Freedom of Expression in Islam

Rumi, The Persian Poet [Molana Jalaleddin Rumi Molavi] relates an interesting but figurative story about God Almighty and a simple farmers.

The farmer was praying to God in his own simple language telling God allow me to wash your cloth, fix your scarf, clean your garment, bring you milk to drink, sacrifice for you my goats, and so forth, (as if he was talking with God, imagining God as a human being with human needs!) The shepherd had full devotion in his heart to be having the pleasure of conversing with God.

Moses heard the shepherd’s talks and thought of them to be disrespectful to God Almighty and considered what was uttered by the man to be blasphemous and disrespectful.

Moses lectured the shepherd on a proper method of talking to God and how to praise Him. The shepherd felt intensely sad and off he went to the desert ashamed as to why he had said what he had said, the way he had said it, and how belittled he felt because of his own stupidity, not recognized until Moses told him.

According to Rumi, revelation came to Moses, saying : Why did you turn Our servant away from Us, discouraging him sadly? Don’t you know that your mission is to gather human beings together with Me, rather than causing them to go away? Get up quickly, go after him, apologize to him, bring him back home, be kind to him, feed him, while you realize that We hear the supplication of everyone, no matter how they put it in words.

Indeed words do not matter too much to Me while I am aware of what is there in their hearts! Moses did so and offered his apology to the shepherd and to God Almighty also.

Rumi, (who was one of the great poets of then Persia now Iran), adds to the facts by saying that it is NOT the words, or the type of language one uses in his/her supplication; rather, it is the purity of the heart, mind, and soul, plus the degree of sincerity (Ikhlaas) and devotion which truly matters in one’s supplications.

An excellent lesson to be learned from this tale. God Almighty emphasizes to Moses that We are not looking at the manner of how one offers his supplication, but We look at their hearts and the shape of their sincerity when they utter what they say. Quite interesting! Isn’t it?

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