The common human enterprise, inferred from “You we do worship, and Your help we seek.” [1:5], aims at elevating the quality of the human being through realizing the Beautiful Names of Allah. Freedom is the right climate for this elevation to take place. On the other hand, coercion or compulsion of any form dominates the human soul and prevents it from seeing and following the Truth. Coercion or compulsion brings out the worst forms of human behavior such as deceit, cunning, trickery and others. The celebrated Historian and Philosopher of history, Ibn Khaldoun, observed this fact in his Al-Muqaddima and referred to it as the “pernicious effect of domination.” Since truth is clear and falsehood is clear, there should be no reason for coercion. Just clarify the way and people will freely make their choice.

In surah Al- Baqara, we read:“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from falsehood.” [2:256]

Freedom is not only about making choices. Sometimes, certain choices may take us from one prison to another. Freedom is the capacity to elevate oneself and rise up closer to Allah, our Ultimate goal or qibla, who has the most beautiful names and attributes.

Freedom can also be viewed as the ability to say “no” to all types of prisons without fear. You reject and say “no” to the prison of injustice in order to believe in Allah, the All-Just. You reject and say “no ” to all false gods and all powers of evil in order to believe in the One True God, Allah. The above quoted verse continues by saying:“Whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold, that never breaks.” [2:256]

It is similar to bearing witness or “shahada” where we express our acceptance of Islam by first rejecting and negating all false gods by saying: “No god” as the prerequisite for affirming the One True God, Allah by saying: “but Allah. ” Based on this understanding, we should advise those who accept the idea of “no god” and define themselves as “atheists” to continue their journey of exploration in order to discover “but Allah. ”

People make and accept their choices by monitoring the consequences associated with these choices. Accepting the Truth leads to safety, tranquility, and peace of mind in a moment of danger.

“Undoubtedly, in the remembrance of Allah hearts do find tranquility.” [13:28]

“It is those who believe and do not confuse their belief with injustice (like shirk), they are safe and rightly guided.” [6:82]

By Dr Walid Khayr