Freedom of Thought in Islam

Contrary to the common misconception that Islam denies religious freedom to others, Islam upholds religious freedom for everyone. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right whose violation has caused conflicts, wars and bloodshed in ancient and modern societies. For the first time in human history, the Quran declared: “There shall be no compulsion in religion.” (2: 256). It further states clearly, “You have your religion, and I have mine.” (109: 6) The principle that we obtain from the above verses of the Quran is generally referred to as religious freedom in today’s context. Given this prohibition of compulsion, all Islamic jurists hold that forcible conversion is null and void under all circumstances in Islam. The principle of non-coercion mentioned in the Quran has not been confined to religious freedom alone. It has been extensively elaborated upon and widely applied to all social, cultural, and political spheres of society. It has led to a new culture in which individuals enjoy the freedom of expression, dissent and criticism without fear or restriction.

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