The Divine Charter of Human Rights
Updated: Sep 19, 2021
" To deny Human rights to any human being is to deny God and blaspheme against him."
Justice is the essence of faith in an Almighty God, and Humans Rights are its pillars. Without preserving human rights, justice is shallow and hollow. Human rights are eternal and unchangeable. Human rights are not what humans give to each other but what a higher authority bestows on all. Humans will always act based on their ideology, faith, race, ethnicity, politics, geography, and culture. Only the creator of all ensures the rights of all. Every religion has its charter of such rights, and Islam preserves the human rights in the Quran, a divinely revealed book. Whether Muslims understood or followed these rights is a different story. If we use the following rights as explained in the Quran to evaluate fifty-six Muslim majority countries and hundreds and thousands of Muslim communities and organizations, we would hardly find any that practices them in its real sense. Let us look at these rights.
The Right to Life
It is as evident as the sun and the moon. God gives life, and he ordains his believers to respect and preserve life.
"Because of this did We ordain unto the children of Israel that if anyone slays a human being, unless it is [for punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption on earth, it shall be as though he killed all humankind. Whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved all humankind's lives. And, indeed, there came unto them Our apostles with all evidence of the truth: yet, behold, notwithstanding all this, many of them go on committing all manner of excesses on earth." (The Quran, 5:32)
"Slay not the life which God has made holy unless it is in the cause of justice. Whoever, wrongly slain, We have given the power to his near kin, but let him not indulge in excess. He (the near kin) will certainly find help (to seek redress)" (17:33)
"Those who do not associate any other deity with God, nor slay life which God has made sacrosanct unless it is in the course of justice …" (25:68).
The Right to Religious Freedom
Religious freedom is an article of faith and free will.
"And say: "The truth [has now come] from your Sustainer: let, then, him who wills, believe in it, and let him who wills, reject it." Verily, we have readied a fire for all who sin against themselves [by rejecting Our truth]. The billowing folds of fire will encompass them from all sides, and if they beg for water, they will have water [hot] like molten lead, which will scald their faces: how dreadful a drink, and how evil a place to rest!" (18:29)
"And [thus it is:] had thy Sustainer so willed, all those who live on earth would indeed have attained to faith, all of them: dost thou, then, think that thou couldst compel people to believe. (10:99)
"And say unto those who will not believe: "Do anything that may be within your power, [while] we, behold, shall labor [in God's way];" (21:11)
"THERE SHALL BE no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from [the way of] error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of a support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all-knowing." (2:256)
"Unto you, your moral law, and unto me, mine." (106:6)
The Right to Dignity
Everything created by God deserves dignity. Therefore, human beings, being the best of His creations, must live in dignity.
Now, Indeed, we have conferred dignity on Adam's children, borne them over land and sea, and provided for them sustenance out of the good things of life, and favored them far above most of Our creation. (17:70)
The Right to Gender Equality
Men and women are God's creations complimenting each other, and none is superior to others. They have different roles in society within the framework of equality.
"O MANKIND! Be conscious of your Sustainer, who has created you out of one living entity, and out of it made its mate, and out of the two spread abroad a multitude of men and women. And remain conscious of God, in whose name you demand [your rights] from one another, and of these kinship ties. Verily, God is ever watchful over you!" (4:1)
"O, people! Behold, We have created from a male and a female and have made you into nations and tribes. We did this to help you know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in God's sight is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all aware." (49;13)
"Indeed, there are Muslim men and Muslim women and the believing men and believing women. There are obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women. the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so - for them, Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward." (33:35)
"And thus does their Sustainer answer their prayer: "I shall not lose sight of the labor of any of you who labors [in My way], be it man or woman: each of you is an issue of the other. Some forsake the evil domain, are forced out from their homelands, suffer hurt in My cause, fight [for it], and are killed. I shall most certainly efface their bad deeds, and shall most certainly bring them into gardens through which running waters flow, as a reward from God: for with God is the most beauteous of rewards." (3:195)
The Rights of Religious Minorities and Other Groups
Islam declares that there is no "other," as all human beings are God's creation. Their rights as equal to the rights of Muslims. Their protection is the essential obligation of the state and society.
"Proclaim: "This is the truth from your Lord," then whoever wants let him believe, and whoever desires, let him disbelieve." (18:29)
"Do you know who rejects the faith? That is the one who mistreats the orphans. And does not advocate the feeding of the poor. And woe to those who observe the contact prayers (Salat) - who are heedless of their prayers. They only show off. And they forbid charity." (107:1-7)
The Right to Freedom and from Slavery
Slavery is wrong. No human must own another human, and everyone is free. God does not create free or slave people, and mothers do not give birth to slaves.
It is not conceivable that a human being unto whom God had granted revelation, and sound judgment, and prophethood, should say to people. "Worship me besides God,"; but rather [did he tells them], "Become men of God by spreading the knowledge of the divine writ, and by your deep study [thereof]." (3:78)
The Right to Justice
Justice is the essence of faith. The universe is a manifestation of perfect justice. Therefore, Islam commands its followers to keep justice consistently above one's interests.
"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 the hatred of anyone lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. To be fair, this is closest to being God-conscious. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do." (5:8)
"BEHOLD, God enjoins justice, and the doing of sound, and generosity towards [one's] fellow-men; and He forbids all that is shameful and all that runs counter to reason, as well as envy; [and] He exhorts you [repeatedly] so that you might bear [all this] in mind." (16:90)
The Right to Labor
Every human being has a right to earn one's sustenance. Therefore, the state and society must guarantee opportunities to preserve it.
"Every human being will be repaid in full for whatever [good or evil] he has done: and He is fully aware of all that they do." (39:70)
"And that man is accountable for but what he is striving for." (53:39)
The Right to Sustenance
Sustenance is every human's Right, whether young or old, whether working or unemployed or physically fit or physically challenged.
"And there is no living creature on earth but depends for its sustenance on God, and He knows its time-limit [on earth], and its resting-place [after death]: [His] explicit decree has all written down." (11:6)
The Right to Protection of Wealth and Property
The state and society must ensure the security of personal wealth and property and social wealth and property.
"O YOU who have attained to faith! Do not devour one another's possessions wrongfully - not even by way of trade based on mutual agreement - and do not destroy one another: for, behold, God is indeed a dispenser of grace unto you!" (4:29)
The Right to Protection of Residence or Home
It is the responsibility of the state and society to protect the personal property of individuals.
"And lo! We accepted your solemn pledge that you would not shed one another's blood and would not drive one another from your homelands - after that, you acknowledged it, and to it, you bear witness [even now]."(2:83)
"And yet, it is you who slay one another and drive some of your people from their homelands, aiding one another against them in sin and hatred; but if they come to you as captives, you ransom them - although the very [act of] driving them away has been made unlawful to you!. Do you, then, believe in some parts of the divine writ and deny the truth of other parts? What, then, could be the reward of those among you who do such things but disgrace in this world's life and, on the Day of Resurrection, commitment to most grievous suffering? God is not unmindful of what you do." (2:85)
The Right to Have a Status
Contribution to society should be the foundation to build a hierarchy of people. No one by their birth claims privileges. It is their action that gives them a position in society.
"For, [in the life to come,] all shall have their degrees following whatever [good or evil] they did: and so, He will repay them in full for their doings, and God shall wrong none." (46:19)
The Right to Choose One's Spouses
The Right to form a family with both the spouses' consent is essential, and Islam ensures that both have the free will to have the union.
"O YOU who have attained to faith! It is not lawful for you to [try to] become heirs to your wives [by holding onto them] against their will. Neither shall you keep them under constraint to take away anything of what you may have given them unless they have become guilty of immoral conduct in a conspicuous manner. And consort with your wives in a goodly way, for if you dislike them, it may well be that you dislike something which God might yet make a source of abundant good." (4:19)
The Right to Preserve Cultural Autonomy
Culture is an essential ingredient of human existence. Cultural freedom is a matter of self-respect, and Islam protects it.
"Say: "Who forbids the beauty which God brings forth for His creation. and the good things from among the means of sustenance?" Say: "They are [lawful] in the life of this world unto all who have attained to faith - to be theirs alone on Resurrection Day." Thus clearly do We spell out these messages unto people of [innate] knowledge!." (7:32)
The Right to Respect of One's Belief
Everyone's belief system deserves respect and tolerance. Believers in God do not humiliate or ridicule others.
"But do not revile those [beings] whom they invoke instead of God. Lest they revile God out of spite and in ignorance. (God) makes their doings appear good unto every community In time, [however,] unto their Sustainer they must return: and then He will make them [truly] understand all that they were doing." (6:108)
The Right to Speak the Truth
People cannot force others to hide the truth or deny the fact.
"O YOU who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your selves or your parents and kinsfolk. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, God's claim takes precedence over [the claims of] either. Do not, then, follow your desires, lest you swerve from justice: for if you distort [the truth], behold, God, is indeed aware of all that you do!" (4:135)
"O YOU who have attained to faith! Whenever you give or take credit for a stated term, set it down in writing. And let a scribe write it down equitably between you, and no scribe shall refuse to write as God has taught him: thus shall he note. And let him who contracts the debt dictate; let him be conscious of God, his Sustainer, and not weaken anything of his undertaking. And if he who acquires the debt is weak of mind or body, or cannot dictate himself, then let him who watches over his interests dictate equitably. And call upon two of your men to act as witnesses; if two men are not available, then a man and two women from among such as are acceptable to you as witnesses, so that if one of them should make a mistake, the other could remind her. And the witnesses must not refuse [to give evidence] whenever someone asks them to do. And be not reluctant to write down every contractual provision, be it small or significant, together with the time it falls due. It is more equitable in God's sight, more reliable as evidence, and more likely to prevent you from having doubts [later]. If, however, [the transaction] concerns ready merchandise you transfer directly to one another, you will incur no sin if you do not write it down. And have witnesses whenever you trade with one another, but neither scribe nor witness must suffer harm; for if you do [them harm], behold, it will be sinful conduct on your part. And remain conscious of God, since it is God who teaches you [herewith] - and God has full knowledge of everything." (2:282)
The Right to Petition Against the Wrong
Islam guarantees the Right to seek justice and redressal the wrong done.
"God does not like anyone to mention evil openly unless it is by him who has been wronged (thereby) And God is indeed all-hearing, all-knowing." (4:148)
The Right to Privacy
Privacy is the Right of every individual, and the state and society must guarantee it.
"O you who have attained to faith! Avoid most guesswork [about one another]. Remember, some of [such] guesswork is [in itself] a sin. Do not spy upon one another, and neither allow yourself to speak ill of one another behind your backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, you would loathe it! And be conscious of God. Verily, God is an acceptor of repentance, a dispenser of grace!" (49:12)
"[ALL OF YOU, O believers, are brethren: hence.] no blame attaches to the blind, nor does blame attach to the lame, nor does responsibility attach to the sick [for accepting charity from the hale], and neither to yourselves for eating [whatever is offered to you by others, whether it be food obtained] from your [children's] houses, or your fathers' houses, or your mothers' houses, or your brothers' houses, or your sisters' houses, or your paternal uncles' houses, or your paternal aunts' houses, or your maternal uncles' houses, or your maternal aunts' houses, or [houses] the keys of which are in your charge! Or [the place] of any of your friends. You will not incur any sin by eating in the company or separately. But whenever you enter [any of these] houses, greet one another with a blessed, goodly greeting, as ordained by God. In this way, God makes clear unto you His messages, so that you might [learn to] use your reason." (24:61)
The Right to Peace
Peace is the ultimate goal of faith in this life and the life hereafter.
"[For although] We did say, "Down with you all from this [state]," there shall, none the less, most certainly come unto you guidance from Me: and those who follow My advice need have no fear, and neither shall they AND [know that] God invites [man] unto the abode of peace, and guides him that wills [to be guided] onto a straight way "(10:25)