Islam guarantees the basic individual rights of freedom of thought, expression, right to own property, and general freedom to conduct oneself according to one’s individual will. However, as in any other society or civilization, individual rights are not absolute but are understood in reference to other individuals’ rights and the public interest in general. In a Muslim society founded upon Islamic principles, the relationship between individual and community rights is based upon an understanding of the greater objective of producing and maintaining flourishing societies on all levels, not just the material, but also the spiritual and emotional. This includes the preservation of the sacred, whether in the form of religious spaces, individual religious practice, or religious tenets. Islamic teachings aim to root individuals in communities that foster their ability to rise to their full human potential.

While in practice most Muslim societies have not often reached this ideal, the attempt to do so is considered one of the core teachings and obligations of Islam, despite humanity’s innate shortcomings. A 2013 Pew poll showed a substantial majority of Muslims worldwide in favor of democracy and freedom of religion. While the poll did not ask questions specifically about freedom of expression, it is likely, in view of their answers to the aforementioned questions, that a substantial majority would favor these rights as well.

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