The hopeless condition of the Organisation that advocates Freedom of Thought
There is a renowned International Organisation known as "Amnesty International", with its Head Office in Paris - France. Sometime ago a research scholar of this organisation visited Pakistan for carrying out a survey. He also called on me for an interview. He began his interview by saying that it was the aim of his organisation to work for the freedom of thought and to secure the freedom of many people who are suffering from torture in prisons on the charge of their freedom of thought and we want to liberate them. This, he said, is an issue about which there is no dispute. He told me that he had been sent to Pakistan to collect the opinions of different classes of people in this country. He wanted to question me also on this subject.
The Survey being carried out today
I inquired from him about the purpose of the survey. He told me that he wanted to collect the opinions of different circles of people in Pakistan on this topic. The following dialogue took place between us:
I: When did you arrive at Karachi?
He: Just this morning.
I: When do you intend to go back?
He: I am leaving for Islamabad the next morning.(This meeting was held at night).
I: How long will you stay in Islamabad?
He: Only one day.
I: You are going to carry out a survey of the opinion of various circles of people in Pakistan after which you shall draw up a report to submit to your Organisation. Will your stay in two or three cities of Pakistan for two or three days be sufficient for your purpose?
He: It is obvious that three days are not sufficient to know the opinions of all sections of the people. I have however, met peoples of different schools of thought. I have come to see you for the same purpose. Kindly favour me with your guidance.
I: How many persons have you met in Karachi?
He: I have met three persons and you are the fourth.
I: You will draw up a report purporting to represent Karachi on the basis of the ideas if these four men only. I doubt about the seriousness of your survey report. Serious research work is not undertaken in this way. I am, therefore, unable to reply to your questions. He attributed his inability to interview more people for shortage of time. Still he insisted on my replies to some of his questions. I told him that I was unable to cooperate with him for such an incomplete survey. On the other hand, I asked him permission to put to him a few questions about the basic concept of his Organisation.
He: In fact I had visited you to put to you a few questions, but if you do not want to entertain my questions you are welcome to put some questions about my Organisation, if you so desire.
Is the Theory of Freedom of thought Absolute?
I said to him: You say that the organisation that has deputed you on this work is a champion of Freedom of thought. This Freedom of thought is indeed very good, but do you believe that it is totally Absolute in its import? Is it without any restrictions to keep it within some limits? He replied that he failed to understand my intention. I explained to him my intention by saying: Is the conception of Freedom of thought so Absolute that man should express himself before others and preach to others and exhort them to follow whatever occurs to him ? For example, I feel inclined to think that the capitalists have amassed great wealth, so the poor classes should have the freedom to commit dacoity and rob the capitalists of their wealth and there should be none to stop them from this? I should also propagate this thought of mine among the common people, because the capitalists have amassed this wealth by sucking the blood of the poorer classes. Now tell me if you would support this type of Freedom of thought.
You have no fixed standard or yardstick to determine this Freedom of thought
In reply he told me that he would not support such unbridled Freedom of thought. I told him that when the conception of Freedom of thought is not absolute, then should you not like that some restrictions should be placed on it? He replied in the affirmative, adding by way of an example, that the Freedom of thought should not allow the commission of violence and tyranny to others. I said: This is your view. Others should also have freedom to personal views about the imposition of restriction on the Freedom of thought according to their views. There is no reason why only your views about the restrictions on the Freedom of Thought should be accepted and those of others rejected. The whole issue boils to this question: What should be these restrictions and who should finally approve or disapprove them? I request you to let me know some universally acceptable standard or yardstick for the adoption of the desirable restrictions.
His answer to this question was: We have never given serious thought to this issue. I said: It is a pity that you belong to such a renowned International Organisation and have come out to carry out a survey on the topic of Freedom of thought, but you have not yet decided as to what should be the limits, scope and jurisdiction of this so-called freedom. This programme of yours cannot be successful without a clear-cut decision on this vital issue. I requested him to furnish me an answer to this question from the literature available with him or after consulting others.
Mankind has no standard (yardstick) other than the Divine Revelation
The gentleman promised to convey to his Organisation my views and furnish to me the relevant literature on the subject. He then took leave of me and thanked me coolly. I have been waiting for his literature or replies to my question to this day. I feel quite sure that he can furnish to me neither replies to my questions nor any universally acceptable literature on this topic till the Day of Judgment. This is because every person will fix a standard of his own choice. There is no one in this world who can propose a standard which is universally applicable. I can assert this without fear of any repudiation that there is no standard or criterion other than the criterion of the Divine Revelations which alone can impose necessary and eternal limits on these ambiguous thoughts and conceptions. Man has no guidance other than the Divine guidance.
This is a conversion between Mufti Taqi Usmani and A Research Scholar of a Famous International Organisation advocating Freedom of Thought