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FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

Reference : Dr Javed Jamil

A Systematic Study of the Holy Qur’an-16

Fundamental Rights

 

Fundamental
Prohibitions


Fundamental Rights form the third dimension of the trio that safeguards the mansion of peace. After having known duties and prohibitions, men, women and children must also recognise their respective rights, as individuals, members of family and members of society. Family, Society and Governing Body also have their respective rights. Weaker sections of society have special rights. Rights are extremely important, as duties and prohibitions without rights would deprive man of his characteristic natural status. The material creatures of God follow only duties and prohibitions; they have hardly any choice in their actions. Atoms, every particle within the atom and all the collections of atoms—molecules to big heavenly bodies including planets and stars, follow the set of natural laws decreed by God at the time of the creation of the Universe. Human beings, in contrast, have discretionary powers, which coupled with intelligence and creativity endow them with the supreme status among all the creatures.  While rights are essential, as they givecolour, life and purpose to human life, duties and prohibitions are mandatory, as they discipline human actions. Without rights, man would become inanimate matter, without duties wild beast, and without prohibitions fiend.

 

‘Human rights’ has been one of the major issues in the world in recent times. We will see later why human rights have become dangerous for the world in many ways, and why Islam’s system of rights is superior. It will be seen that human security rather than human rights should be the real issue if the world has to become an abode of peace for mankind.

 

I) Right to Life

 
Life is sacred. Every human being enjoys the right to live. But Islam does not make it an absolute right the way modernism has tried to make it. The result of the modern approach towards the right to life has resulted in a huge increase in murders and other dangerous crimes like rapes, riots, etc. This right has become a protective jacket for criminals, which saves them from the sword of justice.

 
In Islam, right to life is subject to the condition that it shall be only for those who respect others’ right to live. One who has taken the life of a person, or has indulged in activities that can result in the loss of lives has no right to take refuge in the “right of life”. Every innocent human being has the right to live, and whoever endangers his life has no right to live. This is why if one took the life of a man “it would be”, Quran states, “as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.”

 

 

Quran on “Right to Life”
 

Life sacred

 
Nor take life - which God has made sacred - except for just cause. ( 17: 33 /A)

 

……..take not life, which God hath made sacred... (6: 151/A)

 
..if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. ( 5: 32 /A)

 

Foeticide and killing children big crimes
 

Kill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you. Verily the killing of them is a great sin. ( 17: 31 /A)

 
When news is brought to one of them, of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief! With shame does he hide himself from his people, because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain it on (sufferance and) contempt, or bury it in the dust? Ah! what an evil (choice) they decide on? (16: 58-59/A)

 

II) Right to freedom of conscience
 

Though Islam, like any other ideology, is desirous of the whole mankind entering its fold, it gives every individual freedom of conscience. It bestows upon men and women the right to choose any religion or ideology. Where however Islam is an established system of governance, this freedom of consciousness will be restricted to a certain degree; while one is free to practise any faith one will not be permitted to do anything that would endanger the system. There is nothing weird about it, for all systems safeguard their existence and do not tolerate any direct threat to their basic principles. Democratic, secular, socialist, capitalist---all the systems currently in vogue in different parts of the world have legal provisions against attempts to malign or campaign against the fundamental principles of their constitutions.

 
Islam gives right to criticise and analyse, but not the right to slander, defame or injure the sentiments of any community. Qur’an clearly prohibits Muslims to disrespect gods, figureheads and symbols of other religions and does not tolerate the same for its own symbols and messengers. Sacrilegious remarks against any religion are a work of mischief that can lead to riots causing massive loss of life and property. Persons engaged in such practices -- Muslims or non-Muslims, have to be severely dealt with.

 
Qur’an on “Freedom of Conscience”

 
Let there be no compulsion in religion...(2: 256/A)

 
To you be your Way, and to me mine. (109: 6/A)

 
Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides God, lest they out of spite revile God in their ignorance. Thus have We made alluring to each  people its own doings. In the end will they return to their Lord, and We shall then tell them the truth of all that they did. (6: 108/A)

 
 

III) Right to equality

 

Islam is the regime of equality, which forms the very basis of its social system. First of all, Qur’an points to the biological equality of all human beings by informing them that they are the progeny of the same father, Adam and mother, Eve. All persons living anywhere on the surface of the earth, belonging to any race, nation or tribe, having any colour, size or height, following any custom or consuetude and speaking any dialect, are equal. Then Qur’an declares the fundamental equality of both genders telling mankind that all men and women are the progeny of a man and a woman as well as sons and daughters of their respective fathers and mothers. (The question of the equality of men and women will be discussed in detail later.) Then Qur’an reminds mankind that all human beings are equally privileged as far as natural laws are concerned; all lives are governed by the same set of natural laws. Qur’an then categorically states that all human beings are equal in the eyes of God; He will judge not according to their linkages of various kinds but on the basis of their respective deeds and beliefs. While judging them, He will take into account the conditions, in which they lived and worked. No action, small or big, good or bad will go unaccounted for. The equality in the eyes of God is followed by the equality in the eyes of law. All persons get equal punishment for equal crimes, committed under similar circumstances. All have the right to occupy different positions according to their suitability for those positions. Men and women too get equal punishment for equal crimes.

 

Unlike some religious and cultural systems Islam knows no castes. There are no superiors or inferiors on the basis of their birth. The only thing that counts is deeds of individuals andcircumstances, in which they have been performed. Islam, as will be elaborated later, took practical steps to abolish slavery system.

 
Some people allege that in an Islamic system, non-Muslims cannot hold the position of the Head of State or government. There is nothing weird about it. No non-communist can hold the highest position in a communist country; no declared communal person can head a secular state; and no avowed enemy of democracy can lead a democratic government. Where the majority of the population is not Islamic, Muslims can enter into any form of agreement with other ethnic groups. However, even in an Islamic government, non-Muslims enjoy freedom of conscience, freedom from liability to join the army, and several other privileges; of course, their lives, property and honour are guaranteed in the same way as those of other countrymen. If however there is any special agreement or pact all decisions will be taken in accordance with the same.

 
 

Qur’an on Equality
 

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. (49: 13/A)
 

...stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor... (4: 135/A)
 

 

IV) Right to personal freedom
 
 

Islam gives personal freedom to all human beings, but freedom issubject to fundamental prohibitions. Unlike Socialism, Islam does not unduly curb individual rights; unlike capitalism, it does not allow individuals to fall victim to dangerous habits and practices and the use of these practices by commercial forces for their economic growth.  Every man and woman has the right to live, eat, wear, earn, own property, inherit and bequeath, marry according to their choice, have children and get educated. But all these rights have their corresponding limitations. They have the right to live but not the right to die; the right to wear whatever dress they choose but not the right to be naked in public, the right to eat and drink but not the right to eat forbidden foods and drink forbidden beverages; the right to earn but not through the prohibited trades; and the right to have sex but not outside the limits of a proper marriage.

 

 

Qur’an on Personal freedom

 

Right to eat
 

Say: Who hath forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of God, which He hath produced for His servants, and the things, clean and pure, (which He hath provided) for sustenance? ( 7: 32 /A)
 

The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. (5: 5/A)
 

Right to marry
 

Marry those among you who are single, or the virtuous ones among yourselves, male or female. (24: 32/A)

 
(Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time,- when ye give them their due dowers, and desire chastity, not lewdness...(5: 5/A)
 

……Marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess..(4: 3/A)

 

Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women, even if it is your ardent desire: But turn not away (from a woman) altogether, so as to leave her (as it were) hanging (in the air).  (4: 129/A)

 
…there may be no difficulty to the Believers in (the matter of) marriage with the wives of their     adopted sons, when the latter have dissolved with the necessary (formality) (their marriage) with them. (33: 37/A)
 

When there come to you believing women refugees, examine (and test) them: God knows best as to their Faith: if ye ascertain that they are Believers, then send them not back to the Unbelievers. They are not lawful (wives) for the Unbelievers, nor are the (Unbelievers) lawful (husbands) for them. But pay the Unbelievers what they have spent (on their dower), and there will be no blame on you if ye marry them on payment of their dower to them. (60: 10/A)
 

Right to earn
 

God hath permitted trade and forbidden usury. (2: 275/A)
 

It is no crime in you if ye seek of the bounty of your Lord (during pilgrimage). (2: 198/A)
 

And when the Prayer is finished, then may ye disperse through the land, and seek of the Bounty of God. (62: 10/A) 

 

Right to inherit and bequeath

 
From what is left by parents and those nearest related there is a share for men and a share for women, whether the property be small or large,-a determinate share. (4: 7/A)

 
It is prescribed, when death approaches any of you, if he leave any goods that he make a bequest to parents and next of kin, according to reasonable usage...(2: 180/A)

 
V) Right to consultation

 
All men and women have the right to express their views in speech, writing, art or opinion, in an assembly, referendum or election. They have the right to be consulted in the collective affairs including the affairs of the state. All these rights are subject however to Fundamental Prohibitions; expression of views or any artful expression has to be within the parameters of Islamic constitution. Any action or writing that involves or promotes the prohibited practices cannot be acceptable. Society cannot be allowed to become victim of the pervert or corrupting views or expressions in any form in the name of “freedom of expression”.

 
Apart from them, people are free to give advice to the government, to express their dissent on any decision, to vote the ruler out of power in whatever way the law of the land permits it and to engage in healthy cultural activities and entertainment. Political system of Islam will be dealt in detail later.

 
Quran on Right to Expression
 

....consult them in affairs (of moment). (3: 159/Z)
 

 

VI) Right to form association

 
People have the right to form associations for any lawful activities. Establishment of organisations for the promotion of desirable activities including welfare programmes and for the campaigning against undesirable activities is surely a virtuous exercise, which should be given all the support by the government and society. This would cover the formation of political or semi-political groups, but all these groups have to work within the parameters of Islamic constitution. Any party, group or organisation working against the interests of the system of Islam cannot be allowed to function. Absolute freedom is an invitation to chaos, exploitation and crimes; if this absolute freedom is misused in an organised way it spells doom for the land; only forces of evil and businessmen prosper.

 
Quran on “Right to form Association

 
Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity. (3: 104/A)

 


VII) Right to retaliation

 

Islam promulgates the Law of equality, which does not only meanequal punishments for equal crimes in similar circumstances, but also punishments equal to crimes. Every person has the right to seekequal retaliation for any kind of injury committed against him. He cannot however seek a punishment beyond the severity of the crime. Though Qur’an allows an injured party to seek equal retaliation, it exhortsforgiveness.

 
The law of equality is not to be applied only to members of society within the boundaries of a country but also to disputes between different countries. World organisations must be founded on the principle of equal punishment for equal crimes whoever the culprit or victim. While the world powers harangue big lectures on democracy, democracy is absent within the international organisations including UN. There cannot be any room for veto power in a truly democratic world.

 
Qur’an on Right to Retaliation

 
O ye who believe! the law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder. (2: 178/A)

 
In the Law of Equality there is (saving of) Life to you, o ye men of understanding; that ye may restrain yourselves. (2: 179/A)

 

We ordained therein for them: “Life for life, eye for eye, nose or nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal.” ( 5: 45 /A)

 

If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress ye likewise against him. (2: 194/A)

 

Forgiving encouraged

 

But if any one remits the retaliation by way of charity, it is an act of atonement for himself. ( 5: 45 /A)

 

O ye who believe! the law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder. (2: 178/A)

 
In the Law of Equality there is (saving of) Life to you, o ye men of understanding; that ye may restrain yourselves. (2: 179/A)

 

We ordained therein for them: “Life for life, eye for eye, nose or nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal.” ( 5: 45 /A)

 
If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress ye likewise against him. (2: 194/A)

 
But if any one remits the retaliation by way of charity, it is an act of atonement for himself. ( 5: 45 /A)

 

 
VIII) Rights of weaker sections

           

See rights of women—rights in marriage, divorce ,inheritance, direct and indirect attack on  modesty, and other weaker sections in the chapter  relating to CIVIL LAWS and CRIMINAL LAWS, and also in the chapter, “Social System”.

 

 


 

SERIES: A Systematic Study of the Holy Qur'an

 

CONTENTS

  

PART I: FAITH

 

 

 

PART II: PHILOSOPHY

 

 

PART III: CONSTITUTION

 

 

PART IV: THE SYSTEM

 

 

PART V: THE HISTORY OF CONFRONTATION

 

Last Word: The Final Document of Peace

 


 

 

 

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