FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND ITS RESTRICTION IN ISLAMIC AND WESTERN PHILOSOPHY: AN ANALYSIS OF DIRECT AND INDIRECT HARM
From last two decades, we have seen a rise in tension between Muslim and Western countries in terms of conflict between freedom of expression and religious tolerance. The compatibility of the right to freedom of expression in SharÊ‘ah or Islamic law with International Human Rights Law has always been challenged. This article intends to unpack the differences between protected expressions from prohibited expression in Islamic law. It further explores how the perspective of Islamic law differs from Western liberal philosophers. This article concludes that both Islamic law and Western liberal philosophy value free expression. However, both differ in an important way. Under Islamic law, freedom of expression is not absolute and, reasonable moral and legal restrictions may be imposed for religious tolerance. On the other hand, Western liberal philosophy focuses on absolute protection of freedom of expression and allows restrictions only in exceptional situations on the ground of “physical harm”. Finally, this article argues that the right to freedom of expression must be protected to the extent that one’s ideas and feelings with one’s own choice are not endangering the peace and tranquillity of the whole community. This article suggests that United Nations need to consider not only physical harm, but moral and spiritual harm caused by free expression while restricting freedom of expression. Such right to freedom of expression must maintain the richness of diversity and should not be harmful for the rights of others.