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Human Rights Through The Lens of Islam

The world today is in need of a system that can provide a just and a fair society. Islam has the key that human beings need to make the world a better place economically, socially and politically.


The rights entitled to us by virtue of being a human are called human rights. The idea of human rights appeared during the World War II in which the world has seen one of the largest number of casualties in the history. It ensued in the adoption of Universal declaration of human rights on 10th December 1948. From then on, every year this day is marked as Human Rights Day. The earliest documentation of human rights was 1400 years ago called the Charter/Constitution of Medina enforced by Prophet Mohammed. This document is a proof that Islam had given due rights to its citizens centuries ago, even before Magna Carta or even before the modern civilization realized the need to draft a constitution to protect the rights of fellow human beings.

In Islam, we consider God, the creator of human beings as the ultimate source of guidance for us, and human beings are the vicegerents of God on earth, here to fulfill the Gods will. God alone knows what is best for his creation and has laid down certain rules, responsibilities and guidelines to abide by them. After this life on earth we return to Him and are answerable to Him for the deeds done in this world.

In the Quran, the origin of mankind is mentioned to show us that indeed we as humans are one brotherhood: “O mankind, indeed I have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.”[1] In Islam there is no distinction on the basis of nationality, color, race, gender, language etc. In the sight of God, all that matters is belief and righteousness. It is also mentioned in the Quran how God has honored us (Human Beings) above the rest of the creation: “And I have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what I have created, with [definite] preference.”[2] We have been given the highest status in the world full of other beings. Therefore, it is our duty to treat each other fellow humans with due respect without any discrimination whatsoever.

In its comprehensiveness, Islam is more than just human rights. It is also concerned about human responsibilities, human relationships and human roles. Quran lays out in various places and in distinct ways our rights and responsibilities to ourselves, our family, the community the state and even the natural environment. Quran makes us aware of our relationship to the universe, to plants, to animals. It also seeks to instill in us profound consciousness of our role, as male or female, husband or wife, father or mother, child or adult.

The place that Islam has for a mother (female) is three times superior to that of a father. The position of a mother is apparent when it declares that Heaven lies under the feet of our mother. When it comes to the good deeds done to please God, it does not distinguish between the two genders and both gets rewarded equally.[3]On a social level, Islam confers the right to security of life and property. It also bestows its believers, the right of honor and dignity by prohibiting mockery, spying, slander, backbiting, offensive nicknames and negative assumptions.[4]It tries to build a high character of righteousness among the Muslims, which in reality benefits the society at large.

Justice and fairness are the two corner stones of the judicial system in Islam. Whether it be against one’s own self or a family member, whether the person is rich (cannot bribe and escape the law) or poor.[5] Muslims also have political rights by which they elect their leader by mutual consult. The adherents of Islam are given the freedom to express their thoughts keeping the limits of Islamic law in perspective. Right to associate with one another in a good cause is also a privilege in Islam subject to certain limitations.

Islam bestows upon its believers the right to the wealth of the community through the institution of Zakat (wealthy persons giving it to poor people),[6] thereby trying to minimize the gap between the rich and the poor. The Islamic society aims to provide easy access to the basic necessities of life such as food, water, shelter, clothing, health and education to all the people under their rule.There are equal opportunities for job and work/labor for all the citizens irrespective of their social or ethnic background. It also commands it followers to fulfil the right of the worker by paying him his due, before his sweat dries. It is also the duty of the government in Islamic nation to cater for the needs of the poor, the needy, the orphans and the travelers who are in need from the public treasury.

During the time of Prophet Mohammed, he had to engage in war. Even during those sensitive situations, his advice to his followers was: “Do not kill any old person, any child or any woman.[7] Do not kill the monks in monasteries and do not kill the people who are sitting in places of worship”[8]The prisoners of war were treated with kindness and humanity. The Quran declares that there is no compulsion in religion.[9]It is also the teaching of Islam not to defame Gods which the people worship.[10]God makes it clear between the truth and the falsehood. He then givens human beings a choice to follow the way they want to follow between oneness of God and disobedience to Him. The path that we choose in this world determines our fate in the hereafter.

The present modern era, that makes loud claims of progress and enlightenment, has not been able to produce fairer and more equitable laws than those given 1400 years ago. The western society has and is crumbling due to the transfer from spiritual authority to man- made authority. This has led to selfishness, ego, materialistic and hedonistic behavior. It has also yielded to the decline of the moral and spiritual values which once used to symbolize the innate human characteristics. The world today is in need of a system that can provide a just and a fair society where the people can live together, despite their differences, in peace and harmony. Islam provides the solution for this quest of mankind. It has the key that human beings needs to make the world a better place economically, socially and politically.

In this regard, I request you humbly my brethren in humanity, to come forward and get to know the real Islam through the teachings of our beloved Prophet Mohammed. As opined by Mahatma Gandhi, “I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle.”[11] Let the media and publications not deceive you and hinder you from being enlightened by the life of this great man, Prophet Mohammed and the book revealed upon him by the Almighty God.

[1] Quran 49: 13

[2] Quran 17: 70

[3]Quran 4: 124, Quran 2: 228

[4]Quran 49: 11-12

[5]Quran 4 : 135

[6] Quran 51: 19

[7]Abu Dawud

[8]Musnad of IbnHanbal

[9]Quran 2: 256

[10]Quran 6:108