Welcome To Global Justice

Human Rights

Thursday, 4 February 2010


By Agus Miswanto

Nowadays, human rights become the fundamental issues in the whole of the world. All the countries, organizations, people individually or in group must obey and comply the requirements of human rights standard internationally. Therefore, if there is any group which does not dealt with the human rights, it will get consequences in international relationship. In this case, I want to discus why the Muslim people must enact human rights in their life. It is very important because there are many opinions that human rights do not fit and proper to Islamic values. Even the human right activists are dubbed as the western agents who threaten the Islamic development.

If there is an argument said that human rights threaten the existence of religion is fault. Since human rights address the religious freedom that give the space to other people to demonstrate their religion and believe freely, far from fear and prejudice. The religion followers can spread out their idea through many means like media: news paper, radio, TV, internet, etc, without persecution and violence. Although human rights preserve and address protecting to every body to convert to other religions and believes, even do a heretic and a syncretism freely, it does not mean that human rights endanger the existence of religion. In addition, this situation is also challenge for every religion to propagate and promote the people in the attractive way. Then, The situation make more competitive and examine the right religion in the right tract.

Then, if there is other argument said that human rights issues are hidden western agenda, and Human rights activists are dubbed as western agents, are also not actually true and just prejudice. Human rights are not merely western agenda, but it is our agenda, even it is all human beings agenda. Therefore, if there is anyone, human rights activist, who holds a different political opinion, and advocate changes in the Shari’ah laws in the light of changed conditions, or attempt to re-conceptualize Islamic philosophical doctrine, he just merely criticizes the situation and want to reform to the right tract that there is no linkage to western countries.

Factually, Human rights issues not only can contribute more positive matter to the religious performing development than the negative impact, but also are supported by the religious doctrine in the holy Qur’an and sunnah. Therefore there is no reason for Moslems to reject human rights in their life individually or in group. On the sight of Islam, we can address human rights issues as fundamental teaching for muslims, as follows:

1. Human rights as Essence of Religiosity

The model of Islamic religiosity represented by the concept of taqwa (God-consciousness) — a multi-dimensional variable of religiosity that includes knowledge (‘ilm/ma’rifah), belief (iman), practice (‘amal), consequences (natajah) and realization of excellence (ihsan).

O humanity! Behold, we have created you all out of a male and a female, and have created you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Quran 49:13)

Every moslem is considered as muttaqin whenever he can perform good deed to the others, without prejudice. The main goal of the revelation of religious massages is to liberate the people spiritually and physically. Spiritually, the religion guide the people live independently far from many suppression and subordination. It means that essence of religiosity is equality and freedom.

To fulfill a human potential, all obstacles and pressures must be removed from the way, and all means should be secured to maintain and develop our humanity. The dignity bestowed on humans in the Qur’an must be defended. It is the individual, social and universal responsibility of Muslims to guard human rights because oppression is an obstruction of God’s will in His creation:
As for that (happy) life in the life to come, We grant it (only) to those who do not seek to exalt themselves on earth, nor yet to spread malevolence: for the future belongs to the God-conscious. (Quran 28:83)

2. Human rights as Essence of Morality

Muslims are taught by the Qur’an to build their relations with others on kindness, while the minimum obligation which should be strictly observed is justice (Quran 60:8). They should always have in mind that no hostility stays permanently, and that if they follow God’s guidance, their behavior may turn an enemy into a close friend (Quran 60:7). It means that the religious morality always addresses the people to perform good interaction with the other people. No privilege for certain person before others. Therefore, the people have to threat the others well done.

Islam secures the human rights even for those who may violate the human rights of others, since two wrongs do not make one right. A violation should be stopped instantly, but the rights of the violator as a human being should be secured. Islamic law aims to fight the crime in its origin, not just to inflict punishment. Islamic penal law is enforced in order to prevent the sources of violation and transgression without social justice and public education for all. It is required that every possible effort be made to educate and rehabilitate an offender, not to destroy him/her. And finally, the Prophet states that a mistaken decision in acquitting a guilty person is better than a mistaken decision of punishing an innocent one. (From an authentic tradition of the Prophet repeated by Ibn Ali Shayba, al Tirmidhi, al-Hakim and al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan, on the authority of Aisha).

Furthermore, Islam strengthens morality widely and thoroughly. It can be inferred from the Islamic law teaching. Islamic civil and commercial law prohibits illegitimate and exploitative gains while protecting the principle which has been earned legitimately and legally before usurious additions. The Islamic law of war requires an open declaration of the start of military operations, and limits fighting to the combatants only. As soon as the aggression itself is stopped and the aggressor submits to justice, justice should be maintained in relation to both parties equally:
....but then, if one of the two [groups] goes on aggressing against the other, fight against the aggressors until they revert to God’s commandment; and if they revert make peace between them (both parties) with justice, and deal equitably [with them], for verily, God loves those who act equitably. (Quran 49:9)

Any of the enemy’s army who asks for protection or shelter should be granted it, and may be returned to his camp if he so requests: And if any of those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God seeks your protection, grant him protection, so that he might [be able to] hear the word of God [from you]; and thereupon convey him to a place where he can feel secure. (Quran 9:6). Furthermore, the wounded and deserters from the enemy’s army should not be attacked, but should be cared for until they are cured or repatriated.

It means that Islam push the morality as basic deed for every Muslim to the others. Even in the critical and emergency situation like war situation, Muslim must perform good morality and honour human rights.

3. Human rights as Essence of Social justice

At the inception of the belief in one God is the belief in the equality of all human beings, since those who believe in one God believe that all human beings are created by the one Creator. Thus, deeply rooted in the conscience of believers is the duty to maintain human rights and to practice equality in the process. Any discrimination against any individual or group about their basic rights as members of humanity is a challenge to the faith of believers, since for any human to claim superiority based on origin or power is contradictory to the belief in the One Ultimate Supreme Being:
...the All-Highest, who creates [everything], and thereupon forms in accordance with what it is meant to be. He cannot be called to account for whatever He does, whereas they will be called to account. (Quran 21:23)

A tyrant is against human rights and the One Ultimate Supreme Being as well:
Behold, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land, and divided its people into castes. One group of them he deemed utterly low; he would slaughter their sons and spare [only] their women, for behold, he was one of those who spread malevolence [on earth]. (Quran 28:4)

In the same chapter, the Qur’an states that those who will attain to happiness in the life to come, as it has been mentioned before, are those who don’t seek to exalt themselves on earth, nor yet to spread malevolence; for the future belongs to the God-conscious (Quran 7:157). Thus, the Qur’an repeatedly emphasizes human rights and justice, and condemns injustice, aggression and oppression. It highlights the message of the Prophet Muhammad:
...enjoins upon them the doing of what is right and forbids the doing of what is wrong, and makes lawful to them the good things of life and forbids the bad things, and lifts from them their burdens and the shackles that were upon them. (Quran 7:157)

Justice can be concisely and precisely defined as the maintenance of human rights and equality:
Behold, God enjoins justice, and [going beyond justice to] the doing of what is magnanimous (and kind), and giving to one’s kinsfolk; and He forbids all that is shameful and all that runs counter to reason [and morality], as well as transgression; He exhorts you [repeatedly] so that you might bear [all this] in mind. (Quran 3:195)

Any discrimination between men and women in rights or responsibilities is forbidden according to the divine justice- the same as any other discrimination:
And their Lord does answer them: I shall not lose sight of the work of any of you who works [in My way], be it man or woman ... (Quran 3:195). And [as for] the believers, both men and women - they are in charge of [and responsible for] one another [and form together one body], they [all] enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and keep up their prayers, and render the purifying [social] dues, and pay heed unto God and the conveyer of His Message. (Quran 9:71)

Divine justice can never be for Muslims only. It secures the rights of all human beings, whatever their beliefs may be. It is especially protective of the rights of belief and practicing one’s belief... “Let there be no coercion in matters of faith” (Quran 2:256). Defending all houses of worship is legitimate and urged:
...for if God had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, [all] monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques in [all of] which God’s name is abundantly exalted - would surely have been destroyed (ere now), and God will most certainly support one who supports His cause....(Quran 22:40)

It is the individual, social, and universal responsibility of Muslims, according to their faith, to protect the human merits and virtues of all the children of Adam, whatever their differences may be. Defending the human rights of any human being is a religious duty for a Muslim, who believes that any oppression is an obstruction of God’s will and plan in His creation. Moreover, a Muslim believes that God has created all mankind equal as human beings, and no one can claim superiority in this respect, whatever his/her ethnicity, family, wealth or gender may be. The Qur’an teaches:
O humanity! Be conscious of your Lord, who has created you out of one living entity, and out of it created 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 before Him you will be accountable), and of these ties of kinship. Verily, God is ever watchful over you. (Quran 4:1)

4. Human Rights as Essence of Democracy

A collective effort to defend the powerless and the oppressed against a powerful oppressor is an essential Islamic obligation. Every right is considered a responsibility and an obligation. In addition to human rights being considered a collective responsibility of the ummah (the Muslim people as a group) and the authorities, every holder of a right must also struggle for him/her self to obtain, maintain and enjoy this right. Individual rights are fundamental to the functioning of democracy. In fact the concept of individual rights or human rights has evolved along with the evolution of democratic power structures.
The Qur’an lays emphasis on what it calls shura’ (consultation) (3:159, 42:38). Even the messenger of Allah is required to consult his people in worldly matters and Muslims are required to consult each other in their secular affairs. Now it is true that such consultation and modern day representative democracy may not be exactly similar. However, the idea of modern democracy and the Qur’anic injunction to consult people is the same in spirit. New institutions are continually developing and human societies, depending on their worldly experiences, continually change and refine these institutions.

In the contemporary world the concept of shura’ should mean democratic process and the constitution of proper democratic institutions - for which elections are a necessary requirement. In Islam no authority forcibly constituted, or acquired by power of swords or arms, can have any legitimacy whatsoever. The institution of monarchy or military dictatorship did not exist during the time of the Prophet.

The early Islamic democracy breathed its last within thirty years of the Holy Prophet’s death. The institution of monarchy crept in under Roman influence. It is important to note that the capital of Islam had shifted from Medina to Kufa in Iraq and then to Damascus in Syria, once part of the Roman Empire. Mu-‘awiyah who seized power without the consent of the Muslims operated from Damascus and adopted Roman monarchical ways. Thus deeper historical and cultural influences must be taken into account in order to understand the political institutions in many Muslim countries today.


To conclude this discussion, there is no reason for moslem people to reject human rights values. Since, in line on fundamental norms, human right is not contradiction to Islam, even its values support Islamic  guidance and norms. Therefore, if there are moslem people reluctant to accept human rights in their life, they actually do not know anymore about Islam and human rights. 

Human rights  are agenda of all human being to achieve well being. Therefore all people have to participate in reducing human rights abuse by advocating people, translating human rights values into the real life.