Why free speech and conscience is fundamental*

Why free speech and conscience is fundamental*

Free speech is a right we are born with, it is the gift that God gives us and no one should prevent nobody to speak out, write and draw their opinions, ideas and beliefs freely. Even Allah does not take it from us -human beings- so we cannot  condemn anyone because of his/her thoughts, writings and arts in this world.

As a Muslim, if someone write or speak out about my Allah and my prophet in nasty language, i know that this does not affect them a bit. However, since we live in a society, we should consider others’ opinions, thoughts and belief systems. We should know that free speech can be fulfilled in a peaceful society, so we should not utter  words that can trigger conflict and be used by some people with hidden intent to assume to have right to abuse someone’s dignity. That does not mean that we should not say anything against thoughts and beliefs which we think as false but we need to convey them in a gentle language.

Another frontier of free speech should be the idea that our only purpose must be to attain the truth as human beings. If our intention is to create hostilites, it does not bring anything but destruction and sorrow. On the other hand, if our aim is to improve humanity, it causes serenity and desire to search for the truth.

Also, our words must be in a logical sense. What I mean by that if we want to talk, write and picture our ideas, we should make true statements and connect them according to logical system. We should be cautious not to make any fallacy. We should not try to win a debate by making crowd of nonsense. However, ofcourse, we are humans and we make mistakes but even if we make such a mistake we should apologize because of our false deeds.

My prophet Muhammed says it is good for my ummah to have conflicts. Does he mean war, fight or battle by saying conflict. Ofcourse, he does not. He mentions about conflicts of ideas. It leads us to reach the truth and develop civilization. And it can be done only by free speech. Anyone shall have right to convey his/her ideas. However, as I said above, we need to be careful not to hurt others, not to harm peace of the society we live in and not to fall into fallacy.

I want to finish my words with Bediüzzaman’s words. He says: The rule of truth and equity established by the shcolars of the art of debate is this:

Whoever desires, in debate on any subject, that his own word should turn out to be true, whoever is happy that he turns out to be right and his enemy to be wrong and mistaken- such a person has acted unjustly.

Not only that, such a person loses, for when he emerges the victor in such a debate, he has not learned anything previously unknown to him and his probable pride will cause him loss. But if his adversary turns out to be right, he will have learned something previously unknown to him and thereby gained something without any loss, as well as being saved from pride. In other words, one fair in his dealings and enamoured of the truth will subject the desire of his own soul to the demands of the truth. If he sees his adversary to be right, he will accept it willingly and support it happily.

* This title refers to Steven Pinker’s writing “Why Free Speech is Fundamental”.

Aziz Muhammed Akkaya
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4 thoughts on “Why free speech and conscience is fundamental*

  1. You expressed yourself clearly, I appreciate that but you should be more careful when choosing words. I think that you mean “ihtilaf”

    1. Do you mean that i should have used “ihtilaf” instead of conflict. If you mean so i think conflict is not so bad about referring to “ihtilaf” but of course you are right “ihtilaf” is much better.

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