The Freedom to Ask
Adopted from the book : "Freedom; The Unstated Facts and Points" by : "Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi"
An issue that has remained untouched is that sometimes the motive of a person in expressing a subject is not in propagating and promoting it, but in posing the question. That is, as an academic or scientific discussion and subject he wants to make clear for himself this issue. What is the ruling for this issue from the viewpoint of Islam?
In this regard, we have to say that Islam places special importance and value to posing a question and academic discussion, although it would be about the most crucial Islamic principles and teachings.
Islam never suppresses raising a question and does not prohibit it. Not only does Islam not hinder posing a question but also it gives importance to giving the reply and clarifying the doubt to such an extent that if a person from the enemies of Islam at the middle of the battlefield wants to ask a question about the truths of religion Islam has ordered to provide the opportunities for him to come and get a due answer:
“And if anyone of the idolaters seeketh thy protection (O Muhammad , then protect him so that he may hear the word of Allah; and afterward convey him to his place of safety. That is because they are a folk who know not.” 34
But the point that must be given attention in this regard is that “there is a place for every talk and position for every point”. Question and inquiry are respectable, but they must be placed within the framework of the same general values system of Islam. In other words, the manner and circumstances of raising question should not be in such a way that it is harmful to others, make them lag behind in the ultimate perfection and make them deviate from the path of perfection.
Religious and scientific inquiry and question must be posed in their proper place, and not that, for example, doubt would be raised before the assembly of schoolchildren or any other assembly that has no familiarity with the fundamentals of Islam and philosophical and scholastic matters. Anyone who has a question has to raise it at the academic centers and at the circle of pertinent experts at the religious seminary and other similar academic assemblies. And there is no problem for that.
There is no problem either with scientific discussions on religious controversies provided that their particular requisites and etiquettes are properly observed. If it is so, apart from being not harmful, it also paves the ground for the growth and consolidation of the religious principles and precepts. But if a person does not observe the proper requirements and regulations, and asks the question in such a manner that it leads to the corruption of belief and deviation of others, he must be stopped in the same manner that distribution of any harmful item shall be checked.
Under the pretext of freedom in medical issues, can one spread any microbe in the alley and street?! This is while there is no problem and impediment in bringing the same microbe in the laboratory and before the experts for study and research on it. Not only that there is no problem but rather it is very important because out of studying it, the experts can discover the means to prevent its infection, to resist against it and to cure those who are afflicted with it, and thus, saving the lives of thousands and millions of people.
Intellectual and religious doubts are exactly similar to it. Raising them in the public opinion of society bears no result except heavy, and sometimes, irreparable and catastrophic losses. But raising them in the academic circle of pertinent experts will result in the further growth, blossoming and exaltation of thought, learning and religion.
34. Su-rah at-Tawbah 9:6.
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