Human Rights in Islam

Human Rights in Islam

Source: ‘Allamah Abu al-‘A’la Mawdudi, al Tawhid Journal, vol. IV No. 3
Rajab-Ramadhan 1407


Before I discuss the human rights in Islam I would like to explain a few
points about two major approaches to the question of human rights: the Western  and Islamic. This will enable us to study the issue in its proper perspective  and avoid some of the confu- sion which normally befogs such a discussion.


Kyaw Zwa

စစ္နဲ့ စည္းကမ္း
အစၥလာမ္မွာ စစ္ဆိုတာလည္း ခုခံစစ္ က်ူးေက်ာ္စစ္ျဖစ္လို့မရဘူး၊ စစ္ျဖစ္ရင္လည္း စည္းကမ္းဆိုတာရွိတယ္၊
အစၥလာမ္ကသတ္မွတ္ထားတ့ဲ စည္းကမ္းေတြကို မလိုက္နာဘဲ ဘာသာေရးစစ္ပြဲလို့ လာေျကြးေက်ာ္ေနရင္ေတာ့ လက္ခံလို့မရဘူး ဒါအလြဲသုံးစားဘဲ။

The Western Approach:

The people in the West have the habit of attributing every good thing to
themselves and try to prove that it is because of them that the world got this
blessing, otherwise the world was steeped in ignorance and completely unaware of
all these benefits. Now let us look at the question of human rights. It is very
loudly and vociferously claimed that the world got the concept of basic human
rights from the Magna Carta of Britain; though the Magna Carta itself came into
existence six hundred years after the advent of Islam. But the truth of the
matter is that until the seventeenth century no one even knew that the Magna
Carta contained the principles of Trial by Jury; Habeas Corpus, and the Control
of Parliament on the Right of Taxation. If the people who had drafted the Magna
Carta were living today they would have been greatly surprised if they were told
that their document also contained all these ideals and principles. They had no
such intention, nor were they conscious of all these concepts which are now
being attributed to them. As far as my knowledge goes the Westerners had no
concept of human rights and civic rights before the seventeenth century. Even
after the seventeenth century the philosophers and the thinkers on jurisprudence
though presented these ideas, the practical proof and demonstration of these
concepts can only be found at the end of the eighteenth century in the
proclamations and constitutions of America and France. After this there appeared
a reference to the basic human rights in the constitutions of different
countries. But more often the rights which were given on paper were not actually
given to the people in real life. In the middle of the present century, the
United Nations, which can now be more aptly and truly described as the Divided
Nations, made a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and passed a resolution
against genocide and framed regulations to check it. But as you all know there
is not a single resolution or regulation of the United Nations which can be
enforced. They are just an expression of a pious hope. They have no sanctions
behind them, no force, physical or moral to enforce them. Despite all the
high-sounding ambitious resolutions of the United Nations, human rights have
been violated and trampled upon at different places, and the United Nations has
been a helpless spectator. She is not in a position to exercise an effective
check on the violation of human rights. Even the heinous crime of genocide is
being perpetrated despite all proclamations of the United Nations. Right in the
neighbouring country of Pakistan, genocide of the Muslims has been taking place
for the last twenty- eight years, but the United Nations does not have the power
and strength to take any steps against India. No action has even been taken
against any country guilty of this most serious and revolting crime.

The Islamic Approach:

The second point which I would like to clarify at the very outset is that
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 recognized 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 or
withdraw them. Nor are they the 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

The charter and the proclamations and the resolutions of the United Nations
cannot be compared with the rights sanctioned by God; because the former is not
applicable to anybody while the latter is applicable to every believer. They are
a part and parcel of the Islamic Faith. Every Muslim or administrators who claim
themselves to be Muslims will have to accept, recognize 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
governments is clear and unequivocal:

Those who do not judge by what God has sent down are the dis
Believers (kafirun). 5:44

The following verse also proclaims: “They are the wrong-doers (zalimun)”
(5:45), while a third verse in the same chapter says: “They are the evil-livers
(fasiqun)” (5:47). In other words this means that if the temporal authorities
regard their own words and decisions to be right and those given by God as wrong
they are disbelievers. If on the other hand they regard God’s commands as right
but wittingly reject them and enforce their own decisions against God’s, then
they are the mischief-makers and the wrong-doers. Fasiq, the law-breaker,is the
one who disregards the bond of allegiance, and zalim is he who works against the
truth. Thus all those temporal authorities who claim to be Muslims and yet
violate the rights sanctioned by God belong to one of these two categories,
either they are the disbelievers or are the wrong- doers and mischief-makers.
The rights which have been sanctioned by God are permanent, perpetual and
eternal. They are not subject to any alterations or modifications, and there is
no scope for any change or abrogation.


The first thing that we find in Islam in this connection is that it lays down
some rights for man as a human being. In other words it means that every man
whether he belongs to this country or that, whether he is a believer or
unbeliever, whether he lives in some forest or is found in some desert, whatever
be the case, he has some basic human rights simply because he is a human being,
which should be recognized by every Muslim. In fact it will be his duty to
fulfil these obligations.

  • The Right to LifeThe first and the foremost basic right is the right to live and respect human
    life. The Holy Quran lays down:

    Whosoever kills a human being without (any reason like) man
    slaughter, or corruption on earth, it is as though he had killed all mankind …

    As far as the question of taking life in retaliation for murder or the
    question of punishment for spreading corruption on this earth is con- cerned, it
    can be decided only by a proper and competent court of law. If there is any war
    with any nation or country, it can be decided only by a properly established
    government. In any case, no human being has any right by himself to take human
    life in retaliation or for causing mischief on this earth. Therefore it is
    incumbent on every human being that under no circumstances should he be guilty
    of taking a human life. If anyone has murdered a human being, it is as if he has
    slain the entire human race. These instructions have been repeated in the Holy
    Quran in another place saying:

    Do not kill a soul which Allah has made sacred except through the
    due process of law … (6:151)

    Here also homicide has been distinguished from destruction of life carried
    out in pursuit of justice. Only a proper and competent court will be able to
    decide whether or not an individual has forfeited his right to life by
    disregarding the right to life and peace of other human beings. The Prophet, may
    God’s blessings be on him, has declared homicide as the greatest sin only next
    to polytheism. The Tradition of the Prophet reads: “The greatest sins are to
    associate something with God and to kill human beings.” In all these verses of
    the Quran and the Traditions of the Prophet the word ‘soul’ (nafs) has been used
    in general terms without any distinction or particularization which might have
    lent itself to the elucidation that the persons belong- ing to one’s nation, the
    citizens of one’s country, the people of a particular race or religion should
    not be killed. The injunction applies to all human beings and the destruction of
    human life in itself has been prohibited.

    ‘The Right to Life’ has been given to man only by Islam. You will observe
    that the people who talk about human rights if they have ever mentioned them in
    their Constitutions or Declarations, then it is clearly implied in them that
    these rights are applicable only to their citizens or they have been framed for
    the white race alone. This can clearly be gleaned by the fact that human beings
    were hunted down like animals in Australia and the land was cleared of the
    aborigines for the white man. Similarly the aboriginal population of America was
    systematically destroyed and the Red Indians who somehow survived this genocide
    were confined to specified areas called Reservations. They also penetrated into
    Africa and hunted down human beings like wild animals. All these instances go to
    prove that they have no respect for human life as such and if they have, it is
    only on the basis of their nationality, colour or race. Contrary to this, Islam
    recognizes this right for all human beings. If a man belongs to a primitive or
    savage tribe, even then Islam regards him as a human being.

  • The Right to the Safety of LifeImmediately after the verse of the Holy Quran which has been mentioned in
    connection with the right to life, God has said: “And whoever saves a life it is
    as though he had saved the lives of all mankind” (5:32). There can be several
    forms of saving man from death. A man may be ill or wounded, irrespective of his
    nationality, race or colour. If you know that he is in need of your help, then
    it is your duty that you should arrange for his treatment for disease or wound.
    If he is dying of starvation, then it is your duty to feed him so that he can
    ward off death. If he is drowning or his life is at stake, then it is your duty
    to save him. You will be surprised to hear that the Talmud, the religious book
    of the Jews, contains a verse of similar nature, but records it in altogether
    different form. It says: “Whoever destroyed a life of the Israelite, in the eyes
    of the Scripture, it is as if he destroyed the whole world. And whoever
    protected and saved one life of the Israelite, in the light of the Scripture, it
    is as if he saved the whole world.” Talmud also contains the view that if a
    non-Israelite is drowning and you tried to save him then you are a sinner. Can
    it be given a name other than racialism? We regard it as our duty to save every
    human life, because it is thus that we have been enjoined in the Holy Quran. On
    the other hand, if they regard it necessary to save the life of a human being at
    all, it should be the life of an Israelite. As far as other people are
    concerned, according to this view, they do not seem to be human enough to
    deserve protection of their persons. In their literature the concept of ‘Goyim’
    for which the English word ‘Gentile’ and the Arabic word ummi (illiterate) is
    used, is that they enjoy no human rights; human rights are reserved only for the
    children of Israel. The Quran has mentioned this belief of the Israelites and
    quotes the Jews saying: “There is no blame on us (for anything we may do) with
    regard to the unlettered folk (i.e. the ummi)” (3:75).
  • Respect for the Chastity of WomenThe third important thing that we find in the Charter of Human Rights granted
    by Islam is that a woman’s chastity has to be respected and protected under all
    circumstances, whether she belongs to our own nation or to the nation of an
    enemy, whether we find her in the wild forest or in a conquered city; whether
    she is our co-religionist or belongs to some other religion or has no religion
    at all. A Muslim cannot outrage her under any circumstances. All promiscuous
    relation- ship has been forbidden to him, irrespective of the status or position
    of the woman, whether the woman is a willing or an unwilling partner to the act.
    The words of the Holy Quran in this respect are: “Do not approach (the bounds
    of) adultery” (17:32). Heavy punishment has been prescribed for this crime, and
    the order has not been qualified by any conditions. Since the violation of
    chastity of a woman is forbidden in Islam, a Muslim who perpetrates this crime
    cannot escape punishment whether he receives it in this world or in the
    Hereafter. This concept of sanctity of chastity and protection of women can be
    found nowhere else except in Islam. The armies of the Western powers need the
    daughters of their nation to satisfy their carnal appetites even in their own
    countries, and if they happen to occupy another country, the fate of its women
    folk can better be imagined than described. But the history of the Muslims,
    apart from a few lapses of the individuals here or there, has been free from
    this crime against womanhood. It has never happened that after the conquest of a
    foreign country the Muslim army has gone about raping the women of the conquered
    people, or in their own country, the government has arranged to provide
    prostitutes1for them. This is also a great blessing which the human race has
    received through Islam.2
  • The Right to a Basic Standard of LifeSpeaking about the economic rights the Holy Quran enjoins upon its followers:

    And in their wealth there is acknowledged right for the needy and
    destitute. (51:19)

    The words of this injunction show that it is a categorical and un- qualified
    order. Furthermore this injunction was given in Makkah where there was no Muslim
    society in existence and where generally the Muslims had to come in contact with
    the population of the disbelievers. Therefore the clear meaning of this verse is
    that anyone who asks for help and anyone who is suffering from deprivation has a
    right in the property and wealth of the Muslims; irrespective of the fact
    whether he belongs to this nation or to that nation, to this country or to that
    country, to this race or to that race. If you are in a position to help and a
    needy person asks you for help or if you come to know that he is in need, then
    it is your duty to help him. God has established his right over you, which you
    have to honour as a Muslim.

  • Individual’s Right to FreedomIslam has clearly and categorically forbidden the primitive practice of
    capturing a free man, to make him a slave or to sell him into slavery. On this
    point the clear and unequivocal words of the Prophet (S) are as follows: “There
    are three categories of people against whom I shall myself be a plaintiff on the
    Day of Judgement. Of these three, one is he who enslaves a free man, then sells
    him and eats this money” (al-Bukhari and Ibn Majjah). The words of this
    Tradition of the Prophet are also general, they have not been qualified or made
    applicable to a particular nation, race, country or followers of a particular
    religion. The Europeans take great pride in claiming that they abolished slavery
    from the world, though they had the decency to do so only in the middle of the
    last century. Before this, these Western powers had been raiding Africa on a
    very large scale, capturing their free men, putting them in bondage and
    transporting them to their new colonies. The treatment which they have meted out
    to these unfortunate people has been worse than the treatment given to animals.
    The books written by the Western people themselves bear testimony to this fact.

    The Slave Trade of Western Nations:

    After the occupation of America and the West Indies, for three hundred and
    fifty years, traffic in slave trade continued. The African coasts where the
    black-skinned captured Africans were brought from the interior of Africa and put
    on the ships sailing out from those ports, came to be known as the Slave Coast.
    During only one century (from 1680 to 1786) the total number of free people who
    were captured and enslaved only for British Colonies amounts, according to the
    estimate of British authors, to 20 million human beings. Over the period of only
    one year (1790) we are told that 75,000 human beings were captured and sent for
    slave labour in the Colonies. The ships which were used for transporting the
    slaves were small and dirty. These unfortunate Africans were thrust into the
    holds of these ships like cattle right up to the top and many of them were
    chained to the wooden shelves on which they could hardly move because these were
    only eighteen inches apart, kept one on top of the other. They were not provided
    with suitable food, and if they fell ill or were injured, no attempt was made to
    provide them with medical treatment. The Western writers themselves state that
    at least 20% of the total number of people who were captured for slavery and
    forced labour perished during their transportation from the African coast to
    America. It has also been estimated that the total number of people who were
    captured for slavery by the various European nations during the heyday of the
    slave trade comes to at least one hundred million. This is the record of the
    people who denounce Muslims day and night for recognizing the institution of
    slavery. It is as if a criminal is holding his finger of blame towards an
    innocent man.

    The Position of Slavery in Islam:

    Briefly I would like to tell you about the position and nature of slavery in
    Islam. Islam tried to solve the problem of the slaves that were in Arabia by
    encouraging the people in different ways to set their slaves free. The Muslims
    were ordered that in expiation of some of their sins they should set their
    slaves free. Freeing a slave by one’s own free will was declared to be an act of
    great merit, so much so that it was said that every limb of the man who manumits
    a slave will be protected from hell-fire in lieu of the limb of the slave freed
    by him. The result of this policy was that by the time the period of the
    Rightly-Guided Caliphs was reached, all the old slaves of Arabia were liberated.
    The Prophet alone liberated as many as 63 slaves. The number of slaves freed by
    ‘Aishah was 67, ‘Abbas liberated 70, ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar liberated one
    thousand, and ‘Abd al-Rahman purchased thirty thousand and set them free.
    Similarly other Companions of the Prophet liberated a large number of slaves,
    the details of which are given in the Traditions and books of history of that

    Thus the problem of the slaves of Arabia was solved in a short period of
    thirty or forty years. After this the only form of slavery which was left in
    Islamic society was the prisoners of war, who were captured on the battlefield.
    These prisoners of war were retained by the Muslim Government until their
    government agreed to receive them back in exchange for Muslim soldiers captured
    by them, or arranged the payment of ransom on their behalf. If the soldiers they
    captured were not exchanged with Muslim prisoners of war, or their people did
    not pay their ransom money to purchase their liberty, then the Muslim Government
    used to distribute them among the soldiers of the army which had captured them.
    This was a more humane and proper way of disposing of them than retaining them
    like cattle in concentration camps and taking forced labour from them and, if
    their women folk were also captured, setting them aside for prostitution. In
    place of such a cruel and outrageous way of disposing of the prisoners of war,
    Islam preferred to spread them in the population and thus brought them in
    contact with individual human beings. Over and above, their guardians were
    ordered to treat them well. The result of this humane policy was that most of
    the men who were captured on foreign battlefields and brought to the Muslim
    countries as slaves embraced Islam and their descendants produced great
    scholars, imams, jurists, commentators, statesmen and generals of the army. So
    much so that later on they became the rulers of the Muslim world. The solution
    of this problem which has been proposed in the present age is that after the
    cessation of hostilities the prisoners of war of the combatant countries should
    be exchanged. Whereas Muslims have been practising it from the very beginning
    and whenever the adversary accepted the exchange of prisoners of war from both
    sides, it was implemented without the least hesitation or delay. In modern
    warfare we also find that if one government is completely routed leaving her in
    no position of bargaining for the prisoners of war and the winning party gets
    its prisoners easily, then experience has shown that the prisoners of war of the
    vanquished army are kept in conditions which are much worse than the conditions
    of slaves. Can anyone tell us what has been the fate of the thousands of
    prisoners of war captured by Russia from the defeated armies of Germany and
    Japan in the Second World War? No one has given their account so far. No one
    knows how many thousands of them are still alive and how many thousands of them
    have perished due to the hardship of the Russian concentration and labour camps.
    The forced labour which has been taken from them is much worse than the service
    one can exact from slaves. Even perhaps in the times of ancient Pharaohs of
    Egypt such harsh labour might not have been exacted from the slaves in building
    the pyramids of Egypt, as has been exacted from the prisoners of war in Russia
    in developing Siberia and other backward areas of Russia, or working in coal and
    other mines in below zero temperatures, ill-clad, ill-fed and brutally treated
    by their supervisors.

  • The Right to JusticeThis is a very important and valuable right which Islam has given to man as a
    human being. The Holy Quran has laid down: “Do not let your hatred of a people
    incite you to aggression” (5:2). “And do not let ill-will towards any folk
    incite you so that you swerve from dealing justly. Be just; that is nearest to
    heedfulness” (5:8). Stressing this point the Quran again says: “You who believe
    stand steadfast before God as witness for (truth and) fairplay” (4:135). This
    makes the point clear that Muslims have to be just not only with ordinary human
    beings but even with their enemies. In other words, the justice to which Islam
    invites her followers is not limited only to the citizens of their own country,
    or the people of their own tribe, nation or race, or the Muslim community as a
    whole, but it is meant for all the human beings of the world. Muslims therefore,
    cannot be unjust to anyone. Their permanent habit and character should be such
    that no man should ever fear injustice at their hands, and they should treat
    every human being everywhere with justice and fairness.
  • Equality of Human BeingsIslam not only recognizes absolute equality between men irrespective of any
    distinction of colour, race or nationality, but makes it an important and
    significant principle, a reality. The Almighty God has laid down in the Holy
    Quran: “O mankind, we have created you from a male and female.” In other words
    all human beings are brothers to one another. They all are the descendants from
    one father and one mother. “And we set you up as nations and tribes so that you
    may be able to recognize each other” (49:13). This means that the division of
    human beings into nations, races, groups and tribes is for the sake of
    distinction, so that people of one race or tribe may meet and be acquainted with
    the people belonging to another race or tribe and cooperate with one another.
    This division of the human race is neither meant for one nation to take pride in
    its superiority over others nor is it meant for one nation to treat another with
    contempt or disgrace, or regard them as a mean and degraded race and usurp their
    rights. “Indeed, the noblest among you before God are the most heedful of you”
    (49:13). In other words the superiority of one man over another is only on the
    basis of God-consciousness, purity of character and high morals, and not on the
    basis of colour, race, language or nationality, and even this superiority based
    on piety and pure conduct does not justify that such people should play lord or
    assume airs of superiority over other human beings. Assuming airs of superiority
    is in itself a reprehensible vice which no God-fearing and pious man can ever
    dream of perpetrating. Nor does the righteous have more privileged rights over
    others, because this runs counter to human equality, which has been laid down in
    the beginning of this verse as a general principle. From the moral point of
    view, goodness and virtue is in all cases better than vice and evil.This has been exemplified by the Prophet in one of his sayings thus: “No Arab
    has any superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority
    over an Arab. Nor does a white man have any superiority over a black man, or the
    black man any superiority over the white man. You are all the children of Adam,
    and Adam was created from clay” (al-Bayhaqi and al-Bazzaz). In this manner Islam
    established equality for the entire human race and struck at the very root of
    all distinctions based on colour, race, language or nationality. According to
    Islam,God has given man this right of equality as a birthright. Therefore no man
    should be discriminated against on the ground of the colour of his skin, his
    place of birth, the race or the nation in which he was born. Malcolm X, the
    famous leader of African Negroes in America, who had launched a bitter struggle
    against the white people of America in order to win civil rights for his black
    compatriots, when he went to perform the pilgrimage, and saw how the Muslims of
    Asia, Africa, Europe, America and those of different races, languages and
    colours of skin, were wearing one dress and were hurrying towards God’s
    House-the Ka’bah and offering prayers standing in one row and there was no
    distinction of any kind between them, then he realized that this was the
    solution to the problem of colour and race, and not what he had been trying to
    seek or achieve in America so far. Today, a number of non- Muslim thinkers, who
    are free from blind prejudice, openly admit that no other religion or way of
    life has solved this problem with the same degree of success with which Islam
    has done so.
  • The Right to Co-operate and Not to Co-operateIslam has prescribed a general principle of paramount importance and
    universal application saying: “Co-operate with one another for virtue and
    heedfulness and do not co-operate with one another for the purpose of vice and
    aggression” (5:2). This means that the man who undertakes a noble and righteous
    work, irrespective of the fact whether he is living at the North Pole or the
    South Pole, has the right to expect support and active co-operation from the
    Muslims. On the contrary he who perpetrates deeds of vice and aggression, even
    if he is our closest relation or neighbour, does not have the right to win our
    support and help in the name of race, country, language or nationality, nor
    should he have the expectation that Muslims will co-operate with him or support
    him. Nor is it permissible for Muslims to co-operate with him. The wicked and
    vicious person may be our own brother, but he is not of us, and he can have no
    help or support from us as long as he does not repent and reform his ways. On
    the other hand the man who is doing deeds of virtue and righteousness may have
    no kinship with Muslims, but Muslims will be his companions and supporters or at
    least his well- wishers.


    We have discussed the human rights in general. Now we would like to take up
    the question of rights of the citizens in an Islamic State. As these rights are
    more extensive than the general human rights which have been described earlier,
    they need separate treatment.

  • The Security of Life and PropertyIn 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.” God Almighty has laid down in the
    Holy Quran: “Anyone who kills a believer deliberately will receive as his reward
    (a sentence) to live in Hell for ever. God will be angry with him and curse him,
    and prepare dreadful torment for him” (4:93). 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. a dhimmi) will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise”
    (al-Bukhari and Abu Dawud). Islam prohibits homicide but allows only one
    exception, that the killing is done in the due process of law which the Quran
    refers to as bi al-haqq (with the truth). Therefore a man can be killed only
    when the law demands it, and it is obvious that only a court of law can decide
    whether the execution is being carried out with justice or without
    justification. In case of war or insurrection a just and righteous government
    alone, which follows the Shari’ah or the Islamic Law, can decide whether a war
    is just or unjust, whether taking of a life is justified or not; and whether a
    person is a rebel or not and who can be sentenced to death as a punishment.
    These weighty decisions cannot be left in the hands of a court which has become
    heedless to God and is under the influence of the administra- tion. A judiciary
    like this may miscarry justice. Nor can the crimes of state be justified on the
    authority of the Holy Quran or Traditions (hadith) when the state murders its
    citizens openly and secretly without any hesitation or on the slightest pretext,
    because they are opposed to its unjust policies and actions or criticize it for
    its misdeed, and also provides protection to its hired assassins who have been
    guilty of the heinous crime of murder of an innocent person resulting in the
    fact, that neither the police take any action against such criminals nor can any
    proof or witnesses against these criminals be produced in the courts of law. The
    very existence of such a government is a crime and none of the killings carried
    out by them can be called “execution for the sake of justice” in the phraseology
    of the Holy Quran.Along with security of life, Islam has with equal clarity and definiteness
    conferred the right of security of ownership of property, as mentioned earlier
    with reference to the address of the Farewell Hajj. On the other hand, the Holy
    Quran goes so far as to declare that the taking of people’s possessions or
    property is completely prohibited unless they are acquired by lawful means as
    permitted in the Laws of God. The Law of God categorically declares “Do not
    devour one another’s wealth by false and illegal means” (2:188).
  • The Protection of HonourThe second important right is the right of the citizens to the protection of
    their honour. In the address delivered on the occasion of the Farewell Hajj, to
    which I have referred earlier, the Prophet did not only prohibit the life and
    property of the Muslims to one another, but also any encroachment upon their
    honour, respect and chastity were forbidden to one another. The Holy Quran
    clearly lays down:(a) “You who believe, do not let one (set of) people make fun of another
    (b) Do not defame one another.
    (c) Do not insult by using
    (d) And do not backbite or speak ill of one another”
    (49:11-12).This is the law of Islam for the protection of honour which is indeed much
    superior to and better than the Western Law of Defama- tion. According to the
    Islamic Law if it is proved that someone has attacked the honour of another
    person, then irrespective of the fact whether or not the victim is able to prove
    himself a respectable and honourable person the culprit will in any case get his
    due punishment. But the interesting fact about the Western Law of Defamation is
    that the person who files suit for defamation has first to prove that he is a
    man of honour and public esteem and during the interrogation he is subjected to
    the scurrilous attacks, accusations and innuendoes of the defence council to
    such an extent that he earns more disgrace than the attack on his reputation
    against which he had knocked the door of the court of law. On top of it he has
    also to produce such witnesses as would testify in the court that due to the
    defamatory accusations of the culprit, the accused stands disgraced in their
    eyes. Good Gracious! what a subtle point of law, and what an adherence to the
    spirit of Law! How can this unfair and unjust law be compared to the Divine law?
    Islam declared blasphemy as a crime irrespective of the fact whether the accused
    is a man of honour or not, and whether the words used for blasphemy have
    actually disgraced the victim and harmed his reputation in the eyes of the
    public or not. According to the Islamic Law the mere proof of the fact that the
    accused said things which according to common sense could have damaged the
    reputation and honour of the plaintiff, is enough for the accused to be declared
    guilty of defamation.
  • The Sanctity and Security of Private LifeIslam recognizes the right of every citizen of its state that there should be
    no undue interference or encroachment on the privacy of his life. The Holy Quran
    has laid down the injunction: “Do not spy on one another” (49:12). “Do not enter
    any houses except your own homes unless you are sure of their occupants’
    consent” (24:27). The Prophet has gone to the extent of instructing his
    followers that a man should not enter even his own house suddenly or
    surreptitiously. He should somehow or other inform or indicate to the dwellers
    of the house that he is entering the house, so that he may not see his mother,
    sister or daughter in a condition in which they would not like to be seen, nor
    would he himself like to see them in that condition. Peering into the houses of
    other people has also been strictly prohibited, so much so that there is the
    saying of the Prophet that if a man finds another person secretly peering into
    his house, and he blinds his eye or eyes as a punishment then he cannot be
    called to question nor will he be liable to prosecution. The Prophet has even
    prohibited people from reading the letters of others, so much so that if a man
    is reading his letter and another man casts sidelong glances at it and tries to
    read it, his conduct becomes reprehensible. This is the sanctity of privacy that
    Islam grants to individuals. On the other hand in the modern civilized world we
    find that not only the letters of other people are read and their correspondence
    censored, but even their photostat copies are retained for future use or
    blackmail. Even bugging devices are secretly fixed in the houses of the people
    so that one can hear and tape from a distance the conversation taking place
    behind closed doors. In other words it means that there is no such thing as
    privacy and to all practical purposes the private life of an individual does not
    exist.This espionage on the life of the individual cannot be justified on moral
    grounds by the government saying that it is necessary to know the secrets of the
    dangerous persons. Though, to all intents and purposes, the basis of this policy
    is the fear and suspicion with which modern governments look at their citizens
    who are intelligent and dissatisfied with the official policies of the
    government. This is exactly what Islam has called as the root cause of mischief
    in politics. The injunction of the Prophet is: “When the ruler begins to search
    for the causes of dissatisfaction amongst his people, he spoils them” (Abu
    Dawud). The Amir Mu’awiyah has said that he himself heard the Prophet saying:
    “If you try to find out the secrets of the people, then you will definitely
    spoil them or at least you will bring them to the verge of ruin.” The meaning of
    the phrase ‘spoil them’ is that when spies (C.I.D. or F.B.I.agents) are spread
    all around the country to find out the affairs of men, then the people begin to
    look at one another with suspicion, so much so that people are afraid of talking
    freely in their houses lest some word should escape from the lips of their wives
    and children which may put them in embarrassing situations. In this manner it
    becomes difficult for a common citizen to speak freely, even in his own house
    and society begins to suffer from a state of general distrust and suspicion.
  • The Security of Personal FreedomIslam has also laid down the principle that no citizen can be imprisoned
    unless his guilt has been proved 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 reason- able opportunity to produce his
    defence is not permissible in Islam. It is related in the hadith that once the
    Prophet was delivering a lecture in the mosque, when a man rose during the
    lecture and said: “O Prophet of God, for what crime have my neighbours been
    arrested?” The Prophet heard the question and continued his speech. The man rose
    once again and repeated the same question. The Prophet again did not answer and
    continued his speech. The man rose for a third time and repeated the same
    question. Then the Prophet ordered that the man’s neighbours be released. The
    reason why the Prophet had kept quiet when the question was repeated twice
    earlier was that the police officer was present in the mosque and if there were
    proper reasons for the arrest of the neighbours of this man, he would have got
    up to explain his position. Since the police officer gave no reasons for these
    arrests the Prophet ordered that the arrested persons should be released. The
    police officer was aware of the Islamic law and therefore he did not get up to
    say: “the administration is aware of the charges against the arrested men, but
    they cannot be disclosed in public. If the Prophet would inquire about their
    guilt in camera I would enlighten him.” If the police officer had made such a
    statement, he would have been dis- missed then and there. The fact that the
    police officer did not give any reasons for the arrests in the open court was
    sufficient reason for the Prophet to give immediate orders for the release of
    the arrested men. The injunction of the Holy Quran is very clear on this point.
    “When- ever you judge between people, you should judge with (a sense of)
    justice” (4:58). And the Prophet has also been asked by God: “I have been
    ordered to dispense justice between you.” This was the reason why the Caliph
    ‘Umar said: “In Islam no one can be imprisoned except in pursuance of justice.”
    The words used here clearly indicate that justice means due process of law. What
    has been prohibited and condemned is that a man be arrested and imprisoned
    without proof of his guilt in an open court and without providing him an
    opportunity to defend himself against those charges. If the Government suspects
    that a particular individual has committed a crime or he is likely to commit an
    offence in the near future then they should give reasons for their suspicion
    before a court of law and the culprit or the suspect should be allowed to
    produce his defence in an open court, so that the court may decide whether the
    suspicion against him is based on sound grounds or not and if there is good
    reason for suspicion, then he should be informed of how long he will be in
    preventive detention. This decision should be taken under all circumstances in
    an open court, so that the public may hear the charges brought by the
    government, as well as the defence made by the accused and see that the due
    process of law is being applied to him and he is not being victimized.The correct method of dealing with such cases in Islam is exemplified in the
    famous decision of the Prophet which took place before the conquest of Makkah.
    The Prophet was making preparations for the attack on Makkah, when one of his
    Companions, Hatib ibn Abi Balta’ah sent a letter through a woman to the
    authorities in Makkah informing them about the impending attack. The Prophet
    came to know of this through a Divine inspiration. He ordered ‘Ali and Zubayr:
    “Go quickly on the route to Makkah, at such and such a place, you will find a
    woman carrying a letter. Recover the letter from her and bring it to me.” So
    they went and found the woman exactly where the Prophet had said. They recovered
    the letter from her and brought it to the Prophet. This was indeed a clear case
    of treachery. To inform the enemy about a secret of an army and that too at the
    time of a war is a very serious offence tantamount to treachery. In fact one
    cannot think of a more serious crime during war than giving out a military
    secret to one’s enemy. What could have been a more suitable case for a secret
    hearing; a military secret had been betrayed and common sense demanded that he
    should be tried in camera. But the Prophet summoned Hatib to the open court of
    the Mosque of the Prophet and in the presence of hundreds of people asked him to
    explain his position with regard to his letter addressed to the leaders of
    Quraysh which had been intercepted on its way. The accused said: “O God’s
    Messenger (may God’s blessings be on you) I have not revolted against Islam, nor
    have I done this with the intention of betraying a military secret. The truth of
    the matter is that my wife and children are living in Makkah and I do not have
    my tribe to protect them there. I had written this letter so that the leaders of
    Quraysh may be indebted to me and may protect my wife and children out of
    gratitude.” ‘Umar rose and respect- fully submitted: “O Prophet, please permit
    me to put this traitor to the sword.” The Prophet replied: “He is one of those
    people who had participated in the Battle of Badr, and the explanation he has
    advanced in his defence would seem to be correct.”Let us look at this decision of the Prophet in perspective. It was a clear
    case of treachery and betrayal of military secrets. But the Prophet acquitted
    Hatib on two counts. Firstly, that his past records were very clean and showed
    that he could not have betrayed the cause of Islam, since on the occasion of the
    Battle of Badr when there were heavy odds against the Muslims, he had risked his
    life for them. Secondly, his family was in fact in danger at Makkah. Therefore,
    if he had shown some human weakness for his children and written this letter,
    then this punishment was quite sufficient for him that his secret offence was
    divulged in public and he had been disgraced and humiliated in the eyes of the
    believers. God has referred to this offence of Hatib in the Holy Quran but did
    not propose any punishment for him except rebuke and admonition.The attitude and activities of the Kharijis in the days of the Caliph ‘Ali
    are well-known to the students of Muslim history. They used to abuse the Caliph
    openly, and threaten him with murder. But whenever they were arrested for these
    offences, ‘Ali would set them free and tell his officers “As long as they do not
    actually perpetrate offences against the State, the mere use of abusive language
    or the threat of use of force are not such offences for which they can be
    imprisoned.” The imam Abu Hanifah has recorded the following saying of the
    Caliph ‘Ali (A): “As long as they do not set out on armed rebellion, the Caliph
    of the Faithful will not interfere with them.” On another occasion ‘Ali was
    delivering a lecture in the mosque when the Kharijis raised their special slogan
    there. ‘Ali said: “We will not deny you the right to come to the mosques to
    worship God, nor will we stop to give your share from the wealth of the State,
    as long as you are with us (and support us in our wars with the unbelievers) and
    we shall never take military action against you as long as you do not fight with
    us.” One can visualize the opposition which ‘Ali was facing; more violent and
    vituperative opposition cannot even be imagined in a present-day democratic
    State; but the freedom that he had allowed to the opposi- tion was such that no
    government has ever been able to give to its opposition. He did not arrest even
    those who threatened him with murder nor did he imprison them.
  • The Right to Protest Against TyrannyAmongst the rights that Islam has conferred on human beings is the right to
    protest against government’s tyranny. Referring to it the Quran says: “God does
    not love evil talk in public unless it is by some- one who has been injured
    thereby” (4:148). This means that God strongly disapproves of abusive language
    or strong words of condemna- tion, but the person who has been the victim of
    injustice or tyranny, God gives him the right to openly protest against the
    injury that has been done to him. This right is not limited only to individuals.
    The words of the verse are general. Therefore if an individual or a group of
    people or a party usurps power, and after assuming the reins of authority begins
    to tyrannize individuals or groups of men or the entire population of the
    country, then to raise the voice of protest against it openly is the God-given
    right of man and no one has the authority to usurp or deny this right. If anyone
    tries to usurp this right of citizens then he rebels against God. The talisman
    of Section 1444 may protect such a tyrant in this world, but it cannot save him
    from the hell-fire in the Hereafter.
  • Freedom of ExpressionIslam 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. This Islamic concept
    of freedom of expression is much superior to the concept prevalent in 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. The right to freedom of expression for the sake of
    propagating virtue and righteousness is not only a right in Islam but an
    obligation. One who tries to deny this right to his people is openly at war with
    God, the All-Powerful. And the same thing applies to the attempt to stop people
    from evil. Whether this evil is perpetrated by an individual or by a group of
    people or the government of one’s own country, or the government of some other
    country; it is the right of a Muslim and it is also his obligation that he
    should warn and reprimand the evil-doer and try to stop him from doing it. Over
    and above, he should openly and publicly condemn it and show the course of
    righteousness which that individual, nation or government should adopt.The Holy Quran has described this quality of the Faithful in the following
    words: “They enjoin what is proper and forbid what is improper” (9:71). In
    contrast, describing the qualities of a hypocrite, the Quran mentions: “They bid
    what is improper and forbid what is proper” (9:67). The main purpose of an
    Islamic Government has been defined by God in the Quran as follows: “If we give
    authority to these men on earth they will keep up prayers, and offer poor-due,
    bid what is proper and forbid what is improper” (22:41). The Prophet has said:
    “If any one of you comes across an evil, he should try to stop it with his hand
    (using force), if he is not in a position to stop it with his hand then he
    should try to stop it by means of his tongue (meaning he should speak against
    it). If he is not even able to use his tongue then he should at least condemn it
    in his heart. This is the weakest degree of faith” (Muslim). This obligation of
    inviting people to righteousness and forbidding them to adopt the paths of evil
    is incumbent on all true Muslims. If any government deprives its citizens of
    this right, and prevents them from performing this duty, then it is in direct
    conflict with the injunction of God. The government is not in conflict with its
    people, but is in conflict with God. In this way it is at war with God and is
    trying to usurp that right of its people which God has conferred not only as a
    right but as an obligation. As far as the government which itself propagates
    evil, wickedness and obscenity and interferes with those who are inviting people
    to virtue and righteousness is concerned, according to the Holy Quran it is the
    government of the hypocrites.
  • Freedom of AssociationIslam 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. It should be exercised for propagating virtue and righteousness and
    should never be used for spreading evil and mischief. We have not only been
    given this right for spreading righteousness and virtue, but have been ordered
    to exercise this right. Addressing the Muslims, the Holy Quran declares:

    You are the best community which has been brought forth for mankind.
    You command what is proper and forbid what is improper and you believe in God
    … (3:110)

    This means that it is the obligation and duty of the entire Muslim community
    that it should invite and enjoin people to righteousness and virtue and forbid
    them from doing evil. If the entire Muslim community is not able to perform this
    duty then “let there be a community among you who will invite (people) to (do)
    good, command what is proper and forbid what is improper, those will be
    prosperous” (3:104). This clearly indicates that if the entire Muslim nation
    collectively begins to neglect its obligation to invite people to goodness and
    forbid them from doing evil then it is absolutely essential that it should
    contain at least a group of people which may perform this obligation. As has
    been said before this is not only a right but an obligation and on the
    fulfilment of which depends success and prosperity here as well as in the
    Hereafter. It is an irony with the religion of God that in a Muslim country the
    assembly and association that is formed for the purposes of spreading evil and
    mischief should have the right to rule over the country and the association and
    party which has been formed for propagating righteous- ness and virtue should
    live in perpetual fear of harassment and of being declared illegal. Conditions
    here are just the reverse of what has been prescribed by God. The claim is that
    we are Muslims and this is an Islamic State5 but the work that is being done is
    directed to spreading evil, to corrupt and morally degrade and debase the people
    while there is an active and effective check on the work being carried out for
    reforming society and inviting people to righteousness. Moreover the life of
    those who are engaged in spreading righteousness and checking the spread of evil
    and wickedness is made intolerable and hard to bear.

  • Freedom of Conscience and ConvictionIslam also gives the right to freedom of conscience and conviction to its
    citizens in an Islamic State. The Holy Quran has laid down the injunction:
    “There should be no coercion in the matter of faith” (2:256). Though there is no
    truth and virtue greater than the religion of Truth-Islam, and Muslims are
    enjoined to invite people to embrace Islam and advance arguments in favour of
    it, they are not asked to enforce this faith on them. No force will be applied
    in order to compel them to accept Islam. Whoever accepts it he does so by his
    own choice. Muslims will welcome such a convert to Islam with open arms and
    admit him to their community with equal rights and privileges. But if somebody
    does not accept Islam, Muslims will have to recognize and respect his decision,
    and no moral, social or political pressure will be put on him to change his
  • Protection of Religious SentimentsAlong with the freedom of conviction and freedom of 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 this right.
    It has been ordained by God in the Holy Quran: “Do not abuse those they appeal
    to instead of God” (6:108). These instructions are not only limited to idols and
    deities, but they also apply to the leaders or national heroes of the people. If
    a group of people holds a conviction which according to you is wrong, and holds
    certain persons in high esteem which according to you is not deserved by them,
    then it will not be justified in Islam that you use abusive language for them
    and thus injure their feelings. Islam does not prohibit people from holding
    debate and discussion on religious matters, but it wants that these discussions
    should be conducted in decency. “Do not argue with the people of the Book unless
    it is in the politest manner” (29:46)-says the Quran. This order is not merely
    limited to the people of the Scriptures, but applies with equal force to those
    following other faiths.
  • Protection from Arbitrary ImprisonmentIslam also recognizes the right of the individual that he will not be
    arrested or imprisoned for the offences of others. The Holy Quran has laid down
    this principle clearly: “No bearer of burdens shall be made to bear the burden
    of another” (6:164). Islam believes in personal responsibility. We ourselves are
    responsible for our acts, and the consequence of our actions cannot be
    transferred to someone else. In other words this means that every man is
    responsible for his actions. If another man has not shared this action then he
    cannot be held responsible for it, nor can he be arrested. It is a matter of
    great regret and shame that we are seeing this just and equitable principle
    which has not been framed by any human being, but by the Creator and Nourish- er
    of the entire universe, being flouted and violated before our eyes. So much so
    that a man is guilty of a crime or he is a suspect, but his wife being arrested
    for his crime. Things have gone so far that innocent people are being punished
    for the crimes of others. To give a recent example, in Karachi (Pakistan), a man
    was suspected of being involved in a bomb throwing incident. In the course of
    police investigation he was subjected to horrible torture in order to extract a
    confession from him. When he insisted on his innocence, then the police arrested
    his mother, his wife, daughter and sister and brought them to the police
    station. They were all stripped naked in his presence and he was stripped naked
    of all his clothes before their eyes so that a confession of the crime could be
    extracted from him. It appears as if for the sake of investigation of crime it
    has become proper and legal in our country to strip the innocent women folk of
    the household in order to bring pressure on the suspect. This is indeed very
    outrageous and shameful. This is the height of meanness and depravity. This is
    not a mere hearsay which I am repeating here, but I have full information about
    this case and can prove my allegations in any court of law. I would here like to
    ask what right such tyrants who perpetrate these crimes against mankind have to
    tell us that they are Muslims or that they are conduct- ing the affairs of the
    state according to the teachings of Islam and their state is an Islamic State.
    They are breaching and flouting a clear law of the Holy Quran. They are
    stripping men and women naked which is strictly forbidden in Islam. They
    disgrace and humiliate humanity and then they claim that they are Muslims.
  • The Right to Basic Necessities of LifeIslam has recognized the right of the needy people that help and assistance
    will be provided for them. “And in their wealth there is acknowledged right for
    the needy and the destitute” (51:19). In this verse, the Quran has not only
    conferred a right on every man who asks for assistance in the wealth of the
    Muslims, but has also laid down that if a Muslim comes to know that a certain
    man is without the basic necessities of life, then irrespective of the fact
    whether he asks for assistance or not, it is his duty to reach him and give all
    the help that he can extend. For this purpose Islam has not depended only on the
    help and charity that is given voluntarily, but has made compulsory charity,
    zakat as the third pillar of Islam, next only to profession of faith and worship
    of God through holding regular prayers. The Prophet has clearly instructed in
    this respect that: “It will be taken from their rich and given to those in the
    community in need” (al-Bukhari and Muslim). In addition to this, it has also
    been declared that the Islamic State should support those who have nobody to
    support them. The Prophet has said: “The Head of state is the guardian of him,
    who has nobody to support him” (Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi). The word wali which has
    been used by the Prophet is a very comprehensive word and has a wide range of
    meanings. If there is an orphan or an aged man, if there is a crippled or
    unemployed person, if one is invalid or poor and has no one else to support him
    or help him, then it is the duty and the responsibility of the state to support
    and assist him. If a dead man has no guardian or heir, then it is the duty of
    the state to arrange for his proper burial. In short the state has been
    entrusted with the duty and responsibility of looking after all those who need
    help and assistance. A truly Islamic State is therefore a truly welfare state
    which will be the guardian and protector of all those in need.
  • Equality Before LawIslam gives its citizens the right to absolute and complete equality in the
    eyes of the law. As far as the Muslims are concerned, there are clear
    instructions in the Holy Quran and hadith that in their rights and obligations
    they are all equal: “The believers are brothers (to each other)” (49:10). “If
    they (disbelievers) repent and keep up prayer and pay the Ipoor-due, they are
    your brothers in faith” (9:11). The Prophet has said that: “The life and blood
    of Muslims are equally precious” (Abu Dawud; Ibn Majjah). In another hadith he
    has said: “The protection given by all Muslims is equal. Even an ordinary man of
    them can grant protection to any man” (al-Bukhari; Muslim; Abu Dawud). In
    another more detailed Tradition of the Prophet, it has been said that those who
    accept the Oneness of God, believe in the Prophet- hood of His Messenger, give
    up primitive prejudices and join the Muslim community and brotherhood, “then
    they have the same rights and obligations as other Muslims have” (al-Bukhari;
    al-Nisa’i). Thus there is absolute equality between the new converts to Islam
    and the old followers of the Faith.This religious brotherhood and the uniformity of their rights and obligations
    is the foundation of equality in Islamic society, in which the rights and
    obligations of any person are neither greater nor lesser in any way than the
    rights and obligations of other people. As far as the non- Muslim citizens of
    the Islamic State are concerned, the rule of Islamic Shari’ah (law) about them
    has been very well expressed by the Caliph ‘Ali in these words: “They have
    accepted our protection only because their lives may be like our lives and their
    properties like our properties” (Abu Dawud). In other words, their (of the
    dhimmis) lives and properties are as sacred as the lives and properties of the
    Muslims. Discrimination of people into different classes was one of the greatest
    crimes that, according to the Quran, Pharaoh used to indulge in: “He had divided
    his people into different classes,” … “And he suppressed one group of them (at
    the cost of others)” (28:4).
  • Rulers Not Above the LawIslam clearly insists and demands that all officials of the Islamic State,
    whether he be the head or an ordinary employee, are equal in the eyes of the
    law. None of them is above the law or can claim immunity. Even an ordinary
    citizen in Islam has the right to put forward a claim or file a legal complaint
    against the highest executive of the country. The Caliph ‘Umar said, “I have
    myself seen the Prophet, may God’s blessings be on him, taking revenge against
    himself (penalizing himself for some shortcoming or failing).” On the occasion
    of the Battle of Badr, when the Prophet was straightening the rows of the Muslim
    army he hit the belly of a soldier in an attempt to push him back in line. The
    soldier complained “O Prophet, you have hurt me with your stick.” The Prophet
    immediately bared his belly and said: “I am very sorry, you can revenge by doing
    the same to me.” The soldier came forward and kissed the abdomen of the Prophet
    and said that this was all that he wanted.A woman belonging to a high and noble family was arrested in connection with
    a theft. The case was brought to the Prophet, and it was recommended that she
    may be spared the punishment of theft. The Prophet replied: “The nations that
    lived before you were destroyed by God because they punished the common men for
    their offences and let their dignitaries go unpunished for their crimes; I swear
    by Him (God) who holds my life in His hand that even if Fatimah, the daughter of
    Muhammad, has committed this crime then I would have amputated her hand.” During
    the caliphate of ‘Umar, Muhammad the son of ‘Amr ibn al-‘As the Governor of
    Egypt, whipped an Egyptian. The Egyptian went to Medina and lodged his complaint
    with the Righteous Caliph, who immediately summoned the Governor and his son to
    Medina. When they appeared before him in Medina, the Caliph handed a whip to the
    Egyptian complainant and asked him to whip the son of the Governor in his
    presence. After taking his revenge when the Egyptian was about to hand over the
    whip to ‘Umar, he said to the Egyptian: “Give one stroke of the whip to the
    Honourable Governor as well. His son would certainly have not beaten you were it
    not for the false pride that he had in his father’s high office.” The plaintiff
    submitted: “The person who had beaten me, I have already avenged myself on him.”
    ‘Umar said: “By God, if you had beaten him (the Governor) I would not have
    checked you from doing so. You have spared him of your own free will.” Then he
    (‘Umar) angrily turned to ‘Amr ibn al-‘As and said: “O ‘Amr, when did you start
    to enslave the people, though they were born free of their mothers?” When the
    Islamic State was flourishing in its pristine glory and splendour, the common
    people could equally lodge complaints against the caliph of the time in the
    court and the caliph had to appear before the qadi to answer the charges. And if
    the caliph had any complaint against any citizen, he could not use his
    administrative powers and authority to set the matter right, but had to refer
    the case to the court of law for proper adjudication.
  • The Right to Avoid SinIslam also confers this right on every citizen that he will not be ordered to
    commit a sin, a crime or an offence; and if any govern- ment, or the
    administrator, or the head of department orders an individual to do a wrong,
    then he has the right to refuse to comply with the order. His refusal to carry
    out such crime or unjust instructions would not be regarded as an offence in the
    eyes of the Islamic law. On the contrary giving orders to one’s subordinates to
    commit a sin or do a wrong is itself an offence and such a serious offence that
    the officer who gives this sinful order whatever his rank and position may be,
    is liable to be summarily dismissed. These clear instructions of the Prophet are
    summarized in the following hadith: “It is not permissible to dis- obey God in
    obedience to the orders of any human being” (Musnad of Ibn Hanbal). In other
    words, no one has the right to order his subordinates to do anything against the
    laws of God. If such an order is given, the subordinate has the right to ignore
    it or openly refuse to carry out such instructions. According to this rule no
    offender will be able to prove his innocence or escape punishment by saying that
    this offence was committed on the orders of the government or superior officers.
    If such a situation arises then the person who commits the offence and the
    person who orders that such an offence be committed, will both be liable to face
    criminal proceedings against them. And if an officer takes any improper and
    unjust measures against a subordinate who refuses to carry out illegal orders,
    then the subordinate has the right to go to the court of law for the protection
    of his rights, and he can demand that the officer be punished for his wrong or
    unjust orders.
  • The Right to Participate in the Affairs of StateAccording to Islam, governments in this world are actually representatives
    (khulafa’) of the Creator of the universe, and this responsibility is not
    entrusted to any individual or family or a particular class or group of people
    but to the entire Muslim nation. The Holy Quran says: “God has promised to
    appoint those of you who believe and do good deeds as (His) representatives on
    earth” (24:55). This clearly indicates that khilafah is a collective gift of God
    in which the right of every individual Muslim is neither more nor less than the
    right of any other person. The correct method recommended by the Holy Quran for
    running the affairs of the state is as follows: “And their business is
    (conducted) through consultation among themselves” (42:38). According to this
    principle it is the right of every Muslim that either he should have a direct
    say in the affairs of the state or a representative chosen by him and other
    Muslims should participate in the consultation of the state. Islam, under no
    circumstance, permits or tolerates that an individual or a group or party of
    individuals may deprive the common Muslims of their rights, and usurp powers of
    the state. Similarly, Islam does not regard it right and proper that an
    individual may put up a false show of setting up a legislative assembly and by
    means of underhand tactics such as fraud, persecution, bribery, etc., gets
    himself and men of his choice elected in the assembly. This is not only a
    treachery against the people whose rights are usurped by illegal and unfair
    means, but against the Creator Who has entrusted the Muslims to rule on this
    earth on His behalf, and has prescribed the pro- cedure of an assembly for
    exercising these powers. The shura or the legislative assembly has no other
    meaning except that:(1) The executive head of the government and the members of the assembly
    should be elected by free and independent choice of the people.(2) The people and their representatives should have the right to criticize
    and freely express their opinions.(3) The real conditions of the country should be brought before the people
    without suppressing any fact so that they may be able to form their opinion
    about whether the government is working properly or not.(4) There should be adequate guarantee that only those people who have the
    support of the masses should rule over the country and those who fail to win
    this support should be removed from their position of authority.

    After dealing with the rights of the citizens of an Islamic State, I would
    like to briefly discuss the rights which Islam has conferred on its enemies. In
    the days when Islam came into focus the world was completely unaware of the
    concept of humane and decent rules of war. The West became conscious of this
    concept for the first time through the works of the seventeenth century thinker,
    Grotius. But the actual codification of the ‘international law’ in war began in
    the middle of the nineteenth century. Prior to this no concept of civilized
    behaviour in war was found in the West. All forms of barbarity and savagery were
    perpetrated in war, and the rights of those at war were not even recognized, let
    alone respected. The laws which were framed in this field during the nineteenth
    century or over the following period up to the present day, cannot be called
    ‘laws’ in the real sense of the word. They are only in the nature of conventions
    and agreements and calling them ‘international law’ is actually a kind of
    misnomer, because no nation regards them binding when they are at war, unless,
    of course, when the adversaries also agree to abide by them. In other words,
    these civilized laws imply that if our enemies respect them then we shall also
    abide by them, and if they ignore these human conventions and take recourse to
    barbaric and cruel ways of waging war, then we shall also adopt the same or
    similar techniques. It is obvious that such a course which depends on mutual
    acceptance and agreement cannot be called ‘law’. And this is the reason why the
    provisions of this so-called ‘inter- national law’ have been flouted and ignored
    in every way, and every time they have been revised, additions or deletions have
    been made in them.

    Law of War and Peace in Islam:

    The rules which have been framed by Islam to make war civilized and humane,
    are in the nature of law, because they are the injunctions of God and His
    Prophet which are followed by Muslims in all circum- stances, irrespective of
    the behaviour of the enemy. It is now for the scholars to find out how far the
    West has availed of the laws of war given by Islam thirteen hundred years ago;
    and even after the adapta- tion of some of the laws of Islam how far the West
    attained those heights of civilized and humane methods of warfare which Muslims
    reached through the blessings of Islam. Western writers have often asserted that
    the Prophet had borrowed everything in his teachings from the Jews and the
    Christians. Instead of saying anything in its refutation I will only recommend
    the reader to refer to the Bible6 so that he can see which methods of war are
    recommended by the sacred Book of these Western claimants to civilization and

    We have examined in some detail the basic human rights that Islam has
    conferred on man. Let us now find out what rights and obligations Islam
    recognizes for an enemy.

    The Rights of the Non-Combatants:

    Islam has first drawn a clear line of distinction between the combatants and
    the non-combatants of the enemy country. As far as the non-combatant population
    is concerned such as women, children, the old and the infirm, etc., the
    instructions of the Prophet are as follows: “Do not kill any old person, any
    child or any woman” (Abu Dawud). “Do not kill the monks in monasteries” or “Do
    not kill the people who are sitting in places of worship” (Musnad of Ibn

    During a war, the Prophet saw the corpse of a woman lying on the ground and
    observed: “She was not fighting. How then she came to be killed?” From this
    statement of the Prophet the exegetists and jurists have drawn the principle
    that those who are non-combatants should not be killed during or after the war.

    The Rights of the Combatants:

    Now let us see what rights Islam has conferred on the combatants.

  • Torture with FireIn the hadith there is a saying of the Prophet that: “Punishment by fire does
    not behove anyone except the Master of the Fire” (Abu Dawud). The injunction
    deduced from this saying is that the adversary should not be burnt alive.
  • Protection of the Wounded“Do not attack a wounded person”-thus said the Prophet. This means that the
    wounded soldiers who are not fit to fight, nor actually fighting, should not be
  • The Prisoner of War Should not be Slain“No prisoner should be put to the sword”-a very clear and unequivocal
    instruction given by the Prophet (S).
  • No one Should be Tied to be Killed“The Prophet has prohibited the killing of anyone who is tied or is in
  • No Looting and Destruction in the Enemy’s CountryMuslims have also been instructed by the Prophet that if they should enter
    the enemy’s territory, they should not indulge in pillage or plunder nor destroy
    the residential areas, nor touch the property of anyone except those who are
    fighting with them. It has been narrated in the hadith: “The Prophet has
    prohibited the believers from loot and plunder” (al-Bukhari; Abu Dawud). His
    injunction is: “The loot is no more lawful than the carrion” (Abu Dawud). Abu
    Bakr al-Siddiq used to instruct the soldiers while sending them to war, “Do not
    destroy the villages and towns, do not spoil the cultivated fields and gardens,
    and do not slaughter the cattle.” The booty of war which is acquired from the
    battleground is altogether different from this. It consists of the wealth,
    provisions and equipment captured only from the camps and military headquarters
    of the combatant armies.
  • Sanctity of PropertyThe Muslims have also been prohibited from taking anything from the general
    public of a conquered country without paying for it. If in a war the Muslim army
    occupies an area of the enemy country, and is encamped there, it does not have
    the right to use the things belonging to the people without their consent. If
    they need anything, they should purchase it from the local population or should
    obtain permission from the owners. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, while instructing the
    Muslim armies being despatched to the battlefront would go to the extent of
    saying that Muslim soldiers should not even use the milk of the milch cattle
    without the permission of their owners.
  • Sanctity of a Dead BodyIslam has categorically prohibited its followers from disgracing or
    mutilating the corpses of their enemies as was practised in Arabia before the
    advent of Islam. It has been said in the hadith: “The Prophet has prohibited us
    from mutilating the corpses of the enemies” (al- Bukhari; AbC Dawud). The
    occasion on which this order was given is highly instructive. In the Battle of
    Uhud the disbelievers mutilated the bodies of the Muslims, who had fallen on the
    battlefield and sacrificed their lives for the sake of Islam, by cutting off
    their ears and noses, and threading them together to put round their necks as
    trophies of war. The abdomen of Hamzah, the uncle of the Prophet, was ripped
    open by Quraysh, his liver was taken out and chewed by Hind, the wife of Abu
    Sufyan, the leader of the Meccan army. The Muslims were naturally enraged by
    this horrible sight. But the Prophet asked his followers not to mete out similar
    treatment to the dead bodies of the enemies. This great example of forbearance
    and restraint is sufficient to convince any reasonable man who is not blinded by
    prejudice or bias, that Islam is really the religion sent down by the Creator of
    the universe, and that if human emotions had any admission in Islam, then this
    horrible sight on the battlefield of Uhud would have provoked the Prophet to
    order his followers to mutilate the bodies of their enemy in the same manner.
  • Return of Corpses of the EnemyIn the Battle of Ahzab a very renowned and redoubtable warrior of the enemy
    was killed and his body fell down in the trench which the Muslims had dug for
    the defence of Medina. The unbelievers presented ten thousand dinars to the
    Prophet and requested that the dead body of their fallen warrior may be handed
    over to them. The Prophet replied “I do not sell dead bodies. You can take away
    the corpse of your fallen comrade.”
  • Prohibition of Breach of TreatiesIslam has strictly prohibited treachery. One of the instructions that the
    Prophet used to give to the Muslim warriors while sending them to the
    battlefront was: “Do not be guilty of breach of faith.” This order has been
    repeated in the Holy Quran and the hadith again and again, that if the enemy
    acts treacherously let him do so, you should never go back on your promise.
    There is a famous incident in the peace treaty of Hudaybiyyah, when after the
    settlement of the terms of the treaty, Abu Jandal, the son of the emissary of
    the unbelievers who had negotiated this treaty with the Muslims, came, fettered
    and blood-stained, rushing to the Muslim camp and crying for help. The Prophet
    told him “Since the terms of the treaty have been settled, we are not in a
    position to help you out. You should go back with your father. God will provide
    you with some other opportunity to escape this persecution.” The entire Muslim
    army was deeply touched and grieved at the sad plight of Abu Jandal and many of
    them were moved to tears. But when the Prophet declared that “We cannot break
    the agreement”, not even a single person came forward to help the unfortunate
    prisoner, so the unbelievers forcibly dragged him back to Makkah. This is an
    unparalleled example of the observance of the terms of agreement by the Muslims,
    and Islamic history can show many examples of a similar nature.
  • Rules About Declaration of WarIt has been laid down in the Holy Quran: “If you apprehend breach of treaty
    from a people, then openly throw the treaty at their faces” (8:58). In this
    verse, Muslims have been prohibited from opening hostilities against their
    enemies without properly declaring war against them, unless of course, the
    adversary has already started aggression against them. Otherwise the Quran has
    clearly given the injunction to Muslims that they should intimate to their
    enemies that no treaty exists between them, and they are at war with them. The
    present day ‘inter- national law’ has also laid down that hostilities should not
    be started without declaration of war, but since it is a man-made rule, they are
    free to violate it whenever it is convenient. On the other hand, the laws for
    Muslims have been framed by God, hence they cannot be violated.
  • Conclusion:

    This is a brief sketch of those rights which fourteen hundred years ago Islam
    gave to man, to those who were at war with each other and to the citizens of its
    state, which every believer regards as sacred as law. On the one hand, it
    refreshes and strengthens our faith in Islam when we realize that even in this
    modern age which makes such loud claims of progress and enlightenment, the world
    has not been able to produce juster and more equitable laws than those given
    1400 years ago. On the other hand it hurts one’s feelings that Muslims are in
    possession of such a splendid and comprehensive system of law and yet they look
    forward for guidance to those leaders of the West who could not have dreamed of
    attaining those heights of truth and justice which was achieved a long time ago.
    Even more painful than this is the realization that throughout the world the
    rulers who claim to be Muslims have made disobedience to their God and the
    Prophet as the basis and foundation of their government. May God have mercy on
    them and give them the true guidance.

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2 Responses to “Human Rights in Islam”

  1. drkokogyi Says:

    Min Thet Naing added 11 new photos.
    23 hrs ·
    သူတို ့ေျပာတာကို နားေထာင္ပါ။
    ကၽြန္ေတာ့္အေရးအသားတခ်ိဳ ့ေၾကာင့္
    ေရးတဲ့ပို ့စ္ေတြေအာက္မွာ ဆဲဆိုၾကိမ္းေမာင္း
    သူေတြ၊အေကာင့္ကို ရီပို ့ထုသူေတြရွိသလို
    CB ကေန သတိေပးစကား ျခိမ္းေျခာက္စကား
    Cmt လာေရးလည္းဖ်က္ပစ္သလို..
    လာစကားေျပာ၊လာဆဲလည္း ေသာက္ဖက္
    အစၥလာမ္အေၾကာင္းဘာသိလို ့လဲတို ့…
    မြတ္စလင္မ္ေတြက ဘယ္လိုဘာတို ့…
    အေကာင္းျမင္လြန္းေနတာ မေလ့လာဘူးလို ့
    အေၾကာင္းမသိေသးလို ့ပါဆိုသူေတြအတြက္ပါ
    အစၥလာမ္ကို ဘာလို ့အေကာင္းျမင္ေပးေနတာ
    လဲလို ့ေမးတဲ့သူေတြကို ျပန္ေမးမိတာ တခု ရွိပါတယ္။မိတ္ေဆြကေကာ ဘာလို ့အစၥလာမ္
    နဲ ့မြတ္စလင္မ္ေတြကို မေကာင္းျမင္တာလဲ
    ဆိုေတာ့ အေျဖက တိပတိက်တဲ့အေျဖမရွိပါဘူး
    အေထာက္အထားမဲ့ ..သိကၡာမဲ့..စာတိုေပတို
    ေတြဖတ္ထားျပီး ေျပာတာေတြနဲ ့
    ကိုယ္က်ိဳးအတြက္ အစၥလာမ္ကို ပံုဖ်က္ေနသူ
    ေတြရဲ့ ေျပာစကား လံွဳေဆာ္စြပ္စြဲမူေတြကို
    အဲ့မိတ္ေဆြေတြကို ေျပာလိုတာက အစၥလာမ္
    အပါအ၀င္ ဘာသာတရားေတြကို တဖက္ပိတ္
    ေလ့လာနားေထာင္တဲ့အေလ့အထကို ေဖ်ာက္ပါ
    သူမ်ားေယာင္တိုင္း လိုက္မေယာင္ပါနဲ ့…
    ကမာၻမွာ အေနာက္ႏို္ုင္ငံသားေတြ တိုးတက္တာ
    အမွန္ျဖစ္ျဖစ္ အမွားျဖစ္ျဖစ္ ဘာမဆို သူမ်ား အေျပာတခုထဲနဲ ့မယံုပဲေလ့လာစူးစမ္းၾကလို ့ပဲျဖစ္ပါတယ္..
    ကၽြန္ေတာ္ အစၥလာမ္ကိုေလ့လာပါတယ္…
    ဒါေပမဲ့ ကၽေနာ္ေလ့လာတာက စစ္တပ္က ေကာင္ေတြသူတို ့အာဏာတည္ျမဲဖို ့ခုတံုးလုပ္ ္အျမတ္ထုတ္ဖို ့ေရးထားတဲ့ အမ်ိဳးေပ်ာက္မွာ စိုးေၾကာက္စရာလိုစာအုပ္မ်ိဳးမဟုတ္ပါဘူးး။
    ေနရာအေခ်ာင္လိုခ်င္လို ့လူျပိန္းၾကိဳက္
    အမုန္းတရားေတြျဖန္ ့တဲ့ ေနမ်ိဳးေ၀လို
    ေကာင္ေတြ ေသြးခၽြန္လိုေကာင္ေတြရဲ့
    စာေတြကိုဖတ္ျပီးေလ့လာတာ မဟုတ္ပါဘူး။
    ႏို္င္ငံေရးအရ ေဒၚေအာင္ဆန္းစုၾကည္နဲ ့NLD
    ကိုတိုက္ခိုက္ခ်င္လို ့အစၥလာမ္ကို အမွားေတြနဲ ့
    ၀ါဒျဖန္ ့ခ်ီေနတဲ့ မဘသ ဘုန္းၾကီးေတြရဲ့ တရား
    ေတြ နားေထာင္ျပီးေလ့လာတာမဟုတ္ပါဘူး။
    မြတ္စလင္မ္မဟုတ္တဲ့ ကမာၻေက်ာ္ေတြ..
    တကၠသိုလ္ၾကီးေတြက ပညာရွင္ေတြ..
    အပါအ၀င္ အစၥလာမ္ပညာရွင္ေတြရဲ့
    ေဟာေျပာမူေတြ စာအုပ္စာေပေတြ
    Debate အစီအစဥ္ေတြ၊ေမးေျဖက႑ေတြ
    စတာေတြကို ေလ့လာတာပါ…
    အဲ့ေတာ့လူၾကီးမင္းတို ့လည္း အစၥလာမ္
    ဘာလဲ တကယ္သိခ်င္ရင္ အျမင္ရွင္းရွင္း
    ထားျပီး လူေကာင္းသူေကာင္း သစၥာ၀ါဒီ
    သမားေတြ ပညာရွင္ေတြရဲ့ စာအုပ္စာေပေတြကို ေလ့လာပါ။သူတို ့ရဲ့ေဟာေျပာမူေတြ
    Question & Answer Section ေတြကို
    အစၥလာမ္နံမည္ခံျပီး လုပ္ခ်င္တာ
    လုပ္ေနတဲ့သူေတြက မေကာင္းတာလားးး
    အစၥလာမ္ဘာသာက အစြန္းေရာက္ဖို ့သင္လားးးးးးဘာသာ၀င္အမည္ခံအခ်ိဳ ့က ကိုယ္ကၽိဳးအတြက္အသံုးခ်ဖို ့သင္ေနတာလားးး
    ကၽေနာ္ခုႏွစ္ထဲဖတ္ေနတဲ့ စာအုပ္တခၽိဳ ့
    ေလ့လာခ်င္ေလ့လာလို ့ရေအာင္တင္ေပး
    လိုက္တယ္….ပရိုဂရမ္ အစီအစဥ္တခ်ိဳ ့က
    အျမဲ နားေထာင္ျဖစ္တဲ့ အစၥလာမ္ ပညာရွင္
    တခၽိဳ ့ပံုေတြလည္း တင္ေပးထားပါတယ္…
    ေလ့လာၾကည့္ပါ…တကယ္စိတ္၀င္စားဖို ့
    အစၥလာမ္ သူငယ္ခ်င္း မိတ္ေဆြ ဆရာေတြက
    ဒီလို စာအုပ္ေတြ ပရိုဂရမ္ေတြကို ျမန္မာ
    ဘာသာျပန္ျပီး ထုတ္ေ၀ျဖန္ ့ခ်ီသင့္ပါတယ္…
    ေသြးခၽြန္တို ့၀ီရသူတို ့လို လူယုတ္မာေတြက
    အပါတ္စဥ္လိုလို သူတို ့ထုတ္တဲ့ ဂ်ာနယ္ေတြ
    စာအုပ္ေတြမွာ မုနး္တီးေရးေဆာင္းပါးေတြ
    ဘာသာျပန္ထုတ္ေနၾကေတာ့ မြတ္စလင္မ္
    ေတြကလည္း ကမာၻအရပ္ရပ္က ပညာရွင္ေတြ
    ရဲ့ စာအုပ္ေတြကို မ်ားမ်ားလူထုၾကားျဖန္ ့သင့္
    ပါတယ္….အစၥလာမ္ အသံုးအႏံွဳးနဲ ့ေျပာရင္
    ဒါအ္၀ဟ္ လုပ္တယ္ေပါ့ဗ်ာ….
    ခုကၽေနာ္လည္း ဒါအ္၀ဟ္လုပ္တာေပါ့….

  2. Which nation on earth apply these in their Warfare? | Dr. Abdul Rahman Zafrudin @ Ko Ko Gyi Says:

    […] Human Rights in Islam […]

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