Taken from the book American Muslim Agenda by Dr. Mike Ghouse
Chapter 16: Islamic Values No. 11
Free will is one of the most essential values of humanity, everyone is born free. Freedom to think, believe, speak and act are the inalienable rights of every individual. Indeed, this freedom is extended to the animal kingdom as well.
All the progress we have made moving from caves to living in New York is because of the free will. Abandoning the boring Paradise and living and enjoying on the earth is because of Adam’s free will. Living a healthier life of 100 from dying around 50 is because of free will. Flying in the planes instead of riding the donkeys is because of free will. We have come a long way, but a whole lot to go to act, think, and feel and believe that half of the world population, that is women are equal to men. The world is a better place today because of the free will.
Look at Islam, if it were not for the free will clause of America and the other democracies, Islam would not have gained ground anywhere. One of the most cherished values of Islam is free will, and entirely there is no compulsion, yet Muslims do not follow. Of course, everyone does, but my focus in this book is Muslims.
Birth of Freewill.
It is a dramatized version of Adam & Eve story based on verses 2:35-239 in the following screenplay;
God: Adam, you are the first man, you and your mate are welcome to enjoy the environment of perfect ease, happiness, and innocence here in this paradise. You are free from the hassles of life, but if you want to continue to live here, you had better behave and follow my rules. However, that is your choice.
Adam: Thank you. What are the rules that I need to follow?
God: Yes, you can do anything here, except eating that forbidden fruit.
Adam: Yes, Sir! What happens if I eat?
God: You will be kicked out of this place, I am serious.
Satan: Hey Adam, did you know why God said not to eat that forbidden fruit?
Satan: It is a secret, it is a pleasurable thing, but God does not want you to have it.
Satan: I don’t know, you check it out, man.
Eve: Adam, don’t do it, you had better listen to the creator!
Adam: Let me try, what’s the deal with God, he said, the choice is mine.
Satan: Of course, it is yours.
Adam: Eats the fruit.
Adam: Hey Eve, the fruit is making noise inside my body.
Eve: I told you so, there is something wrong with it, you men don’t listen!
Adam: I am distraught… something is moving inside me.
Satan: Hey buddy, your stomach is processing the food
Adam: What will happen now?
Eve: Is that hurting baby?
Adam: No, looks like something wants to come out from the bottom
Satan: No shitting!
God: Adam, I don’t have a toilet or toilet paper, why did you do that?
Adam: Why did you tell me not to eat? I just wanted to check it out.
God: Man, you erred, we will throw you out, don’t mess my clean paradise with your shit. I have no one to clean it.
Angels: God, this is not fair, you could have slapped Adam and prevented him.
God: Angels, I owe you an answer.
Angels: Good, are you going to recuse yourselves and not punish Adam?
God: Look, guys, I am the God, I offered him the choice and the consequences.
Adam: I did not understand you correctly God.
God: That is not my problem Adam!
Angels: Good God, he made a mistake, give him a break.
God: No break, I mean business. If I don’t honor my own words, who will?
Angels: We don’t agree with you.
God: I don’t care, rules are rules.
Angels: What do we need to do now?
God: Uploaded the free will in their DNA, and let every Son of A – I mean Adam, live through it. Get him out of here.
Satan: Ha ha ha! Men go for what feels good
Eve: Adam, you should have listened to me.
Quran on the Story of Adam.
2:35, “God: “O Adam, dwell thou and thy wife in this garden, and eat freely thereof, both of you, whatever you may wish; but do not approach this one tree, lest you become wrongdoers.” Garden, “According to some of the earliest commentators is an earthly abode here alluded to-namely, an environment of perfect ease, happiness, and innocence.” And “This tree is alluded to elsewhere in the Qur’an as “the tree of life eternal,” and in the Bible (Genesis ii, 9) as “the tree of life” and “the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
2:36, “But Satan caused them both to stumble therein, and thus brought about the loss of their recent state. (by inducing them to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree) And so We said: “Down with you, [and be henceforth] enemies unto one another; and on earth, you shall have your abode and your livelihood for a while!”
2:37, “Thereupon Adam received words [of guidance] from his Sustainer, and He accepted his repentance: for, verily, He alone is the-Acceptor of Repentance, the Dispense
2:38, “[For although] We did say, “Down with you all from this [state],” there shall, none the less, most certainly your guidance comes from Me: and those who follow My guidance need have no fear, and neither shall they grieve; r of Grace.”
2:39 “but those who are bent on denying the truth and giving the lie to Our messages – they are destined for the fire, and therein shall they abide.” (My understanding of fire is living in apprehensions, precisely opposite of comfort and happiness.)
The US Constitution on free speech.
Wikipedia, “The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices. It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from limiting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely. It also ensures the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government.
Warning: It is critical for Muslims and fellow humans to know that there have been deliberate attempts made to mistranslate the Quran, there were two such gross mistranslations, and now, I am discovering the third one. (Chapter: Quran is not for Muslims)
One of the core values of Islam is free will. It is critical to building cohesive societies where each one of God’s creation can live his/her life, and let others live theirs.
Imam Feisal had written a book, “What is right with Islam,” and many others have written extensively. The righteousness advocated in Islam is actually followed in America. The Islamic values (except the Public Sharia- Chapter Fixing Sharia Laws) and the American values of justice, equity and fairness are a close overlap.
The Quran on free will
2: 256, “THERE SHALL BE no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from [the way of] error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of a support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all-knowing.”
Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq writes in his blog Apostasy and Islam, “This is Islam’s unambiguous affirmation of freedom of faith, which also applies to change of faith. The Qur’an illuminates before the humanity the two highways [90:10], one of which leads to salvation. Islam is an invitation to the highway toward salvation, but it is based on FREEDOM OF CHOICE.”
Bijan Moeinian translates the same verse as follows, ” There is no force in belief. The right and the wrong are clearly defined. The one who rejects the idols (in any shape and form) and chooses to believe in God has indeed hung to a strong rope of security that never breaks. God Hears and is Aware. ” His insertion of the word “idol” is wrong, it is not in the actual Quran.
36:67 (Asad) And had it been Our WILL [that they should not be FREE to choose between right and wrong], We could surely have given them a different nature [and created them as beings rooted] in their places, so that they would not be able to move forward, and could not turn back.]
(Asad’s interpretation – if it had been God’s will that men should have no freedom of will or moral choice, He would have endowed them from the very beginning with a spiritually and morally stationary nature, entirely rooted in their instincts (“in their places”), devoid of all urge to advance, and incapable either of positive development or of retreat from a wrong course.)
Bijan is here again with his rightwing agenda, it angers me, and I hope you feel the same with this translation, “I may decide to freeze them so that they stay motionless; not being able to move around.”
Most Muslims believe, in fact, all should believe in free will. However, we have room for diverse beliefs including a belief in pre-destination; i.e., Everything happens according to God’s will.
Emphasis on Freewill
First: God has uploaded “Freewill into Adam, the first man, and all his progeny is gifted with the same.
Second: God made sure he reminded Prophet Muhammad, his last messenger with revelations, through Quran in the above reference verses 2: 256, 36:67 and at least a dozen sentences.
Third: A powerful example was set to make sure people get the message about “Free will.” Prophet Muhammad became the most powerful man in Arabia, he was the chief of the state of Medina, a religious leader, statesman, and a commander. He never compelled anyone to believe in what he found, including his Christian wife Maria, and Jewish wife, Safia. In fact, he let it be known that no man can compel his wife to do things against her will.
Abu Talib was Prophet Muhammad’s uncle, a pagan. He was persuaded several times to look into the idea of the oneness of God, and each time, but Abu Talib firmly rejected to convert. The prophet never pushed him, so the world can remember, that God means what “no compulsion in the matters of faith” means. Abu Talib died as a Pagan.
Many Muslims don’t get that, like the Christians, they are hell-bent on converting others to score points with God. There is no need for that, what God cares is if you took care of fellow beings.
Every month, I get a call from someone or the other wanting to convert to Islam. I have always pushed them back and asked them to study their own faith, which is as beautiful as any faith. Two individuals, in particular, were engaged with me for a long time. A Mormon woman from Bismarck, South Dakota would not listen, she was determined, at the end of three months, I yielded and had her contact the local Imam, and she pledged to become a Muslim. A week later she sends me her picture wearing the hijab-scarf with mini-skirts. It may not be funny to you, but I LMAO.
An Atheist from Southern California wanted to convert, he read my story at World Muslim Congress.org, our website and wanted to switch. He would not listen, that there is nothing wrong being an Atheist, religious people have a false notion that Atheists are immoral. Two months later he converted in a Mosque in San Diego.
I have officiated over 75 interfaith weddings including all the possible combinations of faiths and races. One in three involved a Muslim, and a majority of them were Muslim women. There is no need to convert any one, as their faith is as beautiful as Islam. This year (2018), however, three men insisted on converting to Islam, and they did. I made sure, it was out of their own volition.
American value is an Islamic Value.
Free Speech is one of the most cherished values among Americans. I was pleased to talk to so many people on the Washington Mall, US Supreme Court or wherever I go among the rallies and the crowds. Invariably, everyone is taught to honor free speech. We the people, the Americans are free speech fanatics.
Most immigrants are still integrating with American values, but there are shortcomings among Muslims. They expect the government to stop the hate speeches, that isn’t going to happen. Free speech is our core value. I hope this book reminds my fellow Muslims that the Quran and the Prophet believed and practiced free speech.
Around the world Muslims or Hindus, Christians or Buddhists have a problem with free speech. The biggest surprise came in September 2014 from Sean Hannity and Pamela Geller. I was the defender of free speech in the Yale Outrage, where they did not want Dr. Ghannouchi to speak. There are several videos on YouTube. My take was free speech is free speech, and we cannot have discretions, we lose ground. It appears I was more conservative than them.
The City of London barred Pamela Geller from speaking her hate speech, and I have a record of defending her, even though I am entirely opposed to her hate speeches.
The most significant success came when I walked into Mulberry, Florida. Mayor Hatch did not want to deal with the Quran burning Pastor Terry Jones, but extensive conversations and assurances that it was the right thing to do made him, other Mayors, the Sheriff, and the commissioner join us.
Pastor Jones’ right to free speech was acknowledged; the event communicated to the Muslim World that our God-given right to free speech is not to be compromised regardless of the vileness of the statement. Ultimately it is the freedom that uplifts the whole of humanity; indeed, it is as much an Islamic value as it is American.
Safety of fellow humans in general and Americans, in particular, was our concern. Specifically, fellow Americans serving in the armed forces and traveling overseas in conflicts zones.
An alternate Muslim behavioral model was presented to become the standard for future conflicts; we can call it a genuine Islamic response based upon the Quran and the examples of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Jesus Christ and Mother Teresa. The film will skillfully manage different conflicting issues of free speech and what is sacred. Indeed, the concept was encouraged by major institutions including the Brookings Institution and the US Department of State. The Department indicated an interest in showing it in US Embassies around the world.
We chose to present an authentic Islamic conflict mitigation model and hoped Muslims would follow the non-violent methods practiced by Jesus and Prophet Muhammad.
Back in the middle part of the first decade of this century, the Arab League had presented a bill at the United Nations to make a derogatory speech about Prophet Muhammad and Jesus punishable. I wrote opposing the move highlighting the sacredness of free speech. It made my life difficult.
A few more verses about Freewill
4:75, “And how could you refuse to fight in the cause of God and of the utterly helpless men and women and children who are crying, “O our Sustainer! Lead us forth [to FREEDOM] out of this land whose people are oppressors, and raise for us, out of Thy grace, a protector, and raise for us, out of Thy grace, one who will bring us succor!”
20:87, “They answered: “We did not break our promise to thee of our own FREE WILL, but [this is what happened:] we were loaded with the [sinful] burdens of the [Egyptian] people’s ornaments, and so we threw them [into the fire].”
37:115, “We saved them and their people from the awesome calamity [of BONDAGE],
“God lets go astray whoever He wills, and guides whoever He wills.”
The Quranic references to God’s “letting man go astray” must be understood against the background of 2:26-27 – “none does He cause to go astray save the iniquitous, who break their bond with God” (regarding which latter expression, see surah 2, note 19): that is to say, man’s “going astray” is a consequence of his own attitudes and inclinations and not a result of an arbitrary “predestination” in the broader sense of this word (cf. surah 2, note 7).
Zamakhshari rounds off his views on this problem (quoted by Asad in surah 14, note 4) in these words: “If [it was true that] God compels [men] to go astray or, alternatively, to follow His guidance-why should He have postulated their deeds as something for which they will be held responsible?”(Quran Ref: 16:93)