In search of True freedom We read about freedom, dream about freedom, rejoice in the notion of freedom, teach, advocate, and hope for freedom but what do we mean by freedom?
Freedom is a very broad term in its context, many people interpret it according to their level of thinking. Many people believe in the freedom of speech, where they have the right to express their views, opinions, and perspectives without any restriction. Others understand freedom in a financial context, having enough money to cover their expenses so that they can spend their precious time doing what they like rather than doing things just to earn money. But what does true freedom look like? This is very crucial to define.
For example, we are in deep financial debt and we start to work hard to get rid of this debt. After a month or a year if we accomplish our goal and attain financial freedom, freedom from the debt, have we attained true freedom? Does having no financial debt necessarily mean that we have attained financial freedom? Not really. See our hearts that desire again to plunge right back into it. Because our hearts desire something we cannot live without. It may be the case and unfortunately, it often is, we are again in debt. That’s why true freedom begins in the heart. We act on our thoughts and behave according to our desire. So, if our hearts are not changed, neither will our behavior change and thus the true freedom cannot be achieved. True freedom occurs only in the heart when it is changed and made new.
But finally, I found true freedom in Islam, we all were by God for the purpose to worship him, follow His orders and honor him forever. Yet, we all forget our purpose of creation, we follow the desires of our heart, whether they are right or wrong. This rebellion of humans against God, caused mankind to fall from innocence and become corrupted by sin. The human heart is free in one regard, free to choose whatever it desires. But naturally, the human heart is enslaved by evils, it chooses and desires for corrupted things. It does not desire what honors God. So, even though our heart is free to choose, it chooses continuously to sin as a habit of nature. All our thoughts, words, actions, desires, and feelings are polluted by sin. A place that never ends, and there you will be accountable for your bad desires.
Allah gave us Islam which frees mankind from all sorts of oppression one can face. When we submit to Allah, we find the path to freedom. Not only do we free our soul, but our mind, correct our behavioral patterns, abolish unjust laws, polytheism, slavery, injustice, and so many other things. We are freed from all evils as long as we actively seek to improve ourselves and to please Him. The Prophet Muhammad was sent as a “mercy to mankind” to teach us about the blessings and freedoms that Allah has granted us.
All mankind is morally free, with the ability to be immoral, or moral. We are born in a natural state of submission to Allah with an innate sense of right and wrong. We must nurture our morals to improve ourselves to make this world a place of peace, and a place to grow as servants of Allah.
When a person faces oppression in any form, it destroys their self-image and naturally triggers a search within the self for spiritual growth and seeking a higher purpose. Islam gives mankind the motivation to break free from the chains of all of today’s social ills. However, with freedom comes responsibility and dedication required to continue the path of freedom by making healthy and righteous choices. If we slack regarding any of these matters, we will fall back into the worldly prisons that we create for ourselves.
What freedoms has Allah bestowed upon us?
Freedom to Exercise Free Will
Mankind must adhere to limits within our choices available, actions, and deeds, otherwise we will witness a breakdown of moral conduct in society as a whole. Each one of us plays an important role in society.
However, freedom does not permit one to do just anything they please. We must stick to the teachings of Islam while striving and maintaining freedom to keep our souls, and society intact.
Allah gave man free will, but does this mean he is free from punishment?
No. We are free to do as we want, but we must respect the fact that there are consequences to our choices. Allah is most infinite in His wisdom. He gave us free will because if we didn’t have free will, we would never seek to please Him, and society would fall into destruction!
When we know there are consequences to our actions, we become more God-conscious of our actions and choices. However, while having free will, if we commit a mistake, knowing there will be consequences to be faced, we are more likely to seek forgiveness, and strive to lead a morally upright life. It is a perfect system.
Freedom from Racism
Islam gave us freedom from racism 1400 years ago, but mankind is still plagued with this social ill. Why?
Mankind has not implemented the teachings! Allah gave all mankind equality, regardless of race or nationality. He told us:
O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you… (49:13)
Malcolm X, also known as Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was originally an extreme racist, but after making his pilgrimage to Hajj, he witnessed the absence of racism amongst millions of pilgrims from all over the world. It changed his view forever, and he is now an icon identified with anti-racism to the world.
He began an anti-racism movement within the USA, and just a few decades later, we see racism diminishing. It still exists, but we know it is nothing like what it used to be. All it takes is one person to make a difference to make an impact on the world.
Freedom from Social Status Barriers
Unlike other religions that exist today, Islam does not consist of a caste system based on social status.
Islam promotes kindness and helping one another, regardless of who they are, or the social status.
Freedom from Financial Struggles
Islam came with a financial system that gives financial security to all mankind. Zakat (almsgiving) was commanded by Allah for those who have wealth that is unused for a period of one year to pay 2.5% on it to the poor.
This is a perfect balance, because zakat is not due upon anyone who does not have excess money that year. He becomes free from this obligation, making a balanced system. Allah does not require the poor to pay zakat and may actually be qualified to be the receiver.
Freedoms Given to Women
Did you know that Allah gave women rights through Islam, long before society gave women their rights?
Human Rights – In Surat an-Nisa’ 4:1 Allah told us women were to have the basic human rights as men.
Social Rights – Women were given a duty to be educated, it is not just the right of their male counterparts. The Prophet said:
“Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim…” (Ibn-Majah)
Civil Rights – There are many narrations of the Prophet which indicate women would ask him questions directly as well as offer their opinions concerning religion, economics, and social matters. The woman is also given the right to choose her spouse, and keeps her family name, because at that time when a wife married, she became the “property” of the husband, and she took his name. She also has the ability to testify in legal matters.
Economic Rights – A woman was allowed to work, keep her earnings for herself, to own property, and be given support during marriage, kind treatment by her husband, and even supported through divorce, and child support if she has children. This was unheard of until the 19th century in Europe.
…For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned…(4:32)
Rights as a Wife – There are numerous verses throughout the Quran telling women that they are to be protected, fully supported, treated with kindness, and given numerous other rights in marriage that were not given to women previously..