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    Human Rights in Islam

    Since God is the absolute and the sole master of men and the universe, He is the Sovereign Lord, the Sustainer, the Nourisher and the Merciful. His mercy enshrines all beings and since He has given each man human dignity and honour, it follow that men are substantially the same. No tangible or actual distinction can be made among them on account of their accidental differences such as nationality, colour or race.
    Every human being is therefore related to all others and all become one community of brotherhood in their honourable and pleasant servitude of the most compassionate Lord of the Universe. The same has rightly been pointed out by the Quran: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (The Holy Quran 49:13).
    Although an Islamic state may be set up in any part of the earth, Islam does not seek to restrict human rights or privileges to the geographical limits of its own state. Islam has laid down some universal fundamental rights for humanity as a whole, which are to be observed and respected under all circumstances, whether such a person is resident within the territory of the Islamic state or outside it, whether he is at peace or at war. The Quran very clearly states: “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to Piety; and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do. (The Holy Quran 5:8).
    Human blood is sacred in any case and cannot be spilled without justification. And if anyone violates this sanctity of human blood by killing a soul without justification, the Quran equates it to the killing of entire mankind: “…if anyone slew a person-unless it be for murder of for spreading mischief in the land-it would be as if he slew the whole people; and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people….” (The Holy Quran 5:32).
    It is not permissible to oppress anyone, especially women, children, old people, the sick or the wounded. Women’s honour and chastity are to be respected under all circumstances. The hungry person must be fed, the naked clothed and the wounded or diseased treated medically irrespective of whether they belong to the Islamic community of are from among its enemies.
    When we speak of human rights in Islam we really mean that these rights have been granted by God; they have not been granted by any king or by any legislative assembly. The rights granted by the kings or the legislative assemblies can also be withdrawn in the same manner in which they are conferred. The same is the case with the rights accepted and recognised by the dictators. They can confer them when they please and withdraw them when they wish; and they can openly violate them when they like. But since in Islam human rights have been conferred by God, no legislative assembly in the world or any government on earth has the right or authority to make any amendment or change in the rights conferred by God. No one has the right to abrogate them. Nor are they basic human rights which are conferred on paper for the sake of show and exhibition and denied in actual life when the show is over. Nor are they like philosophical concepts which have no sanctions behind them.
    Rights sanctioned by God are applicable to every one. They are a part parcel of the Islamic Faith. Every Muslim will have to accept, recognise and enforce them. If they fail to enforce them, and start denying the rights that have been guaranteed by God or make amendments and changes in them, or practically violate them while paying lip service to them , the verdict of the Holy Quran for such government is clear and unequivocal: “..if any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed they are (no better than) unbelievers” (The Holy Quran 5:44).

    Human Rights in an Islamic State:

    1-Security of life and property
    In the address which the Prophet delivered on the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage, he said: “You lives and properties are forbidden to one another till you meet your Lord on the Day of Resurrection”. The Prophet has also said about the dhimmis ( the non-Muslim citizens of the Muslim State): “One who kills a man under covenant (i.e.) dhimmis will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise”.

    2-The Protection of Honour:
    The Holy Quran lays down in Chapter 49 verses 11-12:
    1-“You who believe, do not let one (set of) people make fun of another set”
    2-“Do not defame one another”
    3-“Do not insult by using nicknames”
    4-“Do not backbite or speak ill of one another.

    3-Sanctity and Security of Private Life:
    The Quran has laid down the injuction:
    1-“Do not spy on one another” (49:12)
    2-“Do not enter any houses unless you are sure of their occupant’s consent” (24:27).

    4-The Security of Personal Freedom
    Islam has laid down the principle that no citizen can be imprisoned unless his guilt has been proven in an open court. To arrest a man only on the basis of suspicion and to throw him into a prison without proper court proceedings and without proving him a reasonable opportunity to produce his defence is not permissible in Islam.

    5-The Right to Protest against Tyranny
    Among the rights that Islam has conferred on human beings is the right to protest against government’s tyranny. Referring to it the Quran says: “Allah loveth not that evil should be noised abroad in public speech; except where injustice hath been done; for Allah is He who heareth and knoweth all things” (The Holy Quran 4:148)
    In Islam, as has been shown earlier, all power and authority belong to God, and with man there is only delegated power which becomes a trust; everyone who becomes a recipient of such a power has to stand in awful reverence before his people toward whom and for whose sake he will be called upon to use these powers. This was acknowledged by Abu Bakr, the first Caliph of Islam and a closest Companion of the Prophet, who said in his very first address- when he took over the affair of Islamic state: “Co-operate with me when I am right but correct me when I commit error; obey me so long as I follow the commandments of Allah and His Prophet; but turn away from me when I deviate”.

    6-Freedom of Expression
    Islam gives the right of freedom of thought and expression to all citizens of the Islamic state on the condition that it should be used for the propagation of virtue and truth and not for spreading evil and wickedness. Under no circumstances would Islam allow evil and wickedness to be propagated. It also does not give anybody the right to use abusive or offensive language in the name of criticism. It was the practise of the Muslims to enquire from the Holy Prophet whether on a certain matter a divine injuction had been revealed to him. If he said that he had received no divine injuction, the Muslim freely expressed their opinion on the matter.

    7-Freedom of Association:
    Islam has also given people the right of freedom of association and formation of parties or organisations. This right is also subject to certain general rules.

    8-Freedom of Coscience and Conviction
    The Holy Quran says: “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things” (The Holy Quran 2:256).
    On the contrary, totalitarian societies totally deprive the individuals of their freedom. Indeed, this undue exaltation of the state authority curiously enough postulates a sort of servitude, of slavishness on the part of man. At one time slavery meant total control of man over man-now that type of slavery has been legally abolished but in its place totalitarian societies impose a similar sort of control over individuals.

    9-Protection of Religious Sentiments
    Along with the freedom of conviction and freedom of conscience, Islam has given he right to the individual that his religious sentiments will be given due respect and nothing will be said or done which may encroach upon his right.

    10-Protection from Arbitrary Imprisonment
    Islam also recognises the right of the individual not to be arrested or imprisoned for the offences of others. The Holy Quran has laid down this principle clearly: “Nor can a bearer of burdens bear another’s burden. If one heavily laden should call another to (bear) his load, not the least portion of it can be carried (by the other), even though he be nearly related. Thou canst but admonish such as fear their Lord unseen and establish regular Prayer, and whoever purifies himself does so for the benefit of his own soul; and the destination (of all) is to Allah” (The Holy Quran 35:18).

    11-The Right to Basic Necessities of Life
    Islam has recognised the right of the needy people for help, and assistance to be provided to them: “And in their wealth and possessions (was remembered) the right of the (needy), him who asked and him who (for some reason) was prevented (from asking). (The Holy Quran 51:19).

    12-Equality Before Law:
    Islam gives its citizens the right to absolute and complete equality in the eyes of the law.

    13-Rulers not Above the Law
    Once, during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), a woman belonging to a high and noble family was arrested in connection with theft. The case was brought to the Prophet, and it was recommended that she might be spared the punishment of theft. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “The nations that lived before you were destroyed by God because they punished the common man for their offences and let their dignitaries go unpunished for their crimes”.

    14-The Right to Participate in the Affairs of State
    The Holy Quran says: “Those who harken to their Lord, and establish regular prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation; who spend out of what We bestow on them for Sustenance” (The Holy Quran 42:38).
    One of the meanings of the “Shura” or the legislative assembly is that the executive head of the government and the members of the assembly should be elected by free and independent choice of the people.
    Lastly, it is to be made clear that Islam tries to achieve the above mentioned human rights and many others not only by providing certain legal safeguards but mainly by inviting mankind to transcend the lower level of animal life to be able to go beyond the mere ties fostered by the kinship of blood, racial superiority, linguistic arrogance, and economic privileges. It invites mankind to move on to a plane of existence where, by reason of his inner excellence, man can realise the ideal of the brotherhood of man.

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