Human Rights in an Islamic State -
06-06-2008, 04:34 AM
Islam, represented in the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah's peace and blessings be upon him - PBUH), laid down Human Rights centuries before they were known to the modern world. The following are some of these human rights:
1. The security of Life and Property:
In the address which the Prophet delivered on the occasion of the Farewell Hajj, he said: “Your 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., Dhimmi) will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise.”
2. The Protection of Honor:
The Holy Qur’an lays down: “O you, who believe, do not let one (set of) people make fun of another set.” “Do not defame one another” “Do not insult by using nicknames” “Do not backbite or speak ill of one another” (49:11-12)
3. Sanctity and Security of Private Life:
The Qur’an has laid down the injunction: “Do not spy on one another” (49:12). “Do not enter any houses other than your own, until you have asked permission.” (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 providing him a reasonable opportunity to produce his defence is not permissible in Islam.
5. The Right to Protest Against Tyranny:
Amongst the rights that Islam has conferred on human beings is the right to protest against government's tyranny. Referring to it the Qur’an says: “God does not love evil talk in public unless it is by someone who has been injured thereby.” (4:148)
In Islam, all power and authority belongs 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 towards whom and for whose sake he will be called upon to use these powers. This was acknowledged by Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) who said in his very first address: “Cooperate 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. The Islamic concept of freedom of expression is much superior to the prevalent concept of the West. 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 practice of the Muslims to enquire from the noble Prophet whether on a certain matter a divine injunction had been revealed to him. If he said that he had received no divine injunction, the Muslims freely expressed their opinion on the matter.
7. Freedom of Association:
Islam has also given people the right to freedom of association and formation of parties or organizations. This right is also subject to certain general rules.
8. Freedom of Conscience and Conviction:
Islam has laid down the injunction: “There should be no coercion in the matter of faith.” (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 slave-like servitude 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 freedoms of conviction and conscience, Islam has given the 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 recognizes the right of the individual that he will not be arrested or imprisoned for the offences of others. The Holy Qur’an has laid down this principle clearly: “No bearer of burdens shall be made to bear the burden of another.” (6:164)
11. The Right to Basic Necessities of Life:
Islam has recognized the right of the needy people that help and assistance will be provided to them: “And in their wealth there is acknowledged right for the needy and the destitute.” (70:24-25)
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:
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 for theft. The Prophet 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; I swear by Him Who holds my life in His hand that even if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, had committed this crime, I would have amputated her hand.”
14. The Right to Participate in Affairs of the State:
“And their business is (conducted) through consultation among themselves.” (42:38). The Shura or the legislative assembly has no other meaning except 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 realize the ideal of the Brotherhood of man.