Welcome To Global Justice

Human Rights

Tuesday, 21 April 2015


Agus Miswanto


Human rights becomes mainstream issues and core paradigm among people in the world today. And declaration and covenant of human rights has been ratified and adopted in laws and constitutions of many countries in the world. And we think that it is a good news for people. But, an approach through laws solely is not enough. Developing human rights awareness need many instruments to promote it among people. And the instruments which is viewed effectively is through education. 

Human rights education is a gate for translating human rights awareness especially for young generation. Even nowadays, in many part of the world, young group people are to be targeted of violence and harassment. Therefore, educating on human rights awareness among them are unavoidable to do.  Beside, building a human dignity would not exist, if each person of young generation does not have properly enough knowledge on protection and violence of human rights. Therefore, supporting the existence of human rights education from early age shall to be interest for every group and organization who pay attention the development of future generation. 

Human rights education commonly teach about Universal Declaration of Human rights and its covenants, values implied in human rights, and socialization on the example of violence cases and fighting to defend human rights. Besides that, although human rights are universal, introducing human rights as a system of law and new morality also require the comparative or contextualization of human rights values with local values or religious values which have been adopted by the people. Basically, all groups of people, religion and tradition uphold human dignity, but introducing a new concept usually triggers questions and doubt, before finally it is digested and accepted. Therefore, the contextualization of human rights values is unavoidable.


Today, human rights education programs have been conducted through formal education or non-formal. In Indonesia, since July 1998, Curriculum Center of Research and development chamber of Indonesian National Education, together with KOMNASHAM (Indonesian National Commission of Human rights) and UNESCO have developed a pilot project of human rights education model in elementary schools in Cianjur, west java. In 1999, this project was upgraded to secondary school level (SMP and SMA), and higher education in Kupang, and Timor, east Nusa Tenggara. In Muhammadiyah Organization, the largest Islamic Organization in Indonesia, also has introduced human rights education reconciled with Islamic teaching since 2008, and this project was successful   

In other country, human rights education is still conducted, even the discussion on human rights become an essential element in almost all organizations and religious programs, including Islam. There are examples in many of part of the world in which Islam reconciled with human rights education. For instance, a comparative study on human rights documents in European tradition, America and Islam (human rights values in Al-Qur'an and Hadith), are joined together in lesson plan discussion of American Youth Muslim. This program is aiming at the introducing Islamic principles, and at the same time the clarifying the misconception on Islam which is frequently dubbed as a pro-violent religion and less appreciative on humanity. Human rights also become one of primary concerns of Kenya Muslim Youth Alliance, a prominent youth organization in Kenya. The commitment of activists and Islamic Institution on human rights also has received many awards and appreciation. For example, human rights education project in Al-Ghazaly Islamic High School in New Jersey, which supervises a case of conflict between Palestine and Israel, got human rights 101 award, from Thirteen/WNET Human right 101 New York. In 2003, Sherin Ebadi, a human rights activist Muslim woman from Iran, got a noble price on peace through her efforts to fight and defend against women discrimination.

Human rights education in formal schools does not mean to include human rights subject in curriculum. If it is to do so, the students would only receive the knowledge on human rights, but they cannot implement values implied in its content. It is the same case with the religious education and Pancasila (five pillars of Indonesian ideology) or civic education in schools which only focus on memorizing, but the students do not implement in their daily life. Besides that, adding a subject of Human rights in the curriculum will only burdens the students. Human rights education in school can be set up in the context of relationship between teachers and students which accord to human rights values, such as democratic relationship. Human rights values also can be instructed in the relevant core subjects, such as Al-Islam. 

Teaching on Al-Islam together with human rights insight is a part of efforts to reconcile human rights and Islamic Shariah.  Digging human rights values in Islamic teaching can reduce a doubt and controversy on human rights. Finally, exposing Islamic teaching which uphold the human dignity hopefully can educate students to be a Muslim not only believe in God and lead to be a pious, but also actively involved in building his/her rights and protect rights of others.


Controversial issues on compatibility of human rights and Islam has been debated for long time. Commonly, the refusal do exist based on two reasons: (1) the reluctance of Muslim people to accept western doctrine. It is because of the traumatic experiences which is bearing Muslim people in a long colonial era. That western paradigm is viewed in negative assumption, which is only to be an instrument of western countries to dominate and to do harm in Islamic societies. And (2) there is a belief among Muslim people that only Islamic Shariah is solely valuable laws and ethics for Muslim people.  Because Islamic shariah is to be solely an instrument for Muslim people in which they can be independent far from the intervention and domination of western ideologies. These two views which is spreading among Muslim people not to accept human rights implementation among Muslim people.

These views are not properly acceptable, because, first, actually Muslim people has recognized human rights concept. The notion of upholding human dignity can be found in the historical tradition, cultural and religiosity of Islam,  nonetheless  modern human rights formulation which has yielded  the Universal declaration of Human rights (UDHR) theoretically is something new (Ihsan Ali Fauzi, 2008). Nonetheless, the modern human rights are not exclusive of western product. The drafting the declaration and covenant of modern human rights involved representative of religions and the number of countries in the world. Second, Human rights do not incessantly contradict with Islamic Shariah. One of efforts to reconcile human rights and Shariah has been done in 1990, when the representatives of Muslim countries integrated in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) signed Cairo Declaration. The declaration declares that all elements of human rights is highly appreciative in Islam, but all has to be obedient under shariah. Although placing human rights under shariah become controversial issues and received many critics, the declaration itself is a strong evidence that human rights accords with Islamic values.