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.
The religion of Islam is profoundly concerned with the social life of human beings, and its rules are set to be practiced on a large scale and in all aspects of humans’ life. Therefore, it is inseparable from the financial and political organization of society. So, Islam has built a system of economy compatible with any society  and practical at any given time.
Islam considers the economy as one of the most important aspects of social life, but not its sole purpose which has to be taken into account at the expense of ignoring or harming other aspects of human life. The typical and well-known economic concepts in Islam are Khums, Alms tax (Zakat), Usury (Riba), Mortmain property (Waqf), etc.
A healthy economy according to Islam is one that is vibrant and growing, advantageous for all kinds of people in the society, and free from favoritism and injustice. This is an economy in which a fair amount of income is earned through a sufficient amount of work which is beneficial both for the individuals and society.
Therefore, a Halal source of income -that is the money earned through acceptable ways in Islam- in Islamic society is earned through a job, which is compatible with public interests based on the sharia of Islam. On the contrary, the income earned by any demand regardless of its nature or its effect upon society is not considered Halal according to Islam. In other words, the demands must be for the benefit of humankind -not just materialistically but also spiritually- to result in a healthy and desirable income .
Despite many misunderstandings, Islam never condemns being wealthy or having a prosperous way of living[i]. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Worshiping has seven parts and its best part is lawfully earning money”. Contrarily, producing wealth in lawful ways, legal trading, and spending money for personal matters without extravagance and prodigality -which is strictly forbidden in Islam- have been highly recommended .
However, it condemns putting financial needs and concerns above other things, living for the sake of gathering money and piling it up, not earning money to have a better life, which is apparently not achieved just by money. On the other hand, if money becomes a means for work, activity, and productivity, then it will result in a more satisfactory and peaceful life .
To conclude, the practical religion of Islam is in favor of a lively economy in which welfare is not restricted to a particular group in society, a typical feature of capitalistic societies. Moreover, wealth is distributed fairly but not equally and regardless of the amount and quality of the work they undertake - characteristic of a communistic economy- among all kinds of people in the society.
It is a system that is continually developing, and each individual has an opportunity to put his or her talents into practice. In other words, social justice is the crucial factor of the Islamic financial organization. A perfect example of this kind of society can be easily depicted in the reign of Muslims’ great religious leader after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Imam Ali (AS) [ii].
[i]. Money has been directly called “Kheir” which means “goodness” in the Quran (2:180).
[ii]. On the second day of his reign, Imam Ali (AS) told his people as an announcement of his way of distributing the commonwealth among the society that: “the wealth is God’s property. Thus it will be distributed equally betwixt you, and no one is regarded above the other in this distribution, and there will be the best reward for God-fearers on the Day of Judgement”. Also, he was severely criticized by the upper-class groups in society for his careful observance of neglected people and his similar behavior with all kinds of people from any economic background.
- Sheykh Al-Saduq. Savab al-Aamal va Iqab al-Aamal.
- Morteza Motahhari. Nazari bar Nezame Eghtesadye Islam (An Overview of Islamic Economic system). Tehran: Sadra Publication.
We keep hearing arguments about Islam from different people. Some question Islam as a real religion, and others try to prove that Islam is the true religion sent by God. However, I think that there is a major problem with these types of arguments. In fact, many people who undermine Islam by questioning it are not usually in search of truth. Rather, their sole goal is to humiliate Islam and make themselves happy with whatever belief they have.
Although Islam encourages people not to accept anything without understanding, when it comes to the point where arguments and discussions have no learning point, and become only a waste of time, Islam orders Muslims not to argue with people who have no intention to learn and improve; “do not dispute concerning them, except for a seeming dispute”. (18: 22)
Therefore, in this text, I would not try to justify the validity of Islam for those who have no intention to consider Islam as a path in life. But I would like to share my amazing experiences of being a Muslim with those who are looking for a safe path in life. Also, I will explain why I believe that Islam is the most complete religion and guideline in the world.
Is that true to say all prophets from Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them) were Muslims? Or is it just a tool that Muslims use to justify Islam as the best religion? To find the answer to this question, we must first understand what Islam is.
The word Islam means submission, and Muslim is the person who is submitted to God and His divine orders. Now, let’s have a look at the following verses of the Quran that state all religions that have been sent by God were sent to make humankind submitted to God (Muslims).
In Chapter Baqarah when the story of Abraham and his son Ishmael (PBUT) is narrated, while they are making the house of God in the current city of Makkah, they pray God to make them Submissive (Muslim) to Him:
“As Abraham raised the foundations of the House with Ishmael, [they prayed]: ‘Our Lord, accept it from us! …. ‘Our Lord, make us submissive to You, and [raise] from our progeny a nation submissive to You …” (2: 127-8) And then in another chapter of the Quran, Allah informs believers that Islam first came from Abraham; “The faith of your father, Abraham. He named you ‘Muslims’.” (22: 78)
Also God orders the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to emphasize the fact that the religion he brought is the same as the religion of Abraham (PBUH): “(O Prophet!) Say, ‘Indeed my Lord has guided me to a straight path, the upright religion, the creed of Abraham, a Hanif, and he was not one of the polytheists.” (6: 161)
Prophet Josef (Yusuf) (PBUH) prays to his lord to take his soul while he is a Muslim: “Let my death be in submission [to You], and unite me with the Righteous.” (12: 101)
“And Moses said, ‘O my people! If you have faith in Allah, put your trust in Him, if you have submitted [to Him].’” (10: 84) The last part of this verse in the Quran is written as “if you are Muslims.”
“Say, ‘We have faith in Allah and in what has been sent down to us, and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that which Moses, Jesus, and the prophets were given by their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him do we submit.” (3:84)
According to what we discussed so far, we release that “all Prophets irrespective of the fact whether they had or did not have an independent code of law, had the same mission and preached the same message.”  The prophets came with the same message from God to guide human beings to the right path, and the nature of human beings in all eras are the same; “So set your heart as a person of pure faith on this religion, the original nature endowed by Allah according to which He originated mankind (There is no altering Allah’s creation; that is the upright religion, but most people do not know.)” (30: 30)
And in another verse, it is explained that: “Indeed, with Allah religion is Islam, and those who were given the Book did not differ except after knowledge had come to them, out of envy among themselves...” (3:19)
Therefore, the guideline that is sent for human in all eras should be the same, as the nature of human beings in all periods has been the same. There are some rulings in the Quran that may change according to the conditions of the time. Since, Islam is a universal religion, not a contextual one.
“Should anyone follow a religion other than Islam, it shall never be accepted from him, and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter.” (3: 85)
Now that we discussed all the prophets were Muslims, and the only religion sent by God was Islam, why do we say that the religion of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) should be followed, not the religion of Prophet Moses (PBUH) or Prophet Jesus (PBUH) or even prophet Abraham who was the father of Muslims?
It is said in the Quran that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was a role model for humankind: “There is certainly a good exemplar for you in the Apostle of Allah—for those who look forward to Allah and the Last Day.” (33:21)
While it is also stated in the Quran that Prophet Abraham and his followers such as Prophet Lout (PBUT) were role models for mankind: “There is certainly a good exemplar for you in Abraham and those who were with him, when they said to their own people, ‘Indeed we repudiate you and whatever you worship besides Allah.” (60: 4)
As mentioned before, Islam started with Prophet Abraham (PBUH), and he is named in the Quran as the father of Muslims. While in the above verse he is mentioned as a role model for Muslims. The same is with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who is called a role model for Muslims. Therefore, one can conclude that the only thing that makes the religion of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) the last and most complete religion is the growth of this religion throughout the time.
People’s intellectual immaturity was the main reason why God renewed his message and developed it over time. However, by the advent of Islam and revelation of the holy Quran, humanity had passed the period of its childhood and had become mature enough to preserve its intellectual heritage, i.e., the religion of God .
There are many scientific points in the Quran that has been mentioned about 1400 years ago. These issues have been discovered by scientists only during the past 200 years. I would mention a few examples and will leave the rest for you to study in the Quran.
Issues regarding embryology have been mentioned in the Quran: “Certainly We created man from an extract of clay. Then We made him a drop of [seminal] fluid [lodged] in a secure abode. Then We created the drop of fluid as a clinging mass. Then We created the clinging mass as a fleshy tissue. Then We created the fleshy tissue as bones. Then We clothed the bones with flesh. Then We produced him as [yet] another creature.” (23: 14) and in another chapter, it is said: “created man from a clinging mass.” (96: 2)
With regards to Big bang as the start of this universe, Allah says: “Have the faithless not regarded that the heavens and the earth were interwoven and We unraveled them, and We made every living thing out of water?” (21: 30)
Many years ago people believed that the shape of the earth was flat and they had a fear of falling down the edge of the earth at a point when the earth is finished!  While 1400 years ago in the Quran Allah says: “It is He who created the night and the day, the sun and the moon, each swimming in an orbit.” (21: 33) “Thereafter He spread out the earth” (79: 30), but He mentions that although the earth is not flat, we have created in a way that you can walk on it without the fear of falling down: “Allah has made the earth a vast expanse for you.” (71: 19)
One of the reasons that some people stand strongly against Islam is that they say there are some rules in the Quran that are against human rights. In answer to such arguments, one should ask ‘Who defines human rights?’
Human rights that we have in our era is created by human beings and does not go any higher than human understanding. When a human mind tries to create human rights, with the best considerations, they may always forget about some other aspects of human being and the atmosphere around him. Therefore there is no doubt that in many cases, human rights that are written by human beings may be against real human rights.
Having discussed all the above points, I sometimes come to a point where I cannot understand some points of the Holy Quran according to my logic. What to do at these times?
I assume that a sound mind would say that when most of something makes complete sense to you and amazes you for its incredibility, then for that one percent, maybe I should think that the problem is not with the book, but with my understanding.
In the end, I would like to invite people to wisely think about their way of life, their goals, and aims in life. I would like to ask every human to read the Quran as a book that would definitely have many pints for human growth in it; shall it be scientific, moral, social or lifestyle points, it can help all of us to experience a better personal and social life.