An objective examination of the previously mentioned issues can help people conclude that the Creator has safeguarded the rights and freedoms of both individuals and societies. Nobody’s personal freedom is allowed to infringe on the freedom of other individuals, or more importantly, the welfare of mankind. Furthermore, nobody has the true insight to truthfully determine what is beneficial or corrupting for individuals and societies as a whole, except the Creator who originated these individuals and societies. For that reason, nobody except Allah can accurately grant rights and freedoms, or set limits for these rights and freedoms – no matter how intelligent or advanced these people and their societies are.
Indeed, the moral freedoms the West has delved into have caused many Westerners to live a life of fear and insecurity. Due to the entertainment industry’s glorification of crime and violence, many people feel the consequences of this liberal way of life in their daily existence. This is only one of the effects that extremist views in advocating freedom have upon society as a whole.
These undefined outlooks towards freedom have a deep impact on individual lives. In liberal societies, people attempt to find true satisfaction by engaging in a wide variety of endeavours. However, many honest people living this reality recognize that there is still something crucial missing in their lives, even though many of their activities might actually be beneficial in nature. What these people are feeling is an instinctive yearning the Creator has placed within them to know that they were created to worship and serve the Creator, even when carrying out their day-to-day activities.
People who turn away from their natural disposition to realize this matter often suffer from bouts of worry and depression, as is witnessed in the high suicide rates found in liberal countries. Indeed, liberal lifestyles help create temporary forms of satisfaction, but are instrumental in keeping people away from what their Creator has ordained for them. Although mankind is capable of discovering temporary forms of contentment in life, our limited ability to perceive absolute truth by ourselves keeps us from knowing how to achieve true and lasting satisfaction in this life and the next. Contrary to this limited cognisance is the all-encompassing knowledge of the One who knows all that has passed, all that will pass, and how all the things that never passed would have been, had they passed:
He knows what happens to them in this world, and what will happen to them in the Hereafter. And they will never compass anything of His Knowledge, except that which He wills. [2:255]
In this era, many people follow humanist conjecture and seek out various forms of worship in a mistaken bid to satisfy their natural yearnings to worship and serve the Creator. This failed effort causes many people to hold on to the religion they found their forefathers following in a nominal way, accepting and rejecting from it whatever they want. Many present-day Jews and Christians react to their religions in this manner, due primarily to their awareness that the beliefs they inherited contain human additions and deletions which came about through time and historical experience.
Some people reject formal religions entirely, not realizing that their liberalist beliefs also constitute a set of religious beliefs that they apply in their lives. Others turn to experimentation with exotic religions and philosophies such as Buddhism and Yoga, or become completely immersed in fanatical cults of one sort or another.
Those who prefer to conjecture in religious matters or turn away from God completely actually cover their natural disposition in this regard and deprive themselves of the opportunity to experience ultimate satisfaction. Just as our bodies have certain natural needs such as the need to eat and drink, our Creator has also endowed us with an innate drive to worship and serve Him. As such, true, lasting contentment can only come about through remembrance of the Creator in the manner he has prescribed, and sincerity of purpose to Him:
Those who believed, and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah: Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest. [13:28]
People who turn away from the revealed way of the Creator eventually end up living a life of doubt, unease and irresolution, even if their easy going ways give the impression that they are content.
But whosoever turns away from My Reminder, verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection. He will say: “O my Lord! Why have you raised me up blind, while I had sight (before)?” (Allah) will say: “Thus did Our Signs come to you, but you disregarded them; and so will you, this Day, be disregarded.” [20:124-126]
Ibn Katheer (d.1372, 774H), the famous commentator of the Qur’aan, stated that the verse “Whosoever turns away from My Reminder” means: “Contradicts My command and what I sent down to My prophet by turning away from this guidance and purposely neglecting it, adopting the guidance of others: “For him is a life of hardship,” meaning, whoever does this will experience a troubled life in this world, as he will never feel true peace of mind or comfort. On the contrary, he will experience discontent and anxiety due to his straying from the right path, even if he appears to lead a life of comfort and ease by eating, drinking, dressing and residing in the way he desires. As long as his heart has not arrived at certainty of belief and true guidance, he will be living a life of worry, doubt and confusion, wavering in a state of uncertainty.”
Ibn ‘Abbaas, the Prophet Muhammad’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) companion, said the following regarding this verse: “A people who were living a life of affluence and arrogance strayed from the right path by turning away from the truth. They were living a life of hardship due to their notion that Allah (created them, but) is somehow not involved in providing them their sustenance. (This belief of self-sufficiency) stemmed from their negative opinion and denial towards Him. For if a person rejects Allah, holds false suspicions and mistrusts Him, his life becomes difficult and restricted, and that is the hardship (which Allaah has referred to).” [Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Daarul-Andalus, vol.4, p.544.]
Indeed, Islam prevents personal and societal disorders before they have the chance to occur, thus protecting and channelling mankind’s legitimate rights and freedoms in a more effective manner.
It can be concluded that there is no such thing as absolute freedom, as all freedom has bounds. Who then, is given the right to set these boundaries, and why? When people differ in matters which affect mankind, who is it that decides what is right and wrong? One person believes something to be from people’s freedom, while others disagree. If not Allaah, the Most Acquainted and All-Knowing Planner of all, then who else should mankind refer to in deciding these crucial matters, and what will their criterion be in doing so? Can mankind decide everything for themselves?
Say (to them), “Do you know better or does Allaah?” [2:140]
People who objectively consider all the variables involved in these matters will be led to conclude that mankind cannot lay claim to absolute freedom. Furthermore, they will also conclude that manmade resolutions which oppose authentic revelation are contradictory, continually changing and inherently faulty. As such, they are not universally applicable, as their adherents claim. Manmade solutions might create temporary ease in some matters and appear to some to be more appealing than divine legislation, however, the truth lies with those who refer their affairs back to their Creator, and render His revelation their criterion in making any decisions which affect mankind’s well being.
And most of them follow nothing but conjecture. Certainly, conjecture can be of no avail against the truth. Surely, Allaah is All-Aware of what they do. [10:36]
Source: Sacred Freedom – Western Liberalist Ideologies in the Light of Islaam, Haneef Oliver, WestPoint Publishing, pp.61-64.