ ۖ فَمَنِ اهْتَدَىٰ فَلِنَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَنْ ضَلَّ فَإِنَّمَا يَضِلُّ عَلَيْهَا ۖ وَمَا أَنْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ بِوَكِيلٍ
“There has come to you enlightenment from your Lord; whoever reflects on it, will do so to his own advantage. On the other hand, those who choose to remain blind to it, will do so to their own disadvantage” [39:41].
In conclusion, the Quran promotes the concept of freedom in various contexts, emphasizing the importance of free will and personal responsibility.
It recognizes the freedom of choice, belief, and expression, while also setting boundaries and restrictions to maintain societal order and prevent harm. Freedom in Islam is a balance between individual rights and social obligations, personal liberty and divine guidance, and human dignity and moral responsibility.
It is a gift from Allah that comes with accountability for one’s actions. The Quran encourages individuals to exercise their freedom within the framework of moral and ethical guidelines set by God.
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