Stability VS Reform
By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
The common notion between freedom and power is, they both have had wars raged for their sake during the course of history. Although, the thirst for power has caused more wars and taken more lives, but freedom has been the primary cause of many battle, conflicts and wars in various times and places. Therefore, it would be beneficial to dissect the legitimacy of any movement that claims freedom is its goal, and see what are the acceptable sacrifices to reach freedom? In addition, it would be beneficial to define freedom as well, and compare to contemporary and ancient definitions of freedom.
Definition of Freedom
The 70th verse of Quran’s 17th chapter states: “and we have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what we have created, with (definite) preference”. According to many narrations and traditions by the Holy Prophet and his holy household, the definition of ‘HONORED’ in this verse applies to the notion of freedom and free will. To assert this notion, the 4th verse of Quran’s 95th chapter has indicated: “we have certainly created man (humans) in the best stature”. The implication of this verse cannot be applied on the physical aspect of humans’ creation, as the entire creations in the universe are created in a very precise and detailed system. Animals, plants, objects, mountains, skies, planets and everything in this universe has the perfect stature. Therefore, by secluding the humans in this verse, the almighty must be outlining a major difference between humans and his other creation, which would be the power of will and freedom that he has granted to humans.
There is a jurisprudential principle in Shia Islam that is called “La Tharar wa la Thirar’, or what translated in English as, no harm (To self) and no harm to others. This jurisprudential principle has helped jurists with hundreds of ruling about the notion of damage and its personal and social side effects. According to this principle, any action and conduct that might harm one’s self of others is prohibited ad considered HARAM. According to Shia scholars, the notion of freedom falls under this category and principle, so it can be contained and managed in a way that doesn’t interrupt the social fabric of a society. For example, any human being is free to drive his/her car at a speed, which he/she desires. However, since this action will cause fear and possible harm and danger to others, Islam considers it as prohibited and places the state law as the judge to set a speed limit for the society’s safety. In addition, any individual, who wished to exceed the speed limit, shall be ready to face the consequences of his/her action in the case of damage or even being pulled over by authorities.
Types of Freedom
Three guaranteed freedoms of any human on the face of this planet, according to Shia Islam have been outlined by the holy prophet and his holy household in their narrations and traditions. These freedoms are sufficient to address the entire needs and necessities of life, which will result in a state of self-sustainability in all parts of this planet, where no human will require any aide and help of externals.
Intellectual Freedom: in a narration by Imam Ali, he says: “do not be a slave of others, when God has created you free”. This narration affirms the notion of freedom and rejects any notion of compulsion in Islam, since free-will and the freedom of acceptation and rejection is a concept that has been state by the Holy Quran “There is no Compulsion in religion”. In addition, intellectual freedom enables and urges humans to seek and search for answers, and since logic is the only thing that will always prevail, accepting the truth and adopting it will be the ultimate benefit for all humans.
Political Freedom: humans are entitled to choose any system for their governance, as no regime is allowed to impose itself upon humans to govern them and manage their affairs. The 71st verse of Quran’s 17th chapter states: “the day we will call forth every people with their leader”. This verse clearly indicates that God has granted his subjects to choose the system they desire for governance, and that system will represent them in all aspects of life. In addition, the freedom of opposition has been granted by Islam as well, through freedom to form political parties and institutions, which includes all groups.
Economic Freedoms: Shia jurists have derived many rulings in this regard from a jurisprudential principle set by the Holy Prophet in a narration. The principle states: “people are in command of their wealth and life”. This jurisprudential principle has enable scholars to outline the economic freedom granted by God to his subjects during their earthly life. Individuals are entitled to invest their wealth in any field they desire, as long as their investments don’t harm others and confiscate their property, rights and efforts. This notion applies to time and place as well, as individuals are entitled to invest anywhere and anytime they see as beneficial to their investment. In addition, all humans are free to work in any field they desire, and no one shall have the right to force a person to work and be active in a certain field against his/her will. This includes cultivation as well, as Islam has a general principle that states: “Land belongs to whomever revives it”. Therefore, if an individual decides to choose a certain land and cultivate in it and revives that land, it shall belong to him. These principles have outlined the role of the state as well, as the state’s role is limited to providing security and order in the society through rule of law and arbitration (Judicial system).
Social Freedoms: These freedoms include a wide range of aspects and notions that address and manage a smooth transition and flow of social affairs in a society. Freedom of Travel and residence, as people are entitled to travel wherever they desire and reside wherever they desire as well. Personal freedoms, such as marriage, divorce, contraception, name and any other notion that helps distinguish an individual from another. Individuals are entitled to choose their spouses and no one has the right to force a certain person upon another one, as permission is the primary base from any marriage in Islam. In addition, spouses are entitled to end their matrimony if they desire and see their relation is unresolvable. Women have the right to use contraception methods, if child birth is harmful for them. All individuals are entitled to choose a name for themselves, or change the name that was given to them at birth, and many other rights that ensure the dignity and status of a human being is sanctioned.
To be continued