Translated by Hisham from لا حرية للمعتقد في الإسلام
Freedom of Religion In Islam:
Islam does not accommodate for freedom of thought, and although there have been some aspects of tolerance in Islamic history it has not evolved to a level of religious freedom. The kind of freedom that accompanied the Islamic early stages was selective and relative. It was strategic and tactical in nature. It was imposed by the political, military and economic situation prevailing at the time.
Religious freedom in Islamic thought has also been a periodic phase, developed to serve totalitarian goals. That is why, once the Islamic state reached its full might, infringement on freedom of religion has become a usual occurrence. The apparent tolerance did not therefore come from a strong belief in freedom values. It was rather a political maneuver imposed by the specific conditions of the Islamic society at different stages of its history.
At the beginning, Muslims were very vulnerable hence their initial peaceful rhetoric. In order to avoid the wrath of Quraish, win over supporters and give the new religion a peaceful appearance, conversion to Islam was not initially forced on anyone. Quranic verses, which refer to the idea that there should be no compulsion in religion, or that anyone shall be entitled to his or her own religion, all appeared during the first period of Islam: i.e. the very early founding stage. But once Muslims acquired a bit more power, after the migration to Yathrib, they adopted the idea that the faith should be spread by the sword. That led them to their first military victory. They entered Mecca and started forcing people to convert to Islam and destroy their idols. This is contrary of course to the principle of freedom of religion.
Throughout Islamic history, we find that Muslims have blatantly violated religious freedoms. Many churches have been converted into mosques, among which the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. Most of the religious symbols like crosses and statues were destroyed. One of the most serious violations is the fact that Jews and Christians were systematically categorized as Dhimmis; in other words as second-class citizens, who had to pay extra taxes. This is the treatment reserved for Jews and Christians, the People of the Book. As for those with other beliefs, they lived in a very difficult position and had either to accept the religion of Islam or be killed.
“Moroccan” but not a Muslim:
Moroccan law assumes that all Moroccans are Muslims, with the only exception of Moroccan Jews. All are subjects of King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful. It doesn’t recognize other religions though such as Christianity or Buddhism -not even different Islamic doctrines such as Shiism. And the authorities are relentlessly fighting conversions to Shiism or Christianity.
For many, Moroccan is a term synonymous with Muslim, as if Islam were the sole basis for the Moroccan identity. This is misleading because there are also Atheist, Christian and Baha’i Moroccans, who are proud of their nationality and heritage. Those, unfortunately, have no legal or social protection to be able to safely practice their freedom of thought in public. Even if there were legal guarantees for religious minorities, it will be difficult to adapt the Muslim mind with the culture of coexistence and tolerance, regardless of belief. Perhaps the most important justification Muslims use to reject that kind of tolerance is the claim that non-Muslims do not respect their holy places and religious symbols. They should know that no one should confiscate other’s right for creativity, thought and expression. No one should have the right to censure criticism unless persons are targeted beyond their beliefs, convictions or opinions.
All religious minorities in the Moroccan society do not criticize or discuss the Islamic faith, and all are not even engaged in the effort of enlightening their countrymen, yet they are often mistreated by their families, friends and employers…
So I wonder what kind of religious freedom Muslims talk about exactly?