Freedom of Thought or Freedom of Belief
Another point which should be stressed here is that there exists a difference between "freedom of thought" and "freedom of belief." Human beings are endowed with the faculty of thought which enables them to make decisions on the basis of thought, logic and reason. But belief entails a strong tie to the object of belief. And by the way, numerous are the beliefs that are not based on thought, but are sheer imitation, a result of upbringing and habits, and which even molest human freedom.
What we say, looking at things from the point of view of freedom, is that what mankind must have, is freedom of thought. Yet there are some beliefs which are not in the least rooted in thought; they have their root in the mere dormancy and stagnation of the spirit, handed down from generation to generation; they are the essence of bondage, so that war fought for the sake of eliminating such beliefs is war fought for the freedom of humanity, not war fought against it. If a man prays for his needs to a self-made idol, then, in the words of the Quran, that man is lower than an animal. This means that the act of this man is not based at all on thought.
A little bit of thinking would not allow him to engage in such an act. What he does is merely a reflection of the stagnation and dormancy which have appeared in his heart and in his soul, and which are rooted in blind imitation. This person must be forcibly freed from the internal chains which shackle him, to enable him to think. So, those who recommend the freedom of imitation and apparent freedoms which in fact enchain the souls such as the freedom of belief are in error. What we advocate, in accordance to the verse "la ikraha fid-din," is the freedom of thought.
Adapted from the book: "Jihad; The Holy War of Islam and Its Legitimacy in the Quran" by: "Ayatullah Morteza Mutahhari"
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