Freedom of Speech



The passionate reaction to the crude film Innocence of Muslims has been one of the biggest news stories of 2012. Infuriated by the vulgar depiction of the holiest person in Islam—the Prophet Muhammadsa—a segment of Muslims responded by protesting violently and attacked Western targets and embassies, culminating in the tragic and unjust murder of the US Ambassador to Libya. On the other hand many in the West fiercely defended their right to unfettered freedom of speech, to the extent that a Spanish newspaper printed new cartoons mocking the Holy Prophetsa in what they asserted was an effort to uphold this right. Western leaders weighed in with their views, largely condemning the video as abusive yet still allowing it to be aired.  Muslims who expressed their outrage in a violent manner, although justified in their anger, need to reflect on whether their response was in accordance with the teachings and practice of that Prophetsa whom they claim to be acting out of love for. Were their actions truly representative of the religion of “Islam”, which literally means “Peace”?  History testifies that the Prophet Muhammadsa never responded violently to insults against him or Islam; rather he always responded to abuse with love and wisdom. He never infringed on anyone’s right to free speech. Further, the Holy Qur’an strongly condemns the killing of any innocent person, stating that it is akin to killing all of mankind. On the other hand, staunch supporters of unrestrained free speech in particular and people in the West in general need to ponder on whether or not freedom of speech requires a degree of responsibility to be exercised. It is one thing to express one’s views in a respectful manner and to raise one’s concerns and criticisms appropriately, against Islam or any other religion. However what is the purpose of resorting to outright mockery and abuse to highlight one’s viewpoint? Will such an appropach promote peace, or disrupt it?

As in past similar controversies, we observe a voice emerging from the chaos to present a sound, reasoned and effective solution to these issues. In this Special Edition, we present a snapshot of the reaction to Innocence of Muslims by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, who represent the true revival of Islam. The solutions presented by Hazrat Mirza Ghluam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi and Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community to restoring world peace in such circumstances based on the Qur’anic and Islamic teachings, the immediate response of Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaba, Khalifatul Masih V, current worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community; the start of a special series on the wives of the Holy Prophetsa, in depth analysis on the controversy surrounding the age of Hazrat ‘A’ishah, the wife of the Holy Prophetsa and a glimpse into the practical response of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to the film are the main features of this edition.

It is extremely important to thank all those who helped to produce this Special Edition. First and foremost to the team of The Review of Religions who worked diligently and passionately to help collate, edit, proofread and design all material and who dedicated a great amount of time and effort. Also our heartfelt gratitude extends to the Ahmadiyya Community of Canada, UK, USA, Ghana, Germany, Bangladesh, Indonesia and India who provided us with material for our practical response pages at extremely short notice; to the Mazkhan-e-Tasaweer department for providing the Friday Sermon photos and to Mrs Shermeen Butt for her invaluable help in the translations of the Friday Sermons.

Amer Safir

Chief Editor