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Islam and Human Rights ( 13 Jun 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Miracles of Quran: Human Rights Granted by the Quran


By Khawaja Azhar Abbas, Fazil Dars-e-Nizami

(Translated by New Age Islam Edit Desk)

14 June, 2014

One of the proofs of the divinity of the Quran is the revolutionary thoughts that Quran presented in that age. These theories do not have precedence in history. Though the human intellect was progressing gradually, the principles Quran presented were ahead of its age. Since human intellect progress slowly, the human mind also rises along with it and accepts lofty ideas. But when the Quran raised its revolutionary ideas, only those who have believed in it accepted the ideas. People out of this group had not accepted the ideas as their intellectual level was not up to that level. The list of new concepts and ideas presented by the Quran is long so they will be discussed in a separate chapter. One of the concepts is that of Human Rights. The concept of human rights could not come in the mind. The idea that man should have some rights which make him feel secure and safe is of a later period. The rights that the human mind has formed are just legal rights and not human rights.

The human mind was able to realise the need of human rights only in the 17the century. Its first demonstration was made in June 1215 in the form of Magna Carta. The contemporary Barons of the then King John were unhappy with him.  They met everyone and got the signature of the King on it by creating pressure. The document had only three articles which had nothing to do with the common people, thanks to the efforts of the western intellectuals Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau the concept of human rights progressed. In the 18th century Thomas Paine played an important role in this regard. His famous book Rights of Man is read with interest. He declared freedom, property and opposition to tyranny basic rights of man. Human rights presented by Paine were the rights that the National Assembly of France incorporated in its Charter after the French Revolution. America’s charter of freedom in 1774 was also based on the Theory of Natural Rights of Paine. The final step on human rights was taken in 1948 when the UN took stock of the human rights and published a charter which was known as the Charter of Human Rights. The Charter has thirty sections that can wipe the tears of the humanity to a great extent. This is the height of humanity. After formulating these rights, at the end the Charter mentions the privilege that the implementation of these rights will depend on the discretion of the governments.

 Since every government formulates laws according to it wish or convenience, these rights do not have any importance. Since the rights are formulated against the governments, if you leave the implementation of rights on the discretions of governments, the rights will have no Importance. The outcome of this long struggle is that human rights are not absolute. They are relative rights and depend on the will of the governments. But you will realise that the rights postulated in the Quran are absolute. They cannot be changed or modified at any cost nor can they be taken away. Even today, the concept of human rights does not exist before the humanity. This concept exists only in the Quran and this speaks of the greatness of the Quran.

Here we have reconstructed a brief history of human rights because our purpose was not to trace the history of human rights but to show that the human intellect has formulated these human rights after a long struggle spread over centuries whereas the human rights that presented in the sixth century were inherent and inbuilt in the system. They are absolute rights. No individual can be deprived of these rights under any circumstances nor can any restrictions be put on them. The foundation of the human rights formulated by human mind is wrong.

As has been mentioned earlier, the first flag bearer of human rights was Hobbes. He was born in 1588 and died in 1679. It was the age of the Stuarts and the kingship was strong. Human rights were non-existent. It was a reaction of the prevalent situation that he raised the voice in favour of human rights. The human rights the western thinkers talk of are not a part of secular governments. They are out of the purview of the government system and common people reclaim them from kings forcefully. If the kingdom is powerful, it will grant minimum human rights to the public and if the government is weak, people will get more and more human rights. In secular governments itself, there is no concept of human rights. These rights are increased and decreased with time. In modern times too, in western countries where people are more civilised enjoy greater human rights.

In Asian countries, human rights are less. On the contrary, the rights granted by the Quran are a part of the Qur'anic system. When the Quran said, “We granted honour to Adam.”(17:70), this is an absolute right and a part of the system. No government or system can take away this right from him. The legitimacy of this system rests on the condition that every human being will enjoy honour and dignity. The allegiance to the Islamic system is linked with the condition of fulfilling the promises of God. If in any system, man is not being honoured and respected; its allegiance is revoked automatically. The rights granted by the Quran are linked with the growth of humanity whereas the rights formulated by human mind are not linked with the growth of humanity. They are merely legal rights that help in maintaining peace in the country. Qur'anic system grants rights to people inherently. In this system, people do not have to get their rights by launching movements or staging protests.

In the beginning, human life was passed individually and it was called a natural life. When human mind progressed and human society came into existence, the natural life came to an end and man started a social life. In this civilised life, some people became powerful while others became weak. This way some people became and rich and some others became poor. Everyone felt insecure. To make one secure, governments were formed. All the people were required to obey the government and the government will provide security to them and fulfil their needs. Governments were formed to ensure safety and security of the people but on the contrary, the governments started harassing and torturing people. They considered the allegiance of the people to them their right but did not consider granting them their rights and providing security to them their right. Human rights were formulated to avoid the atrocities of the governments and it was decided that the rights that man enjoyed during the natural life should be declared Fundamental Human Rights.

The present concept of rights is based on the concept of the ruler and the ruled. The Quran does not discriminate on the basis of the ruler and the ruled. The entire Muslim nation is responsible for running the government.(22:4,24:55). In the Qur'anic system the agreement is between the people and the system. The system ensures its obedience which results in the fulfilment of the rights of the people because the human rights are automatically ensured with the obedience of Deen. Qur'anic human rights and the constant values approved by the Quran and the traits of God are the same. God says:

“These are the people if we give them authority on the earth, they will establish Salat (Namaz), pay Zakat and do righteous deeds and forbid evil. These Quranic injunctions are actually human rights and the purpose of the government is to ensure human rights.

The decrees Islamic government implements are called Maruf and the prohibitions are called Nahi. Quran says, “O, believers, do not enter the house of others without getting their permission” (24:27).Here entering the house of others without permission is forbidden. This is a Maruf which the government obeys. This is also a human right so that no one enters the house of others and the houses of people are safe. Quran says:

“Indeed, God decrees good behaviour and justice.”(16:90) Justice and good behaviour are God’s ordainments and a Maruf of the government. It is also a human right that everyone gets justice and good treatment. Thus you can realise that with the obeisance of God’s ordainments the human rights are automatically fulfilled and it is an important thing.

The Jews used to drive out people from their houses. These people would wander homeless. Then their religious personalities would appeal to the people to rehabilitate these homeless people to get rewards. This is the case with the humanity. Man first formulates laws that are based on tyranny and oppression.(5:45,44,47). After these laws are implemented, they formulate laws that ensure protection from these laws and security of human rights. So long as man has the right to formulate laws, such laws will be formulated and then laws to protect laws will be formulated. If you do not give man the right to formulate laws and implement Qur'anic laws, everyone will get his right and justice.

When our Fiqh (jurisprudence) was formed, the religious system had been established and religion had become dominant. All our Fiqh has been written from religious point of view. That’s why a big portion of it is in violation of the Qur'anic ideas. Due to the dominance of Fiqh, our Ulema have put worship and affairs in different categories. Dualism was a philosophy in Christianity. Christianity asked people to give the share of God to God and that of Caesar to Caesar.  Perhaps due to the dominance of religion or under the influence of Christianity, in our society too, the concept of Huquq Allah (rights of God) and Huquq al Ebad (rights of man) came into existence. It has no place in the system of Deen. In Deen, there is nothing like rights of God. All the rights belong to man and deciding the relations of all the humanity through revelation is Deen. Man gets all his rights through divine revelation. Right of God has been mentioned only once in the Quran.

“And pay his rights on the day of reaping crop.”(6:141)

What the Quran calls the right of God in this verse is called the right of the needy on another occasion. God’s right is the establishment of His system and obeisance of His orders.

Now, we present before you the Qur'anic rights of humanity. Please read them with attention. Ponder over the Qur'anic rights and then decide whether the human intellect could have imagined about these rights in that age. Granting the humanity its rights is a proof of the divinity of Quran.

Qur'anic Human Rights

1) Honour: The first right among the rights granted by the Quran is that every human child deserves respect and honour.

“We have made all the children of Adam respectable.”(17:70) Privileges cannot be given on the basis of race, colour or ancestry. Riches and poverty also does not make any difference to this respect. If the honour of any one is violated, the Islamic government must compensate for it.

2) Gender equality: According to the Quran, gender difference is neither a cause for honour nor disrespect. Every man or woman equally deserves respect and honour.”They are created from one being.” (4:1)

“We created you from a man and woman.”(49:13). Therefore, neither the man is a different species from woman nor is the woman from a different species from man. Man and woman are different from one another only because of physical structure. There is no difference between them on the human level.

“The reward of the deeds of the any does among you whether it is a man or woman cannot be wasted.”(3:195)

3) High ranks according to deeds: No one can be deprived of respect. However, the ranks of people will be decided according to this principle.

“The rank of every individual will be decided according to his deeds.”(46:19). The more virtues he has, the greater place he will get.

“Among you the most respected in the eyes of God is one who is the noblest.”(49:13)

Unfortunately, in our society, it is the opposite. The one who is the most wicked is he most respected.

4) Right to labour: Quran says: “And every soul will be fully compensated [for] what it did ;”( 39:70)

And that there is not for man except that [good] for which he strives”(53:39)

No one can gain anything without labour. In this society, parasite does not have any place to survive on the efforts of others. No one can exploit the efforts of others. It cannot happen that a farmer will labour for the whole year and the landlords will take away the entire crop.

5) Justice and good behaviour: Every individual deserves justice. On this there cannot be a distinction between a friend and foe. The enmity of a community should not compel you to do injustice. You should do justice to them irrespective of what they do.

“This is close to piety.” (5:8)

On another occasion, the Quran says;.

“God orders you to do justice and good behaviour” (16:90)

Apart from justice, fulfilling the need of the needy is also a duty of the Islamic government. It is called Ihsan. The concept of Ihsan is not present in any society of the world. Ihsan is one of the human rights and only a divine revelation can order it. This is not possible for human mind.

6) Right to provision: Everyone needs food and provision. This is the rule in the world that everyone should earn his own food. But God says:

“There is no creature on earth whose provision is not the responsibility of God.” (11:6)

“We give food to you and your children.” (6:151)

“Do not kill your children for fear of poverty.”(6:151)

7) Right to life: God says: “Do not kill life which God has declared haram except when justified.”(6:151) God has declared human life sacred and no one has the right to kill anyone except when he has the right to kill anyone. Quran has also made it clear who can be killed as a punishment: one who kills an innocent person or one who spreads violence and bloodshed on land. On the contrary, one who saves one life, as if saved the entire humanity.

8) Right to protection of property: No has the right to take away the property of anyone. (4:29)

9) Right to protection of honour: Honour is the most precious asset of man. Honour is specific to human beings alone. That’s why the person who commits this sin is punishable with hundred lashes.

10) Right to Decision of Marriage: The couple have the right to marry at their own will.”Marry the women whom you like.” (4:3)

“You cannot possess women forcefully.” (4:19)

In Surah Baquarah, it is mentioned that women have the same rights as men (2:228).

Now, you can yourself think and decide: Could the holy Prophet (pbuh) have himself conjured up these rights in that period of Jahiliya? Each of the rights is telling us loudly that it is the revelation of God.

Source: Monthly Sawt ul Haque, Karachi, February 2014