Freedom of expression, freedom of religion and freedom of ideology are all but new principles in the modern world. Western societies consider themselves as the torchbearers of these ideologies. They take pride in these values and consider their societies as their fountainheads. However, this bold claim that the concept of freedom originated in the west is devoid of the truth. There is no denying the fact that these concepts are new for the west. In the past, westerners were oblivious of freedom. Contrarily, Islamic societies of the east were based on these principles. Non-Muslims in the Islamic empires would be free to follow their religion and customs. Governments would pursue a strict policy of non-interference in the internal and religious matters of minorities. One basic freedom that the west still denies to its minorities is the freedom to follow religious laws or to have a separate legal system. Westerners do not allow minorities to deal with matters of religious and traditional importance according to their own laws and religious principles. They are coerced to follow western laws. In contrast, Muslim empires would permit minorities to have their own legal system. Suleiman the Great, sultan of the Ottoman empire, allowed his non-Muslim subjects to decide their matters according to their own laws. Minorities had their own courts dedicated to adjudicating matters related to their religious principles. And Suleiman’s reign is just one example in this regard. There are many more that cannot be included in this short text because they need volumes to be explained. To cut it short, the concepts of freedom didn’t originate from the west, rather it is following the lead of the eastern Islamic societies. And it is yet to learn the concept of true freedom from the Muslims.
–Writer’s view may not necessarily reflect views of the Moderate Thoughts Research Center.