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Quran says no one can limit others’ freedom. Udaipur killing violates Islam’s golden rule

Throughout history, Islamic scholars have uniformly agreed that respecting and obeying the law of the land is an essential aspect of faith.

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Udaipur killing is yet another incident that casts doubt on the progress humanity has made since the dark ages. Great minds throughout history have reiterated the role of peace in the development of society. But the incident is an example of the chaos that is unleashed when intolerance reigns over reason and fraternity. This condemnable act has reignited the discussion about how violent extremist actions contradict the fundamental principles that Islam professes.

The Arabic root word for Islam is ‘s l m‘, which means peace. Islam has no room for bloodshed and the killing of other human beings. The Quran declares that ‘killing one human is comparable to killing the entire humanity’ (Quran, 5:32).

Killing someone is haram (forbidden) in Islam. It is illegal for civilians to physically or even verbally attack others. According to Islam, punishment is the prerogative of established courts, not of individuals or non-governmental organisations. If someone commits a crime, their case will be referred to a court created by a country’s legislation, and the judge will render their decision after completing the necessary legal steps. Then, the appropriate legal authorities will execute the order. Civilians cannot do it. Not just performing rites, but a part of religious duty makes it equally necessary for a Muslim to respect and observe the legislation of the land in which they reside. Throughout history, Islamic scholars have uniformly agreed that respecting and obeying the law of the land is an essential aspect of faith.

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Islam—a faith of reason

Those who use aggressive methods or words instead of reasoned responses are maligning their faith. Inflicting physical retribution or provoking others to do the same to anyone who makes a derogatory remark about the Prophet Muhammad is equivalent to implying that Islam is incapable of providing a reasoned response, which, in itself, is discrediting Islam.

Islam is a reason-based ideology. All Islamic teachings are founded on reason and argument, and it favours logical debate above physical punishment. There can be many reasons why a person might choose negative words against the Prophet and one of them is provocation. Provocation often leads to an exchange of harsh words and the Quran’s golden rule of mutual respect and tolerance (6:108), where it asks its followers not to revile someone else’s faith, seeks to address that.

As per Quranic teachings, no individual has the authority to limit others’ freedom—it’s available to all. It is not for individuals to decide if someone used or abused their freedom. In all aspects of life, the Islamic path is to seek peace and reason. A popular anecdote illustrates this. Once, in Medina, a man came to the Prophet and said: ‘Teach me something that is not too much for me so that I may abide by it.’ The Prophet replied: ‘Do not get angry.’ The man repeated his request a number of times, but each time response was the same: ‘Do not get angry.’ It is profoundly distressing that, rather than following this advice, some Muslims continue to resort to violence, passive or aggressive, due to self-inflicted paranoia.

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Responsibility rests on followers

History shows that any success on the part of an individual or a community has been achieved by adopting a peaceful and conciliatory approach. It gives people the opportunity to fully utilise available options, whereas confrontation only leads to planning the destruction of others. The latter approach is inherently programmed to reach a destructive outcome. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Peace cannot be achieved through violence; it can be only attained through understanding.”

Despite the fact that no religion encourages violence, some of history’s most horrible deeds of violence have occurred in the name of faith. So whose responsibility is it to be at the forefront of faith, preventing it from being misinterpreted and misrepresented? Followers. It is up to them to do everything necessary to build a society in which peace, free speech, and constructive dialogue exist.

Extremist ideology and violent behaviour have no place in any society. A heavy burden rests on the shoulders of scholars and intellectuals of communities. The leaders must clearly and openly condemn any acts of violence, and effectively trickle these views down to the bottom in order to build a peaceful world for the coming generations.

The author is an Islamic thinker and author of ‘The True Face of Islam’. Views are personal.

(Edited by Srinjoy Dey)

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