Freedom of Speech: Criteria and Rulings

In the Name of Allāh,

the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful

Praise is due to Allāh, Lord of the worlds, may the blessings and peace be upon our master Muḥammad, the last of prophets, on his family, and all his companions.

Resolution No. 176 (2/19) Freedom of Speech: Criteria and Rulings

The Council of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, holding its 19th session in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, on 1–5 Jumādā al-Ūlā 1430h (26–30 April 2009),

Having examined the research papers submitted to the Academy concerning the Freedom of Speech: Criteria and Rulings,

Having listened to the discussions on the subject,


First: Freedom of speech refers to the state in which the person enjoys his complete will to declare what he deems appropriate and beneficial for him and the society, whether in private or public affairs.

Second: Freedom of speech is a protected right in Islam within the frame- work of Shariah criteria.

Third: Most important among Shariah criteria for practicing freedom of speech are the following:

  1. Avoidance of offending others by doing or disseminating any act of derogation, contempt or ridicule that could negatively affects their lives, honor, reputation, image or moral status.
  2. Commitment to objectivity, honesty and forsaking of self-fancy.
  3. Preservation and commitment to the public interests and values of the
  4. Using permissible means of expression. Mischievous means that have indecency or violation of values should not be used to express opinions even when opinions are Permissible ends can never justify use of prohibited means.
  5. The goal behind expressing the opinion should be to achieve the pleasure of Allāh the Almighty and serve the private and public interests of
  1. The final results and implications of expressing an opinion should always be taken into consideration in fulfillment of the rule of achieving the appropriate balance between benefits and harms and deciding on which of them can sometimes outweigh the
  2. The opinion expressed should depend on trustworthy sources, avoid promotion of rumours and abide by the directives of Allāh the Almighty Who said, «O ye who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly, and afterwards become full of repentance for what you have » (Al-Ḥujurāt, 6)
  3. Freedom of speech should not lead to any aggression against religion as far as its rites, rules, sacred places, and symbols are concerned.
  4. Freedom of speech should not lead to a breach of public order or provocation of divisions among


  1. Ensuring sufficient guarantees to protect responsible freedom of speech that observes Shariah directives and norms. This can be done through the enactment of necessary laws and legislations and the existence of a just
  2. Resort to all available means to prevent using freedom of speech as a tool for degradation of Islamic principles and values or provocation of unrest among
  3. Working for enforcement of standards and norms involved in international conventions regarding the prohibition of aggression against religions and their sactred symbols, and avoiding using double standards when dealing – at the international community level – with Islamic issues in contrast to other global issues.
  4. Muslim countries should work for the issuance of international legislation that protects religious faiths and sanctums in general against attacks of those who sometimes use freedom of speech and other similar slogans as a pretext for confronting religions with encroachment mockery and

Indeed, Allāh is All-Knowing.

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