Human Rights in Islam : Rights of The People Towards The Government

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Muslims in an Islamic state have certain rights they should expect from their government. These rights may be summarized as follows:

Justice: This entails that every person is to be given his fair treatment in the Islamic society. All individuals who are entitled for specific rights must be given their due rights. All individuals who are required to perform certain duties must be treated fairly and without any bias. Responsibilities among individuals must also be distributed justly and fairly. No individual, class or category of people must be given any priority or preference over the others.

God says in the Qur’an:

(O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.) [4:135]

And God’s Messenger (pbuh) said:

“The most beloved to God on the Day of Judgment, and the closest to Him is a just ruler. And the most hateful to God, and the most distant from Him, is an unjust and tyrannical ruler.” (Tirmidthi, Hadith no. 1329)

Consultation: People have the right to be consulted on issues that concern their economic and social affairs. This process of consultation should be done in an ordinary form. The public must be given the opportunity to express their viewpoints and ideas concerning issues related to the Islamic community and society. Such viewpoints may be accepted if they serve the general public interest. God says in the Qur’an:

(So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah . Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].) [3:159]

People have the right to be consulted on issues that concern their economic and social affairs.

On many occasions, God’s Messenger (pbuh) followed the advice of his companions. During the Battle of Badr one of his Companions suggested to change the site of the Muslims’ fighting camp. One of the Muslims asked the Messenger during the Battle, ‘O Prophet of God! Is this a place that God commanded you to camp at, and we have no choice of changing it, or is it a war strategy and plan? God’s Messenger (pbuh) replied promptly, ‘No. Rather it is my war strategy.’ The man who asked, suggested, ‘ O Prophet of God! This is not the right choice of place for the fighting camp. Let us search for the closest water reservoir to our enemies and camp there. We should block all other water resources then build a basin or a water reservoir for our party. When the battle starts we will have access to water but our enemies will not. Thus we’ll be able to drink and use the available water while our enemies would not; God’s Messenger (pbuh) commented, “You have certainly given the best advice.” (Ibn Hisham Biography of the Prophet pbuh)

A Muslim ruler must be kind and merciful to his people, never overburdening them beyond their abilities.

Islamic ruling: The basis for the Islamic ruling and legal judgment system is called Shari’ah; Islamic law. The constitution of a Muslim State must be based on the Qur’an and Sunnah, which are the agreed upon Islamic judicial sources. There should be no room for personal opinion if an authenticated text is available. Islamic law is a comprehensive system of jurisprudence including personal and family law, criminal law, national and international law, which fulfills all requirements of man in the most upright manner since it is based upon the revelations from God to His Messenger for the guidance of man.

Open door policy: A Muslim ruler must not be aloof and distant from his people nor assign middle-men who are partial permitting some to see the ruler, while preventing others. This is based on the instructions of God’s Messenger (pbuh):

“Whosoever is entrusted with leadership over the affairs of the Muslims, yet hides away from them and does not respond to their needs, God would not respond to the supplications of such a governor on the Day of Judgment, causing him to suffer from his own poverty and need.” (Abu Dawood, Hadith no. 2948)

Mercy for people: merciful to his people never overburdening them beyond their abilities. He must facilitate all means for his people to live and survive in the society in the best possible manner. A Muslim governor must treat an elder man like a father, a youngster like a son and a person of equal age as a brother. A Muslim governor must be respectful to the elders, kind, merciful to the young, and considerate to individuals of his age group. The Qur’an informs us about the characteristics of God’s Messenger who was the first leader of the Muslim Nation:

(Verily, there has come unto you a Messenger (Muhammad pbuh) from amongst yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He is deeply concerned about you, and to the believers is kind and merciful.) [9:128]

God’s Messenger (pbuh), also advised:

“Those who are merciful [and kind to one another], may God be Merciful [and kind] to them. Be merciful to people on earth, God will be merciful to you.” (Abu Dawood, Hadith no. 4941 and Tirmidhi, Hadith no. 1924)

Omar bin al Khattab the second Muslim Caliph, was so concerned about his responsibility before God that once he said, ‘By God! Had a mule tripped in Iraq, I would be afraid that I would be asked about it by God [on the Day of Judgment]…“ O Omar! Why did you not pave the way for the mule.”

Reference : Dr. Abdul-Rahman Al-Sheha, Human Rights in Islam, Usool International Centre, Riyadh, ISBN: 978-603-90936-9-5

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