United Nations General Assembly in the 18th article of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”
Also in the 19th article of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights freedom of expression is defined as follows: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” 
In this text, I would like to explore this article and find out to what extent it is right or wrong according to the Islamic viewpoint toward freedom of thought and freedom of expression.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights puts freedom of thought and freedom of belief alongside each other. While there is a major difference between these two.
Murtaza Mutahhari emphasizes the difference between “thought” and “belief”. He argues that “thought is a potential caused by having intellect” and because every human being has intellect, and the potential to think about different issues, thus they think and “discover some truths about universe according to their talent”.  While he states that “belief might be based on human’s interest towards something” or “it might be based on following other people’s opinion”. But the true belief is “based on thinking”. He believes that most of the people shape their belief based on worldly interests. And there should be thoughtful people among them to guide them in their way of thinking and choices .
So, in his definition of thought and belief, he points out the mistake of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He concludes that people should have freedom of thought. Yet, about freedom of belief, unlike liberalism, Mutahhari states that “freedom is not the ultimate political goal to be respected under any condition”.
The main goal of freedom as he declares is to “reach perfection”. And if one’s belief is against his path towards perfection, then his belief needs an evolution, and should not be left alone to carry on his path towards adversity. 
There are more than 300 verses in the Quran that encourage people to think, such as: “Indeed We have sent it down as an Arabic Quran so that you may exercise your reason.” (12: 2), “[This is] a blessed Book that We have sent down to you, so that they may contemplate its signs, and that those who possess intellect may take admonition.” (38: 29), “Do they not contemplate the Quran, or are there locks on the hearts?” (47: 24).
Freedom of thought is also mentioned in the Quran in choosing the path of life where Allah says: “There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong.” (2: 256)
This verse clearly shows the importance of freedom of thought in the eyes of God, and the freedom to choose a religion. It is noteworthy that the Quran gives specific guidelines for finding the truth and recognizing wrong and right. As it is stated in the same verse; “So whoever disbelieves in idolatrous and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it.” (2: 256)
Also, Allah introduces His best servants in the Quran as those who listen to different types of opinions without any prejudice, and then follow the opinion that is closest to the righteous way: “…So give good news to My servants, who listen to the word [of Allah] and follow the best [interpretation] of it. They are the ones whom Allah has guided, and it is they who possess intellect.” (39: 17-18)
When Allah encourages people to find their religion based on intellectual thinking, he keeps reminding them at different points about what is beneficial and what is harmful to human growth.
As stated above freedom of thought is encouraged in Islam as long as it does not lead people and society toward diversity. “The objective of speech and expression according to Islam is to build up love, tolerance, social harmony, and understanding among members in order to ensure a peaceful coexistence.” 
So, freedom of thought is permitted in Islam as long as it does not harm the society. There is a fundamental rule in Islam, to which other rulings must not be contrary. A Muslim should neither be harmed nor should he harm anyone else. When thoughts are harmful to people in the society, Islam limits freedom of expressing the thoughts that may create social disorder.
So far we discussed that The Quran invites people to think and choose their religion and belief accordingly freely. There is no force in choosing religion. Yet, freedom of belief and expression is not completely allowed according to that fundamental rule of Islam.
That is, a Muslim should not be harmed and nor harm others. Sometimes, one may not have enough information about a particular issue and as a result is not able to form an educated opinion or belief. Hence, if someone wants to express his/ her opinions that have no scientific or logical foundations, and may bring about doubt in ordinary people’s beliefs, Islam would stand against it and will not allow its expansion. 
- Human rights
- Mutahhari, Murtaza, About Islamic republic, p. 92-3
- Mutahhari, Murtaza, About Islamic republic, p. 97
- Rostami, Mohammad. Andisheh Sadegh, vol. 6
- Bhat AM (2014) Freedom Of Expression From Islamic Perspective. Journal of Media and Communication Studies 6: 69-77.
- Kassem AS (2012) The Concept of Freedom in the Quran. American International Journal of Contemporary Research 2, p. 165-173.
"Although most modern dogs are kept as pets, there are still a tremendous number of ways in which dogs can and do assist humans, and more uses are found for them every year" . This animal is used in many activities such as rescuing, herding, sledding, hunting, guarding, tracking, and Human Remains Detection.There are also war and police dogs, which all indicate the versatility of this animal. But in Islam, there are some restrictions regarding the relationship with this useful creature.The term "impure" (Najis) in Islamic jurisprudence refers to things that are avoided because of the intensity of filth in them, one of which is dogs. The religion of Islam has warned Muslims to keep dogs “as pets” since they are deemed dirty. Now, let’s see why:
Unless properly trained, dogs will defecate and urinate where ever they please; they also slobber everywhere, which doctors say is the cause of many diseases and infections.
Even though the level of awareness about the hazards of having a dog has increased among dog owners and necessary precautions about keeping it as a pet have been taken by them, dog bites continue to be a public health problem in the USA .
Doctors always warn about diseases we may catch from dogs: “Hookworms and roundworms (Ancylostoma and Ascaris) are common nematodes of dogs. When a human accidentally eats something contaminated with worm eggs from a pet’s stool, the eggs hatch in the intestines and begin migrating throughout that person’s body” .
From the viewpoint of Islam, when we speak about the impurity of the dog, we mean its "outward" filth and all its organs including skin, flesh, and hair. So, everything is considered as "impure" in contact with a wet dog or vice versa (a wet thing in contact with a dog). Almost all Muslim scholars do not doubt that dogs are impure animals. There are many narrations (Hadiths) about the impurity of dogs in authentic narration books, including:
“Allah has not created a creature more impure than dogs” .
“If your clothes get dampened by a dog, then you must wash them” .
Perhaps, one of the reasons for Islam to prohibit Muslims from keeping dogs as pets  is due to the high fidelity of these animals. The bond between dogs and their owners has an important impact on family relationships in a way that the dog owner may forget his family members and relatives, adore his/her pet, and neglect God’s worship as well.
It has been reported that “More and more US women are forgoing motherhood and getting their maternal kicks by owning handbag-size canines” .
There are possibly two reasons for a person to have a dog: affection for the animal or security.
In the first case, the dog will most probably live with you in your house, which is prohibited according to Islamic law.
And in the second one, the case of security, the dog is mostly kept on the periphery of your house or property; like the dogs that are held for hunting, guarding livestock, crops, and for guarding houses, etc. These dogs are called trained dogs (Kalb-e-Moallam) in Islam and the rules regarding them are different from the ones for the other kinds of dogs.
There are exceptions to them, and they are not considered “impure” because of their skills. This fact has been mentioned in the Holy Quran directly: “As for what you have taught hunting dogs [to catch], teaching them out of what Allah has taught you, eat of what they catch for you and mention Allah’s Name over it …” (5:4)
But do Muslims consider dogs as filthy and useless creatures? No. because these animals are also creatures of God. Similarly, despite its many benefits and its importance for human life, human blood is also regarded as impure in Islamic teachings.
In other words, dogs’ impurity does not deny the existence of their good features such as loyalty or innocence, just as the impurity of human urine, feces, and blood has nothing to do with his/her humanity.
On the other hand, Islam has proposed very detailed rights for all kinds of animals including dogs, which a Muslim must respect and observe. For example, one day when Imam Hussain (AS) saw his servant sharing his food with Imam’s garden guard dog, he highly admired the servant for his kind behavior, rewarded him with 1000 Dinars and even donated the garden to him just for observing the right of a dog .
The words mentioned above reveal the Islamic view of dogs. But is that all? Have we successfully and thoroughly looked into it to reach firm ideas about dogs?
To tell you the truth, we are not always able to understand the essence of Islamic rules and guidelines. More importantly, Muslims have learned to fully observe the practices ordained by God because they believe these practices are best for them, just like following the instructions that come with the electronic devices without questioning them.
If God, the Prophet (PBUH&HP), and infallible Imams (AS) prohibit specific practices, it is definitely because they have certain harmful effects on us that may or may not be immediate or measurable.
“…while He has already elaborated for you whatever He has forbidden you, excepting what you may be compelled to [eat in an emergency]? Indeed many mislead [others] by their fancies, without any knowledge. Indeed your Lord knows best the transgressors.” (6:119)
It is permissible to keep dogs for security purposes in Islam, but you cannot let them inside your house. However, this does not mean we can harm dogs or hate them, Not at all; on the contrary, we should always be compassionate with dogs as much as we should be with any other living kind.
In a world that we are faced with many unexpected and horrifyingly inhuman incidents on a daily basis, one might wonder, how is it possible to be Happy? How can we attain inner peace? Are we born to suffer or to enjoy our lives? Security, justice, and welfare are three basic needs of every human being to have a better and happier life in Islam [xii]. However, providing these three factors is partly the responsibility of the government and the authorities of the society. And it partly depends on each individual.
In a previous article, we considered the ways that can help us overcome depression, anxiety, and stress in detail. Here we want to explore Islamic guidelines for a happier life.
One of the first factors in feeling happy in life is to be healthy. Many of us don’t even think about this blessing. When we lose it or find our physical strength not to be as before, then we realize how precious it was.
Islam recommends us to take care of our bodily health through having a healthy diet, eating less, observing personal hygiene, having enough sleep [iii], keeping a regular plan for visiting doctors and going for a checkup [iv], etc.
To have a happier life, you should balance your time between the activities that you do as your responsibility (e.g., your job, your housework, etc.) and the time that you need to rest and have fun [v].
Enjoying from lawful (Halal) fun is highly recommended in Islam. Since it is an opportunity to gather strength and energy to go back to our daily activities [vi]. As a result, we would become more satisfied and happy with our life.
Some recommended fun activities in Islam are horse-riding, shooting, swimming, knitting, telling jokes, traveling [xiii], etc.
Sometimes even looking at a beautiful scene or breathing a pleasant smell can cheer us up. So, for example, dedicating a time to explore nature can be a good idea to revive ourselves and bring hope and happiness to our life [vii]. According to Imam Kazim (AS): “Three things enlighten the eye: looking at greenery, flowing water, and a beautiful face” . Obviously, here “enlightening the eye” means freshening the soul and revitalizing the mind.
One of the places in which one can find his/her inner peace and feel happy and relaxed is the family. One of the main reasons that marriage is so much recommended in Islam [viii] is because of this relaxing effect that it will have on both husband and wife. Talking to the spouse and sharing feelings with each other can relieve the soul from everyday stresses and misfortunes.
Seeing a familiar and friendly face is always heart-warming. So, it is a good idea to visit your relatives or invite them to your house, for example, once a week. When you talk to your friends and family and spend time with them, even for a few hours, you will forget about your everyday issues. Even better, you may find solutions to your problems by sharing them with your relatives and friends.
This was among one of the most common manners of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) [xi] as well as the twelve Imams. Once, Imam Ali (AS) appeared to be depressed. A person enquired the reason, and he answered: “It’s been seven days that I did not have any guests in my house”.
Positivity and kindness act like a boomerang. You spread the goodness and in return, receive goodness. As Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) puts: “When goodness resides in you, your heart finds assurance. But, when sin enters your soul, your heart becomes full of doubt and restlessness”. Usually, when we do a good thing, we feel better about ourselves, and that makes us happier with our life. We feel useful and as a result more hopeful.
Moreover, being good-tempered and having a positive attitude toward other people is another characteristic that in the long run, will help us experience a happier life [xiii]. Sometimes, when we let go of grudges and empty our heart and mind from the anger and hatred we feel, we experience a feeling of blissful peace and relief [xiv].
Also, avoiding some immoral behaviors such as lying, backbiting, unlawful (Haram) relationships, not controlling the glance when seeing a non-Mahram, etc. will bring us a life of positivity and peacefulness [xv].
Another way to reach happiness and satisfaction is to talk to the creator of the world, the merciful Allah. Worshiping and praying Allah is always recommended in times of hardships [ix]. Since it will remind us of the One who is present all the time and we can rely on, no matter how big our problem is. So, this feeling of security will relieve our soul from any anxiety, and we will become happier and feel more at peace.
On the contrary, some activities may momentarily make us feel happy. Since they don’t have any benefit for our mind and soul, they will finally make us even sadder and more depressed. These are:
1. Occupying yourself with pointless activities and debauchery
2. Repeating the same mistake or sin (no matter how fun it may seem) over and over again
3. Engaging in aimless talks and conversations
4. Keeping company with corrupt and indecent people
5. Being irresponsible toward your commitments
6. Losing opportunities and wasting time 
7. Being highly concerned about financial issues [x]
These and many other guidelines help us in reaching a peaceful life. However, we should note that being happy is not a sudden revelation, but a gradual process. It takes time and effort and requires determination. It is the result of so many factors such as physical health, marriage, keeping company with nature, traveling, having fun, praying, having a good job, etc. Many of these factors have been highly recommended in Islamic sources and narrations (Hadith), as prerequisites for a happier life. Happiness does not come around easily and suddenly; it is on us to bring it around.
[i] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “Two blessings are unknown among people: safety and health” .
Imam Sajjad (AS) said: “ O’ Allah, hearts don’t find peace except with your remembrance and souls don’t reach peacefulness except with seeing you” 
[iii] Imam Reza (AS) said: “[Enough and on-time] sleep, strengthens the body” .
Imam Sadeq (AS) said: “Sleep brings peace to the body, speaking brings peace to the soul, and silence brings peace to mind” 
[iv] Imam Ali (AS) said: “Whoever conceals his/her illness from a doctor, has betrayed his/her body” .
[v] Imam Kazim (AS) said: “ Try to divide your daily routine into four parts: one for supplicating to Allah, one for providing life expenses, one for keeping company with reliable and pure-hearted friends, and one part for enjoying from lawful (Halal) fun” .
[vi] Imam Ali (AS): “ The times of joy and cheerfulness are best opportunities for revitalizing body and soul” .
[vii] Imam Ali (AS) said: “Looking at nature would bring happiness, joy, and liveliness.”
[viii] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “There is no dearer and more valuable foundation in Islam for Allah, other than marriage [and family]” 
[ix] “O you who have faith! Take recourse in patience and prayer…” (2:153)
[x] Imam Sadeq (AS) said: “ I looked for the peace of heart and found it in having less money” .
Imam Ali (AS) said: “Whoever contents with what he/she has, will reach comfort and harmony, and have a better life” 
[xi] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Make every day a new day if you can. Meaning that, give presents to each other and make bonds with each other, for the sake of Allah.”
[xii] Imam Sadeq (AS) said: “ There are three things that every person needs to have; these are security, justice and welfare” 
[xiii] Imam Ali (AS) said: “ In order to reach greatness, travel outside your homeland, since there are five advantages of it: ‘ relieving sadness, gaining money and knowledge, getting familiar with [other] lifestyles and having the chance to accompany with great figures” .
[xiii] Imam Ali (AS) said: “ Being optimistic toward others, results in the peace of heart and decency of religion” 
[xiv] Imam Ali (AS) said: “ The one who is good-tempered, will have a better and more decent life” 
[xv] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Truthfulness brings peace and lying brings stress and anxiety” .
Imam Ali (AS): “The one who lowers his/her gaze [in front of a non-Mahram] will find peace in his/her heart” .
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- Ali ib Abi Talib, Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, p. 260, Hadith no.5555.