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Evaluation of Human Rights in Islam
Review of an article
One of our vieweres shared with us a review that we felt would be of great value to the others. The review is that of an article about Human Rights in Islam by Dr. Fathi Osman. It is comprehensive and well explained. We picked the major points in the review here for the reader to enjoy.
According to the Quran, dignity of the children of Adam is a divine bestowal which is to be secured by all means, including the law and the state authorities, and is to be defended by all forces:
What distinguishes humans from many other creatures is mainly their intellect and their free will to choose between doing good and doing evil. To fulfill a human potential, all obstacles and pressures must be removed from the way, and all means should be secured to maintain and develop our humanity. The dignity bestowed on humans in the Quran must be defended. It is the individual, social and universal responsibility of Muslims to guard human rights because oppression is an obstruction of God’s will in His creation:
As for the responsibility of the individual, Dr Osman continue by saying;
It is the individual, social, and universal responsibility of Muslims, according to their faith, to protect the human merits and virtues of all the children of Adam, whatever their differences may be. Defending the human rights of human beings is a religious duty for a Muslim, who believes that any oppression is an obstruction of God’s will and plan in His creation. Moreover, a Muslim believes that God has created all mankind equal as human beings, and no one can claim superiority in this respect, whatever his/her ethnicity, family, wealth or gender may be.
Dr. Osman then quote verse one of sura 4 and verse 13 of sura 49;
The only One who is above all humans is their Creator and Lord:
Dr. Osman continue;
At the inception of the belief in one God is the belief in the equality of all human beings, since those who believe in one God believe that all human beings are created by the one Creator. Thus, deeply rooted in the conscience of believers is the duty to maintain human rights and to practice equality in the process. Any discrimination against any individual or group about their basic rights as members of humanity is a challenge to the faith of believers, since for any human to claim superiority based on origin or power is contradictory to the belief in the One Ultimate Supreme Being:
A tyrant is against human rights and the One Ultimate Supreme Being as well:
In the same chapter, the Quran states that those who will attain happiness in the life to come are those who don’t seek to exalt themselves on earth, nor yet to spread malevolence; for the future belongs to the God-conscious (7:157). Thus, the Quran repeatedly emphasizes human rights and justice, and condemns injustice, aggression and oppression. It highlights the message of the Prophet Muhammad:
Justice can be concisely and precisely defined as the maintenance of human rights and equality:
Any discrimination between men and women in rights or responsibilities is forbidden according to the divine justice- the same as any other discrimination:
Divine justice can never be for Muslims only. It secures the rights of all human beings, whatever their beliefs may be. It is especially protective of the rights of belief and practicing one’s belief, ”there shall be no compulsion in religion” (2:256). Defending all houses of worship is legitimate and urged:
Muslims are taught by the Quran to build their relations with others on kindness, while the minimum obligation which should be strictly observed is justice (60:8). They should always have in mind that no hostility stays permanently, and that if they follow God’s guidance, their behavior may turn an enemy into a close friend:
Islam secures the human rights even for those who may violate the human rights of others, since two wrongs do not make one right. A violation should be stopped instantly, but the rights of the violator as a human being should be secured. Islamic law aims to fight the crime in its origin, not just to inflict punishment. Islamic penal law is enforced in order to prevent the sources of violation and transgression without social justice and public education for all. It is required that every possible effort be made to educate and rehabilitate an offender, not to destroy him/her.
We do definitely agree with Dr. Osman on these points. The Quranic verses are very strong supporting the view he had taken. He continues;
Islamic civil and commercial law prohibits illegitimate and exploitative gains while protecting the principle which has been earned legitimately and legally before usurious additions :
Dr. Osman then discusses the Islamic laws during the war.
The Islamic law of war requires an open declaration of the start of military operations, and limits fighting to the combatants only. As soon as the aggression itself is stopped and the aggressor submits to justice, justice should be maintained in relation to both parties equally:
Any of the enemy’s army who asks for protection or shelter should be granted it, and may be returned to his camp if he so requests:
The wounded and deserters from the enemy’s army should not be attacked, but should be cared for until they are cured or repatriated.
It is clear from the article by Dr. Osman that Quran protected the human rights of all individuals. The Muslim jurists actually condensed Islamic law, as mentioned before, into the securing and developing human personality in five main areas: life, family, mind, faith, and property. The human rights covered by these five areas include the collective rights of groups and peoples as well as the rights of individuals; political and social rights have their place side by side. A collective effort to defend the powerless and the oppressed against a powerful oppressor is an essential Islamic obligation. Every right is considered a responsibility and an obligation. In addition to human rights being considered a collective responsibility of the umma (the Muslim people as a group) and the authorities, every holder of a right must also struggle for him/her self to obtain, maintain and enjoy this right. <br
Based on faith in God, the Islamic perspective on human rights is comprehensive and deep. Quran repeatedly confirmed and assured the equality of all individuals and guaranteed their rights to live in peace, free of oppression or fear.
Dr. Osman concludes, ”This was the message of Islam in early times: a universal liberation and establishment of justice and maintenance of human rights. It is thus to maintain, develop and spread such an understanding of the divine message in our times.”