Page 29 - Islam In Focus

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his own course. The Qur’ an says: The Truth is from your Lord. Let him who will,
believe, and let him who will, disbelieve (Qur’ an, 18:29).
The Islamic concept of freedom is an article of faith, a solemn command from the
Supreme Creator. It is built on the following fundamental principles. First, man’ s
conscience is subject to God only, to Whom every man is directly responsible.
Secondly, every human being is personally responsible for his deeds and he alone is
entitled to reap the fruits of his work. Thirdly, God has delegated to man the
responsibility to decide for himself. Fourthly, man is sufficiently provided with
spiritual guidance and endowed with rational qualities that enable him to make
responsible, sound choices. Such is the foundation of the Islamic concept of freedom
and such is the value of freedom in Islam. It is a natural right of man, a spiritual
privilege, a moral prerogative, and, above all, a religious duty. Within the framework
of this Islamic concept of freedom, there is no room for religious persecutions, class
conflict, or racial prejudice. The individual’ s right of freedom is as sacred as his right
of Life; freedom is the equivalent of Life itself
The Concept of Equality
One basic element in the value system of Islam is the principle of equality or, better
yet, equity. This value of equality is not to be mistaken for or confused with
identicalness or stereotype. Islam teaches that, in the sight of God, all men are equal,
but they are not necessarily identical. There are differences of abilities, potentials,
ambitions, wealth and so on. Yet none of these differences can by itself establish a
status of superiority of one man or race to another. The stock of man, the color of his
skin, the amount of wealth he has, and the degree of prestige he enjoys have no
bearing on the character and personality of the individual as far as God is concerned.
The only distinction which God recognizes is the distinction in piety, and the only
criterion which God applies is the criterion of goodness and spiritual excellence. In
the Qur’ an, God says:
O mankind, verily We have created you from a single (Pair) of a male and a female,
and have made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the
most honored of you in the sight of God is the most righteous (49:13).
The difference of race, color, or social status are only accidental. They do not affect
the true stature of man in the sight of God. Again, the value of equality is not simply a
matter of constitutional rights or gentlemen’ s agreement or condescending charity. It
is an article of faith which the Muslim takes seriously and to which he must adhere
sincerely. The foundations of this Islamic value of equality are deeply rooted in the
structure of Islam. It stems from basic principles such as the following: (1) All men
are created by One and the Same Eternal God, the Supreme Lord of all. (2) All
mankind belong to the human race and share equally in the common parentage of
Adam and Eve. (3) God is just and kind to all his creatures. He is not partial to any
race, age, or religion. The whole universe is His dominion and all people are His
creatures. (4) All people are born equal in the sense that none brings any possession
with him, and they die equal in the sense that none brings any possession with him,
and they die equal in the sense that they take back nothing of their worldly
belongings. (5) God judges every person on the basis of his own merits and according