God Needs No Defense
Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid
Does God need human protection from blasphemy?
"The fact that the Qur’an refers to God as “the Truth” is highly significant.
If human knowledge is to attain this level of Truth, religious freedom is vital. Indeed, the search for Truth (i.e., the search for God) – whether employing the intellect, emotions or various forms of spiritual practice – should be allowed a free and broad range. For without freedom, the individual soul cannot attain absolute Truth… which is, by its very nature, unconditional Freedom itself."
"Sanctions against freedom of religious inquiry and expression
act to stop the developmental process of religious understanding dead in its tracks. They conflate the sanctioning authority’s current, limited grasp ofthe truth with ultimate Truth itself, and thereby transform religion from a path to the Divine into a “divinized”goal, whose features and confines are generally dictated by those with an all-too-human agenda of earthly power and control."
"Defending freedom of expression is by no means synonymous
with personally countenancing or encouraging disrespect towards others’ religious beliefs,
but it does imply greater faith in the judgment of God, than of man. Beyond the daily headlines of chaos and
violence, the vast majority of the world’s Muslims continue to express their admiration of Muhammad by seeking to emulate the peaceful and tolerant example of his life which they have been taught, without behaving violently in response to those who despise the Prophet, or proclaim the supremacy of their own limited understanding of the Truth. Such Muslims live in accordance with the Qur’anic verse which states, “And the servants
of (Allah) the Most Gracious are those who walk in humility, and when the
ignorant address them, they say ‘Peace’.” (25:63)
About the author:
H.E. Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid (1940-2009) was the first democratically elected president of Indonesia and long-time head of the world's largest Muslim organization, Indonesia's 40 million-member Nahdlatul Ulama.
Abdurrahman Wahid's progressive mindset and immense spiritual authority were instrumental in safeguarding Indonesia's traditions of religious pluralism and tolerance in the midst of intense political and social upheaval, and Wahhabi-inspired attempts to radicalize Indonesian Islam.
Custodian of one of the world's great religious traditions, President Wahid was renowned for his protection of ethnic and religious minorities—for which he was given the 2003 Friends of the United Nations Global Tolerance Award, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Medal of Valor in 2008.
President Wahid regarded the International Institute of Qur'anic Studies (IIQS) as a key component of his legacy—established to help Muslims "embrace the universal and cosmopolitan principles that characterized Islamic civilization at its height, while adapting peacefully to the modern world."
The essay by Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid appeared as the Foreword to Silenced: How Apostasy & Blasphemy Codes Are Choking Freedom Worldwide by Paul Marshall and Nina Shea. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
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