IN our diverse and dynamic community, fostering understanding is essential, promoting dialogue between various faiths, ideologies, cultures and values.

As the imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Keighley, Ilkley, and Skipton, I believe it is vital for us to engage in dialogue to expand our thinking and understanding, learning from each other.

However, a praiseworthy quality often hinders these discussions – the concern not to hurt someone else’s feelings. In this letter, I want to share my humble opinion on this topic.

In my opinion, balancing free speech with consideration for others comes down to intentions. Dialogue rooted in genuine curiosity and the intention to learn should be promoted across all sectors while, at the same time, we should be wary of intentions such as insulting or bullying. Discussions driven by these negative intentions rarely benefit anyone and often lead to conflict and animosity.

Distinguishing between these intentions is not as challenging as it may seem. Consider a potentially rude statement, “are you autistic?” This question, posed with genuine curiosity, will include compassion, a kind tone and context to avoid offence. In contrast, the same statement, if used to bully, will lack empathy and will be accompanied by laughter and a complete disregard for the other person’s feelings.

The difference between these scenarios is significant. While the risk of offending the other person exists in both instances, the first instance leads to increased knowledge and improved future interactions. The second scenario, however, fosters hate and division.

This emphasises the crucial difference between free speech and bullying. Free speech is indispensable for societal progress, enabling the exchange of ideas.

The reason behind addressing this topic is to welcome genuine dialogue and discussion on subjects that our local community may avoid to prevent causing offence.

If you have questions regarding Islam or Ahmadiyyat, rest assured that I won’t be offended and will try to answer them in the best manner possible. Feel free to ask in person or via social media. Let’s embrace genuine dialogue and understanding. Thank you.

Abdul Hadi Masood, imam, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Keighley, Ilkley and Skipton

* Email your letters to