Islam and Human Rights

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Human rights

Over a billion humans in the world today are Muslims. As Muslims, they believe in human rights. But their bill of human rights is not one composed by a committee of scholars or leaders, resolved and promulgated by a government, a parliament, or a representative assembly. What humans compose can only be tentative; and what they resolve can only be temporary. With their partial knowledge and passing interests, humans are known always to contend with one another, to agree and disagree and to keep on changing. Human rights cannot be subject to such vicissitudes. Hence, Muslims believe in a bill of human rights which is eternal whose author is Allah — subhanahu wa ta’ala (SWT). Theirs is a bill which was taught by all the prophets and which is crystallized in the Holy Qur’an, the revelation which came to the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (SAAS). Islam’s bill of human rights was promulgated by God for all places and times. The Islamic bill of human rights is the oldest, as well as the most perfect and greatest. The Muslims of the world rejoice that humanity has in this century come to acknowledge the greater part of Islam’s Bill of human rights and pray that Allah (SWT) may guide humankind to recognize these rights and actualize them in their lives.

The Islamic bill of human rights is a system of axiolgical principles or values. The deontological applications of them, or the duties and ought’s deriving therefrom, have been elaborated in the shari’ah — the law of Islam. Hence, Islam’s human rights are not merely ethical desiderata, or ideals of administrative policy, which cannot be invoked in legal processes. They have the full force of established law, and they have been known both to the literate and illiterate Livnat poran a whole millennium before the age of printing. Equally, except in a few cases, the letter of the prescriptive elaborations of human rights in Islam is not sacrosanct and hence absolutely unalterable. The qualities of eternity and immutability belong to the principles behind the prescriptive elaboration, not to their figurization , i.e. to the legal form given them by translation of the purposes of the law into legislative prescriptions. Eternity and absoluteness, belong in the main, to the axiological postulates. With the exception of these postulates and directions, all deontological elaborations, whether legal or methodological, and other prescriptive particularizations of the shari’ah are ever-open to reinterpretation by humans. This openness is dictated by the ever-changing conditions and situations of human life which demand in turn a readiness on the part of the law to meet them in pursuit of its eternal objectives. The shari’ah is divine and eternal therefore, not in its letter, but in its spirit.

The letter of the law is honoured precisely because of its derivation from that which is divine and eternal. To enable itself to move with time and to accommodate changing human conditions, the shari’ah established the science of usul al fiqh. This science recognized from the earliest time that the shari’ah has other sources, besides the texts of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah, which guarantee dynamism and creativity. To this purpose, usul al fiqh established a methodology of logical deduction and analogical extrapolation from the data revelata, as well as criteria for an empirical discovery of the common welfare of the people which it declared an equally valid source of law. For the overwhelming majority of Muslims (the adherents of the Hanafi, Maliki and Ja’fari schools or madhahib of law) to establish critically — i.e. empirically — the requisites of public welfare and to subsume them, either through istihsan (juristic preference) or maslahah (juristic consideration of the commonweal), under the Maqasid al Shari’ah (the general purpose of the law), is the pinnacle of juristic wisdom and Islamic piety.

We are therefore dealing with neither a fossilized law whose form or letter is immutable; nor with a flux of precepts which change with every situation. Rather, Islam’s human rights are anchored in eternal principles or values whose applications may develop following human situations, but only with critical guarantees for the permanence of those principles and values.

As values, Islam’s human rights arrange themselves in clusters and are best discerned as such; for a recognition of each value becomes at once a recognition of its relatives, as well as of its order of rank within the cluster and in the realm of values as a whole. There are nine such clusters.

I. Values Associated with Birth

All humans are born innocent.The Prophet (SAAS) said: Every human is born innocent (‘ala al-fitrah). His parents make him adhere to one religious tradition or other (i.e., man’s historical religiocultural personality is acquired and not necessary).

1) There is neither original sin nor fall; neither vicarious guilt, nor vicarious merit; neither predestination to be saved, nor to be condemned.The Qur’an reported Adam’s sin; but it affirmed that his sin was his own; that he repented and was forgiven. (Qur’an 2:36-37).

The Qur’an also affirms that no soul will get any more or any less than it has earned (Qur’an 3:25); that no person is responsible for the guilt of another, or may intercede on another’s behalf (Qur’an 2:48): that guilt is not transferable (Qur’an 6:164); that no atom’s weight of good or evil will be lost in the final reckoning on the Day of judgement (Qur’an 99:7-8). Allah who created everything perfect (Qur’an 32:7); “We created man in the best of forms” (Qur’an 95:4) God then perfected man, breathed into him of His own spirit. God gave man his hearing, his sight and heart, as faculties of cognition and knowledge (Qur’an 32:9)

2) On the contrary, all humans are created in the best of forms and perfect; i.e., endowed with faculties which enable them to recognise their Creator and their creaturely status, to discern good and evil, to acknowledge their own human rights and obligations.“Turn yourselves to the primordial religion, as a hanif; to the natural religion innate and absolutely the same in all humans. That is the only true and worth religion” (Qur’an 30:30). Add to these verses the ubiquitous admonition to reason, to consider, to think, to judge, to compare and contrast, to seek the truth, to choose the right guidance.

3) They are created absolutely equal. Their physical characteristics as well as those which pertain to the geography or sociography of their birth and are no more than aids for personal identification.“O People! We created you all of a single pair of male and female; and We have constituted you into tribes and nations that you may identify one another. The worthier in the eye of God is the more righteous.” (Qur’an 49:13).

4) There can therefore be no division of human castes, destined at birth for one kind of living or another, as Hinduism claims; or into classes destined at birth for one kind of function or another, as Marxism claims; nor predestination to salvation or damnation as Calvin taught; nor, finally, ontological election to a “chosen” status different from all humans, as Judaism claims. A human’s personal worth or unworth can never be a function of that person’s birth. To be born is to have the right to be, to live as long as God alone permits. No one may be deprived of life except for legitimate cause, and none may take away his own life.“Unless in retaliation for the killing of another person or in punishment for spreading evil, whoever kills a person has killed the whole of humanity; and whoever gives life to a person has done so to the whole of humanity.” (Qur’an 5:32)

5) Equally, to be born is to be endowed with God’s amanah or trust to actualize the divine patterns, i.e., to realize the absolute in this space-time.“We (God) offered Our trust to heaven and earth and mountains. They all rejected it, in fear of its burden. But man accepted and carried it.” (Qur’an 33:72)

6) This is the meaning of khilafah or vicegerency of God.“And when thy Lord said to the angels, I plan to establish a vicegerent for Myself on earth, the angels asked, Would you establish on earth a creature that sheds blood and spreads evil while we constantly glorify and adore You? God said: I have designed a plan [for humanity on earth] which you do not know.” (Qur’an 2:30).

7) As well as the ground of cosmic status, the station higher than that of the angels, which belongs to all humans by virtue of birth.“And We commanded the angels to prostrate themselves before Adam, and they did.” (Qur’an 2:34); “We have ennobled and cherished humankind, enabled them to traverse land and sea, provided them with all good things, and granted them priority over many other creatures.” (Qur’an 17:70).

8) No human may be deprived of the right to fulfill the amanah and khilafah, to the full extent of one’s power.

II. Values Associated with Childhood

All humans are entitled to have parents, descendents from whom gives them their names and identities.Islamic law condemns adultery in the strongest terms; but it is most considerate to the children of adulterous unions, whom it regards as innocent of their parents’ crime. It prescribes their acquisition of the father’s name, if known, as legitimate and rightful in all cases. “(Allah) did not make your adopted sons (truly) your sons. That is only your empty claim, whereas Allah says the truth and guides to it. Give them the names of their real parents; that is more just in Allah’s judgement. And if their parents are utterly unknown, then regard them as your clients, but always as your brothers in religion.” (Qur’an 33:4-5).

9) No foundling may remain a foundling but must be rehabilitated into his natural family.In the case of children devoid of parents or relatives to assume these duties, the shari’ah imposes these duties upon the Islamic state and regards the chief of state or khalifah personally responsible for the welfare and Islamic upbringing of such children. All children are entitled to love and care on the part of their parents or guardians as well as to acculturation and socialization, to guidance and discipline, to redress and punishment where necessary.

10) All humans are entitled to a free education which fully develops their potentialities and prepares them for their khilafah.The Prophet (SAAS) decreed that the pursuit of knowledge is a duty for every Muslim man and woman.

11) They are entitled to training in the vocation best adapted to their capacities so as to produce in their productive years more than they cost or consume from conception to burial. Unless they do so they would not have increased the total quantitative and qualitative good of creation, of history, which is the criterion of their moral worth.

III. Values Associated with Adulthood

A. Rationalism. The truth is, and it is knowable by humans. It is one; just as God is One.“Rather, it is Allah indeed that is the Truth” (Qur’an 22:6). “And proclaim, O Muhammad, the truth has come and is now manifest. Falsehood has been confuted; for it deserves to be so.” (Qur’an 17:81).

12) It is knowable by any of the twin avenues of reason and revelation, since the object of both is one and the same, namely, the will of God which is knowable as the divine patterns of creation, in the realms of nature, of the psyche, of society, of ethical religious and aesthetic consciousness.“Heaven and earth are full of patterns of Allah for the believers to grasp. In the creation of man as well as in that of every creature Allah has created, there are patterns to be perceived by those who are convinced.” (Qur’an 45:3-4). “We shall present to them our patterns in the horizons as well as within themselves (in their consciousness) until they realize that this is indeed the truth.” (Qur’an 41:53).

13) No contradiction between reason and revelation is ultimate.

14) Wherever contradiction occurs, it is our understanding of either the data of revelation, or the data of nature, that is at fault, necessitating re-examination. All humans are entitled know the truth; and no censorship or restriction may be imposed by anyone.

15) All humans are hence entitled to inquire, to search, to learn and to teach one another. Human society is a school on grand scale where everyone is student and teacher at the same time.Say, O Muhammad: My Lord Who knows all things, challenges with the truth. Say, the truth has now become manifest. The opposite of truth has nothing to stand upon and is devoid of effect or power. Say, if I fall into error, it is my deed, my personal responsibility (Qur’an 34: 48-50). Ideological or thoroughgoing skepticism is the inseparable twin of cynicism. It is false, and a defiance of God.

16) No one may promote it to destroy the tradition of human knowledge and wisdom, though questions may always be asked to increase that legacy.“Truth and wisdom have become manifest. They are different from falsehood and straying.” (Qur’an 2:256). The Prophet (SAAS) said: “Whomsoever God wishes to bless, He causes him to acquire knowledge.” No one may prevent anybody from appropriating it or contributing to its growth.

B. Life and World Affirmation. God has created life and the world for good purpose.“Does man think that he has been created in vain?” (Qur’an 75:36). Life must therefore be lived and the world developed. Instincts ought to be satisfied and happiness sought and achieved. Talents, faculties and potentialities, ought to be realized and the result must be the building and growth of culture and civilization.“The righteous are those who examine and ponder over the creation of heaven and earth and exclaim in conclusion: O God You have not created all this in vain.” (Qur’an 3:191).

17) Fulfillment of self as well as of creation is indeed a divine purpose established that humans, in their pursuit of it, do the good deeds which actualize the moral values, i.e., the higher part of the divine will. Conversely, no human may destroy life and the world, or subvert culture or civilization. Cynicism is a denial of the divine purpose of creation and action based upon it is a defiance of the Creator Himself (SWT).

C. Freedom. The liberty to know and to think (mind), to judge and to choose (heart), to act or not to act (arm), belongs universally and necessarily to all humans.“There shall be no coercion in religion.” (Qur’an 2: 256) “Whoever wishes to believe, let him do so; and whoever wishes to disbelieve, let him do so likewise.” (Qur’an 18:29). Coercion in any form, except as imposed by law, is a civil and religious offense, punishable in this world as well as in the next.

D. Egalitarianism.

18) As creatures of God, all humans are absolutely equal in their relation to Him, to His providence and justice, His love and mercy as well as to His judgement in this world and in the next.Supra, note 4. On his last pilgrimage, the Prophet (SAAS) said in his sermon at ‘Arafat: All of you issue from Adam, and Adam issued from dust. No Arab has any priority over a non-Arab, no black over a white, and no non-Arab over an Arab and no white over a black — except in righteousness.

19) Their equal creatureliness is the corollary of His unity and transcendence. Differentiation among them is legitimate only when it is based upon individual effort and merit.Supra, note 4. To everyone a place will be assigned corresponding to the merit of his deeds (Qur’an 6:83). The Prophet (SAAS) said: “Were Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad himself, to commit theft, I would impose upon her God’s sanction of having her hand cut off.”

20) On the other hand, racism, chosenness, or any discrimination on the basis of religion, race, colour, language, ethnicity, descendence geography or history, is evil prohibited by God and a threat to His unity and transcendence.

E. Ummatism. Belonging to an ummah or society is a fact of nature and a divine pattern. All humans are members of one ummah or another.

21) While no human may turn his back to, and dissociate himself from society as such, each is free to associate with, or dissociate from any group or ummah. To this end, humans are free to communicate and assemble with one another, to build such institutions as would promote and express such association. “Let there be of you an ummah calling to the good deed, enjoining the acts of righteousness and prohibiting those of evil. Felicitous is such an ummah.” (Qur’an 3:104).

F. Responsibility. Except minors and the legally-declared insane, all humans are mukallafun; i.e., responsible before God and the law, each within his/her sphere of influence. Both men and women are responsible for the welfare of their dependents, relatives, and neighbors, according to the prescriptions of the shari’ah if they are Muslims, and to millah law if otherwise.The Prophet (SAAS) said: Everyone of you is a shepherd, responsible for his flock.

22) They are responsible for their contracts and covenants;“Fulfill your covenants perfectly; for to covenant is to commit oneself responsibly.” (Qur’an 17:34). “Felicitous are those believers who keep their promises and fulfill what they have committed themselves to do.” (Qur’an 70:32).

23) for fulfillment of established customs.Supra, note 21. “Take the side of forgiveness and enjoin that which is right” (Qur’an 7:199).

24) All duties incumbent upon the collectivity of Muslims become personal duties incumbent upon every adult individually, wherever and whenever the collectivity fails to carry them out.The shari’ah distinguishes the fard ‘ayn (personal duty) from the fard kifayah (collective duty). But it prescribes the automatic transformation of any collective duty unto a personal one wherever and whenever the collective has failed to fulfill that duty.

25) It is both the right and the duty of every member of the ummah, of every citizen of the Islamic state, to bring court action against any violation of the shari’ah; and it is the duty of society to support such an initiative and protect its author.

G. Universalism. Humans were created to form an open society, where action is meant to actualize the divine patterns.“And if those whom you call to Allah turn away from this cause, Allah will exchange them for another people who will be otherwise.” (Qur’an 47:38). This is an open competition which any human may enter without conditions.

26) Any person or group may join this society, fulfill its functions, rise in hierarchy or achieve in its arena all that personal qualification, self-exertion and effort make possible.

27) Righteous achievement of the individual person is the only basis of merit. All humans have the right to reside wherever they choose, to change their residences at will.“No man may receive credit except for what he himself had wrought. His accomplishments must indeed be shown, and he must be rewarded accordingly.” (Qur’an 53:39-41).

28) Equally, they are entitled to transport their wealth and goods wherever they wish, to join or secede from the ummah of their birth.“Is not Allah’s earth wide enough to accommodate all?” (Qur’an 4:97) “And the earth has He spread out for living creatures.” (Qur’an 55:10) “Allah has made the earth subservient to you, O humankind, strike out then into the world and seek of Allah’s bounty.” (Qur’an 67:15). Muslims may not secede from their ummah and continue to reside in the Islamic state.This principle of the shari’ah if often misunderstood to imply discrimination between Muslims and non-Muslims. That non-Muslims may change their religion and join the Muslim ummah, and Muslims may not to convert to other religions and join their respective ummah, is alleged to constitute such illegitimate discrimination. The fact, however, is otherwise. The shari’ah holds all humans free to choose their religious affiliations, to enter into and exit from any religious denominations, including Islam. What it condemns is exit from political affiliation with the ummah or the Islamic state while continuing to reside within its territory. Since affiliation to the religion of Islam is ipso facto affiliation to the Islamic state and the ummah it is not conceivable to exit from the one without exiting from the other. Exit from the religion is a religious matter in which personal freedom is guaranteed for all. But exit from the ummah is at once an exit from citizenship, or loyalty to, the Islamic state. No state can or does tolerate anybody’s self-exoneration from loyalty to itself while continuing to affirm one’s citizenship or residence in that state. Such loyalty is a conditio sine qua non on residence or citizenship. That is why Islamic law has treated exit from Islam as tantamount to exit from state, and therefore necessitating either physical separation from the territory of the Islamic state or prosecution as if it were treason. Naturally, the Muslim who converts to another religion, secedes from the ummah and exits from the Islamic state is not only safe because the jurisdiction of Islamic law does not reach him; neither the ummah nor the Islamic state has any claim against him.

IV. Values Associated with Economic Activity

29) All wealth belongs to Allah (SWT) who made everything in creation subservient to man.“Do you not know that to Allah alone dominion of heaven and earth?” (Qur’an 2:107); “Do you not see that Allah has made subservient to you everything in heaven and earth and showered His blessings upon you?” (Qur’an 31:20)

30) If they have acquired it legally, humans are the trustees and stewards of it, entitled to its usufruct and enjoyment without limits. No property may be expropriated without legitimate cause and equitable compensation. No one may prevent another from drawing benefit from God’s bounty in any amount.“So strike out into the earth and seek the bounty of God therein.” (Qur’an 62:10); “There are no restrictions on the bounty of your Lord.” (Qur’an 17:20) The Prophet (SAAS) said: “Whoever appropriates something of the earth without due title, will be thrown on the Day of Judgement into the seventh lowest level.”

31) Property may be owned privately, corporately or publicly. It may not be destroyed or abused. Likewise, no one may make a misrepresentation in business transactions or cheat, steal, or rob another of his/her wealth.“Woe to the fraudulent! Who exact full measure when they receive but cheat when it is their turn to give.” (Qur’an 83:1-3); “Whether male or female, the hand of the thieves shall be cut off in retribution from Allah for their misdeed.” (Qur’an 5:38) The Prophet (SAAS) said: “Whoever deals with fraudulence is not a Muslim.”

32) None may hoard or monopolize any commodity for the purpose of “cornering the market” and raising prices artificially.“As to those who pile up their wealth of gold and silver, who do not spend it in the cause of God, warn them of sure and dire punishment.” (Qur’an 9:34); The Prophet said: “Every monopolist is a sinner.”

33) None may lend more on interest, or share the profits without sharing the risks.“Allah has made trade or buying and selling legitimate; but He has prohibited the collection of interest” (Qur’an 2:275); “Those who collect interest are like those possessed by Satan” (ibid). The benefits accruing from public property should devolve to all citizens according to their needs.

34) All humans are entitled to employment, and all employment should earn enough to support the workers and their dependents throughout life, according to a clearly defined and agreeable minimum standard of living.“Felicitous are those who recognize a right to the destitute and the deprived to a share in their wealth” (Qur’an 70: 24-25). The Prophet (SAAS) said: “Give the employee his wages before his sweat has had time to dry…God honors the believer who practices a profession.” In another hadith the Prophet (SAAS) reported that Allah (SWT), will prosecute mercilessly anyone who cheats a worker out of his wages.

35) Equal works should earn equal pay in all cases. All humans are entitled to their savings and their private properties. They may give their wealth as gifts or pass it to their descendants according to the inheritance laws of their ummah.“The inheritance should be divided after satisfaction of a debt due and the fulfillment of a willed gift” (Qur’an 4:11).

36) The orphans, the poor and the destitute are entitled to the assistance of society in such measure as would guarantee the minimum standard of living.

V. Values Associated with Political Activity

Islam regards decision-making as a process determined by the principle of shura, or participation of ruler and ruled together. Participation in the political life of the ummah or world state of Islam, is not only a basic human right, but a religious duty.

37) This participation Islam directs, should express itself in the selection and appointment of the rulerThe Prophet (SAAS) said: “Those who die without having participated in the election of one caliph or political officer pass away as non-Muslim.”, in obedience to and monitoring of the ruler’s exercise of power, in giving the ruler the benefit of warning and advice and in impeaching and/or removing the ruler from office in case of failure.Upon his election to the caliphate, Abu Bakr (Radiya Allahu ‘Anh [RAA] May God bless him) said: “If I govern well, you should help me. If I govern badly, you should correct me….It is your duty to obey me only so long as I obey God and His Prophet. Were I to disobey them, you owe me no more obedience” (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat al- Nabiyy (SAAS) edited by M. M. D. Abdul Hamid, Cairo: M. Subayh, 1383/1963, Vol. IV, p. 1075. Allah (SWT) described the felicitous believers as those who conduct their affairs in consultation among themselves (Qur’an 42:38).

38) Ruler and government are expected to fulfill the shari’ah and actualize the vision of Islam.

39) These are not only “official” duties of the ruler and members of the administration, but personal religious and civil duties incumbent upon all individuals in case the ruler and government fail to realize them.Ibid. While Islam abhors any discrimination between the citizens of the Islamic state in public service based on anything but personal competence and merit, its ethic forbids the Muslim to seek public office, expecting public servants to be sought and elected or appointed by their fellows. Self-nomination and promotion are condemned.“Do not therefore nominate or praise yourselves.” (Qur’an 53:32).

40) Islam regards political office as a sacred trust placed in the candidate most capable of fulfilling the ideal of Islam relevant to that office. Islam regards a human as entitled to live under the Pax Islamica — the jurisdiction of the Islamic state — if they so wish, regardless of whether or not they are Muslims; and to exit therefrom, otherwise.This was one of the distinctive features of the constitution of the Islamic state, the first written statement constitution in history. It was dictated by the Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) in 622 A.C. on the very first day of the Hijrah, or his arrival to Madinah in that year, and on account of which that day was declared the beginning of the Islamic era. The constitution decreed as legitimate and indeed constitutive of the Islamic state, the Jewish ummah, with its religion and institutions and laws. Later, the same principle was applied to the Christians by the Prophet himself (SAAS), and following in his footsteps, the Muslims later applied it to Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists and adherents of all other religions who had either lived in the Islamic state or entered therewith into a covenant of peace! This was responsible for the creation of a novel system of organization, the first pluralistic society — wherein several religious communities live in peace under the aegis of a professedly ideological (Islamic) state. Moreover, this Islamic pluralism is not one of a few constitutionally guaranteed basic human rights, but a legitimization of all the laws — religious, social, political, cultural, economic, criminal, procedural — governing any non-Muslim society which opts for the Pax Islamica, the world-order of Islam. Thus, the non-Muslim citizens of the Islamic state may order their lives as their religious and cultural traditions; and their own courts of law are backed by the Islamic state, for the enforcement of their own laws.

“In their possession is the Torah wherein is the law of God” (Qur’an 5:43); “As to the People of the Evangel [the Christians], let them rule themselves by what God has revealed therein.” (Qur’an 42:38). In the former case, they have to abide by the laws or institutions of their millah, or faith-community.Islam stands for the closest solidarity and mutual security of humans with one another (see Qur’an 90:12-18). Condemning the others, the Qur’an affirmed: “They did not prohibit one another from committing their evil deeds. Accursed indeed was their conduct” (Qur’an 5:79). The shari’ah is not satisfied to recommend neighborly love in a general matter, but has established a number of duties which a person must observe toward the neighbour: and it declared failure and neglect to observe them subject to sanction.

41) Islamic law will not apply to them unless they themselves request such application. No human may be arrested or interned except under the laws of his millah or under criminal laws of the shari’ah; and none may be subject to harassment or invasion of privacy by government officers.See this author’s “The Rights of Non-Muslims under Islam: Social and Cultural Aspects”, Journal of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, Vol. I, No. 1 (Summer, 1979), pp. 90-102. No ruler or government may command the citizens anything that violates the shari’ah. Wherever this happens, the government loses its right to be obeyed, and to oppose it becomes the duty of the citizens. Wherever there is departure from the shari’ah, no obedience is due.

VI. Values Associated with Social Activity

42) All humans are entitled to marry and raise a family; to exercise control over their children and to acculturate them into their own traditions. The family in its extended form is the basic unit constitutive of society.“It is indeed Allah’s pattern that He has created of yourselves spouses in whom to find quiescence; that He established between you the pattern of mutual love and compassion. Such are the patterns of Allah that those capable of reasoning may ponder over and consider” (Qur’an 30:21). The Prophet (SAAS) commanded Muslims to marry and procreate. Willed celibacy is condemned in Islam, as is monkery (Qur’an 57:27). Its formation, constitution, and the rights and duties of its members toward one another are all defined and girded by the shari’ah. All may choose and associate with their friends; and may assemble for any purpose without permission. All humans are entitled to have their public morals protected by the state and their moral/religious sensitivities safeguard against offence by any person or agency. All humans are entitled to the protection of their persons and properties by their neighbors, against any damage, and all have the duty to stop their neighbors’ aggression against any other’s person or property.

43) All humans have the right to identify with the ummah whose ideology represents their personal convictions, to lead their lives in ways which they determine as most consonant with that ideology, to express that ideology in theoretical, actional or esthetic form, and to order their life and leisure as the ideology dictates. They are entitled to build and maintain such social and cultural institutions as their culture and its creative development demand.

44) They are entitled to help and support one another if they suffer injustice, and to prevent same before its occurrence whether themselves or others. Men and women are full legal persons and equal in all matters affecting their lives.The shari’ah was first in human history to recognize woman as a legal person, fully endowed to perform all legal functions. This was the consequence of Islam’s rehabilitation of woman, its denial of the Christian myth of Eve as temptress and source of evil, as cause of original sin and of the fall of humankind, and its affirmation of equal rights and duties as belonging to her. “Allah will not lose count of a single deed whether committed by man or woman. For men and women are equally members of one another (of society)” (Qur’an 3:195).

45) Both sexes are entitled to the names and identities given to them at birth, to equal education and full exercise of all religious, cultural, moral, social, economic, and political rights and duties under the law. In matters of support and inheritance, and in some cases of legal witness, Muslim men and women are not equal.In order to guarantee woman’s dignity and gird her person against abuse, Islam prescribed that woman is always entitled to the support of her father, guardian, husband or nearest male relative, regardless of her wealth. Islam thus exonerated all women from having to earn their livelihood and be subject to the degradation usually accompanying a woman in want. Nonetheless, woman is free to work and add to her personal income if she wishes and has the requisite talent and competence. Somewhat to balance this favourable position in the economic life of society, Islam assigned to the male heir double the share of the female. The charge commonly levelled against Islam as unfair to women usually omits from consideration men’s obligation to support all their women relatives and concentrates on the half-share in her parents’ inheritance assigned her. In fact, Islam is biased in favor of woman and seeks her protection and welfare at all times. Another charge against Islam refers to the refusal of the shari’ah court to consider woman’s witness as equal to a man’s; but this too is a misunderstanding. Being intended for the millions rather than the exception, and assuming the patriarchal family as the basic social unit, the shari’ah regarded a woman’s witness as the full equal of man’s in cases of legitimacy, descendence and family relations – the area with which most women are indeed familiar – but only half of man’s witness in cases of civil, administration, and criminal laws, with which she is usually not knowledgeable.

VII. Values Associated with Judicial Activity

46) All humans are equal before the law; the rulers and the ruled, the rich and the poor, the black and the white, the Muslim and non-Muslim. All humans have the right to arbitrate their disputes among themselves or have them adjudicated by the courts under the shari’ah.“If you dispute with one another on any matter, refer it to Allah and His Prophet for adjudication” (Qur’an 4:59); “O Muhammad, Adjudicate their disputes by that which Allah has revealed, and do not follow their desires” (Qur’an 4:49). See also Qur’anic quotations at end of fn. 41 supra.

47) If they are Muslims, under their millah-law otherwise. They have the right and the duty to defend one another before a court, to give witness, to enjoin the good, to prohibit and prevent evil.The ethic deterring Muslim conduct in this regard is based firstly upon the Qur’anic verse:

“Let there be of you an ummah which calls to the good, which enjoins the acts of righteousness, prohibits the acts of injustice and evil. Such are the felicitous” (Qur’an 3:104). Secondly Muslim commandment towards the neighbor is determined by the Prophet’s commandment: “Whoever witnesses an injustice or evil, let him redress it with his own hand. If he cannot, let him do so with his tongue. And if he cannot, with his heart; but that is the weakest faith.”

48) The best witness is one given before it is asked for. No human may be tried in absentia or without hearing of defence. “Conjecture is no substitute for true knowledge” (Qur’an 53:28); “Do not spy on one another; nor talk evil about another in his absence” (Qur’an 49:12). The Prophet (SAAS) said: “If the evil you tell about your neighbor in his absence is true, you have committed a sin. If it is false, a double sin.” He further said: “Whoever is sued in court for a right violated must be heard.”

49) No one may be commanded or coerced to counter the shari’ah.Supra, fn. 38.

50) Every human is presumed innocent and treated as such until proven guilty in a court of law.“These are the sanctions of God. Never go beyond them” (Qur’an 2:229). The Prophet (SAAS) commanded: “Avoid applying the sanctions of the law wherever there is any degree of doubt.” No person may be indicted except under the shari’ah, which pluralistically includes the millah-laws; and none may be condemned or punished beyond its prescriptions.

51) No one may be held responsible for the crime committed by another except in the case of a minor or a person under guardianship.In such cases, the responsibility of the guardian is to compensate the victim for the damage or loss of sustained. Otherwise, no one is responsible but for his/her own action. Allah (SWT) proclaimed: “Every person is responsible but for what he had wrought” (Qur’an 52:21).

52) And no one may be tortured or put under duress to give witness or information under any circumstances.“Even a little suspicion is a crime” (Qur’an 49:12); “To harm the Believers, whether man or woman, by ascribing to them what they have not done, is to commit a grave and perfidious crime” (Qur’an 33:58). All matters flowing out of coercion, cheating or spying are null and void, and inadmissible as part of any legal process.

VIII. Values Associated with International Activity

53) All humans, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, citizen or non-citizen resident or non-resident of the Islamic state, individuals or groups, are entitled to enter into a covenant of peace, mutual security and friendly relation with the Islamic state. Any human may plead any case in its shari’ah courts, seek and obtain permission to reside, to work and trade in peace and security within the Islamic state.
This is perhaps the greatest breakthrough in international relations ever achieved, namely, that any individual or group — not only sovereign nations — are entitled to enter into the international arena as full legitimate contenders, defendants or participants. They can conclude covenants or treaties and be responsible for their fulfillment. Since its inception in 622, the Islamic state opened itself to anyone or any group desiring to enter into a legitimate relation with it for any purpose, and empowered all its courts-of-law to deal with any dispute arising out of such agreements. Like any other legal person, the Islamic state regarded itself as neither too shy to invite and enter into such relations, nor too proud to plead in any first-instance court if its agreement was violated. Indeed, under the shari’ah the court-of-law is a public institution which any human may enter and use to bring about equity and justice to any person or interest under the jurisdiction of the Islamic state. Non-citizen transient residents may even challenge the action of the chief of state.

54) In case the non-citizen, non-resident is a Muslim, the shari’ah would apply to him/her in all its provisions; in case of the non-Muslim, the laws of his/her millah will apply. In no case may such a person be treated differently from the citizens.

55) Every human being is entitled to hear the message of Islam without exception; and it is the duty of the ummah to present it.Calling humans to God is a permanent personal duty for every Muslim man and woman. Allah ta’ala commanded (Qur’an 16:125) See next footnote. No one may prevent the message from being heard.The Islamic state has the duty to remove such obstacles or “iron curtains” by any means at its disposal.This was the cause of all the wars of conquest which took place in the first century of Muslim history. The state sent missionaries to present Islam to the ruler and the ruled. Where they were well-received — regardless of whether or not their efforts led to any conversions, the relation between their nation and the Islamic state remained good, and that national entered into the “house of peace” with its political, social, economic and religious structures intact. Where the missionaries were killed, the state was forced to mobilize and march against the offenders.

“Those who rise to redress an injustice perpetrated against them, and achieve victory, are not blameworthy for what they do in course of their action” (Qur’an 42:41); “Felicitous are those who, when We establish their dominions on earth, uphold the salat, pay the zakat, enjoin the good deeds and prohibit the evil” (Qur’an 22:41); “Call unto the path of your Lord with wisdom and goodly counsel. Argue with them with the more comely arguments” (Qur’an 16:125); “Say: O People of the Book! Come now to a noble principle common to both of us, that we worship none but God; that we associate naught with Him; and that we take not one another as lords beside God” (Qur’an 3:64).

56) Besides this, the preservation of freedom to hear the word of God, to consider and to judge according to one’s best conscience, no cause justifies recourse of force except in the repulsion of an actual aggressor. No group or people or nation may ridicule another or deride its faith and tradition. A fortioti, no group, people or nation may aggress upon another. Inter-group disputes may be solved only through arbitration or judicial procedure in a court of law. The Islamic state and all nations ought to support the victims of aggression and to redress the injustices committed, even if this requires the taking up of arms against the aggressor nation.“If any two factions among the believers quarrel together, reconcile them. If one transgresses the terms of peace, then fight ye all against the transgressor till he complies. When he does, reconcile them again in justice and fairness” (Qur’an 49:9).

57) All persecuted humans (not those running away from justice) have the right to take refuge in the Islamic state. And the Islamic state is duty-bound to extend its protection to them.“And if any polytheist asks for your protection, grant it to him that he may hear the word of God. Then escort him safely to his refuge” (Qur’an 9:6).

IX. Values Associated with Death

58) All humans are entitled to medical care throughout life and to special care in their old age. If they have no young dependents to care for them, society is obliged to do so in a way which safeguards their mental and social health as well as their personal dignity. Humans are all entitled to free and proper burial according to their millah laws.The Prophet (SAAS) commanded: “When your neighbour dies, it is your duty to prepare his remains for burial and do so well to their Creator who will judge them according to their deeds.”


59) The human rights and obligations which Islam recognizes constitute a humanism in which man is not the measure of all the thing as Protagoras had thought. God or His will is indeed such a measure. Islam rejects the tragic Promethean view in which man defies God, steals the fire from Him, and ends like the Greek and German gods in eternal doom. It equally rejects the Christian view in which man is fallen and helpless, hopeless except for a God messiah to pull him out of his tragic predicament. But it commends Christianity and its adherent for their humility, their love and concern for humanity. It equally rejects the Hindu Upanishadic and Buddhist Theravadic view that life and existence are an aberration of the Absolute or an evil to be surmounted by withdrawal and meditative processes. Finally Islam rejects all ethnocentrist views of humanity and the world, especially that of Judaism. But it commends Judaism and its adherents for their tenacity in upholding the absolute unity and transcendence of God.

Islam acknowledges man to be the vicegerent of God, fully endowed, free and responsible to realize his cosmic function, and thereby to deserve his eternal bliss or doom. Moreover, Islam’s humanism under God is not a mere philosophy, a system of values advocated by culture alone. Islam’s humanism under God is law known to all, backed by sanctions and the authority of the Islamic state, and promulgated equally for its citizens as well as others, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.



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