Sanah Butt contemplates on how the pandemic has allowed us to reflect on the meaning of freedom.
You would not be alone if this pandemic is causing you to ask the question, do limits exist to our freedom, or is freedom in fact a limitless concept. Lockdown, curfew and restrictions to travel are some of the words and ideas that we have heard more often now than ever before. You may ask, how is this relevant to freedom of choice? But the overarching theme present in all of this is: freedom.
Islam emphasises freedom of conscience, emphasises freedom of choice, autonomy of person, speech and tolerance. We know that differences, moreover the right to have differences in opinion, is an important pillar of our society and the need to protect this is integral to protecting our rights. These differences allow for constructive conversation and for bettering ourselves, learning about others political, religious and social views often help us understand our own.
With the notion that our freedoms hang in the balance, it’s important to focus on how Islam protects our freedom of choice. The Holy Quran proclaims in Chapter 2 Verse 257:
‘There is no compulsion in religion…’
And further, at Chapter 18 Verse 30, the Quran says:
‘And say, `It is the truth from your Lord; wherefore let him who will, believe, and let him, who will, disbelieve…’
There is no other conclusion to be drawn, but that the verses above leave everyone to exercise their own discretion and judgement, a very important principle in our society, one that Islam has safeguarded since the beginning. The Quran invites this reflection, reasoning and encourages a person to exercise their own judgement to come to a conclusion.
I can understand that this may go against peoples preconceived views on the rights protected by Islam, because often we allow ourselves to be educated by what the media says. But I invite you to exercise that independent judgment and reasoning to do the research, arm yourself with the evidence, and come to your own conclusion