As a Muslim, I really don’t feel comfortable seeing Prophet Muhammad being mocked in the name of freedom of expression. Likewise, I also don’t feel comfortable hearing a preacher in the mosque labelling other religions as infidels. In general, I never feel comfortable seeing someone making comments on other people’s religions, especially when he or she tries to point out how incorrect other religions’ perspectives are.
We all have the rights 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 of what we believe. You can be proud of how well the verses in your holy books teach you how to do good deeds. You can be proud of how loving your god is or how noble your prophets are. You can definitely spread any form of kindness and useful teachings from your religion. Anything that may promote world peace. However, 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 to yours, but only within a homogenous group of your people (the ones with the same belief) as part of deepening the knowledge of your faith. Or alternatively, you attend an interfaith forum where everyone is required to openly learn about each other’s faith. You don’t share articles in social media or preach through a loudspeaker in a heterogeneous neighborhood mentioning that your religion is better than others, or that congratulating other religions’ holy days are equal to following infidelity. Not in Facebook, not in Twitter, not in Whatsapp groups, and not in any place where there are people who don’t share similar faiths with you.
It might seem trivial, but, please think again. It doesn’t matter whether you are a layman or a top-rated ustadz. If someone gets hurt or offended by your freely expresed minds, 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 from our mouth. There are never enough lessons on “What would they feel if I do this?”. 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 faiths should be regarded as a highly private matter.
Every religion is supposed to bring in peace upon 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. Hence technically, if you could spend some time to use your brain (and sense of humanity), you’d be able to feel it. After all, last two weeks’ tragedy should serve as a harsh reminder to us: to behave more like humans.