Freedom of Expression is never Absolute
Jamiatul Ulama South Africa’s Statement of
Support against Caricaturing of Symbols of Faith
Curro’s Grantleigh School in Richards Bay was in focus in the past week when a matric student displayed a series of pieces of artwork at an exhibition. The student’s artwork has generated vehement reaction from parents and the Christian community who have objected to the caricatured depiction of Jesus Christ and other notions of faith.
The student has claimed that he wants to highlight how ‘organised religion chases money.’ Some defenders of ‘freedom of expression’ have invariably branded the outrage as ‘fake’ and ‘hypocritical.’
It is our view that freedom of artistic expression or speech, can never be absolute in maligning others, their being, dignity and beliefs. In this regard, the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa would like to add its voice and extend support to the Christian community in their resentment, which we deem warranted, towards the artwork.
The Noble Qur’an teaches us:
“Say (You): We believe in God and that which is revealed to us; and that which was revealed to Ibrahim (Abraham), Isma‘il (Ishmael), Is-haq (Isaac), Yaqoob (Jacob) and their descendants, and that which was given to Musa (Moses), Isa (Jesus) and other Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and it is unto them, and it is unto them that we surrender ourselves.” (The Noble Quran, 2:136)
Moreover, it is recorded in one of the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who had said:
“Both in this world and in the Hereafter, I am nearest of all you people to Jesus, the son of Mary. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one.” (Sahih of Bukhari)
It is therefore an article of faith for Muslims to believe, revere and honour all the Divine Messengers of the Almighty without distinction.
To this end, we would like to register our disapproval of the mode of social ‘commentary’ which seeks to deliver a message in a manner that has a total disregard of the beliefs, dignity and sensitivities of a wider section of the faith communities, across nations.
It is our expectation that the investigations that are underway into the debacle, will result in the upholding of the dignity and freedom of conscience of all, above the claims of the ‘right’ to insult and demean, in the name of freedom of expression.
Ebrahim I Bham (Moulana)
28 October 2019