Human Rights in the Qur’an (Part Two) By:- Dr. Riffat Hassan

Human Rights in the Qur'an Part TwoGiven the centrality of the Qur'an in the lives of the majority of more than one billion Muslims worldwide, the critical question is,"What, if there's anything, does the Qur'an say about human rights?"In Part One, we discussed the rights of life, respect, and justice. This part continues the discussion on human rights in the Qur'an.

Right to Freedom

Islam is deeply concerned about liberating human beings from any kind of bondage. Almighty Allah is Aware of the human tendency toward dictatorship and despotism. Thus, in the Glorious Qur'an, He says,

(It is not (possible) for any human being that Allah should give him the Book and wisdom and prophethood and then he should say to humankind, "Be my servants rather than Allah's," but (he would say), "Be you faithful servants of the Lord by virtue of your constant teaching of the Book and of your constant studying thereof.")(Aal`Imran3:79)

The institution of human slavery is of course extremely important in the context of human freedom. Slavery was widely prevalent in Arabia at the time of the advent of Islam, and the Arab economy was based on it. Not only did the Qur'an insist that slaves should be treated in a just and humane way but also it continually urged the freeing of slaves.

In the context of treating slaves humanely, Almighty Allah says,

(And serve Allah. Ascribe nothing as partner unto Him. (Show) kindness unto parents, and unto near kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and into the neighbor who is of kin (unto you) and the neighbor who is not of kin and the fellow traveller and the wayfarer and (the slaves) whom your right hands possess. Lo! Allah loveth not such as are proud and boastful.)(An-Nisaa' 4:36)

By enjoining Muslims to free the prisoners of war (either by an act of grace or in return for a ransom), the Qur'an virtually abolished slavery, as most slaves were prisoners of war.

(And afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens.)(Muhammad 47:4)

In fact, the Qur'an does not explicitly state that slavery is to be abolished. However, it does not follow that it is to be continued, particularly in view of the numerous ways in which the Qur'an seeks to eliminate this absolute evil. A book that does not give a king or a prophet the right to command absolute obedience from another human could not possibly sanction slavery in any sense of the word.

The greatest guarantee of personal freedom for a Muslim lies in the Qur'anic decree that no one other than Allah can limit human freedom.

(Or have they partners (of Allah) who have made lawful for them in religion that which Allah allowed not?)(Ash-Shura 42:21).

This guarantee also lies in the following statement:

(Judgment rests with Allah alone.)(Yusuf12:40).

As the principle of shura (mutual consultation) is mandatory,

(And those who answer the call of their Lord and establish worship, and whose affairs are a matter of counsel, and who spend of what We have bestowed on them.)(Ash-Shura 42:38),

It is a Muslim's fundamental right, as well as responsibility, to participate in as many aspects of the community's life as possible.

The Qur'anic proclamation that,(Thereis no compulsion in religion)(Al-Baqarah2:256), guarantees freedom of religion and worship. This means that, according to the Qur'anic teachings, non-Muslims living in Muslim territories should have the freedom to follow their own religious beliefs and traditions without intimidation or harassment.

A number of Qur'anic verses clearly state that the responsibility of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was to convey the message of Allah, not to compel anyone to believe in it. The right to exercise free choice in matters of belief is unambiguously endorsed in the Qur'an.

(And say, "(It is) the truth from the Lord of you (all)," so let those who please believe, and let those who please disbelieve.)(Al-Kahf 18:29)

In the Qur'an, the right to religious freedom is recognized, not only in the case of other believers in Allah, but also in the case of unbelievers in Allah (if they are not aggressive toward Muslims).

(And do not revile those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they wrongfully revile Allah out of ignorance. Thus unto every people have We made their deeds seem fair; then to their Lord shall be their return, so He will inform them of what they did.)(Al-An`am6:108)

This right to freedom includes the right to be free to tell the truth. The Qur'anic term for truth is haqq, which is also one of Allah's attributes. Standing up for the truth is a right and a responsibility that a Muslim may not disclaim even in the face of the greatest danger or difficulty.

(O you who believe ! Be you staunch in justice, witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or (your) parents or (your) kindred, whether (the case be of) a rich man or a poor man, for Allah is nearer unto both (than you are). So follow not passion lest you lapse ( from truth) and if you lapse or fall away, then lo! Allah is ever Informed of what you do. )(An-Nisaa' 4:135).

While the Qur'an commands believers to testify to the truth, it also instructs society not to harm those testifying to it.

(And have witnesses when you sell one to another, and let no harm be done to scribe or witness. If yoy do (harm to them) lo! it is a sin in you. )(Al-Baqarah 2:282)

Right to Privacy

The need for privacy as a human right is recognized in the Qur'an. The Qur'an also lays down rules for protecting an individual's life at home from undue intrusion from within or without. 

 (O you who believe! Enter not houses other than your own without first   announcing your presence and invoking peace upon the folk thereof. That is better for you, that you may be heedful.) (An-Nur 24:27)

In this verse Almighty Allah directs the Muslims to high politeness by ordering them not enter other people's houses directly without a permission to keep and respect their privacy.Moreover, Islam considers the privacy among the members of the same house.

Almighty Allah says,

(O you who believe! Let your slaves, and those of you who have not come to puberty, ask leave of you at three times (before they come into your presence): Before the prayer of dawn, and when you lay aside your raiment for the heat of noon, and after the prayer of night. Three times of privacy for you. It is no sin for them or for you at other times, when some of you go round attendant upon others (if they come into your presence without leave). Thus Allah maketh clear the revelations for you. Allah is Knower, Wise.And when the children among you come to puberty then let them ask leave even as those before them used to ask it. Thus Allah maketh clear His revelations for you. Allah is knower, Wise.) (An-Nur 24:58-59)

In these two verses Almighty Allah orders the movements of the house members inside the house as a respect of each one's privacy.

Right to Protection From Slander, Backbite, and Ridicule

In the Qur'an, the right to protection from defamation, sarcasm, offensive nicknames, and backbite is also recognized,

(O you who believe! Let not a folk deride a folk who may be better than they (are), nor let women (deride) women who may be better than they are; neither defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. Bad is the name of lewdness after faith. And whoso turneth not in repentance, such are evil doers. O you who believe! Shun much suspicion; for lo! some suspicion is a crime. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You abhor that (so abhor the other)! And keep your duty (to Allah). Lo! Allah is Relenting, Merciful. )(Al-Hujurat 49:11–12)

The Qur'an also states that no person is to be maligned on grounds of assumed guilt. It warns that those who engage in malicious scandal-mongering will be grievously punished in both this world and the next. Almighty Allah says,

(When ye welcomed it with your tongues, and uttered with your mouths that whereof ye had no knowledge, ye counted it a trifle. In the sight of Allah it is very great. Wherefore, when ye heard it, said ye not: It is not for us to speak of this. Glory be to Thee (O Allah) ; This is awful calumny. Allah admonisheth you that ye repeat not the like thereof ever, if ye are (in truth) believers. And He expoundeth unto you His revelations. Allah is knower, Wise. Lo! those who love that slander should be spread concerning those who believe, theirs will be a painful punishment in the world and the Hereafter. Allah knoweth. Ye know not. )(An-Nur 24:15–19)

Almighty Allah urges throughout that human beings should treat one another with sensitivity and compassion,

(Allah does not love the public utterance of hurtful speech unless (it be) by one to whom injustice has been done, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing. If you do good openly or do it in secret or pardon an evil, then surely Allah is Pardoning, Powerful.)(An-Nisaa' 4:148–149)

Right to Acquiring Knowledge

The Qur'an puts great emphasis on the importance of acquiring knowledge. Knowledge has been at the core of the Islamic world view from the very beginning. The following verses were the first revelation to be received by the Prophet:

(Read in the name of your Lord, Who created.He created man from a clot.Read and your Lord is Most Honorable. He Who taught (to write) with the pen — taught man what he knew not.)(Al-`Alaq 96:1–5)

The following verse is asking rhetorically if those with knowledge can be equal to those without knowledge,

(Say, "Are those who know and those who do not know alike? Only those of understanding are mindful.)(Az-Zumar39:9)

Almighty Allah exhorts believers to pray for advancement in knowledge,

(…and say: My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.)(Ta-Ha 20:114).

According to the Qur'anic perspective, knowledge is a prerequisite for the creation of a just world in which authentic peace can prevail. The Qur'an emphasizes the importance of the pursuit of learning, even at the time, and in the midst, of war. Almighty Allah says,

(And the believers should not go out to fight all together. Of every troop of them, only a party should go forth that they (who are left behind) may gain sound knowledge in religion and that they may warn their folk when they return to them, so that they may beware.)(At-Tawbah 9:122)

Source : http://www.onislam.net

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