Human Rights in Islam : The Preservation of Self

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Physical Security and Protection

Human life is sacred and a gift from God, the Creator. For the protection of human life, Islam has legislated capital and corporal punishments and retribution unto those transgressing criminals who murder and physically harm others. Killing falls into three types: intentional or premeditated murder, manslaughter (killing without premeditation or an evil intention prior), and accidental killing. Islam commands the execution of anyone who commits premeditated murder of an innocent

person, seeking to place as strong a deterrent as possible to eradicate the temptation of intentional murder.

No one has the right to tamper with people’s lives, possessions or estate without legitimate cause.

Manslaughter and accidental killings are separate categories with separate, lesser sentences and blood money is paid to the close relatives of the victim. The family or the heirs of the killed victim are given a Diyyah – blood money – unless they choose to forgive the killer. The killer must repent to God and make atonement by the freeing of a Muslim slave, and if this is not possible, by fasting for two consecutive months.

Islam has imposed certain specific duties on everyone in respect to protection of human life.

All such penalties are mandated for the preservation of life. No one has the right to tamper with people’s lives, possessions or estate without legitimate cause. All oppressors or abusers must be warned against unjust killing, victimizing or harassing other innocent members of the Islamic society, and these strict punishments should be made clear. If the retaliation is not equal in degree to the crime itself, criminals become emboldened in their criminal activities. All other corporal punishments have the same rationale, wherein the punishment is proportionate to the crime with specific measurements of retribution predetermined to stop all arguments and confusion. All capital and corporal punishments are designed for the preservation of human life and property in an Islamic society. God, the Exalted, states in the Qur’an:

(And there is for you in legal retribution [saving of] life, O you [people] of understanding, that you may become righteous.) [2:179]

The penalty of the Hereafter for the intentional murderer who does not repent will be the Wrath of God. God, the Exalted, states in the Glorious Qur’an:

(But whoever kills a believer intentionally – his recompense is Hell, wherein he will abide eternally, and Allah has become angry with him and has cursed him and has prepared for him a great punishment.) [4:93]

Islam has imposed certain specific duties on everyone in respect to the protection of human life. The following are some of these duties:

Man does not own his soul or his own body: rather it is a sacred entity entrusted to him on a temporary basis. It is not allowed for anyone to intentionally torture or harm himself, or carry-out any type of suicidal crime or reckless act leading to his destruction. God, the Exalted, states in the Qur’an:

(O you who have believed, do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves [or one another]. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful! ) [4:29]

Man must maintain proper nutritional care to satisfy the minimum requirements essential for decent health. He is not allowed to deprive himself of permissible food, drink, clothing, marriage and proper care under any pretexts, if that causes him harm. God, the Exalted, states in the Qur’an:

(Say, “Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has produced for His servants and the good [lawful] things of provision?” Say, “They are for those who believe during the worldly life [but] exclusively for them on the Day of Resurrection.” Thus do We detail the verses for a people who know..) [7:32]

God, the Exalted, admonished the Prophet (pbuh) when he abstained from eating honey in order to please one of his wives, and this became an eternal lesson for all Muslims. God states in the Qur’an:

(O Prophet, why do you prohibit [yourself from] what Allah has made lawful for you, seeking the approval of your wives? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.) [66:1]

Moderation is between stinginess and extravagance. Man may enjoy the lawful bounties offered by God to man on earth in moderation within the limits of the Islamic laws and without waste. God, the Exalted, states in the Qur’an:

(O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: but waste not by excess, for God loves not the wasters.) [7:31]

Man may enjoy the lawful bounties offered by Allah to man on earth in moderation within the limits of the Islamic laws and without wastage.

It is forbidden to neglect the physical needs of the body and cause harm through negligence or self-torture. God, the Exalted, states in the Qur’an:

(Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity.  It will have the consequence of what good it has gained, and it will bear the consequence of what evil it has earned….) [2:286]

It is reported that Anas bin Malik said that, ‘Three men came to the Prophet’s (pbuh) wives’ houses to inquire about the worship of the Prophet (pbuh). When they were informed, they considered their worship insignificant and said: “Where are we in comparison with the Prophet (pbuh) while God has forgiven his past sins and future sins”. One of them said: “As for me, I shall offer prayer all night long.” Another said: “I shall fast continuously and shall not break it”. The third one said: “I shall abstain from women and shall never marry”. The Prophet (pbuh) came to them and said, “Are you the people who said such and such things? By God, I fear God more than you do, and I am the most obedient and dutiful among you to Him, but still I observe fasting and break it; perform prayers and still sleep at night and I marry women. So whoever turns away from my way does not belong to me.” (Reported by Bukhari and Muslim (al-Lulu wal-Marjan no.884))

It is forbidden to neglect the physical needs of the body and cause harm through negligence or selftorture.

Peace and security

The right of security and protection to a person and all his family is the most basic of all human rights. All citizens in the Muslim society legally must not be frightened or threatened by either words, actions or weapons of any type. The tradition of Messenger of God (pbuh) states:

“It is not allowed for a Muslim to frighten another Muslim.” (Reported by Abu Dawood no.5004, Imam Ahmad and others, and verified as correct)

Feeling secure enables individuals of a society to have freedom of mobility in order to work and earn an honest living. Corporal and capital punishment have been laid down and established in order to impose strict penalties on those who attempt to cause disruption to the peace, security and stability of a Muslim society. God’s Messenger (pbuh) stated in his farewell speech,

‘Truly, your lives, honor, and your wealth are sacred. They are unlawful to tamper with in the same manner that it is unlawful to tamper with this honorable and sacred Day (the Day of ‘Arafah during Hajj), in this Sacred Month (the month of pilgrimage), and in this Sacred Town (the city of Makkah).’ (Reported by Bukhari, no. 6043)

Sustenance and wholesome food and drink for all

Wholesome sustenance is to be secured for all people in an Islamic society by availing decent and suitable work opportunities for the work force in the society. Availability of suitable opportunities of trades and work is crucial for people in order to satisfy their basic needs. Those who cannot work due to old age, disabilities, chronic disease, or the lack of a bread-earner in the family, become entitled to public aid from the Islamic government. Zakah, (obligatory alms and charity) given by the wealthier people of the society is to be made available to the needy that cannot earn a decent income because of legitimate reasons. Zakah is an obligatory charity that is taken from the rich and given to specific categories of the society. This is based on the Hadith of God’s Messenger (pbuh) in his advice to his companion Muaadth bin Jabal while sending him on the mission to call to Islam in Yemen saying,

“Tell the people of Yemen that Almighty God has prescribed a certain percentage of their wealth as Zakah (obligatory charity) to be taken from the rich members among them and given to the poor and needy ones.” (Reported by Muslim no. 29)

Other voluntary donations, gifts, financial commitments and the like are given in good cause to please God, and extended willingly to the poor and needy members without any distinction. This is also based on many scriptures including the Hadith of God’s Messenger (pbuh), “One is not a believer who satisfies himself while his neighbor is hungry.” (Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad no. 112 and others and verified as sound)

These poor and needy people are also entitled to a fair right and share of the Islamic Treasury. This is also based on the Hadith of God’s Messenger (pbuh)

“Whosoever leaves behind a legacy (wealth and estates) it will become the right of his heirs. As for the person who leaves behind poor and needy members of his family, God, and His Messenger (pbuh) will take care of them.” (Reported by Bukhari no. 2268 & 2269)

Proper and adequate health facilities

Islam prohibits all such reasons that may cause detrimental effect to public health. Islam bans all types of harmful drugs and intoxicants. Islam bans eating blood, carrion, unclean animals, and all their byproducts. Islam bans all immoral acts such as fornication, adultery, and homosexual activities. Islam imposes a quarantine in the time of plague for both incoming and outgoing traffic of people in order to make sure that no epidemic or harmful diseases are spread in the wider community. God’s Messenger (pbuh) said,

“If you hear about an epidemic in a country, do not enter it, and if you are in a place that has an epidemic disease, do not leave it.” (Reported by Ahmad no. 15435)

And he (pbuh) said,

“A sick person must not be brought to visit a recovering person.” (Reported by Bukhari no. 5437 and Muslim no. 104)

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

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