Principles of Human Rights in Islam 4 (Freedom)
The Glorious Manifestations of the Quranic Attention to Freedom
Freedom as expounded earlier in this article is of great value in the Qur’anic view. This value is such that the Holy Qur'an bids people to worship before the symbol of freedom and undertake other worthy tasks before it. That symbol is Ka’ba which is called Bayt al-Atiq (the Ancient House). Some believe that this way of naming it is due to the reason that the Ka’ba is ancient and historically valuable.
However, according to some tradjtions the Innocent Imam (A.S.) has observed that this method of naming it is because no tyrants have succeeded in conquering it.(1) In other words, this house has always been free. Hence, they have called it 'atiq (derived from ‘Atiq meaning freedom). So, the Ka'ba can be regarded as the symbol of freedom.
Now let us see how the Holy Qur’an regards this symbol and induces people towards it. On the one hand, the Holy Qur'an has bidden people to stick to this symbol and glorify it. “And let them circuit the Ancient House.” (2) On the other hand, it has commanded people to turn to a mosque in life in which Bayt al- ‘atiq is located. “Turn then thy face towards the Sacred House.”(3)
Besides this eternal approach towards Ka’ba, many of man's actions are related to this symbol. Most of the worthy acts such as praying should be done towards Bayt al- ‘Atiq. Some of them like reciting the Holy Qur'an had better be done towards this symbol. Reciprocally, the ill acts should not be done towards this symbol and if so, it is generally deemed offensive. So everyone is in one way or another associated with this house of freedom. Even in the last moment of presence in this earthly world, we should turn towards this house.
This deep attention to Bayt al- ‘Atiq and guarding it, means that the Muslims ought always to struggle for their freedom and should not risk heavenly freedom for enthralling enchantments. It is manifest that among the most striking enchantments are man's engaging thoughts manifested within the matrix of the teachings and laws of philosophical, moral, legal and political schools and drag some groups from here to there.
The Difference Between Genetic Freedom and Legal Freedom of Man
In studying the freedom of choice, we have to distinguish between genetic freedom and legal freedom. By genetic freedom is meant that the choice of path and opinion is not compulsory in the Cosmos. Religion is a set of particular beliefs, which may never be imposed upon anybody. If the principles and tenets of religion are not achieved for a person, religion goes beyond its realm. Hence, the Holy Qur'an states: “There is no compulsion in religion.” (4)
Besides, by legal freedom is meant that man is not obligated in any affair as he is not free. In scientific terms, the cosmos is neither within the realm of determinism nor is it within the realm of libertarianism. However from this genetic freedom, one cannot conceive that man can move towards any direction in the choice of opinion and that God may not regard his desire. This is never so! That genetic freedom is interpretable visa-vis the religious duties.
“The truth is from your Lord; so let him who pleaseth believe; and let him who pleaseth disbelieve.” (5) Hence, what is accepted by the Lord and belongs to Him is right; but some people move towards untruth on the basis of genetic freedom. Numerous Qur’anic verses have determined the boundary for these two freedoms and have drawn man's attention to accept religious duties.
“Hold ye fast that which We have bestowed upon you with strength.(6)
So in the choice of truth or untruth, man must not only accept the truth but also guard it with strength of determination. If someone accepts the untruth after complete investigation and in complete awareness, and refrains from accepting the truth, he is ranked among those against whom the holy Prophet (S.A.) has issued the order of preliminary jihad. And if the preliminary jihad is not accepted by some, everyone surely believes that these people dwell forever in the fire of Gehenna and do not have before them any path of salvation.
Therefore, it must be noted that although the Lord has created man free in choosing religion, he has explained for him the path of growth. “Indeed truth has been made manifest distinct from error.”(7)
In view of Islamic world vision, every belief of man in the Resurrection Day and the purgatory is manifested in a special way. And man is a creature who is constantly traveling from the world to purgatory and from the purgatory to the Hereafter. In the meantime, apostasy and atheism are manifested in the shape of snake and scorpion. This shows that ill thoughts are equal to venomous poison. And it is obvious that the Lord does not allow man to choose the poison and perish himself.
In Qur’anic terms; such a person flames his soul as the devourer of unlawful things fill their souls with fire.(8) In this regard, the Holy Qur’an states: “They eat nothing but fire into their bellies.”(9)
It is clear that the Lord does not allow man to have freedom in the choice of flower and fire or honey and poison. Religious freedom is never accepted in the Qur'an or by the Islamic culture.
The Relationship between Life and Freedom
In Qur’anic view, freedom is the prelude to life. All the freedoms allowed to man are meant to induce man to lead a worthy life. In order for man to achieve a worthy material and spiritual life, he should be free and in order to achieve freedom he should relieve himself from the bond of lusts. All people are the hostages of their own conducts. Only those who are ranked among the upright and the believers shall be free from this bond. “Every soul for what it earned is held in pledge save the people of the Right hand.” (10)
Now we should see how the upright people have relieved themselves of this bond. The answer to this question can be found in the words of the holy Prophet which he delivered on the last Friday of the month of Sha'ban. “O people! Your lives are imprisoned by your conducts; so save your lives by repenting your deeds.”(11) So the genuine freedom of man lies in relieving himself of his sins by repenting and they may be ranked among the upright people by virtuous acts. This is the freedom, which can be the prelude to original and sublime life.
By: Ayatollah Javadi Amoli
1. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 96, chapter 7, p.58, tradition no.16
2. The Quran: Surah al-Haj 22:29
3. The Quran:Surah al-Baqarah 2:144 & 150
4. The Quran:Surah al-Baqarah 2:256
5. The Quran:Surah al-Kahf 18:29
6. The Quran:Surah al-Baqarah 2:63 & 93; Surah al-A’raf 7:171
7. The Quran:Surah al-Baqarah 2:256
8. The Quran: Surah an-Nisa 4:10
9. The Quran:Surah al-Baqarah 2:174; Surah an-Nisa 4:10
10. The Quran:Surah al-Mudaththir 74:38-39
11. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 93, chapter 46, p.356, tradition no. 45