Islam and Freedom of speech and thought in Afghanistan

Whenever “freedom of speech and thought” in the so-called Muslim world is discussed, it is always seen as a very debatable issue, assuming there is flexibility in Islam that could guarantee freedom of speech and thought. It is nothing but a wishful thinking and some gaps to be filled on a 24 hours media. In reality, all Abrahamic faiths and their teachings are antitheses to the assumption, including Islam.

Therefore, many Muslim apologists in the West and a handful of them in the Muslim world claim the compatibility of Islamic law with international Human Rights laws which is an absurd claim because some Muslim apologists divide the Muslim jurists (فقها) into two categories: Pre-modern Muslim jurists and Post-modern Muslim jurists. The Post-modern jurists (only a few to be found throughout Islamic history) believe that Islamic principles are “neither rigid nor stagnant and can in fact be applied in evolving situations.” In fact, this is nothing but a self-created method of bending Islamic principles as needed.  As a matter of fact, there has been no serious debate on certain vital issues, such as Apostasy and Blasphemy, which makes Islam very incompatible with International Human Rights.

There are only a few countries in the world with Islamic law as their constitution or as supreme law. Saudi Arabia and Iran are two good examples of two major sects of Islam with respective Islamic laws as their constitution. Though in theory many countries have constitutions, which provide freedom of speech, thought and religion to some extent, many of them implement Islamic law in practice; a better example is Afghanistan, which places Islam higher than the constitution as an overarching authority.

The Quran makes it clear that there is only one acceptable religion and that is Islam. Many Muslim apologists would argue that Islam does not obligate anybody to change their religion and believe in Islam. They quote the verse from the Quran which reads, “There is no compulsion in religion”, which is quoted completely out of context. In an ideal Islamic state only Christians and Jews can live as second class tax paying citizens and there is no place for people who are none of these three groups. (Jews, Christians and Muslims). Anybody who leaves Islam gets capital punishment according to the Sharia law and this punishment is present in the Islamic jurisprudence (even the apologists have not been able to debate it and suggest otherwise with the Islamic text).

Rational arguments have been put forward by a few Muslim scholars, but Islamic texts and history dictates otherwise, especially when believers believe in the literal reading of the Quran as truth. The first Caliphate of Islam lead by Abu Bakr had to deal with the issue of apostasy, and war was waged on people who left Islam after Muhammad’s death.

Afghanistan, with its semi-Modern constitution, claims to provide freedom of speech and thought, which in fact it does not. The recent case of Abdul Rahman, who converted to Christianity, is a good example. Abdul Rahman, who later on found shelter in Italy, was sentenced to death. If the International community had not urged Mr. Hamid Karzai (President of Afghanistan) to help him escape the trial, he could have been killed for leaving Islam.

According to Article 130(2) of the constitution, “when there is no provision in the Constitution or other laws regarding ruling on an issue, the court’s decisions shall be with the limits of the constitution in accord with the Hanafi jurisprudence and in way to serve justice in the best possible manner.” And therefore the courts in Afghanistan adopt Islamic law in such cases.

Freedom of speech has similar obstacles in countries with Islamic law in practice, such as Afghanistan. Parvez Kambakhsh a journalist from Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan faced charges for Blasphemy and insult of the Prophet Muhammad, and again he was saved by intervention from the International community.

As a matter of fact, Islam is in no way compatible with International Human Rights and it does not allow freedom of speech, thought and religion. Once a female journalist from Peshawar in Pakistan said that “Islam does not provide human rights, it provides Muslims’ rights” and that pretty much explains everything.

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