Is advocating for freedom of thinki...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Is advocating for freedom of thinking form of disbelief?


Is advocating for freedom of thinking form of disbelief?


There is a great deal of meaning in allowing the practice of free-thinking like in endorsing the principle of non-coercion in matters of conviction and out of coexistence with other people of other religions, and which may involve the sharing of meals, and even marriage with them.

Allowing people freedom of faith does not mean that we consent to people forsaking their Islamic religion; however, we are constantly dismayed by the insistence of some self- claimed scholars who advocate for charging Muslims with acts of apostasy for the smallest of reasons and remotest of interpretations.

It goes without saying that people differ in opinin and in matters of faith and behavior since human nature is capable of erring. God Almighty says:

"And if the Lord had willed, He verily would have made mankind one nation, yet they cease not differing. Save him on whom the Lord hath mercy; and for that He did create them". (11:118-119). God has provided mankind with guidance, and revealed unto them the right path. He has encouraged us to take this path; and warned us against the dangers of evil. God also sent us a sucession of messengers to inform us of the Truth. Some believed while others did not until the last of these messengers, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), arrived in order to emphasize its most important principles. The call of the Prophet to Islam was general and not specific to a certain place or time. Rather, it was addressed to all people, regardless of whether they had previously embraced a religion. God says in the Quran, "and whosoever seeks as religion other than the Surrender to God, it will not be accepted from him and he will be a loser in the hereafter".

One of the basic principles of Islam is that there is no compulsion in religion. God says in the Quran, "There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error". (2:256)

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) dealt with Jews, he ate their food and called to become Muslims. Yet he did not put pressure on them to convert, and left them free to make up their own minds. Some chose to believe in Islam while the remainder did not. The Prophet criticized the Muslim who attacked a Jew after the latter had compared Muhammad unfavorable to Moses; and he forbade the Muslims to make comparisons in general between the Prophets, even though Prophet Muhammad was the greatest among them. So as not to create sedition, in a hadith reported by Muslim, the Prophet declared: "Prophets are brothers from a single man and different mothers and their religion is one; and I am the worthiest of Prophets after Jesus, son of Mary, because no Prophet has arrived in the time between us. On seeing a blind Jewish man, the Caliph 'Umar ibn al- Khattab, decided to give him a considerable sum of money from the treasury; and 'Umar wrote to the Muslim rulers in their various states so that they should assist the poor folk of the dhimmi (the Christians and Jews who live among them). Such treatment of non- Muslims stems from the fact that Islam is definitively a religion of peace and it does not initiate a war against someone as long as he is peaceful. God says in the Quran, "And if they incline to peace, incline thou also to it, and trust Allah. He, is the Hearer, the Knower" (8:61).

Islamic law permits marriage to "the women of the book", women who are Jewish or Christian; and it permits Muslims to eat the meat of their slaughtered animals. Yet, Islam does not permit a Muslim husband to insist that his non-Muslim wife join Islam; rather, his free to live with her while she is not a believer. Therefore, by supporting People's freedom of choice, we do not approve of their non-Islamic doctrines. Freedom of choice requires that we do not compel anyone to embrace Islam against his/her will. And God knows best.

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