The true meaning of freedom


QUESTION: Some say that freedom means that whatever one does, good or evil, cannot be questioned unless it harms others. Is this so?

ANSWER: Such claims are the ravings of those who, like children, seek pretexts for their vices; it is not freedom. True, refined freedom is taught by the Shari‘a and adorned by it with good manners. The freedom of vice and dissipation is not freedom; it is bestiality, the domination of Satan, and slavery to the carnal, evil-commanding soul.

The freedom of the people is the result of the freedom of individuals. The basic characteristic of freedom is to give no harm to both oneself and others. The perfection of freedom lies in not oppressing anyone and not mocking the freedom of others. No one should dominate others, except through the justice of law. The rights of everyone should be under protection and everyone should be free to perform lawful acts. The Divine principle, None of us should take others for lords, apart from God (3:64) should be the basic norm. Human freedom requires and is perfected by servanthood to God. Freedom is an attribute of belief. For the dignity of belief and the valor it gives do not allow a believer, who has become a servant of God through the bond of belief, to lower themselves before anybody else or to be under the dominion and oppression of others. Nor does the compassion which belief inculcates permit them to transgress the freedom and rights of others. The more perfect the belief, the brighter the freedom.

QUESTION: How can we be free before a great man, a saint, a great scholar? They have a right to dominate us due to their merits. We are slaves to their virtues.

ANSWER: The characteristics of sainthood and greatness are humility or modesty. They are not arrogance and domination. One who feels arrogant is one who feigns sainthood or feigns being a spiritual guide. Do not treat this person as a great one.

QUESTION: You are very hopeful about freedom and Constitutionalism. But what about the terrible snakes around us that have opened their mouths to poison our life and break our state to pieces?

ANSWER: Do not be afraid! As civilization, virtues, and freedom have begun to weigh heavier in the human realm, the other pan of the scales will gradually become lighter. Supposing the impossible – if, God forbid, they smash and kill us – for sure, we will die numbering twenty, but we will be revived numbering three hundred. Removing the dust of vices and disagreements from our heads, we will lead the caravan of humanity as a truly enlightened and united people. We do not fear such a death, which will result in the most resistant, powerful, and eternal life. Even if we die, Islam will survive. Whatever is in the future is close.

(From Munazarat [“Discussions”])

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi