Human Rights in Islam
Human dignity is manifest since the very moment of the man’s creation. Allah (SWT) created man in the best and most perfected form ever. Contemplate this verse in which Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as,“Who created you, proportioned you, and balanced you? In whatever form He willed has He assembled you.” (Al-Infitar: 7-8)
He also says, “… and formed you and perfected your forms; and to Him is the [final] destination.” (At-Taghabun: 3)
So, this is how Allah (SWT) honored mankind with regards to the form.
Despite man’s weakness and that Allah (SWT)is not in need for him, yet Allah (SWT) has honored human beings by giving them the chance to worship Him. There is no one to be worshiped except Allah (SWT), for there is no real worshipped one but Allah (AWJ) , who says, “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Adh-Dhariyat: 56)
In another place in the Qur’an, Allah (SWT) says, “Say, ‘Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds. No partner has He. And this I have been commanded, and I am the first [among you] of the Muslims.’”(Al-An’am: 162-163)
Allah (SWT) has honored man through preserving his religion, self, property and dignity and forbade transgressing anything of them. It is mentioned in the noble hadith (the Messenger’s sayings) that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “All things of a Muslim are inviolable for his brother in faith: his blood, his wealth and his honor.” (Sahih Muslim)
Allah (SWT) has made it forbidden to offend a human being by any word or deed. This is also a kind of honor from Allah (SWT), who says, “O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.”(Al-Hujurat: 12)
In another verse, He says, “O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one's] faith. And whoever does not repent - then it is those who are the wrongdoers.”(Al-Hujurat: 11)
Whoever looks into the human rights in Islam, would realize that they are eternal and legitimate rights. They are unchangeable during the course of time. They can neither be abrogated, suspended, distorted, nor altered. They are self-protected because they are given by the All-Wise, the All-Knowing. Allah (SWT) knows His own creation best. He knows the interests of His servants better than they do. These are Divine rulings and of consequentaccountability. Allah (SWT) has revealed them in His Books and to His Messengers.
Allah (SWT) approved for this nation Islam as religion. He made Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) the last prophet of all. He, above all, has made it a duty over His servants to protect and care for those rights among each other. He made it forbidden to desecrate or exploit those rights, in order for the human being to live secured, safe and dignified. Islam concept of human dignity is not limited only to this worldly life. It extends until after death, for a human’s rights in Islam are not limited to his living only. Rather, man, in Islam, is honored in both this worldly life and the Hereafter. He is honored in health or sickness, in thick and thin and in the good or bad.
Allah (SWT), furthermore, honored man by making Islam his natural disposition, that is, submitting and surrendering himself to Allah (SWT). Nobody, thus, is to enslave, humiliate nor exploit him. Nobody is to turn him away from Allah (SWT) to worship anyone or anything else. A human being has all the right to earn a legitimate living without monopolization, deceit, cheating, or causing harm to the self or property. He has the right to live in his society and manage his life affairs freely, with no intervention from any part, whomever, for as long as his actions are within the circle of the shari’a (Islamic law). This is a kind of the public freedom that has been granted to and ensured for a human being. These rights, hence, should not be transgressed by anybody except with a legitimate right. A human being also has the right to express himself.
The word ‘human being’ includes, both, male and female. The honor that has been granted by Allah (SWT)is enjoyed by both, man and woman, equally. A woman’s dignity is equal to man’s dignity. She has rights just as she has duties. With regards to the accountability, Allah (SWT) enjoinedon each of them what pertains and is suitable for him and her. Yet, on the general level, women are like men. By tracing the texts of the Islamic law, one can easily recognize how careful Islam is for those rights. It is quiet manifest in the Book and the Sunnah as well in an unprecedented way in any other religion. Human systems and man-made laws have failed to achieve what Islam has achieved with regards to human rights.
Islam and human being
Islam highly estimates and admires human being in accordance with the verse, in which Allah (SWT)says, “And We have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference.” (Al-Isra’: 70)
Such an attitude has given human rights in Islam special characteristics and advantages, the most important of which is the inclusiveness of these rights. They include political, economic, social and intellectual rights. They are also general rights, that is, all people enjoy it, whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims and with no distinction, whatsoever, based on color, gender or language. They are inalienable and unalterable because they are related to the doctrine of the Lord of the worlds.
This is what the Messenger (PBUH) has stated in his Farewell Speech, which has been a comprehensive declaration of human rights, when he said, “… No doubt, Allah made your blood, your properties and your honor sacred to one another like the sanctity of this day of yours in this month of yours in this town of yours, till the day you meet your Lord.”(Sahih al-Bukhary)
In this speech, a number of rights have been ensured, among of which is the sanctity of the blood, property, dignity, etc.The Messenger (PBUH), highly cherishing the human being in general as he is, when he was asked about the kaba’ir (major sins), he said, “Associating others with Allah (SWT) and killing the soul…” he used the word ‘the soul’ to indicate generality, which means any soul that may be killed except by right.
The Messenger (PBUH) went even farther, when he stated that it is forbidden for a human being to commit suicide, so he said, “Whoever purposely throws himself from a mountain and kills himself, will be in the Hellfire falling down into it and abiding therein perpetually forever; and whoever drinks poison and kills himself with it, he will be carrying his poison in his hand and drinking it in the Hellfire wherein he will abide eternally forever; and whoever kills himself with an iron weapon, will be carrying that weapon in his hand and stabbing his abdomen with it in the Hellfire wherein he will abide eternally forever.” (Sahih al-Bukhary)
Islam has forbidden any act that may deny any human’s right to life, whether by terrifying, humiliating or beating. HishamIbn-Hakim said, “I heard the Messenger (PBUH) saying, ‘Indeed, Allah (SWT) tortures those who torture human beings in the worldly life.’”
Human rights in Islam as a concept and its types
Haq (right) linguistically, means the fixed thing with no doubt. It is the share prescribed, whether for the individual or the community. Haq is defined as the thing that is based upon justice, fairness and moral principles. Haq, according to the Islamic law, is a word that refers to Allah (AWJ), as it is one of His Most Beautiful Names, Exalted be He.
By analyzing the relation between Islam and human rights as a concept, we should know that Islam, as a creed, is mentioned in two noble sources, which are: the Noble Qur’an and the Noble Sunnah.The Islamic creed is founded upon the unity of the human race as a principle. The aim of the differences between humans, whether in sustenance, source of income, age, color or race is to construct this universe within the framework of coexistence, cooperation and integration. These facts become as clear as the sun when we look at some noble Qura’nic verses.
Allah (SWT) says, “O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah , through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer” (Al-Nisa’: 1).
Allah (SWT) also says, “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted” (Al-Hujurat: 1).
“And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge.”(Ar-Rum: 22)
Islam emphasizes the complete freedom of belief. This is a clear-cut fact that is manifest in what Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an, “…so whoever wills - let him believe; and whoever wills - let him disbelieve.” (Al-Kahf: 29)
Islam recognizes human rights as inherent for every human being. They should be sustained and put into effect. Islam has conferred all the rights necessary for a human being to live a good life, establish a society that is built upon justice, equality and brotherhood. Islam has stated all the rights that have been declared in the different charts and constitutions nowadays, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, more than 14 centuries ago.
Types of human rights: they are many, yet they can be classified into three main groups: civil and political rights, economic and social rights and lastly environmental and cultural rights.
1- Civil rights in Islam
- The right of freedom and choice, on top of which is the freedom of belief. This is in accordance with the verse, “There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong.” (Al-Baqarah: 256)
Many are those examples of defending the greatest human right of all, that is ‘the right to know Allah (SWT)’. The Qur’an also has recorded the most serious violations of human rights, where the tyrants used all arts of torture with the believers, merely for their belief. Allah (SWT) says, “Cursed were the companions of the trench. [Containing] the fire full of fuel,When they were sitting near it. And they, to what they were doing against the believers, were witnesses. And they resented them not except because they believed in Allah, the Exalted in Might, the Praiseworthy.”(Al-Buruj: 4-8)
- Prohibition of slavery and acknowledging freedom as an inherent right.
There are many rulings in Islam pertaining to slaves. Those rulings were meant to provide slaves some protection in a time when slavery has been an unjust global custom. Islam has taken a number of measurements to abolish slavery. Among of those measurements are making the emancipation of a slave as an expiation for some legal faults. In a hadith narrated by Abu-Hurayrah(RA) , he said that the Messenger (PBUH) had said, “I will be against three persons on the Day of Resurrection…[among of them he mentioned]one who sells a free person (as a slave) and eats the price…”(Shaih al-Bukhary)
- The right to life. It is a Divine gift that cannot be given but by Allah (SWT). This right includes:
• Prohibition of killing: Islam recognizes killing as one of the major crimes and sins as well. Allah (SWT) says, “…that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land - it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.” (Al-Ma’idah: 32)
• Prohibition of committing suicide: No one has the right to put an end to his life or to transgress his own body. Many sacred texts have showed the serious commination for those who do so.
• Prohibition of abortion: Islam prohibited abortion except when there is a medical necessity like the mother being in real danger. It also prohibited adultery and stated a deterrent punishment for it since it is a direct cause of abortion. Islam called for propagating chastity and legal marriage in order to preserve honor and offspring.
2- Political rights in Islam
Islam has conferred general principles that are developable according to time and place by the competent specialists. It called for two main principles in the political life:
a- Shura (consultation): Islam recognizes shura as the straight and logical way that would lead the society along with man toward the right method and opinion and to happiness in life. Because of the high importance of the shura as a principle, Islam has made it a general principle, that is to include all aspects of life. It is a duty, thus, on every member of the society to make shura (consult others) and to be open for other opinions, even in minor issues. Under Islam, people are very much encouraged to exchange ideas and thoughts and to examine different opinions in order to reach the best one. Allah (SWT) says, “And those who have responded to their lord and established prayer and whose affair is [determined by] consultation among themselves, and from what We have provided them, they spend.” (Ash-Shura: 38)
He also says, “So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter.” (Ala-Imarn: 159)
b- Bay’a (pledge of allegiance): Allah (SWT) says, “Indeed, those who pledge allegiance to you, [O Muhammad] - they are actually pledging allegiance to Allah. The hand of Allah is over their hands. So he who breaks his word only breaks it to the detriment of himself. And he who fulfills that which he has promised Allah - He will give him a great reward.” (Al-Fat’h: 10)
Islam has highly valued bay’a and made it a means of keeping the discipline of the society through the law of the state based on the mutual pledges between the ruler and the ruled. There is no discrimination between men and women under the umbrella of Islam with regards to this right. Allah (SWT) says, “O Prophet, when the believing women come to you pledging to you that they will not associate anything with Allah , nor will they steal, nor will they commit unlawful sexual intercourse, nor will they kill their children, nor will they bring forth a slander they have invented between their arms and legs, nor will they disobey you in what is right - then accept their pledge and ask forgiveness for them of Allah . Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Al-Mumtahanah: 12)
The right of freedom
Among the rights Islam has conferred for human beings is the right of freedom. This freedom is as valued and preserved as is his own life. So, it preserved the freedom of the self and the freedom of expression.
- The freedom of the self: it is an innate freedom, with which a human being is born. Therefore, Omar Ibnul-Khattab is reported to have said his famous word to AmrIbnul-‘As, “How would you enslave people, when their mothers have given birth to them as free human beings.” Islam has shown great respect for this type of freedom and is keen on protecting it.
Among the misconceptions that the enemies of Islam raise in this respect is that they say that Islam has allowed slavery and categorized people into free men and salves. Whoever says so does not know the truth of Islam. It is quite known that Islam is keen on emancipating slaves. Slavery was there long before Islam and was widely spread among people. Therefore, it sealed most of its sources and prohibited it. Islam, thus, did not bring slavery to the world. Rather, not only did Islam bring emancipation but also propagated it and encouraged people on it to the extent that it became an expiation for some sins. This is quite manifest in many verses and hadiths. The Messenger (PBUH) said, “Whoever frees a Muslim salve, Allah will save all the parts of his body from the Hellfire as he has freed the body-parts of the slave.” (Sahih al-Bukhary) Who then can claim that Islam encourages slavery or classifies people into freemen and slaves? This cannot be said except by the ignorant. Is it not enough to know that Islam has requested the slaves themselves to pursue their own freedom through mukatabah?
Mukatabah is a certain amount of money a slave pays to his master and after paying the entire amount agreed upon, then he is free. Allah (SWT), addressing masters, says, “And those who seek a contract [for eventual emancipation] from among whom your right hands possess - then make a contract with them if you know there is within them goodness.” (An-Noor: 33)
This is indeed another clear evidence that Islam urges slaves’ emancipation by any means. It even commanded Muslims to help their fellow brother to pay his dues to his master and counted it among the good deeds. Allah (SWT) says, “…and give them from the wealth of Allah which He has given you.” (An-Noor: 33)
Can anybody, dear fellows, still claim that Islam has enslaved people? For this, then, would be a real lie.
- Freedom of expression: Islam has ensured freedom of speech, which means that every human being enjoys his complete freedom to utter the truth and offer an advice for every Muslim brother. Allah (SWT), however, has specified some controls to keep it within certain limits, for freedom does not mean chaos. These restrictions are meant to avoid misusing this right, so one would not be encouraged to let his tongue or intellect deviate from the right path.
- Freedom of expression controls
Expressing one’s thoughts should be through wisdom and good advice as Allah (SWT) said in His Book. One’s speech should be free from toughness, cruelty, coercion, abuse or harm for the other. Allah (SWT) says, “Repel, by [means of] what is best,” (Al-Mo’minoon: 96)
Among of these controls is that one should take care lest he spoils the relations between people, therefore, tale bearing is forbidden. To say, ‘Freedom means we talk about anyone in any way and even to slander them,’ is considered tale bearing, which is forbidden by Allah (SWT). The Messenger (PBUH) said, “Theqattat (tale-bearer) shall not enter Paradise.”(Sahih Muslim)
Freedom of expression does not mean that you slander Muslims. It has to be within the limits permitted by the Islamic law, completely avoiding transgressing Muslims’ inviolable and unveiling their secrets. Allah (SWT) says, “Allah does not like the public mention of evil except by one who has been wronged. And ever is Allah Hearing and Knowing.” (Al-Nisa’: 148)
One of the controls of the freedom of expression is that one should reform between people. He or she should not intend to dare Allah (SWT) or be unfair to Islam and Muslims. Freedom is restricted by the boundaries of the objectives of the Islamic law. Those objectives are meant to avoid harm and approach benefits. If freedom of expression would achieve such an objective, that would be great. Yet, absolute freedom, that is free from any restrictions or control, is harmful. You cannot just get yourself involved in something that is none of your business in the first place, especially, if you know not enough about what you are talking about. Allah (SWT) says, “And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge.”(Al-Isra’: 36) You cannot spread lies or things that would weaken the nation. It is impermissible to spread gossip among people under the pretext of freedom, so you would say, “This is my opinion and I am free to think whatever I want!” Allah (SWT) made it forbidden to spread news before making sure of its authenticity. He says, “O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.” (Al-Hujurat: 6) Freedom does not mean that one says whatever he wants or falsely accuses others.
- The right of equality: it is one of the rights ensured by Islam for a human being. In fact, it is one of the greatest rights in Islamic law. In Islam, equality is in rights and duties as well, but everyone bears only what is in his or her capacity. Allah (SWT) says, “Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity.” (Al-Baqarah:286)
People are as equal as the teeth of a comb. Superiority is only by piety and good deeds. Allah (SWT) says, “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.” (Al-Hujurat: 13)
Superiority of a human being is measured by his or her piety not their lineage or wealth. There is no difference between an Arab and a non-Arab except in piety. It is mentioned in the hadith of the Messenger (PBUH) that he said, “You are the sons of Adam, and Adam is created from dust.”
The right of equality is a practical reality in Islam that represents the essence of the Islamic legislation. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) declared it openly to the public when he said, “By Allah, if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad stole, I would cut off her hand.” (Shahih al-Bukhary) He did not accept the intercession of UsamahIbn-Zayd to forgive a woman who had stolen although she was from the Sons of Makhzoum, who were of a high status in Madina. The Messenger (PBUH), then, said that words that still echoes in our ears until this very day…
“By Allah, if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad stole, I would cut off her hand.”
No social class, thus, is superior to the other. All are equal before the truth. Among the classical narrations in this respect is a story of an Arab king from Ghasasinah. As the king was circumambulating the Ka’ba, a Bedouin stepped on his cloak. The king tuned to him only to hit him on the nose and break it. The Bedouin went to Omar Ibnul-Khattab(RA)and complained about what the king had done to him.
“A nose for a nose,” said Omar, “for Islam has equalized between you both...”
This is one of the situations that assertequality as a notion in Islam. Such a spirit of belief that Islam has achieved for human beings captured their hearts, so people embraced the religion of Allah (SWT) in folks. So, it is not about lineage or fame, rather, it is about piety. The more pious one is, the stronger he is. Abu-Bakr (RA) said, “The weak among you is deemed strong by me, until I return to them that which is rightfully theirs. And the strong among you is deemed weak by me, until I take from them what is rightfully (someone else’s).
3- Economic and social rights in Islam
At the very beginning of the Islamic State established in Madina, its constitution stated solidarity, with no distinction between the different components of the Islamic State. Muslims have already succeeded in achieving that through:
a- Feeling the individual and societal responsibility and their duties towards the right. The Messenger (PBUH) said, “All of you are guardians and responsible for your wards and the things under your care.”
b- Solidarity as a means of preserving the economic and social rights. The Messenger (PBUH) said, “Whoever has a surplus mount, let him give it to one who has no mount, and whoever has surplus provisions, let him give them to one who has no provisions,”
c- Fighting against avarice and economic corruption through avoiding the prohibited financial transactions such as usury and monopoly. Muslims also observe their acts of worship with respect to finance the best way they could. Therefore, they created a social system, through which they managed to survive the hardest afflictions such as that which took place in the Year of Ramadah (famine).
- The right of possession: a human being has the right to sell, buy and the freedom of action with regards to his own wealth, for as long as he has the capacity to do so. Capacity here means that he is free, adult, sane and rational. Any human being, as long as he possesses these requirements, whether male or female, then they have the right to possess, buy, sell and all other legal actions. This is called: lawful earning. Islam has protected the private possessions from any kind of transgression. It prohibited abduction, theft, confiscating people’s money without right. Islam commanded man to defend his own property. The Messenger (PBUH) said, “Whoever is killed while protecting his property then he is a martyr,” (Sahih al-Bukhary). Islam necessitates compensation in case of causing damage. This is all to preserve this ownership. It even made it forbidden for a husband to take from his wife’s property against her will. Many husbands do this, unfortunately, so they exploit their rich wives and take their money against their will, while it is well known that taking a Muslim’s property against his or her will is not allowed. A husband is not allowed to take any action regarding his wife’s property without her consent. This is of the tenets of Islam, while on the other hand, we can see other laws and in other cultures that a husband is allowed to take possession of his wife’s property. He can even place her under his guardianship. Islam forbad all such acts. It even gave the woman the right to handle her dowry the way she likes, for it is in her possession. Her husband is not allowed to misuse any of her property without her consent.
Islam does not protect the private properties only, but the public properties as well, or even more. The punishmentfor transgressing a public property is tougher, for it is considered as a betrayal for the whole nation. Allah (SWT) says, “And whoever betrays, [taking unlawfully], will come with what he took on the Day of Resurrection,”(Ala-Imran:161). These, are but examples of the rights ensured by Islam for human beings.
There are, still, many other rights, such as granting the insolvent a respite as Allah (SWT) says, “And if someone is in hardship, then [let there be] postponement until [a time of] ease” (Al-Baqarah: 280). Moreover, there are rights granted for orphans, the weak, the needy, people with special needs, the handicapped. Islam has treated these groups in such an elevated way and commanded us to treat them with kindness. Allah (SWT) says, “So as for the orphan, do not oppress [him],”(Ad-Dhuha: 9). The Messenger (PBUH) also said, “I and the person who looks after an orphan and provides for him, will be in Paradise like this,putting his index and middle fingers together.”
In some pre-Islam civilizations, however, there was a great deal of humiliation, abasement to the weak and putting them under hardships. The strong were favored to the weak.
Islam attitude towards mankind in all aspects of life is, thus, clear. It is an inherent right, which is enjoyed by Muslims as it is by the People of the Covenant and those who have a pact with Muslims. These rightsare inalienable and cannot be transgressed without right. According to Islam, the People of the Covenant and those who have pacts with Muslims have the same rights and responsibilities as we do.
One of the most remarkable things about Islam is that it gave to the human being the right to defend himself. Allah (SWT) says, “But whoever transgresses after that will have a painful punishment,” (Al-Baqarah: 194). A human kind has also the right to forgive when he is capable of doing so according to what Allah (SWT) says, “But if you pardon and overlook and forgive - then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (At-Taghabun: 14)
The Five Necessities as a concept and their types
Necessities: are the legal rulings that are meant to preserve people’s interests in their worldly life and the Hereafter. If these necessities are lost, so their interests would be lost too, which will cause even more corruption and harm for mankind.
Needs: are the things that are needed to ease people’s life and make them live in affluence. They come in a second degree after the necessities.
Enhancers: they are different from the necessities and needs; life does not depend on them.
Types of necessities
Scholars have classified necessities into five major issues, they are:
a- Religion: a group of beliefs, acts of worship and the rulings that have been conferred by Allah (SWT) in order to organize the people’s relation with their Lord and with each other and that will take place by abiding by the law of Allah (SWT).
b- Self: it is human’s life
c- Mind: it is the reason of accountability and a means of distinction and perception
d- Off-spring: man’s children, so lineage would not mix and obscenity would not spread.
e- Property: it is the basis of life and all a human being possesses. Allah (SWT) made it lawful for a human being to earn his living from lawful sources and forbade devouring people wrongfully.
Why did the scholars put necessities in this order?
The five necessities are ordered according to their importance. If there would be any conflict between them, the most important of them would be prioritized.
Preserving religion is classified as a first priority because it is the most important of all and man’s happiness in this worldly life and the Hereafter depends on it. The rest of the necessities come in a second priority.
Preserving the self is in advance of the rest of the necessities because taking care of it depends on the survival of the self. Preserving the mind came later because it is the reason for human beings’ accountability. Preserving the off-spring comes before property, yet if there is a conflict, the former would be a top priority. At the end, there comes preserving property.
Characteristics of the five necessities and the conditions of specifying the interest and its controls
In order for the five necessities to achieve the objectives of the Islamic law, some characteristics have to be taken into consideration:
- Islamic law has to be its sole source
- The benefits in the worldly life and the Hereafter have to be taken into account
- The benefit of religion has to be in advance of all other benefits.
As for the conditions and controls that have to be taken into account to specify the benefit:
- They should be in accordance with the objectives of the Islamic law and not be in conflict with any of its legal proofs
- They should be in the rank of the necessary and the unquestionable
- Choosing them should be for the sake of easing life for Muslims
- They should not miss a benefit.
Means of preserving the five necessities
The five necessities are preserved in two complete methods, one of them is through prohibiting what threatens its existence, the other one is enjoining everything that may reinforce and develop them.
Preserving religion:Allah (SWT) prohibited associating others with Him and any path that may lead to it, which is a threat to its existence. Bad innovations in religion damage it. He prohibited apostasy because it dares religion. For enjoining everything that would reinforce and develop it, Allah (SWT) made it a duty to call for and propagate Islam and to defend the Islamic creed, whose essence is the Oneness of Allah.
Preserving the self: the self has a great inviolability in Islam. Everything that may threaten its existence is prohibited. Enjoining everything that would reinforce and develop it comes through making it a duty to defend it against anything that may put it in danger or near to death, so Allah (SWT) legislated qasas (legal retribution).
Preserving the mind: it is through prohibiting everything that may threaten its existence such as prohibiting alcohol and the likes that would damage man’s senses. There are moral spoilers such as the corrupted perceptions that lead man to misguidance. Enjoining everything that would reinforce and develop it comes through contemplating the verses of Allah (SWT) and makingijtihad(juristic deduction) in issues with regards to the Islamic law and to cultivate the earth.
Preserving off-spring: Allah (SWT) prohibited everything that may threaten it such as: defamation, adultery, abnormal relationships and abortion. He enjoined everything that would reinforce and develop it through encouraging marriage.
Preserving property: Allah (SWT) made it a duty to preserve property in order to keep people’s interests. He prohibited over-spending and devouring people’s property wrongfully. He enjoined everything that would reinforce and develop it through encouraging lawful earnings and increasing it by using them in lawful investments and spending them in the channels supported by the Islamic law.
Islam and Justice
Justice is another right that is closely related to equality. One of the best sayings one can quote in this respect is what the Messenger (PBUH) said, when UsamahIbn-Zayd tried to intercede for the sake of the woman who stole and she was from the Sons of Makhzoum, “By Allah, if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad stole, I would cut off her hand.”
He forbade denying the individual’s right to defend himself for the sake of justice, so he said, “Leave him, for the owner of the right has the right to speak.” He used to say to whoever judges between people, “When two litigants sit in front of you, do not decide till you hear what the other has to say as you heard what the fist had to say; for it is best that you should have a clear idea of the best decision.”
The right of sufficiency in Islam
This is a unique right that no other man-made system or human rights declaration has treated before. The right of sufficiency means that each individual living in the Islamic State should gain what is sufficient for him to live in a modest comfort. It is different fromthe subsistence level that has been mentioned by the man-made laws. It means the minimum level a human being can live in.
Achieving the sufficiency level comes through labor. In case an individual is unable to work, then it is achievable through zakah (almsgiving). If zakah did not achieve it, then the state treasury should intervene. The Messenger (PBUH) said about that, “I am closer to each believer than his own self. Whoever leaves behind a debt, I will pay it.”To reinforce this right, he said, “He did not [truly] believe in me, who slept full while his neighbor, beside him, is hungry and he knew it.” He also said, “When the people of Ash’ari tribe ran short of food during the battles, or the food of their families in Madina ran short, they would collect all their remaining food in one sheet and then distribute it among themselves equally by measuring it with a bowl. So, these people are from me and I am from them.”
The rights of civilians and prisoners of war
Human rights reach its peak of greatness when it comes to the rights of the civilians and prisoners during war. Commonly, revenge and ruthlessness areprevailduring warinstead of the spirit of humanity and mercy. Islam, however, had a human approach ruled by mercy. The Messenger (PBUH), in this respect, says, “Do not kill a baby, woman nor an old man [or woman].”
This is to mention but a few of the codes Islam has stated with regards to human rights on earth. They, collectively, mirror the human look, which is the essence of the Muslims’ civilization.
- The rights of the parents
Socially speaking, parents have the highest and most elevated social level of all. Allah (SWT) has joined between worshipping and associating nothing with Him and treating parents kindly. Allah (SWT) says, “Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good.” (An-Nisa’: 36)
Allah (SWT) showed us the right way to treat them in what He says, ‘And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], "uff," and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word,” (Al-Isra’: 23). In other verses Allah (SWT) joins between the servant’s gratitude to his Lord and his gratitude to his own parents. What else could be more elevated than this? Allah (SWT) says, “And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.”(Luqman: 14)
- The rights of off-spring
Man’s off-spring have rights too that parents should provide. They start early at the beginning of a human’s life since childhood, which entails care and expenditure. Allah (SWT) says, “Mothers may breastfeed their children two complete years for whoever wishes to complete the nursing [period]. Upon the father is the mothers' provision and their clothing according to what is acceptable. No person is charged with more than his capacity. No mother should be harmed through her child, and no father through his child. And upon the [father's] heir is [a duty] like that [of the father]. And if they both desire weaning through mutual consent from both of them and consultation, there is no blame upon either of them. And if you wish to have your children nursed by a substitute, there is no blame upon you as long as you give payment according to what is acceptable. And fear Allah and know that Allah is Seeing of what you do.”(Al-Baqarah: 233)
A father should not deny his child’s lineage. About this, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradhawy, says in his book Al-Halal wal-Haram,
“A son hold the secrets of his father. He holds his characteristics. He is the apple of his eye. He is his father’s extension after his death and represents his continuance. A son inherits features, qualities, characteristics and traits. He inherits them whether they are bad or good, beautiful or ugly. He is part of his heart. Therefore, Allah (SWT) forbade adultery, ordained marriage in order to preserve lineage so that a son would know his father and a father would know his children. In marriage, a wife has only one husband whom she is prohibited to cheat on. Thus, all children she would give birth to are her husband’s. No need, then, for an acknowledgment, declaration from the father nor for a mother to take a legal action, for then it will be just like the Messenger (PBUH) said, “… the boy is for (the owner) of the bed [the husband].”
- The rights between spouses
Preserving the rights even between spouses is the foundation of preserving and protecting the whole society from deviation or degeneration. Therefore, Islam has given special attention to the mutual rights between spouses. In the Farewell Speech, the Messenger (PBUH) showed part of these rights when he said, “Fear Allah concerning women! Verily you have taken them on the security of Allah, and intercourse with them has been made lawful unto you by words of Allah. You too have right over them, and that they should not allow anyone to sit on your bed whom you do not like. But if they do that, you can chastise them out not severely. Their rights upon you are that you should provide them with food and clothing in a fitting manner.”
Among the mutual rights between spouses is that each one of them should keep each others’ secretes. Abu-Sa’id al-Khudry said, “The Messenger (PBUH) said, ‘The most wicked among the people in the eye of Allah on the Day of Judgment is the man who is intimate with his wife and she is intimate with him, then he publicizes her secrets.’”
- The rights of relatives, orphans, the needy and the traveler
Islam emphasizes the importance of keeping one’s kinship ties and warns against severing them. The Messenger (PBUH) in a hadith reported by Az-Zuhrey through Muhammad Ibn-JayiedIbn-To’m through his father, said, “The severer of the tie of kinship would not get into Paradise.”
AnasIbn-Malek is reported to have said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah saying, ‘Whoever desires an expansion in his sustenance and age, should keep good relations with his kith and kin.”
Abu-Hurayrah, as well, reported that a person said, “Allah’s Messenger, I have relatives with whom I try to have close relationship, but they sever (this relation). I treat them well, but they treat me ill. I am sweet to them but they are harsh towards me. Upon this, the Messenger (PBUH) said, ‘If it is so as you say, then you in fact throw hot ashes (upon their faces) and there would always remain with you on behalf of Allah (an Angle to support you) who would keep you dominant over them so long as you adhere to this (path of righteousness).’”
Islam, thus, acknowledges the right of relatives and shows us that they have to be a first priority when it comes to the good treatment and charity in many verses, to mention but a few:
Allah (SWT) says, “…and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves…” (Al-Baqarah: 17).
He also says,“… and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess” (An-Nisa’: 36).
“And give the relative his right, and [also] the poor and the traveler, and do not spend wastefully.”(Al-Isra’: 26)
“And they ask you about orphans. Say, ‘Improvement for them is best. And if you mix your affairs with theirs-they are your brothers. And Allah knows the corrupter from the amender.”(Al-Baqarah: 22)
These are only some verses tackling our subject in the Noble Qur’an and mentioned those who have rights over us. For those, who may not have noticed it, these verses contain commands that should be obeyed.
Furthermore, the Noble Sunnah did not leave out this issue, which is a keystone in the foundation of nations. With it, nations would advance and become elevated. Unfortunately, those who are affiliated to Islam do not abide by the Islamic tenets, while who are not affiliated, do abide by them!
Let us elaborate more on how the Noble Sunnah has dealt with this issue through the following hadith:
The Messenger (PUBH) said, “The one who looks after a widow or a poor person is like a mujahid (warrior) who fights for Allah’s Cause, or like him who performs prayers all the night and fasts all the day.”
The particularity of human rights in Islam
The debates about human rights in Islam have gone numerous ways. Some of which, emphasizes the particularity and uniqueness of the vision of Islam about human rights in a way that limits it to a specific group of people or even to a specific geographical area. Other opinions stress the complete consistency between this vision and the prevailing European vision and that the Islamic vision is universal. Accordingly, the advocates of the latter opinion reject the idea of the particularity of the Islamic vision of human rights.
The supporters of the first opinion are being unjust to the Islamic vision of human rights. They limit it to a narrow framework and cripple Islam’s universal mission. The supporters of the second opinion, however, ignore the essence and human depth of this vision. They try to bring it closer to the European vision, which lacks for that human depth in many aspects.
1- The universality of the Islamic vision
In our opinion, the unique thing about the concept of human rights in the Islamic vision rests in “inclusiveness and universality”. Islamic law has acknowledged all types of rights such as the civil, religious, political, economic, social, cultural, scientific; the collective and individual rights. On the other hand, Allah (SWT) has commanded us to respect and protect these rights for every human being for who they are as human beings. These rights extend even more in many aspects to include animals, inanimate objects and the environment in such a harmonic system.
The uniqueness of the human rights according to the Islamic vision rests in its universality. Allah (SWT) has addressed humankind with the responsibility of keeping those rights on the grounds of that they are human beings. There is not a single right, whether religious, civil, political or social right that is acknowledged for Muslims only and restricted for the others. Another aspect of uniqueness rests also in the inclusiveness of this vision to all types of rights stated in covenants and universal declarations of human rights in their modern and contemporary forms.
‘Human rights” as a term used in the contemporary speech refers to a group of rights and demands that are due to all human kind, equally and with no distinction for any reason. This general definition, however, is not a postulate in different societies. This is because these rights are closely related to the human’s conceptualization of himself. If the human being is free, dignified, valued, possesses a reasonable mind and consciousness, has the ability to pick up the right and ethical choice, has the ability to give sound judgment about what is in his favor, human rights then would be founded on this conceptualization. Nevertheless, reality attests that there are real forms of discrimination between human beings, in addition, to the violations of their simplest rights. This is not but the result of the dictatorial and racial cultures like those, in which people believe that they are “the chosen people of God” or those peoples who think themselves are the most elevated of all. These inclinations have shown up and nourished in the positivist cultures, and then they left their traces on the other cultures as well.
If we looked at the human rights that have been acknowledged by the Islamic law as a whole and on any theoretical level, we would find that they assert the universality and inclusiveness as we mentioned before.
2- Mankind in the eyes of Islam
The epistemological and philosophical foundation starts with attributing all the rights conferred for human being to Allah (SWT), the Creator of the human. It makes them a sacred duty that is not related to any human authority. It crowns them with an obligatory power that has to be protected by every individual. It rises up to the level of a religious duty.
Such rights, as long they are conferred by the Creator, they know no discrimination on the basis of gender, geography or belief.
As for the fundamental and legitimate foundation, it asserts that everything, in essence, is lawful, which is the larger circle, while prohibition is limited to only a smaller circle. Permission and prohibition is based on man’s interest. A human’s circle of freedom is limited only by the boundaries of others’ freedom. No one should impair the freedom or the rights of the other, because “there should be no harm or reciprocal harm”. In all cases, one should seek ethical means in practicing or defending their freedom. Should he argue, he should argue in a good way. He should not preach what he does not practice. If he judges, let him not be hard-hearted. These are but a few ethics that have been asserted in the Noble Qur’an and the Prophetic Suannah.
Exploring the core of the uniqueness of the human rights from the Islamic perspective requires first to look back at the human being in the eyes of Islam and know his station in this universe. Islam has acknowledged human beings as theyare. All human beings, no matter what their race, color, religion or civilization is, they are respectable and brothers in humanity. The Messenger (PBUH) said, “You are all from Adam and Adam is created from dust.”
Whatever the place or time a human being is born and lives in, according to Islam, he is born with a natural disposition, which is one in all mankind. It is there and complete from the very moment of his birth. This natural disposition is a blow from the Spirit of Allah (SWT). A human being not only is born with a natural disposition, but also he is born with basic knowledge such as hearing, sight and the heart. These are the tools by which a human being can handle the longing he feels to know about Allah (SWT); to reach for freedom; to enjoy life and to achieve spiritual prosperity along with materialprosperity.
3- Acknowledging human rights is the origin of all rights
The first and most important human right that asserts the uniqueness of the Islamic perception of human rights is the right to acknowledge him as a human being. It is the origin of all rights. If they are not acknowledged on this fundamental and spiritual level, more human rights would vulnerable to be cut under many pretexts created by tyrants and justified by the authorities controlling man, be it political, social or religious.
Ancient, middle and modern history present to us many situations, in which the humanity of the human being is not acknowledged. That was the very beginning to badly affect many of the human’s rights and fundamental freedoms. History provides us too with many affirmations on the enormity of the sacrifices offered by societies until they managed to extort the acknowledgment of the humanity of the human being and that he is entitled to enjoy, practice and protect his rights.
Moving to another point, which is the legal foundation of human rights stated in Islamic law, Islam has always tried to approach the basic model of those rights with regards to their universality and inclusiveness. We will notice, however, that the legal independent opinions offered by jurists during the course of time have differed for numerous reasons -the space here would not be enough to contain all such details. Those independent opinions, sometimes, approached the basic model that has been founded by the epistemological, philosophical and fundamental sources. At other times, they were far from those sources and were unable to comprehend their broad indications or understand their comprehensive tendency towards humanity.
If we moved to what we may call it the practical foundation of those rights, we would find that the gap is getting even larger between what should be and what has been really there throughout different historic stages or what does exist in our current time. There are many reasons for this gap that would explain it, the mechanisms of it getting larger at times or smaller at other times, which is another subject for another discourse.
4- Legal drafting for human rights
It is worth mentioning here that the Islamic law pertained to human rights as a system has fell behind a lot to offer legislative drafting that would put these rights in a contemporary language. This is contrary to what the modern and contemporary European intellect has done, asthey gave a great attention to the process of drafting these rights and stating them in a more accurate and specific way. The European intellect expressed them in numerous ways such as declarations, covenants and international treaties, whose power of enforcement has varied between ethical and legal enforcement.
Whatever the reasons that led to such delay from the modern and contemporary Islamic intellect to offer legislative drafting for human rights in the form of covenants, declarations or treaties, yet, during the last decades some forms have been made to make up for that shortage. Examples of these forms are as follows:
• Human Rights in Islam, published in the periodical Rabitat al-Alam al-Islmay (The Muslim World League Journal) in Makkah in 1979
• Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights issued by the Islamic Council of Europe in London in 1980
• Draft Document on Human Rights in Islam, which was issued by the summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Ta’if in 1989
• Draft Document on Human Rights in Islam, which was submitted to the Fifth Conference on Human Rights in Tehran in December 1989
• Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islamin 1990
• Declaration on the Rights and Care of the Child in Islam, which was issued in Morocco in 1994
In addition,there are other initiatives and drafts as well either through individual or collective effort. All of them, yet, are in the stage of declarations. They do not have a power of enforcement, especially in the face of the ruling regimes that violate human rights in many spots in the Arab and Islamic world according to the periodic reports issued by human rights organizations from all over the world.
5- Freedom of the individual as a starting point in Islam
“Protection of the human being” is a starting point in the foundation of the uniqueness of the Islamic perspective on human rights. This is the main source of all other rights. “Freedom of the individual” is the chief support on which the creed, systems and laws in Islam are founded. Islam acknowledges the human’s ability to choose with his free will with no need for any intermediary or guardian except in rare cases and specific exceptions related to incapacity. Some great scholars like Abu-Hanifa al-Nu’man, however, believed that interdicting an incompetent person of his legal capacity is impermissible. Abu-Hanifa’s explanation is that this would be a violation of man’s humanity, equaling him with livestock. The harm he would suffer from such violation on the human level is much more than that on the material level resulting from his misuse of his property. It is impermissible to avoid harm by causing a greater harm.
By acknowledging the freedom of the individual in this way, a number of basic rights that are related to the human being and his humanity, the first of which is the rights related to freedom of thinking, expression, research and contemplation.
Neither in the tenets of Islam, its fundamentals, nor the opinions of the great scholars is there anything that would impose a certain scientific theory on people. This is the opposite of some practices known in the history of religions and other cultures such as the Inquisitions.
Characteristics and advantages of human rights in Islam
1- Human rights in Islam stems from the Islamic creed
Human rights in Islam, originally, stem from the creed, that is the Oneness of Allah. This creed, which is founded on testifying that there is no god but Allah, is the source of all rights and freedoms. Allah (SWT)created people free because He wants them to be free. He commanded them to preserve and abide by the rights He ordained. He made jihad a duty in order to protect those rights. He prohibited anybody from transgressing them and this is repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’an in the verses of fighting and jihad.
Human rights in Islam stem from the divine honoring to mankind that is mentioned plainly in the sacred texts. Such honoring is a part and parcel of the Islamic concepts and man’s servitude to Allah (SWT) and the natural disposition of the human being.
2- Human rights in Islam is a divine gift
Human rights in Islam is a divine gift granted by Allah (SWT) to his servants. They are not awarded by any human or could be taken back. Rather, they are rights conferred by Allah (SWT)for the benefit of mankind.
3- Human rights in Islam are inclusive
Among the characteristics and advantages of human rights in Islam is that they are inclusive, whether political, economic, social or cultural rights. Moreover, these rights are general, that is everyone lives under the rule of Islamic State is entitled to enjoy those rights with no distinction because of color, sex or language.
4- Human rights in Islam are concrete, inalienable and unchangeable
One of the characteristics of human rights in Islam is that they are complete and inalienable because they are part and parcel of the Islamic law. Documents written by humans are changeable and vulnerable to cancellation no matter how much they try to immunize them. Even the rigidity they imposed on constitutions did not keep them from being adjusted. Allah (SWT) destined that His religion [Islam] to be the last religion and that the Messenger (PBUH) is the Seal of Prophets. Accordingly, the Book of Allah (SWT) and the Sunnah of His Messenger (PBUH) is lasting for as long as the heavens and earth would last.
5- Human rights in Islam should not be in conflict with Islamic law objectives:
One of the characteristics of human rights in Islam is that they are not absolute; they are restricted by the objectives of the Islamic law. It means human rights should not be in conflict with the interests of the community, part of which is the individual himself.
Preserving human rights
Ensuring and preserving human rights can be done through keeping hudud the limits of Allah (SWT) and ruling by the Islamic law so as to prevail over people. Some describe those limits as unjust, backward, cruel and harsh, claiming that the legal punishments conferred by Allah (SWT)are against human rights. This is seriously a grave thing to say! Therefore, we took it upon ourselves to show here the gravity of such a misconception spread about Islam by its enemies.
The legal punishment, whatever it is, is a ruling prescribed by Allah (SWT) as it is the law of Allah (SWT). Those punishments are meant to be deterrents and protectors [to the community]. Allah (SWT) knows best about His servants’ interests, even better than themselves.
Legal punishments are prescribed only to prevent the crimes that may violate human rights by transgressing a human’s religion, soul, property, mind or dignity. They are fixed punishments and predetermined by Allah (SWT). They spread security and safety in the society as a whole. Putting those punishments into effect is the way to spread justice and prevent crime. Look at the societies that do not apply the laws of Allah (SWT) and you will see them full of dissolution and shocking crimes. Allah (SWT) prescribed those punishments to expiate for such sins committed by some of the servants of Allah (SWT). The Messenger (PBUH) said, “Whoever commits any [of these sins] and received his punishment in this worldly life, then it is expiation for him.”
Putting the rulings of Allah (SWT) into effect is an act of obedience for the commands of Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (PBUH). Should those false accusers know the consequences of suspending the laws of Allah (SWT), such as violating what Allah (SWT) has stated as inviolable and the rights of human beings, they would have taken back their false accusations.
One of those false accusations is that the punishment prescribed for stealing is a humiliation for the human being because it strips him of one of his limbs, cripples him and disfigures his body.Just look at those statements, by which they aim to offend Islam. This is undoubtedly a refutable argument. Applying the law of Allah (SWT) is as beneficial to human beings as the rain is.
“A punishment that is carried out on earth is better for the people of earth than if it were to rain for thirty mornings.”
Applying the law of Allah (SWT) is a necessity in order for security and safety to prevail in the society, otherwise, crime, tyranny and lack of security would widely spread. The interest of the public, with no doubt, comes as a first priority than that of the individual. How could we think of the interest of an individual at the expense of nation’s? Allah (SWT) says, “And there is for you in legal retribution life…” (Al-Baqarah: 179) Allah (SWT), thus, made retribution, which is killing in itself, life.
They claim that the punishment prescribed for drinking alcohol is a violation of human rights, because a human being is free to drink whatever he wants. They did not notice, however, that drinking alcohol in itself transgresses the self. It transgresses the greatest gift Allah (SWT) has given to mankind, which is the mind. Drinking alcohol and all other intoxicating liquors stupefies the mind causing many evils to take place. Because a human being loses his mind first, then he commits the worst of crimes, wine was named ‘the origin of all evils’ as it has many harmful effects on health, psyche and body.
A human being is not free to do with his self whatever he wants. The severity of the punishment corresponds to the severity of the crime. The Islamic tenants are meant to keep away from evils and bring benefits to the nation. The noble Islamic law is a general and comprehensive methodology for the nation to preserve the human being, his dignity and his right for life. How could it not be a source for human rights?
Allah (SWT) the Creator of this universe and the All-Knowing of His servants’ affairs. “Does He who created not know, while He is Subtle, the Acquainted?” (Al-Mulk: 14)
The created, then, has only to be contented and submit to the rule of Allah (SWT).
All Muslims should adhere to their religion, apply its rulings and etiquette and to let it be the judge among them. Only then, they would prosper in this worldly life and the Hereafter. Islam was the first to acknowledge human rights in the Qur’an and Sunnah. The punishments prescribed by Allah (SWT) are meant to preserve those rights against whoever may monopolize them.
Retribution is but to preserve the right for life. The punishment prescribed for harabah(banditry) is a protection for the rights of the society, individually and collectively. The punishment prescribed for stealing is a protection for property and ownership. The punishment prescribed for adultery and false accusation of adultery is a protection of dignity and offspring. The punishment for drinking alcohol is a protection for the mind.
Rights in Islam are inviolable. Transgressing them is a crime. How then could anybody throw false accusations over Islam?
Islam, dear brothers, achieved what the man-made laws or the international covenants could not achieve. Islam brought all the good for this nation. All thanks are due to Allah (SWT) that we live under the umbrella of this noble Islamic law, which is delivered to us through Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The Messenger (PBUH) did not leave any good but he told us about it, nor did he leave an evil except that he warned us against it.
Human rights between Islam and man-made documents
Acknowledging rights, lifting oppression from the oppressed are among the tenants of all divine laws and called on by sound natural dispositions and minds. Islam is divine religion, whose source is the Lord of the worlds. Therefore, there is no doubt that it would be wiser and more just than the man-made laws, which are vulnerable to faults. In the following we would present some differences between Islam and the other man-made documents about human rights:
1- Precedence and power of enforcement
Islamic law has long received the precedence over all other covenants, declarations and international agreements when it comes to human rights since 14 centuries ago. What is mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all the following international agreements and the United Nation Charter on Human Rights are but repetition of some of the tenants of honorable Islamic law.
According to Islam, human rights are inherent, inalienable,unchangeable and nobody could even suspend them. They are binding and ordained by the Creator, Allah (SWT). No human being, whosoever, can suspend or transgress them. Their self-immunity cannot be removed, neither by a human being, for he cannot give them up, nor by the society represented by its establishments whatever they or their powers are. As for the legal value of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is merely a non-compulsory declaration issued by the United Nations.
Human rights in man-made covenants, thus, are recommendations ormoral rulings. In Islam, however, they are an obligation guaranteed by the authorities. The public authority in the Islamic system has the right to impose this obligation, unlike the international covenants that deem them as personal rights that cannot be imposed unless the rightful person gives it up.
2- Depth and inclusiveness
Human rights in Islam are deeper and more inclusive than they are in the man-made documents. According to the Islamic perspective, they are sourced from the Book of Allah (SWT) and the Sunnah of the Messenger (PBUH). As for the international laws and covenants, they are sourced from the human intellect. Human beings do mistakes. They are influenced by the characteristics of the human nature such as weakness, falling short to perceive many things, while Allah (SWT) is the All-Perceiver.
Rights, in Islam, reach the rank of the inviolable. How is this? They are considered a postulate, which are supported by duties and preserved by hudud then it reaches the level of the inviolable. If the human covenants have referred to some rights, Islam with its two sources, the Qur’an and the Sunnah already indicated all types of rights endowed by Allah (SWT) over His creation.
3- Protection and guarantee
In man-made laws, human rights have not been given assurances of protection against violations. Looking back to the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights issued by the United Nations in 1948, we find that it did not specify, on the international level, the means and assurances to prevent any violations against human rights.
The Declaration warned against circumventing its articles or misinterpreting them, but without stipulating a penalty in case of doing so. It also stated that a committee for human rights should be formed in order to study the reports of the member states to secure the acknowledged rights. The committee is to undertake the notifications brought forward by one of the member states against the other regarding the latter’s implementation of their obligations stated in an agreement according to certain conditions.
Even the international protection for human rights, we can see that they are mere trials that did not reach the level of implementation. They are based on two things:
a- Trying to agree on a general principle acknowledged by all states
b- Trying to stipulate binding penalties that condemn any state that violates human rights
However, all what have been issued by the United Nations, organizations and institutions regarding human rights are mere recommendations that are manipulated by those who stipulated them according to their whims!
In Islam, however, Muslims have relied on two main things regarding human rights:
a- Putting the legal punishments into effect; for one of the most important objectives of putting them into effect is to preserve the rights of the individuals.
b- Achieving absolute justice enjoined by Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (PBUH) and has been urged by the Noble Qur’an and the Noble Sunnah. Allah (SWT) says, “Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct…” (An-Nahl: 90)
The Messenger (PBUH) was the first to obey the command of his Lord in establishing justice; his whole life was a model of justice. He taught his Companions justice, advised his nation to establish justice and warned them against injustice. He taught us that Islam, as a methodology, is founded on establishing justice, equality and preserving rights.
4- Human rights in man-made laws gives the opportunity to rid of legal duties and abide by customs and traditions, which is against Islamic tenants.
5- In man-made laws, prohibited deeds such as adultery, homosexuality are made lawful and are numbered among human rights. Islam, on the other hand, preserves mankind from the evils and destructive consequences of such heinous acts and gives people good alternatives instead.
6- In man-made laws, human rights approve the false acts of the wrongdoers and that they do not want Islam to reach people so they would believe that all religions are one. This in turn, would not show the differences between the truthful and the untruthful religions.