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Human Rights Under Islam

18 August, 2005

By Amjed Jaaved


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The Holy Quran has several verses dealing with tolerance of dissent and rival faiths, and justice. Normally, two witnesses are required for conviction of an Islamic offence.  But, for zina, four witnesses are required.  There is severe punishment of 80 lashes for hurling a false accusation about modesty of a woman.

A woman can get right of divorce delegated to her within framework of the nikahnama.  Besides, she has the right to seek khula through the court.  A woman, planning to apply for khula, was shot dead in Asma’s office.  That’s an isolated incident, which was overblown in HRCP’s reports.

Neither Islam nor the law of the land allows such behaviour. To be a Muslim means, to believe in God, who is “Rabb al-’Alamin”:  creator and sustainer of all peoples and universes?  The Qur’an is the primary source of normative Islam.  But,the self-styled NGOs equate  un-Islamic conduct of a few individuals as misconduct of the whole  government or state of Pakistan. That’s unfair. Al-Qur’an points out that Allah’s creation is "for just ends" (surah 15: al-hijr: 85) and not in "idle sport"(surah 21:  al-anbiya: 16).  Humanity, designed "in the best of moulds" (surah 95:  at-tin : 4), has been created in order to serve Allah (surah 51:  Adh-Dhariyat : 56).

According to Qur’anic teaching, service of Allah cannot be separated from service to humankind.  Those who believe in Allah must honor both” Rights of Allah (haquq ullah) and rights of creatures (haquq ul-`ibad”).  Fulfilment of one’s duties to God and humankind  constitutes righteousness, as stated in surah 2: al-baqarah: 177, which  reads as follows: It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces  towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in Allah, and  the Last Day, and the angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to  spend of your substance, out of love of Allah, for your kin, for  orphans, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of  slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to  fulfill the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient,  in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of  panic.

Such are the people of truth, the Allah-fearing. Al-Qur’an is the Magna Carta of human freedom.  It directs the believers to free human beings from the bondage of traditionalism, authoritarianism (religious, political, economic, or any other), tribalism, racism, slavery or anything else that prohibits or inhibits human beings from actualizing their divine endowments to the fullest. Verses in Qur’an advises course of moderation in various situations of life. 

It warns lest liberty should degenerate into license, self-rule degenerates into dictatorship or despotism. “It is not conceivable that  a human being unto whom God has granted revelation, and sound judgment, and prophethood, should thereafter have said unto people, ‘Worship me  beside God’; but rather (did he exhort them), ‘Become men of God by spreading the knowledge of the divine writ, and by your own deep study  (thereof).” (surah 3: aal-‘Imran: 79). Qur’an states clearly that man and woman were made from the same source, at the same time, in the same manner, and that they stand equal in the sight of God.  The Qur’an forbids injustice in all its forms and manifestations. In surah 5: Al-Ma'idah:8, it tells the believers:  "O you who have attained to faith!  Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of any one lead you into the sin of deviating from justice.  Be just: this is the closest to being God-conscious.” Surah 4: an-nisa: 136 ordains upholding justice: “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice,  verily Allah is well-acquainted wth all that ye do. The Qur'anic proclamation in surah 2: al-baqarah : 256.  "There shall be no coercion in matters of faith”. Guarantees freedom of religion and worship.  A number of Qur'anic passages also state clearly that the  responsibility of the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) is to communicate the  message of God and not to compel anyone to believe (For instance surah  6: al-an’am: 107; surah 10: yunus: 99; surah 16: an-nahl : 82; surah 42: ash-shura : 48).The right to exercise free choice in matters of belief is unambiguously   endorsed by the Qur'an in surah 18 : al-kahf : 29, which states: the  truth is from your Lord: Let him who will believe, and let him who  will, reject (it).

Unfortunately, despite definitive texts of the Holy Quran and ahadith, some influential people disgrace or kill women for “honour”. Their individual acts are projected in our media as failure of state machinery.  But, "Honor killings" are not exclusive to Pakistan only.   They are committed in India, Britain, United States, Brazil, Ecuador, Israel, Italy, Sweden Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Turkey, Uganda and Bangladesh. The government of Pakistan is trying its best to curb the evil.  But, changing attitudes, fossilised over centuries, is not easy. It is not understood why Pakistan is dubbed as a violence-promoting state, when the historical records of the USA are far less savoury.

According to human-rights groups’ studies, the USA is a 'violent, crime-ridden society'. Almost 12 million criminal cases were reported in the country, with the number of homicide cases being 16,110. The US ranks first in private ownership of guns, and some 350,000 gun-related crimes were recorded. Many of these cases involved juveniles who have easy access to firearms.

There are some 21,500 sinister gangs in the US with a combined membership of around 731,000. The ratio of prison inmates in the US remains one of the highest in the world. The number of inmates exceeds 2.1 million. In other words, 701 out of every 100,000 people in the country languish in jails.

Some 700,000 inmates are held in high security jails, many of them being subjected to ruthless treatment and humiliation. There have been reports of some of them being put to death by prison guards. According to a statement issued by Human Rights Watch, one in five male inmates in the US faced forced sexual contact in custody, and one in ten had been raped.

Several female inmates are said to have sexual relations with male guards in the hope of better treatment or even to get a can of cola or food. One out of six US inmates are said to suffer from various kinds of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia and serious depression. The total population of such patients numbers between 200,000 and 300,000.

Black and coloured people receive twice or three times more severe  penalties than whites for the same crimes, and the number of blacks who received the death penalty for killing white people is four times that  of white people who killed blacks. Blacks account for about 47 per cent of the inmates in state prisons, while they form only 13 per cent of the country's total population. The black poverty rate is over 24 per cent, and the average black annual income is 40 per cent less than the average American income.  Black students are also routinely subjected to racial discrimination.

Many blacks receive significantly less pay than whites with the same qualifications. Akbar S. Ahmed in his Islam under Siege (pages 9-10) rightly points out “misunderstanding about Islam since September 11” that it, and by corollary, Islamic states, “encourage violence”.  He stresses, “The actions of the nineteen hijackers had little to do do with Islamic theology.  Killing a single innocent person is like killing all of humanity, warns the Quran (surah 5, Verse 32).  The Quran clearly preaches tolerance, understanding, diversity of races…(surah 49, verse  13).

End.

Reader Comments:

Human rights has to do with man and woman, not religion and war

Human Rights Under Islam???
In the West, we have seen that religion shold be only religion. God has nothing to do with war, crime, killing, boombing inocent people, no matter where, when, how.

Valerio Valentino, Bouvet Island - 18 August, 2005

inhuman rights under islam

it seems to be a coincidence that this column by my friend Amjed Jawed A J Malik has been published today.
i happened to be watching the National Geograhic Channel on honour killings in pakistan and i was shocked to see the faces of a victim and the perpertraor. the wife was completely disfigured with her nose chopped off and her eyes gouged out. the husband who was interviewed in jail) was justifying his cruel act.the cruelty in his eyes was shocking.Amjed jawed may have his grouse with the western media and the NGO's but i think he needs to educate himself with the fact that a Pakistani doctor from Washington raised the funds to fly her and her immediate family to the US for facial reconstructive surgery.

i bow this this doctor in reverence for his selfless act.
this is the problem that afflicts Pakistani society today. there is one class of people who regard values of human life important and another class that regards religion as all pervasive...never mind if it causes untold misery.
i think the author of this article has made his choice clear. he has quoted extensively from the koran and to take a cue from the last line ...where is the tolerance in this case??? please don't fool yourself and others!!!

aarvey, Hungary - 18 August, 2005

please explain

I am reproducing a part of the article herewith...quote...Qur'an states clearly that man and woman were made from the same source, at the same time, in the same manner, and that they stand equal in the sight of God.

will the author explain why a man has a right to maim or kill his wife/daughter for whatever crime that they have committed. why don't we hear stories of Pakistani women chopping noses off or gouging eyes from errant husbands or brothers???


aarvey, Hungary - 18 August, 2005

Islam's thruston human rights

Islam is an "Applied" religion and not a "sermon" preached routinely in Friday prayers, nor a propaganda tool as printed in literature. The mere fact that Islamic values are not paying off at the grass-roots falsify the services of the champions of Islam.

Look what a picture India's enlightened leader Jawaharlal Nehru portrayed of Islam in his Book: "Glimpses of World History":

"It is very strange that the Arabs who for centuries had lived a sleeping existence apparently cut off from what was happening elsewhere in the world should suddenly wake up and show such tremendous energy and vitality as to startle the world. The story of the Arabs (he should have said of Islam) and how they rapidly spread in Asia, Europe and Africa and of the high culture and civilization that it developed is one of the wonders of history."

Islam is the fulfillment of the promise God made with the
Patriarch Prophet Abraham that He would create a great nation for the guidance and well-being of the whole mankind out of the seed of his elder son Ishmael. That divine act translated in Arabia.

Islam is a live miracle on offer. Any people, anywhere, can clinch it and transform their lives, both in individual capacity and as a larger community. Says the Qur'an: “And among those We have created there are people who guide (others) and act justly in its light.” (7/181-183).

There is widespread ignorance and prejudice prevalent against “Israel” and the whole Jewish community. Here is what the Qur'an says about the children of Israel: “O Children of Israel! Remember those blessings of Mine with which I graced you, and fulfill your covenant with Me; I will fulfill My covenant with you, and of Me. Of Me stand in awe!” (2/40).

The Jews are promised twice the reward compared to the Muslims on accepting Islam, which vouchsafes both their Book: “Torah” and all their prophets. Judaism is a living religion, not with standing the inequities of a large number of Jews. Here is a pertinent verse: “And among the community of Moses there “are” people who guide (others) in the way of the truth and act justly in its light.” (7/159). This verse indicates that God singles out righteous people from the wrongdoing communities.

Let us go to the early Islam at its grass roots. During the Meccan period that lasted 13 years, some converts to Islam suffered severe cruelties. God had caused their suffering with ease. Says the Qur'an: “And behold, every hardship is accompanied with ease: verily, every hardship is accompanied with ease.” (94/7)

The period in Medina started with the application of practical Islam. The faithful were exhorted to spend (out of what God had already given them). And God multiplied every penny by 700-times. Once the faithful soaked up this message and became affluent, came the edict to give up usury. Easy enough!

There were remnants of slave girls and men. Faithful were asked to get the marriageable youth among them into bond of matrimony and fear not of their poverty; God would make them affluent. And God did.

The early Muslims present best examples of God's blessings and bounties showered on them in abundance. There were no cases of rape or sexual harassment because Islam took good care of their urges. Here is an inspiring anecdote of a youth who was recently married. Not able to control his sexual urge in the fasting month, he mated with his bride. Being told that he had violated the sanctity of the fasting month, he presented himself before the Prophet (pbuh). According to the Shariah law he had to observe two months of additional fasting. He showed his inability to do that. Could he, then, feed sixty poor with same tipe of food that he ate? Again a “no”, for he himself was a “miskeen”. He was asked to wait. In the meantime, some camel loads of provisions came to the Prophet (pbuh) for distribution. He was given the required quantity for distribution to the “miskeens”. At his request for its distribution among his community who were all “miskeen”, the Prophet had a grin on his pious face. Giving him a go-ahead, he is reported to have remarked: “How kind and compassionate is God to this man”!

The proposed “Hasba” Bill would have awarded such a “sinner” the punishment according to the Shariah! But wait a while. These enthusiasts and Islamic activists would soon earn the rebuke from the electorates and disappear in obscurity.

There are prayers for all occasions. Take this one: “O Allah make halal sufficient for me over haram and cause me to be affluent out of Your own bounty.” Would a faithful made self-sufficient in his life's needs, go for bribery and corruption?

My father brought me into the embrace of Islam after his own conversion from Hinduism. Do I need professional “moulvis” to teach me the virtues of Islam? No, I could, perhaps, guide them how to reform the society through “Applied” Islam.

(Revised)

Sher Mohammad.
Email: Sher_apr@yahoo.com







Sher Mohammad, Pakistan - 18 August, 2005

Nice Article

A very very nice article, but one thing I will add that Islam also gives us the right to self defence, so don't confuse our tolerance with weakness... For weakness invites aggression and it is the weaknesses of muslims that has led to aggression by west This aggression is not because muslims are violent it is because of their not following Islam and hence becoming weak.

Rizwan Saeed Choudhry, United Arab Emirates - 18 August, 2005

Inhuman Rights in Pakistan

Let us spare Islam from all sorts of inhuman acts. Let us focus on Pakistan and India. Kuldip Nayyar had it in an article published in Pakistan's "Dawn" newspaper that "a Dalit woman is raped in India every five minutes".
We don't call Hindu religion for this. We, in fact, are passing through a transitory period in both countries and are well aware of the priority to address the "honour killing" menace. Please rest assured that this scourge would soon be eradicated, with the aid of Islamic blessings. Laws have been enacted to hang the culprits of such destardly acts. I share with you grief and resentment on the case in question.

Sher Mohammad.

Sher Mohammad, Pakistan - 19 August, 2005

explai our soceity others

wiil do cntempery wiews also

hafrath, Somalia - 22 August, 2005

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