اللهِ الرَّحْمـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
RIGHTS AND ISLAM
IFTIKHAR AYAZ, O.B.E.
at 10.10 hours on
Naziri-Ala and Amir Jamaat Ahmadiyya Bharat, Respected Amir Sahib Jamaat
Ahmadiyya Mauritius,Respected Missionary in charge sahib, Mauritius Distinguished
Guests/ Delegates and My Dear Brothers and Sisters.
I am very pleased
and honoured to speak to you today on the subject of “Human Rights and Islam”
and I extend to you all the greetings, Assalamo Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa
barakatohu which say: ‘May you all live in peace, may you go on enjoying
the mercy and infinite blessings of God Almighty.’
which we exchange daily with each other, and which we are enjoined by the Holy
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to extend to all
Muslims, friends and strangers, contain the very essence of the teachings of
Islam, which means nothing but the unqualified submission to the Will of God
Almighty and peace for all.
immemorial, man has, at the hand of man, been suffering all kinds of miseries
and cruelties; his rights have been violated; he has become alienated from his
Today, most of the
evils humanity is confronted with are rooted in the violation and deprivation
of human rights. No doubt in the dark corridors of history, we hear echoes
reverberating protest against human sufferings and exploitation. No doubt in these
very corridors sometimes we also see a chink of light of hope for man in the
form of Charters, such as Magna Carta, English Petition of Rights, The
Virginian Declaration of Rights, American Bill of Rights and so on and so
forth. However, when we critically look at these various documents, we are a
bit disappointed. We soon realise that they are not after all what humanity
expected them to be. They disappoint not so much in what they say, but in what
they leave out to say. They give no redeeming hope to man, or offer any source
of perennial light for humanity. They, if not in their letter, at least in
their spirit and the way in which they were composed, and have been understood,
interpreted and applied, epitomise the Orwellian formula:
‘All are equal but
some are more equal than others.’
Animal Form – Penguin Classic, by G. Orwell).
As far as the U.N.O's
Charter of Human Rights is concerned, by and large its value remains academic,
in that it is a testimony to a very important historical fact; namely, that
over the centuries man's conception of human rights has gradually evolved to
reach a stage where it could be documented in such detail as we find in the U.N.
Charter and subsequent Declarations.
personally have been associated with the U.N. Human Rights organisations for the
past seventeen years and can vouchsafe that in spite of the Charter, the world
situation with regard to Human Rights has not changed much since its inception.
If anything, it has worsened in many respects as we witness today. The means of
subjecting man to all kinds of exploitation and suffering have become more
sophisticated and its ways more subtle. Might has become mightier, and the
right has become correspondingly weaker. The hypocrisy, the apathy, the
selfishness, the arrogance of those who presume to be the spokesmen of human
rights and who regard themselves as their custodians, have bred international
terrorism, militancy, religious fundamentalism and all kinds of psychopathic
violence. We all live under the constant shadow of terror. Man has turned
against man, as he never did in the past.
With that in mind
and in the world of today, the repeated association between Islam, terrorism
and human rights abuses, I have the honour to speak on this topic, for Islam truly
offers the light, the hope, and the justice and peace for all, without any
distinction or discrimination.
When we make a
comparative study of Human Rights as prescribed by Islam and those found
elsewhere, we are at once impressed by three facts:
Firstly, for Islam
the question of Human Rights is part of a much wider question of rights of all
creation of God, and for that matter the Rights of the Creator Himself. We
cannot separate the question of Human Rights from the question of, say, the
rights of animals. If we do so the very rationale of Human Rights would
kinds of rights as prescribed by Islam derive their significance from the moral
and spiritual values of Islam in which they are firmly embedded and on which
they are founded. These values are, in turn, based on the concept of the unity
of God. No other view of rights has ever been able to provide such secure
foundations for them. The assumptions and the principles on which secular
doctrines base the concept of rights are, on examination, found to be either outright
untenable or inadequate and flimsy.
deals with all kinds of rights, including human rights, in such profound depth
and in such wide range that no secular view has ever been able to cover them in
such depth and in such range.
To expand on, and
elaborate all these points, doing full justice to the subject is not possible
in the short time available. So I shall be selective and brief in my humble
presentation, hoping that I shall, in this short time, be able to do at least
some justice to the subject.
In Surah Rahman
(Ch. 55) verse 10 of the Holy Quran, God Almighty says:
اَقِيْمُوْا الْوَزْنَ بِالْقِسْطِ وَلَا تُخْسِرُوْا الْمِيْزَانَ
‘Weigh all things with justice and fall not
short of the measure.’
is, God has set up the measure and balance so that order and harmony pervade
and govern the entire Universe. It is the right of every creation of God that
its order and balance should at no cost be disturbed. We are enjoined to weigh
all things with justice and not to fall short of the measure.
‘Justice’ - the very principle and basis of all rights - is inexorably joined
with measure, balance and order of the Universe. The fabric of rights surrounds
the entire Universe and is bound up with God-created order, harmony and measure
of the Universe; Violate rights in one area and you not only violate rights in
other areas but also disturb the balance and order of the Universe.
there is an all-comprehensive harmony in the whole Universe, man, the crown and
the object of creation, is enjoined to maintain a just balance in everything
and treat with equity and justice his fellow beings, giving everyone his due,
and to avoid extremes and discharge his duties to his Creator and His
the Islamic view of human rights is pivoted on the overall view of justice, harmony
and order in the Universe. This is one foundation on which the entire edifice
of Human Rights is built. The other foundation of this edifice is the moral and
spiritual values of Islam.
field of Islamic moral and spiritual values is vast. All other Islamic values,
civic, political, social and economic, are determined by these.
this fabric of values is based on certain fundamental principles.
we grasp these principles we can have an idea of Islamic values. However, within
the time available, I can just discuss two of them here.
first principle can be derived from the following verse of the Holy Quran:
يٰۤاَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اِنَّا خَلَقْنٰكُمْ مِّنْ ذَكَرٍ وَّاُنْثٰى
شُعُوْبًا وَّقَبَآٮِٕلَ لِتَعَارَفُوْا اِنَّ
اَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللّٰهِ اَتْقٰٮكُمْ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ عَلِيْمٌ
‘O mankind, We have created you from a
male and a female; and We have made you into
and sub-tribes that you may recognise one
Verily, the most honourable among you,
in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most
righteous among you. Surely,
Allah is All-knowing, All-Aware.’ (49:14)
verse reminds us of the fact that as our Creator is One and we are created by
Him from a single soul, no discrimination and injustice can have any place or
justification in human society. The verse emphatically and unequivocally asserts
the principle of human fraternity and equality and calls upon us all to be
righteous and God-fearing. It lays an axe at the false and foolish notions of
superiority, born of racial arrogance or national conceit. The worth of man is
to be judged only by his moral greatness and by the way he discharges his obligations
to God and His creation.
entire human race is but one family. Divisions into tribes, nations and races
are meant only to give them better knowledge of one another's national
characteristics and good qualities. At the occasion of the last pilgrimage at
Mecca, a short time before his death, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (may peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him), addressing a vast concourse of Muslims, said;
“O Ye Men! Your God is One and your ancestor is
one. An Arab possesses no superiority on a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab over an
Arab; A white is in no way superior to a black or a red, nor, for that matter,
a red or a black to a white, but only to the extent to which he discharges his
duty to God and man. The most honoured among you in the Sight of God is the
most righteous among you.” (Bukhari)
second principle is contained in Verse 91 of Chapter 16 (Al-Nahl) of the
اِنَّ اللّٰهَ يَاْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْاِحْسَانِ وَاِيْتَآىِٕ
الْقُرْبَىٰ و يَنْهٰىَعَنِ الْفَحْشَآءِ وَالْ مُنْكَرِ
يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُوْنَ
‘Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of
others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency,
and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. He
admonishes you that you may take heed.’ (16:91)
As far as
the moral and spiritual life of man is concerned, this is the most
comprehensive and all-embracing verse. It contains three commandments and
injunction of the verse is doing justice (‘Adl’) to others. Strict justice demands
that a person should treat others as they treat him. In its wider meaning,
justice demands that everyone and everything should be given his and its due.
From this, it follows that rights of everyone and everything should be
injunction of the verse is doing goodness (‘Ehsan’) to others, which is a
higher stage than that of justice. At this stage man goes beyond justice and
does good to others regardless of what sort of treatment he receives from
them. The qualities of forgiveness, charity, the giving of alms, social
services etc. all fall under this category. The promotion and patronage of
knowledge also are included in this head because it has for its objects the
material and spiritual well-being of man.
The last and
the highest stage of moral development of man is giving like kindred (‘Eeta-i-zil
qurba’). At this stage, man is expected to do good to others not in return
for any good received from them, nor with the idea of doing more good than
the good received, but as good as is done to very near blood relations. A
man's condition at this stage resembles that of a mother who is kind to her
children and does good to them, out of natural love, not hoping for any
return or appreciation of her actions. Her actions spring from the natural
foundation of love, which God has implanted in her nature. At this stage the
moral development of man becomes complete.
part of the verse contains three prohibitions, which are explained by three
Arabic words- ‘Fahsha`a’ (indecency), ‘Munker’ (manifest evil),
and ‘bughyun’ (wrongful transgression).
covers all those vices which only affect the individual who indulges in those
vices, for they are confined to his or her personal affairs and private life;
manifest evil covers those vices which affect others; wrongful transgression
covers all those vices which adversely affect the government of a country as
well as harm society in general.
the message is: Do not do any evil which harms you personally, nor do any
evil which harms others, nor do any evil which is detrimental to the
interests of State and egregiously injurious to society in general. These
three simple words cover all conceivable vices.
discussed only two of those principles on which Islamic moral and spiritual
values are based. And it is, as I have said, these values which give true
significance to Human Rights and, being their foundation, make them
indefeasible and inviolate, not just in words and as a matter of slogan, but
as a matter of fact.
remained in place and were never violated as long as Muslims understood the
teachings of Islam and remained faithful in following to the best of their
ability, the Holy Quran and precepts and the excellent moral example of the
Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his Caliphs. It
was only with the general decadence of Muslims that the Islamic values were
forgotten, nay, sometimes trampled over. However, with the advent of the
Promised Messiah, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya
Community in Islam, and the revival of the divine Institution of Khilafat, these
moral and spiritual Islamic values are being revived and practised faithfully.
of the Ahmadiyya Community, under the divinely guided wisdom of Khalifatul
Masih, the Head of the Ahmadiyya Community, are constantly preoccupied with
expending all resources, spiritual, human and material, in appeasing the
suffering of humanity. In this respect, the Community’s Satellite Television
Station, MTA (Muslim Television Ahmadiyya), the website Al-Islam and Humanity
First are playing a major role.
The World Human
Rights organisations have divided Human Rights into various categories. But
the fact remains that all these categories taken together fail to cover the
wide spectrum of Human Rights as prescribed by Islam; Hence in the discussion
of Islamic concept of Human Rights, it would not be justifiable to stick to
the generally recognised classifications of Human Rights. However, for the
sake of simplicity, I shall divide the Islamic scale of Human Rights into two
parts: the part that covers general rights of man and the part that covers
particular rights. By general Rights of Man, I mean those rights that Islam gives
to each and every individual in virtue of the fact that he or she is a human
being as, for example, the Rights of freedom of thought and expression. By
particular rights I mean those rights which Islam gives to an individual,
over and above his or her general rights, in virtue of gender as well as in
virtue of his or her role or station in society – the role and station being
determined by kinship as well as civic, social, economic, political and other
realities of society. Islam acknowledges these realities but regards
exploitation on their basis as sinful and by giving these particular rights
to various social groups safeguards their interests.
each and every human being is given general as well as particular rights, the
latter being a distinctive feature of Islam.
Some of the
General Rights include the Right to Life and Security of a person, Property, Protection
of Honour, Personal Freedom, Equality,
Conscience, Freedom of Thought and Expression, basic survival needs, Freedom
of Work, Justice, Education, the Right to have a Family, Privacy and Medicare.
Some of the
Particular Rights include the Rights of Women, Men, Children,
Parents, the Mutual Rights of Husband and Wife, the Rights of Orphans, Relatives,
Neighbours, Wayfarers, Sick and disabled, the Rights of Guests, Hosts, Prisoners
of War, Labourers and Minorities.
Rights in Islam and the Particular Rights are based on certain fundamental
Islamic Principles. They are God-given and do not derive their significance
from human wisdom alone. Hence their sanctity, indefeasibility and
and foremost of these is the Right of Life. In fact according to Islam every
form of life is sacrosanct and cannot be taken without justification. Even
unnecessarily killing of animals or destroying other kinds of life is forbidden
in Islam. But human life is especially sacrosanct. In the Holy Quran God
اَنَّه مَنْ قَتَلَ نَفْسَۢا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ اَوْ
فِىْ الْاَرْضِ فَكَاَنَّمَا قَتَلَ
‘Whosoever killed a person — unless it be for
person or for creating disorder in the land —
be as if he had killed all mankind. (5:33)
chapter 17 verse 32 of the Holy Quran:
‘Suicide and infanticide are particularly condemned.’ (17:32)
committing suicide or inciting others to become suicide bombers is in fact
committing a grievous sin and humiliating the teachings of Islam.
importance to the Right of Life is the Right to Basic Human needs. Hence the
first teaching with regards to civic society which, according to the Holy
Quran, were given to Adam (peace be upon him) were:
اِنَّ لَـكَ اَلَّا تَجُوْعَ
فِيْهَا وَلَا تَعْرٰىۙ
وَاَنَّكَ لَا تَظْمَؤُا فِيْهَا
‘It is provided for thee that thou wilt
therein, nor wilt thou be naked. And that thou
wilt not thirst therein, nor wilt thou be exposed to
the sun.’ (20:119-120)
That is, to have
food, water, clothing and shelter – the basic necessities of life is the right
of every individual. It is the individual duty of each and every person and
collective duty of a government and society as well as the world at large that
no human being remains hungry or thirsty or without adequate clothing and
in spite of the World Summits, U.N Conferences and forceful tirades, more than
a half of the world population is deprived of these basic survival necessities.
But by the grace of Allah, we can say with absolute certainty, that there is
not a single Ahmadi in the world today who remains hungry or thirsty or without
adequate clothing and reasonable shelter inspite of the fact that the Ahmadiyya
Jamaat is established in nearly 200 countries of the world with millions and
millions within its folds. It is because the Ahmadiyya Jamaat is doing its best
to present to the world a Pristine pure model of the teachings of Islam.
with these is the right of each human being that he or she should be given
means and opportunities of development of the physical, intellectual, moral and
spiritual faculties to the full. This is a vast subject and various rights fall
under it, as, for example, the right to proper education and the right to
leisure and enjoyment within the limits prescribed by Islam.
Next comes the
right to Freedom to work within the limits laid down by Islam. For if this
right is denied, human capacities are sure to be wasted. In work as well as in
reward for work, Islam condemns all kinds of exploitation and discrimination on
the basis of gender, race, nationality or religion.
Islam gives man
the Right of Protection of Property and Honour. Several verses of the Holy
Quran can be cited in this respect.
respect to the honour of Man, the Holy Quran says:
يٰۤاَيُّهَا الَّذِيْنَ اٰمَنُوْا
لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِّنْ قَوْمٍ عَسٰٓى
اَنْ يَّكُوْنُوْا خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَآءٌ مِّنْ نِّسَآءٍ
اَنْ يَّكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُنَّۚ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوْۤا اَنْفُسَكُمْ
‘O ye who believe! let not one people deride another
people, who may be better than they, nor let
women deride other women, who may be
better than they.
And defame not your own people.’ (49:12)
In his Sermon at
his last Pilgrimage, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
“O People! Surely your blood, your property and your honour are as
sacred and inviolable as the sanctity and inviolability of this day, that is
the day of Pilgrimage.’ (Bukhari)
Islam gives to
all the Right of Freedom of Conscience. Giving this right means that every one
is free to profess, practice and preach any faith, religion, opinion or creed
he or she holds to be true.
The Holy Quran
‘There is no compulsion in religion.’ (2:257)
The Holy Quran
explains that it is only within the competence of God Almighty to make a person
believe but even He chose not to force anyone to believe. He leaves every one
to exercise his or her reason and judgement. If He does that, it behoves no one
else to try to force people to believe.
In this connection,
it should also be noted that apostasy is not according to Islam, as some
believe, a crime to be punished by man in this world.
verse is a clear proof that change of faith entails no temporal punishment.
اِنَّ الَّذِيْنَ كَفَرُوْا بَعْدَ
اِيْمَانِهِمْ ثُمَّ ازْدَادُوْا كُفْرًا
لَّنْ تُقْبَلَ تَوْبَتُهُمْۚ وَاُولٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ الضَّآلُّوْنَ
‘Surely, those who disbelieve after they have
and then increase in disbelief, their
not be accepted, and these are they who have
Islam is very
particular about the sanctity of family and foremost among the Particular
Rights are the rights of those who constitute a family i.e. Husband, Wife and
Islam was the
first to give sanctity to the institution of marriage and explicitly lays down
the mutual rights and obligations of members of a family. What, according to
the Holy Quran, cements and maintains married life is mutual love of Husband
the Holy Quran says:
وَمِنْ اٰيٰتِهۤ اَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُمْ
مِّنْ اَنْفُسِكُمْ اَزْوَاجًا
لِّتَسْكُنُوْۤا اِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ مَّوَدَّةً
‘And one of His Signs is this,
that He has created your partners in marriage
for you from among yourselves
that you may find peace of mind in them,
and He has put love and tenderness between you.’ (30:22)
Thus to receive
love, to be cherished by, and to seek peace of mind and comfort from each other
is the first and foremost mutual right of husband and wife. There are many
others. I shall not discuss them in detail, for there is a long list of them
as, for example, the right to inheritance, the right to property, the mutual
right of divorce, the right that both parents have a say in matters concerning
the upbringing of children, the wife's right that she should be maintained by
her husband irrespective of whether or not she has her own independent means or
The Holy Prophet
Muhammad (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have
“The best among you is he who treats his wife best.”
Next to the
rights of members of a family, come the right of neighbours. Islam lays great
stress on the rights of neighbours. The concept of “neighbourhood” in Islam is
a very wide concept, which covers all possible neighbourly situations and is
not confined to the ordinary concept of neighbourhood.
Thus, in Chapter
4, verse 37 of the Holy Quran, God Almighty states:
’And worship Allah and associate naught with
and show kindness to parents, and to
orphans, and the needy, and to the neighbour
that is a kinsman and the neighbour that is a
Here, I would like to draw your attention to the part of
the verse which covers the subject of neighbourhood. In this part three phrases
are used to describe neighbourly relations. The first phrase ‘wal jaari zil
1.The neighbour that is a kinsman.
2. The neighbour that lives near.
3. The neighbour that is kindly
The second phrase ‘wal jaaril jonobi’ means:
neighbour that is a stranger.
neighbour that lives at a distance.
neighbour that is not kindly.
The third phrase ‘was-sahibi bil janbi’ incorporates:
1. The next-door
2. The Companion
by your side i.e. your colleague or fellow students
3. The Colleague
in general and fellow partners in a trade.
4. The Companion
on a journey.
5. The tenants
who share your house.
The Holy Quran says that all these various kinds of
neighbours should be treated not only with justice, but also with kindness.
The Holy Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be on
him) is reported to have said:
“One whose neighbour is not safe at his hands shall
not enter Paradise.” (Muslim)
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
always treated his neighbours with extreme kindness and consideration. He used
to say that the angel Gabriel had emphasised considerations towards one's
neighbours so often that he sometimes began to think that a neighbour would
perhaps be included among the prescribed heirs (Bukhari).
At another occasion the Holy Prophet said:
‘Help your neighbour, if he seeks help, give him
loan if he asks for loan; give him relief if he is needy; nurse him if he falls
ill; follow his coffin if he dies; cheer him if he meets any good; sympathise
with him if any calamity befalls him; raise not your building so as to deprive
him of air without his permission; harass him not.’ (Kamil Ibne Adi)
teaching extends from door to door to communities, nations and countries to
cohere humanity into a family with respect, care and love, creating an
environment of well being, development, peace and prosperity for all.
In Islam guests, too, have some rights upon us. The Holy
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
‘When chosen persons from a people
come to you honour them and give them full respect.’
Secondly, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be
upon him) said:
‘One who fails to thank the people for the
favours he receives from them, in fact fails to thank God Almighty.’
All the Guests who joined us in this Convention, have in
fact done us a great favour. They deserve our thanks. It is their right that we
My Dear Brothers and Sisters! The subject we are discussing
is vast and the time is short. But before I close I would like to draw your
attention to a few excerpts from the writings and recorded sayings of the
Promised Messiah, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (Peace be upon him), the Founder of
the Ahmadiyya Community in Islam, which beautifully sum up the teachings of
Islam regarding the rights and the brotherhood of mankind. He said:
‘A person can be held to be a Muslim when the
whole of his being together with all his faculties, physical and spiritual, is
devoted to God. This devotion has two aspects. First, that God Almighty should
become the object of worship and the true goal and beloved, and that no one
should be associated in His worship and in His love. The second, that one's
life should be devoted to the service of His creatures and to sympathise with
them and to share their burdens and sorrows. One should suffer pain to bring
them comfort, and one should experience grief to bring them consolation.’
(Aeena Kamalat-e-Islam pp. 559-62).
He further said:
‘Be the true well-wishers of every one. There
should be nothing inside you except truth and there should be nothing outside
you except truth and sympathy for mankind. If you desire that God should be
pleased with you in Heaven, become to each other like real brothers. It is our
principle to have sympathy for the whole of mankind. If a person sees that fire
has broken out in the house of a Hindu neighbour and he does not get up to help
in putting it out, I tell you truly he is not of me. If one of my followers
sees a Christian being killed and he does not go to his assistance to rescue
him, then I tell you quite truly that he is not of us.’ (Malfoozat,
viii pp 26-27)
We Ahmadiyya Muslims, not only in Mauritius but every where
in the world today, are striving to promote, support and create the environment
where the dignity of all human beings without any discrimination of faith,
race, colour, language or culture is respected and as prescribed in Islam their
rights honoured and all kinds of injustice, depravation, oppression,
exploitation, violence and brutality eradicated from which man suffers today.
Dear Brothers and Sisters! Islam stands for the unity of
God, the unity of the universe and all the creation of God Almighty, and
through its teachings provides the environment of justice, equality and
dignity, leading on to lasting peace, harmony and prosperity for all.
Let us pray that with our slogan ‘Love for all Hatred for None',
we as models of true Islam, fulfil our obligations to God Almighty and to humanity.
And our last words are that all Praise belongs to Allah,
the Lord of the Worlds!