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Freedom of Expression meant for the Truth

You are he best of peoples evolved for mankind: you enjoin what is right, you forbid what is wrong; and you believe in Allah. (Qur’an)

Tell the truth even if it be against yourself. (Hadith)

Who was that who said “I may not believe in what you say but I will defend to death your right to say it.”?

That may sound a pompous rhetoric but it connotes Freedom of Expression which is upheld by any civilized nation. What may surprise the many is that Islam which is considered the most strict among religions upholds it too.

But in Islam, Freedom of Expression is not only a right gifted to man by God. It is also a responsibility, a duty and an obligation, which makes true followers of Islam distinct from believers of other Faiths and ideologies.

Freedom is not as such without responsibility lest the world would be stagnant as the status of man is measured by the level of the Truth he achieves, the realization of his dreams and aspirations.

And God gives us the Freedom of Expression in order to be led, and to lead others, towards the Truth.

God enjoins us to tell the truth even if it is against us, a figurative way of saying that if we can afford to reveal something against ourselves, there is no reason why we cannot afford to tell the truth against others.

A person, in order to attain the Truth which is his final reason in living such as the realization of his dreams and aspirations, has to live by this value. And, a Muslim for that matter, if he does not live with that value, cannot be a true Muslim.

In our society, expression of truth is hindered by fear or favour. Even victims of corruption, injustice and oppression cannot afford to say in public of the suffering inflicted against them. It is either because they fear of a perceived consequence, or because they enjoy small personal benefit from the corrupt, unjust oppressors.

This state of fear or favour pushes us to the wall of poverty. With poverty, it is impossible to live in peace. Poverty is the main stumbling block to the decades-old aspiration for lasting peace in the south of Philippines.

And as one who believes that whatever form of infliction including natural disaster that man suffers, I believe it is a consequence of his failure to fulfil his responsibility of telling the Truth even if it be against oneself.

On the other hand, I believe that the calamity befalling man is a lesson again and again for him to learn and do what is enjoined of him by his Creator God to do, or to tell the truth.

And that is exactly why Islam has enjoined us to tell the truth and be guided to truth so that we may live in peace advanced and civilized, saved from poverty and possibly from disasters.

Only the Truth will set us free.

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