Don’t Hate, Debate!
“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and debate with them in a way that is best.”
[The Qur’an, Chapter 16, Verse 125]
‘Don’t Hate, Debate!’ is a campaign led by the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) in partnership with advocacy group Cage, aimed at creating a platform for people of all faiths and none to engage in positive and compassionate dialogue, without resorting to insults as a starting point of communication.
In order to achieve social progression, tolerance and community cohesion, it is pivotal that different groups within our society are able to discuss their differences without abusing or transgressing the boundaries of free speech, which will inevitably lead to animosity.
Why do we need to do this?
In light of the events in Paris, which led to the unfortunate deaths of ten journalists, iERA believed it was imperative to have a nuanced discussion around the concept of freedom of speech and the ‘right to offend’. The attack on the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, has reintroduced the much-debated discussion around the limitations, or rather the unrestricted boundaries of the press in satirising religion, namely Islam.
Islam has always invited dialogue and intellectual scrutiny. In fact, libraries are filled with literature which openly criticise Islam, the existence of God, and the validity of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). These books authored by Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, and atheists, strongly scrutinised Islam, and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Humanists and scientists till today, continue to write academic books that question the foundations of the Islamic creed. Yet it is highly unlikely and near impossible, to find a single piece of classical and contemporary academic works criticising any religion on the premise of vulgar imagery or foul language.
Islamic values facilitated, promoted and encouraged dialogue and discussion in order to fulfil the societal objectives of accountability, justice, progression and tolerance, centuries before the Europe Renaissance. This is well documented by western scholars from numerous scholastic backgrounds.
Nothing has changed from the seventh century to today. Islam and Muslims still welcome open dialogue to fulfil the very objectives which the founding fathers of freedom of expression intended.
The “Don’t Hate Debate” event, invited both Muslim and non-Muslim academics, activists and journalists to discuss the issue of freedom of speech and satirising religion in February 2015.
This campaign’s objective was to arrange, facilitate and encourage events plus activities that will help promote peaceful dialogue and discussion between all groups of people. It is hoped that this will created cohesion and the universal values of tolerance.