A. (Dr Zakir Naik): Brother has asked a very good question -that does Islam permit freedom of expression?… if so than why have the death sentence, given to Salman Rushdie? Brother, the complete answer is given in this cassette, in the Press debate organised by the Bombay Union of Journalists. The Times of India , Indian Express Journalist, Bombay Unit of journalists and the topic was …‘Is Religion a fundamentalism a stumbling block against the freedom of expression?’ It was held after the death sentence was passed on Taslima Nasreen, who wrote the book ‘Lajja’. This gives the detail, and in this debate there was a Hindu priest, there was a Christian priest, there was a person who translated Lajja into Marathi… Ashok Sahane, and myself from the Islamic side. This is a very good debate… this gives the detail about the Religious freedom. Some people say… ‘That in other Religions, there is total Religious freedom… anything you can say’. Some people say that… ‘Religious freedom is a stumbling block, in the freedom of expression’ – While the other speaker camp and said that… ‘There is no stumbling block in Islam. It depends upon the situation – I cannot give a blanket… yes or no. In short, I would say… If the freedom of expression is given – for example… for anyone to praise anyone, to glorify anyone, if he wants to praise anyone or glorify anyone, etc., Islam gives full permission… as long as he does not harm anyone and it is with proof.
Point No.1: He can say anything, as long as it does not harm anyone – If it does not harm anyone, it is fine.
Point No.2: If it harms anyone, these are two things with proof, and without proof. If it harms anyone, for example… abusing anyone.
As the Qur’an says… ‘Do not call each other, by nick names’. Abusing anyone with proof or without proof… just for slandering, it is not allowed. If you speak against someone with proof …with proof, it is allowed, for example I am working in a company… if the company is corrupted… I am speaking against the corruption of the company, Islam gives full freedom of expression… full. I should go and say that… ‘This company is corrupted… that it is cheating the human beings, etc’… with proof. But I cannot say…‘The boss is cheating’… without proof. Without proof if I say – I have got no right. If I say… I allege anything against any human being, I should have proof. Again Islam… if I say anything to any woman… even if I put a small allegation against her chastity… against her modesty, Qur’an says… ‘Produce four witnesses – If I cannot, you get eighty lashes.’ That means, you cannot… like in countries like America, England… you can abuse the girl, and get away with it. In Islam, if you abuse the girl and spoil her any name – and if you cannot produce four witnesses, you get eighty lashes. That is, we prove it… the modesty, with proof. You are allowed… with proof. If you get for eg… If you are working in a company, and get the proof that… this particular boss is corrupting the people, that he is corrupted – I can do with proof… Islam gives permission of… full freedom of expression. There are certain things… with proof also you cannot say, for eg… if I am working in the Indian army… I have got proof about its secret – I cannot go and sell it to the enemy. So here, freedom of expression is not allowed… with proof. If it causes loss to the people who are working… if it is against the country, I am taking the secret and selling it to the enemy of Government. Why… to profit with it money… just to get and lakhs rupees – Islam does not give permission. So for freedom of expression… depending which type of freedom do you believe in. If you believe that I can slander anyone, I can abuse anyone, and then say… ‘Freedom of expression’ – Islam does not give permission. Same thing if you analyse… book was released in U.K. – the book on Salmaan Rushdie… it was released in U.K. – I have given my view on that. You can refer to the Video cassette… ‘That there was a person who came from America, and he used a four letter word for Margaret Thatcher’s policy – he was banned. England believes in freedom of expression, but since he spoke against Margaret Thatcher, he was banned. So the same Salman Rushdie… I know besides, he has done wrong things… he has abused our Prophet, he has abused our Mother, he has abused… he has done wrong. Besides that, he has abused the whole human kind – People are not reading the book properly. I do not want to say the things, he has said. The first page, he abused the wonders – I cannot use that word… it is an offensive word… I cannot use it. He says… ‘Magi the…’ – He calls her… ‘The female dog’. Islam does not give you the permission. Do you have the proof to call her a female dog. I do not want to use that… uses a letter word. And he says to Magi, offensive things – Magi is short form for, Margaret Thatcher. So Islam does not give permission… he even abuses Ram and Sita, in that book – people do not know that. I do not want to say, what he wrote for Ram and Sita, I do not want to say that. The best things I would like to do, is to congratulate Rajiv Gandhi, the first person… the first prime minister of any country in the world… he banned the book… I congratulate him. He may not be knowing, that he abuses Ram and Sita in the book. Salman Rushdie abuses Ram and Sita… Rajiv Gnadhi may not be knowing. I have read the book thought it is banned in India. I have read the book sure that speak on the book I have read the book. So if anyone abuses anyone… If anyone abuses even your sister or mother, without proof… it is not allowed. Even in the Bible… if you read, the Bible says in the book of Leviticus, it says… ‘Anyone that blasphemeth the Lord… stone him to death – Anyone that blasphemeth the Lord… stone him to death’. So if anyone, depending upon the severity of the crime, you can give punishment. So if anyone abuses anyone without proof… without anything, Islam does not permit. That is the reason certain people who call death sentences extra. There are four options given in the Holy Qur’an… in Surah Maidah, Ch. No. 5, V. No. 33 to 35, it say… ‘If anyone wages a war against God Almighty, and his Prophet, and creates mischief in the land… either exile him, execute him, chop off his opposite hands and limbs – left hand… right leg or right hand… and left leg – or crucify him’. Four options… either execute, either crucify, chop off his opposite limbs, or exile him. See… this is a strict punishment. Why?… to see to it, that no one takes undue advantage in Islam. If anyone commits rape… Capital punishment – People may think it is a barbaric law. People and tell me…‘Islam in this age of science and technology. Capital punishment.’ See all the Religions speak good things – Hinduism says… ‘You should not tease a girl, you should not rape a girl’- Christianity says that, Islam says the same. The difference in Islam is… Islam shows you a way, how to achieve a state, in which no one will rape any girl. Every man… when he looks at a woman, and any unbrazen thought comes to his mind, he should lower his gaze. Whenever he looks at a woman, Qur’an says… ‘He should lower his gaze.’ That is his hijab, for the woman – She should be covered completely covered. The only part that can be seen… the face and the hands, up to the wrist. If two twin sisters are walking down the street… one is wearing the Islamic Hijab… that is, complete body is covered… the only part that is seen, is the face and hands up to the wrist – and the other… she is wearing a skirt and a mini. If around the corner, a hooligan is waiting for a catch – which girl will he tease… which girl will he tease? The two twin sisters, equally beautiful, walking down the street… one is wearing a skirt or mini… one is properly covered. Who will he tease?…The girl wearing the skirt or the mini! The Qur’an says that…‘Hijab has been prescribed to you…’ in Surah Ahzab, Ch.33 V No.59 ‘…So that it may prevent molestation.’ In America… everyday more than 1,900 cases of rapes, take place… in America. And if any one rapes, Islamic Shariah says… ‘Capital punishment’. – People say it is a barbaric law. I ask Non-Muslims… ‘If some one rapes your wife or sister, and if you are made the Judge… what punishment will you give him? All of them said that… ‘I will kill the rapist’. If someone rapes your wife, sister and you are made the judge… what punishment will you give him? – ‘Death penalty’. Some went to the extreme that…‘I will torture him to death.’ I am asking the question…If you implement the Shariah in America, where more than 900 rapes cases take place everyday – that every man who looks at a woman, should lower his gaze – the woman should be properly dressed up, and after that if someone rapes… capital punishment! Will the rate of rape increase, decrease or remain the same? It will decrease. That is the reason, why the lease rate of rape, any country of the world… is in Saudi Arabia. Religions speak good… but Islam shows you a way, how to achieve that good state. Therefore Islam does not believe in slandering any one. No one can abuse my mother, and get away in a Muslim country – in other countries… Yes! Freedom of expression… Islam believes in freedom of expression, where it is beneficient to humanity. Qur’an says in Surah Isra, Ch. No. 17, V. No. 81 to 82….(Arabic)….‘When truth is hurled against falsehood, falsehood perishes… for falsehood, is by its nature, bound to perish’. If it is beneficient for the humanity, Islam promotes freedom of expression – if it is not, then Islam does not allow it. Regarding your second part of your question… What is the difference between the Shias and the Sunnis? Brother, the difference… it’s a political difference. Actually in Islam, there is nothing like Shia and Sunni – There is no ‘Shia’…. ‘Sunni’ mentioned in the Holy Qur’an.The Qura’n says in Surah Al-Imran, Ch. No. 3, V. No. 103… (Arabic)…‘Hold together to the rope of Allah, and be not divided’ – there is nothing like ‘Shia’…. ‘Sunni’ in Islam. These came in later centuries…afterwards, due to political differences in Islam. Muslims are only one category. Muslims that there one no sub categories like… Shia, Sunni or anything, in Muslim. Because Qur’an say clearly in Surah Anaam, Ch. No. 6, V. No. 159 that… ‘Who ever makes sects… divisions in Religion of Islam, he has nothing to do with Allah (SWT).’ Means, making sects is prohibited in Islam. The difference between Shia and Sunni is a political difference, and not a religious difference. Hope this answers the question.