As a Muslim, I really don’t feel comfortable seeing the Prophet Muhammad being mocked in the name of freedom of expression. Likewise, I also don’t feel comfortable hearing a preacher in the mosque labeling those of other religions as infidels. In general, I never feel comfortable seeing someone making comments about other people’s religions, especially when he or she tries to point out how incorrect other religions’ perspectives are.
We all have the right to feel that our choice of faith is the most correct one in the world. Similarly, we do have the freedom to express our pride in what we believe. You can be proud of how well the verses in your holy book teach you how to do good deeds. You can be proud of how loving your god is or how noble your prophets are. However, please keep it to yourself. You should never make comments on other people’s religions based on your opinions, especially when your comments are negative and potentially insulting.
You can, though, compare other religions with yours, but only within a homogenous group of your people (those with the same beliefs) as part of deepening the knowledge of your faith. Or alternatively, you attend an interfaith forum where everyone is required to learn about each other’s faith.
You don’t share articles on social media or preach through a loudspeaker in a heterogeneous neighborhood asserting that your religion is better than others, or that congratulating other religions’ holy days is equal to following infidelity.
Not on Facebook, not on Twitter, not in WhatsApp groups, and not in any place where there are people who don’t share your faith. It might seem trivial but, please, think again. It doesn’t matter whether you are a layman or a top-rated ustadz (Islamic teacher). If someone gets hurt by your freely expressed mind, then what makes you different to Charlie Hebdo? You are making interpretations of what is correct and what is incorrect, as well as labels of who is wrong and who is right. While actually, it is God’s privilege to do that.
Sometimes we forget to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. We forget to calculate the impact of whatever comes out of our mouth. There are never enough lessons on “How would they feel if I did that?” The old saying “Treat others as you want to be treated” is not always effective because every one of us applies different standards. I guess this is the reason why faith should be regarded as a highly private matter.
Every religion is supposed to bring peace on earth and I personally condemn any attacks in the name of it. On the other hand, I agree that there are limits to freedom of speech on sensitive issues. Certainly, the definition of “sensitive” varies among different communities. The rule of to what extent certain discussion is appropriate and what is not is also very vague, depending on cultural and local values. It’s hard to measure, but that’s what makes humans different to animals; we are given the wisdom to do so. After all, last week’s tragedy should serve as a harsh reminder to us to behave more like humans.
Lhuri Dwianti Rahmartani