Spiritual Messages from Prophet Muhammed: Are there Limits to the Freedom of Speech?
"Religious Values" Supercede the "Freedom of Speech"

In the opening days of 2015, an unspeakable act of terror took place. Two men, purportedly part of Al Qaeda, broke into the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, a French weekly magazine that satirized Muhammad, and killed 12 including the editor-in-chief and security guards. Four additional individuals were killed after a nation-wide manhunt turned into a hostage situation. The Liberty would like to pray for the souls of the victims.

After the attack, large scale demonstrations took place in France, and over 40 heads of state participated in a show of solidarity against terrorism, and in support of the “Freedom of Expression”.

However, Muslims may take issue with this narrative. While terrorism cannot be condoned, they may ask whether insulting their Prophet Muhammad falls within the limits of the “Freedom of Expression”. It would be interesting, Muslim or not, to hear Muhammad’s own views on this issue.

Master Ryuho Okawa, Founder and CEO of Happy Science, summoned the spirit of Muhammad to hear his thoughts. This is the world’s first and only interview of its kind.


What is Charlie Hebdo?

Charlie Hebdo is a leftist French weekly magazine that has stirred controversy in the past by lampooning religious leaders. They were sued by a Muslim advocacy group when they published a cartoon of Muhammad saying “It’s not easy being loved by idiots”.

That was followed by further cartoons depicting Muhammad as gay, or nude. These provocations clearly incensed many Muslims, leading to the firebombing of the magazine’s Paris headquarters as well as a hacking attack on the servers. While they received warnings from French authorities, the editorial staff refused to alter their position, citing the “Freedom of Expression” as a defense.

The object of their satire extended to Christianity as well, with one cartoon showing the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus with the face of a pig. Their stance also reflects an atheist worldview.

The attacks by the Islamic radicals occurred under these circumstances.


Blasphemy isn’t “Freedom of Speech”

After the terrorist attacks, massive demonstrations have been taking place in support of the “Freedom of Speech”, the “Freedom of Expression”, and solidarity against terrorism.

Charlie Hebdo, perhaps showing their own protest against the violence, published a satirical cartoon of a crying Muhammad holding a card that says “Je suis Charlie”.

Due to the extra attention from the attacks, the latest issue of the magazine saw record sales, with lines forming in front of stores. Ordinarily, they sell anywhere from 50,000 to 60,000 copies per week, but estimates for the latest print exceeded 500,000 copies.


What is Muhammad’s opinion on these cartoons?

The spirit of Muhammad protested against the cartoon, and showed his indignation against those in the West that continue to press the issue of “Freedom of Speech” by saying, “Why do I need to cry? There’s no reason why I should shed any tears.”

Certainly, the “Freedoms of Speech and Expression” proponents aren’t without their limits, and carry with them a sense of responsibility.

Editor-in-Chief Stephane Charbonnier, who was killed during the attacks, mentioned in an interview that “I don’t think I’m causing suffering” “I want to provide some humor, and enjoy life” “Muhammad isn’t sacred to me.”

These comments clearly lack a sense of understanding toward those of faith.
For the faithful, having their object of faith harmed brings untold suffering. Harming the dignity of religious individuals for a laugh, calls into question the character and qualifications of those expressing those views.

Muhammad’s spirit indignantly points out “How can those who insult Sacred individuals be described as expressing their ‘freedom of expression’?” “Freedom contains those that side with God, and those that side with the Devil. What are they doing protecting freedom that sides with the Devil?”

Regarding the conflict between faith and the freedom of speech, he pointed out the supremacy of faith by stating, “The freedom of religion is obviously more important” “Freedom of religion is man’s responsibility toward God. Speech is a matter between men. There is no freedom of speech against God.”


Anger Towards Western Interference

The spirit of Muhammad also showed his dissatisfaction with the West’s persistent focus on the damage done by terrorism by pointing out that “They’ve killed countless Muslims through aerial bombings and modern weapons” “Islam has been ravaged by the West’s modern weapons.”

Historically, Western nations have been competing over Middle Eastern resources, and have stoked chaos by drawing national borders according to their own plans. An example of this is the Sykes-Picot Treaty, signed by France, Britain, and Russia, detailing how to break up the Ottoman Empire.

France has also been an active member of the coalition conducting air strikes against the Islamic State.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict also has its roots in Britain’s contradictory policies. After allowing Arabs to live in Palestine, while also promising the Jews their own state in the same land, the British ended up walking away from the problem. The United States also played Iran and Iraq against each other in order to protect their oil interests in the region.

Muhammad’s view is colored with the fact that the number of victims of these terrorist attacks pale in comparison to Western interference in the Middle East that has resulted in countless deaths and plundering of wealth.

Muhammad’s spirit further expressed his dissatisfaction with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s execution. The search for weapons of mass destruction that was touted as the reason for the Iraq War turned up nothing, and the democratically elected president was executed. The United States hasn’t taken any responsibility for that act. “President Bush is the criminal” “Muslims should be incensed that a democratically elected president was executed on false pretenses.”

Terrorism should be opposed. But whether Western intervention in the Middle East can be justified through the view that “Western values reflect justice” is a question worth pondering.


Western Nations have a History of Human Rights Violations

However, Muslim nations face significant problems in its suppression of human rights. Its religious precepts are harsh, and the punishments afforded to those that break those precepts seem disproportionate to the crime. In particular, women do not receive a proper education, and often aren’t allowed to leave their homes.

This may be one of the reasons why the West struggles to understand Islam. After having the state of human rights in Islam pointed out to him, the spirit of Muhammad responded that “Western nations captured and sold Africans as slaves…and now they’re talking about human rights? They should come back after they’ve reflected on their own crimes.”

In an August 2011 interview of the Muhammad’s spirit, published in “What is Currently Occurring in the Middle East”, he is quoted to have said “Islam will be left behind if it continues to cling to beliefs and customs from a thousand years ago”, and suggested that Islamic society is in need of reform. However, having that pointed out by the West, which seems to use the issue of “human rights” only when it’s deemed convenient, seems to rouse his anger.

French views on human rights indeed seems to have its problems. Modern France clings to an interpretation of human rights without any religious underpinnings, perhaps due to its history of rejecting the divine right of kings which resulted in the execution of the Monarchy via guillotine.

For example, France is currently contending with the outlawing of the burqa. Since April 2011, French law has outlawed the wearing of the burqa, which Muslim women often wear to hide their faces, in public places. The law stirred a controversy in France, pitting the women’s human rights against their religious freedom.

In a speech, then-President Nicholas Sarkozy, justified the law by saying that “the issue at hand is about the freedom and dignity of women. The burqa is a symbol of enslavement, and it is not welcome within the territories of the French Republic.” From the perspective of Muslims, French law is overstepping into something that’s none of their business, and appears to be a violation of the freedom of religion. While the issue may contain aspects of public safety, and may require some flexibility from the Muslim community, to have a religious precept branded a “violation of human rights” must be something that’s difficult to swallow for many Muslims.


“Wisdom” to Deepen Understanding

Muhamad’s claims speaks truth to what many Muslims are thinking. In particular, since the blasphemy was directed at Islam this time around, his words included somewhat radical comments including those that were critical of Christianity.

But answering anger with further recriminations will only result in a stalemate. Is there a path toward peace between the West and the Islamic world?

In his January 11th seminar “The Laws of Wisdom”, Master Ryuho Okawa touched on this incident and stated that at the end, the issue is about understanding and wisdom.

Happy Science accepts, to some degree, the teachings of various world religions. It is also tolerant of differences by attempting to foster understanding in a rational manner, while providing teachings that transcend those differences. If Muslims had the chance to learn the teachings of Happy Science, they likely would not have resorted to violence, and those who swear themselves to “freedom” and “human rights” would not have seen this conflict as one between freedom and religion.

Originally, the freedoms of speech and expression were born from the freedom of religion. What was supremely important was internal freedom, and the freedoms of speech and expression were meant to ensure that expressing ones internal thoughts wouldn’t result in persecution. When viewing the controversies surrounding political freedoms, one needs to retain a sense of reverence toward religion where these freedoms originated.

Furthermore, freedoms that forgo a sense of religion or of God tend toward interpretations of freedoms that justify acts that often lead to strife, greed, ego, and at times infringes upon the freedom of others. A true religion is one that brings true freedom.

Of course, Islam is in need of some innovation. Minor religious precepts such as those regarding food and prayer, as well as rules against interest on loans are all acting as impediments against a liberalized economic activity, and are contributing to the Islamic world falling further behind the West. The repeated acts of terrorism are breeding further hatred and misunderstanding.

In order to progress, the Islamic world needs to acknowledge where the West excels, and show a desire to learn. The Islamic world cannot forgo the effort to resolve problems without resorting to violence.

In the end, one needs to retain a sense of “love” and “wisdom” to understand different religions and cultures, and to own up to one’s mistakes through “self-reflection”, all of which are needed to promote mutual “progress”.

At the moment, that which Jesus called his “Father in Heaven”, and that Muhammad called “Allah”, is providing a teaching that can achieve harmony among the world religions. The path to ending the vicious cycle of misunderstanding and terrorism is to make sure that as many people around the world realize this miracle.

Spiritual Messages from Prophet Muhammed: Are there Limits to the Freedom of Speech?
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