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Islam and Human Rights ( 5 Aug 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Common Misconception about Basic Human Rights in Islam


By Mirza Abdul Aleem Baig

Aug 4th, 2013

The subject of human rights is one of the most fundamental human subject and one of the most sensitive and controversial too. Throughout the recent decades, this problem is more political than either ethical or legal.

Though the influence of political motives, rivalries, and deliberations has made complicated the correct formulation of this problem, but this should not prevent thinkers and genuine humanists from snooping into this problem and ultimately obtaining a solution. In the West, it is only since the last two hundred years or so that human right became a subject of eminence among the political and social issues of Western society and an issue of fundamental significance. During the last few decades this prominence reached its peak in the West with the formation of UNO after the Second World War and the subsequent drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but we Muslims know it very well that if the Western World and the Western civilization have paid attention to this matter in the recent centuries, Islam has dealt with it from all the various aspects of Human Rights many centuries back.

Islam proclaims that all people are as equal as the teeth of a comb, and that no person is superior to any other except by piety and righteous deeds. Accordingly Islam abolished all forms of sectarianism and discrimination between all classes of society. This is verified in the following Quranic Verse: “O mankind We created you from a single (pair) of a male and female and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) most righteous And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted”.

Similarly, the Prophet Muhammad announced in his farewell speech the constitution of Islam that was to be observed after his death. He embodied the principle of Islam in this speech saying: “O people Your God is One God and your father is one father, for you are all descendants of Adam, and Adam was created from clay. The most honored of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you. No Arab is superior to a non-Arab and no non-Arab is superior to an Arab. No dark-skinned man is superior to a fair-skinned man and no fair-skinned man is superior to a dark-skinned man, except by his piety. I have declared this to you as God is my witness, and may those who are present inform those who are absent”.

The first thing that we find in Islam in the correlation of basic human rights is that it lays down some rights for man as a human being. In other words, it means that every man whether he belongs to Muslim state or not, whether he is a believer or unbeliever, whether he lives in some forest or is found in some desert, whatever be the case, he has some basic human rights just because he is a human being, which should be recognized by every Muslim.

The Security of Life and Property:

The first and the foremost basic right is the right to live and respect for human life. The Holy Quran says: “Whosoever kills a human being (without any reason) manslaughter, or corruption on earth, it is though he had killed all mankind”.

In the Prophet’s address during his final pilgrimage, he said: “Your lives and properties are forbidden to one another till you meet your Lord on the Day of Resurrection.” He also said: “One who kills a man under covenant (i.e. a non Muslim citizen of a Muslim land) will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise”.

The Protection of Honour:

The Quran does not allow one’s personal honor to be abused: “O you, who believe, do not let one set of people make fun of other set. Do not defame one another. Do not insult by using nicknames. Do not backbite”

The Security of Personal Freedom:

Islam prohibits the imprisonment of any individual before his guilt has been proven before a public court. This means that the accused has the right to defend himself and to expect fair and impartial treatment from the court. The tradition of Messenger of Allah states: “It is not allowed for a Muslim to frighten another Muslim”.

The Right to Protest against Tyranny:

This is mentioned clearly in the Quran: “God does not love evil talk in public unless it is by someone who has been injured thereby”. In Islam, an individual’s power and authority is a trust from God. This is an awesome responsibility for a person; for he must use this trust in a way this is acceptable to God or else suffers the consequences. This was acknowledged by Abu Bakr, who said in his very first address: “Cooperate with me when I am right, and correct me when I commit error. Obey me as long as I follow the commandments of Allah and His Prophet, but turn away from me when I deviate”.

Freedom of Expression:

Allah gave Adam liberty of free choice between right and wrong. It is the same reference that Allah almighty says in Quran: “Then He showed him what is wrong for him and what is right for him”. Islam allows complete freedom of though and expression, provided that it does not involve spreading that which is harmful to individuals and the society at large. For example, the use of abusive or offensive language in the name of criticism is not allowed. In the days of the Prophet, the Muslims used to ask him about certain matters. If he had received no revelation on that particular issue, they were free to express their personal opinions.

Equality before the Law:

Islam gives it citizens the right to absolute and complete equality in the eyes of the law. According to Islamic concept of justice, absolutely no one is above the law. This point was made in a very dramatic fashion by the Prophet himself. One day, a women belonging to a high and noble family was arrested in connection with a theft. The case was brought to the Prophet with the recommendation that she be spare the mandated punishment for theft (amputation of the hand).

The Prophet replied: “The nations that lived before you were destroyed by God because they punished the common man for their offenses and let their dignitaries go unpunished for their crimes. I swear by Him Who hold my life in His had that even if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, had committed this crime, I would have amputated her hand.”

The modern democracies argue that the world is indebted to them for establishing the equality and freedom. These countries take the credit for introducing human rights; and England known for its inherited traditions, take the credit, whereas France claim that human rights are the outcome of the French Revolution. In reality, it has been validly verified that the Faith of Islam introduced and established human rights in its most perfect form and on the widest scale.

During the life of the Prophet Muhammad, and during the reign of the Rightly Guided Caliphs, the Islamic states were the first states to adopt the principle of human rights. The modern democracies of today have not yet attained what the Faith of Islam ordained fourteen and half centuries ago. The Faith of Islam is therefore a faith that is based upon the principle of the equality and freedom of all human beings, and aims at promoting the welfare of the human race.

The blogger, Mirza Abdul Aleem Baig, B.E (Bio-Medical), is an editorial board member in National Academy of Young Scientist.