Rafed English

Religion cannot impose limit on freedom

Adopted from the book : "Freedom; The Unstated Facts and Points" by : "Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi"

Freedom is above religion and religion cannot create limitations for the freedom of human beings and through its laws it cannot deprive the people of benefiting from freedom.


In reply to the previous skepticism, it was clear that the essence of law is the setting of limitation. As it comprises of social and political laws, religion also regulates and restricts the social and political actions of man, ordering that those actions must be done within their particular framework. If religion means other than this, what is the purpose behind its existence? If religion is meant for this that every person can behave in whatever way he likes, then what is the status of religion? What is the station of religion?

The existence of religion and law has no other sense except setting limit on the freedoms of man. Thus, that which is said that freedom is above religion is nonsense. Yes, it is possible that there are those who, in the name of religion, wanted to put restriction on the legitimate freedom of people, and wanted to prohibit that which has been made lawful by God through superstitions and ethnic customs.

For example, unfortunately there are still some ethnics and tribes in this and that corner of our country that prohibit some of those made lawful by God. In the same manner, in the culture of our present society some of those made lawful by God are considered abominable. Had it not been the case, many of the sexual corruptions in the society could be prevented. The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said:

“Had (‘Umar) ibn al-Khat?t?a-b not prohibited fixed-time marriage [mut‘ah], 50 no one would ever commit adultery and fornication [zina-] except a wretched person.” 51

Regrettably, in our culture this thing made lawful by God, which is a key solution for many problems, is still considered abominable. Yes, if there are those who under the name of religion wanted to declare lawful those that are made unlawful by God, this act is abominable. Apart from being abominable, it is also unlawful [hara-m] and it is a kind of religious innovation [bid‘ah]. The same is true for its opposite. Forbidding the lawful is also an innovation:

“Verily, God loves the people to benefit from the permissible [muba-ha-t] and lawful [hala-l-ha-] things just as He loves them to perform the compulsories [wa-jiba-t] and shun the unlawful [muharrama-t] things.” 52

Thus, under the name of religion, or under the name of tribalism or local, ethnic and clannish prejudices nobody has the right to declare unlawful some of those made lawful by God. In the same manner, setting limits on freedoms is unlawful and an innovation. No one is amenable with these. But if what is meant by “freedoms” is the illegitimate freedoms, naturally no one is expecting also that religion would not oppose illegitimate freedoms!

Notes :

50. For information on the issue of mut‘ah, see, among others, Sayyid Muhammad Husayn T?aba-t?aba-’i-, Al-Mi-za-n: An Exegesis of the Qur’an, trans. Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi (Tehran: World Organization for Islamic Services, 1992), vol. 8, under the commentary on Qur’an 4:24, pp. 104-111; Sayyid ‘Abdul-Husayn Sharafuddi-n Mu-sawi-, Questions on Jurisprudence, trans. Liyakatali Takim (Ontario: Hydery Canada Ltd., 1996), chap. 4, http://www./masail/4.htm; Sachiko Murata, “Temporary Marriage in Islamic Law,” Al-Serat 13, no. 1, http://www./al-serat/al-serat_muta/title.htm. [Trans.]

51. Sharh Nahj al-Bala-ghah Ibn Abi-’l-Hadi-d, vol. 12, p. 253.

52. Biha-r al-Anwa-r, vol. 69, p. 360.

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