Human Rights In Islam – [Excerpts From a Lecture By Shaikh Saaleh Ala Ash-Ash-Shaykh] [Introduction]

In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.

May Allaah bless our close friend, beloved companion and colleague – [Abu Tasneem Mushaf Al-Banghaalee and grant his father abundant mercy] – for sharing the Arabic text of this lecture Aameen.

The Purpose Behind The Creation of The Heavens and The Earth

Allaah said:

وَلَقَدۡ كَرَّمۡنَا بَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ وَحَمَلۡنَـٰهُمۡ فِى ٱلۡبَرِّ وَٱلۡبَحۡرِ وَرَزَقۡنَـٰهُم مِّنَ ٱلطَّيِّبَـٰتِ وَفَضَّلۡنَـٰهُمۡ عَلَىٰ ڪَثِيرٍ۬ مِّمَّنۡ خَلَقۡنَا تَفۡضِيلاً۬

And indeed We have honoured the Children of Adam, and We have carried them on land and sea, and have provided them with At-Taiyibat (lawful good things), and have preferred them above many of those whom We have created with a marked preference. [Surah Al-Israa. Aayah 70]

I praise and thank Allaah, who knows everything about what He has created and He is the Most Kind and Courteous (to His slaves), All-Aware (of everything). He is praised with all good – praised for His commands, prohibitions, divine legislation and what He has created. It is He who guided humankind and commanded them with what will lead them to perfection and wellbeing in their worldly life and afterlife. He alone is deserving of abundant (unlimited) praise just as He bestowed on us abundant (innumerable) blessings. I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah alone and He has no partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is Allaah’s slave and Messenger. May Allaah’s peace and blessings be upon him, his family and companions. To proceed:

O my brothers! Indeed, these are blessed hours when one learns something about his religion which he did not know or he (recalls) and consolidate what he forgot after a period of time – affairs he forgot unintentionally due to the many affairs and being preoccupied with other things.

There is no doubt that no other divine legislation came to the people that is more perfect than the Islamic legislation. Allaah gave every Prophet a law and a path, and He made Muhammad’s law a complete and perfect law, perfectly suitable until the day of judgement- suitable for every era and place. [Ref 1] [NB: Must refer to footnotes of this reference at the end of the article]

Muhammad’s law solves every problem, preserves every obligation that should be fulfilled, raises every affair that honours the human being, honours the Muslim and raises him because he carries the message of pure Islamic monotheism.  So due to this, it is obligated on everyone to be acquainted with the virtues of this divine legislation, know its rulings, its goals and underlying wisdoms, the obligations it has laid down and what inspires them to preserve and call to it, and that they do not pay attention to any caller to misguidance – those who want to hinder humankind from the truth through different terms and slogans. [i.e. Those who are eager to ridicule and make it look repugnant, in order to make people flee from it. See Tafseer as-Sadi. Surah Ibraaheem. Aayaat 1-3]

We praise and thank Allaah for including us amongst those who have accepted and submitted to this divine legislation- those who learn and strive to follow the behaviour of Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah upon him].

Allaah created the heavens and the earth for the fulfilment of two obligations – His Rights and the rights of His servants. Every Messenger and the divine scriptures were sent to explain these two obligations- 1: Worship Allaah alone, disbelieve in all the rivals and false gods that are associated with Him as partners, and 2: Obey His Messenger in that particular era and place. Allaah revealed His Books and sent His Messengers to establish these two obligations.

Allaah [The Exalted] said: [لَقَدۡ أَرۡسَلۡنَا رُسُلَنَا بِٱلۡبَيِّنَـٰتِ وَأَنزَلۡنَا مَعَهُمُ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ وَٱلۡمِيزَانَ لِيَقُومَ ٱلنَّاسُ بِٱلۡقِسۡطِ – Indeed We have sent Our Messengers with clear proofs, and revealed with them the Scripture and the Balance (justice) that mankind may keep up justice. [Surah Al-Hadeed. Aayah 25]

Allaah said: [وَلَقَدۡ بَعَثۡنَا فِى ڪُلِّ أُمَّةٍ۬ رَّسُولاً أَنِ ٱعۡبُدُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَٱجۡتَنِبُواْ ٱلطَّـٰغُوتَ – And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allah (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Taghut (all false deities, etc. i.e. do not worship Taghut besides Allah).” [ Surah An-Nahl. Aayah 36]

And because of this, the Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said: “O Mu’adh, do you know what is the right of Allah upon His servants?” I said, “Allah and his messenger know best.” The Prophet said, “To worship Him alone and to associate none in worship with Him. And do you know what is their right upon Him?” I said, “Allah and his messenger know best.” The Prophet said, “Not to punish them if they do so.” [Bukhaari 6938]

The obligations which all the divine laws brought in general and the Islamic legislation in specific are: To fulfil Allaah’s Right, fulfil the rights of the creation and the rights of the human being. There is no doubt that this will be made very clear when you contemplate on Allaah’s Book and the Sunnah of His Messenger.

Origin of The Term Human Rights In The West  

Among the rights that have been mentioned – a lot – in this era is what is called Human Rights. This term, which is used as the title of this lecture, is related to many researches, whether regarding the Islamic legislation, creed, administration of justice, politics or financial matters. It is also related to what the major powers or the United Nations  call Human Rights. As you know, there is a story behind this term and it is a new term – neither found in the Qur’aan nor the Sunnah, nor have the Imaams and scholars of Islaam stipulated the issue of rights by way of this term; but rather rights (or the obligations we owe one another) can be found in the Qur’aan and the Sunnah.

When the second world war took place, which the allies won – America triumphed over the opponents and the United Nations was founded, they established a new world order. The term  New World Order did not come about after the Gulf War; rather it is a term that came with its principles and fundamentals after the Second World War. The major powers – amongst the countries – utter this term if they want to impose something new on nations, society and the people regardless of their countries and cultures. So, after the Second World War, they wanted to establish a new world order by way of which the major powers would be able to control all countries. At times this control is cultural, sometimes through strong opinions and the exercise of freedoms at other times, and power is exercised through interference in the affairs of the countries in which they want to interfere.

The new global organization included the declaration – in 1948 – they called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and a document – from the United Nations – of thirty articles was drawn up; then amendments and additions were made to it. This document  – with the additions at present – is what they advocate and refer to as human rights.  The human rights advocated by the United Nations and the Western countries are based on two affairs, namely freedom and equality between people. Among the provisos were those that prevent various types of dealings and restricted the state’s right when dealing with the people. The Western countries and the United Nations interfered in the affairs of many countries and imposed things on them, and perhaps the media may publish things about some countries because they did not implement those rights. The interference may be greater due to interfering in their affairs, asking them about what they have done to achieve these freedoms and mentioning individual cases.

The Declaration of Human Rights has its own circumstances and motives, and it also has its objectives that serve the principles of the major colonial empires. This term [i.e. Human Rights] is oft-repeated, but it is obligated on a Muslim to be proud of his religion, confident that the rights a person has is great if granted by Allaah [The Almighty], because no one is more knowledgeable than Allaah regarding the affairs of the creation and what is best for them, as Allaah [The Almighty] said: [أَلَا يَعْلَمُ مَنْ خَلَقَ وَهُوَ اللَّطِيفُ الْخَبِيرُ – Should not He Who has created know? And He is the Most Kind and Courteous (to His slaves) All-Aware (of everything)]. [Surah Al-Mulk. Aayah 14]

Therefore, Allaah [Glorified and Exalted be He] – in what is legislated – is the one who preserves the rights of humankind. This is why many have carried out research in this subject matter  and proven that the Islamic legislation, the life story of our Prophet [may peace and blessings be upon him], the rulings in the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, the actions of the four caliphs and those who came after them are the greatest early document of human rights- lofty in its pronouncement and application. It was fully implemented in the era of the Prophet [peace and blessings be upon him] and in the era of the Rightly Guided Caliphs [may Allaah be pleased with them]. Many researchers have written on this topic, and among them are those who carried weak views and wanted to make every article of that declaration a precedent in the history of Islam or in Islamic law.  Others carried out a good and knowledge based research in various magazines and articles, and they clarified that some of the human rights declared in the West and by the United Nations has been affirmed by the Islamic legislation and some are in conflict with its very foundations.

This lecture will not be enough for us to mention everything related to this topic, but we’ll give you a closer acquaintance so that it can be understood based on the fundamental principles of the Islamic legislation – an understanding that has no ambiguity. And it will be clear to you that what the disbelievers in Allaah and their followers proclaim regarding human rights – based on what the colonialists and the enemies of Islam want – is neither good for Islam nor the Muslims; rather it leads to interference in the affairs of the Muslims, diverts them from adherence to the religion and direct them towards following the footsteps of the West in affairs such as freedom, equality, the relationship between a man and woman, financial matters, rights, political affairs and so on.

The origin of the rights of a human being is referred back to the meaning of Allaah’s statement: [ وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَم – And indeed We have honoured the Children of Adam]. [Surah Al-Israa. Aayah 70]

The honour Allaah has granted the children of Adam is based on two affairs: first, human beings are honoured due to their innate disposition, physical traits and that which Allaah subjugated to them in the skies and the earth. Second, Allaah raised the children of Adam above animals and the other creations, gave them preference above many of the created things in every affair through which they achieve happiness, the beneficial affairs in their livelihood and their relationships with other humans. And due to this, the divine legislation was sent in order to clarify the rights of Allaah and the rights of Allaah’s servants. Allaah [The Almighty] said:

 وَلَقَدۡ كَرَّمۡنَا بَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ وَحَمَلۡنَـٰهُمۡ فِى ٱلۡبَرِّ وَٱلۡبَحۡرِ وَرَزَقۡنَـٰهُم مِّنَ ٱلطَّيِّبَـٰتِ وَفَضَّلۡنَـٰهُمۡ عَلَىٰ ڪَثِيرٍ۬ مِّمَّنۡ خَلَقۡنَا تَفۡضِيلاً۬

And indeed We have honoured the Children of Adam, and We have carried them on land and sea, and have provided them with At-Taiyibat (lawful good things), and have preferred them above many of those whom We have created with a marked preference. [Surah Al-Israa. Aayah 70]

In the beginning of the Aayah, Allaah said, [وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ- And indeed We have honoured the Children of Adam], and at the end of the Aayah, Allaah said, [وَفَضَّلۡنَـٰهُمۡ عَلَىٰ ڪَثِيرٍ۬ مِّمَّنۡ خَلَقۡنَا تَفۡضِيلاً۬  – and have preferred them above many of those whom We have created with a marked preference].

So, this above includes a mention of the creation, revelation of the divine legislation, the basis of social organisation, and the command that they worship Allaah alone and follow the Messengers [i.e. because Allaah created them, commanded them to fulfil His rights and the rights of their fellow human beings, sent them guidance – through the Messengers – which shows them how to live as individuals and members of society, and provided them with livelihood from the skies and the earth, without which they cannot survive – neither individually nor as a society].

A Brief Analysis of Freedom And Equality

The rights that come under the term ‘Human Rights’ are two types according to Westerners, namely Freedom and Equality. Freedom: The word freedom – which they proclaim – does not exist unrestrictedly even in their own countries. The absolute and unrestricted freedom for a person to do whatever he wants – without being held accountable- does not exist anywhere on earth; rather, freedoms exist where they are found, but they have limits and the people are told that what is beyond that limit is forbidden and it is not freedom.

This gives you the understanding that the word freedom is not found in any place on the earth [i.e. human societies], except that it is restricted. As for absolute freedom in everything – in dealings related to wealth, politics, court judgements, one’s actions, sanctity of life and when dealing with one’s children, this does not exist without restriction in any place on the earth, but rather you will find that freedom is different in different countries -lacking in some countries and much more in others.

So the word freedom, which is part of human rights as they claim, is not unrestricted in their view. Therefore, when this is the case, and if they place restrictions on freedom based on the views of human beings, then we say: “Indeed, this principle indicates that placing restrictions on freedom makes the word unacceptable to every human being [due to its different interpretations in different places, situations, circumstances etc]. However, if it was possible to accept the word freedom [based on the interpretations of every individual], then you should give a person his freedom as he pleases and in that case you would be advocating absolute freedom. But if you restrict his freedom by way of man-made laws and also discreetly- taking over control of his wealth and his abilities discreetly, then indeed this freedom is not absolute.

Therefore, the basis of the freedom by way of which one advocates human rights must be looked at from the angle that absolute freedom does not exist; rather, it must be restricted, meaning that a person is not absolutely free in any place on the earth to act in the manner he wishes, instead this freedom has limits which they describe and distinguish, and due to this one finds what is called protocols and etiquettes. And there is that which is initiated to deal with those who do not adhere to what is related to official ceremonies as well as preventing a person from entering any place with any type of clothing. And in relation to one’s presence and speech, there is something that is tantamount to lack of freedom in every place [due to what is expected from a person in some situations, circumstances and places, and even how he should dress on some occasions]. This is due to what they saw that it is not appropriate to give a person the freedom he wants (unrestrictedly), because at times this freedom is incompatible with what is desired and at other times it is incompatible with one’s relationships and the rights of others. Therefore, this principle regarding absolute freedom is negated.

The equality that they proclaimed means equality between men and women in everything, and equality between all people when receiving and giving rights, such as wage equality, educational equality, the means to good health and medical treatment, equality when travelling, when determining the place in which one wishes to reside within the borders of one’s country as stipulated in their articles, the abolition of slavery etc. Some of the things in this equality are acceptable and some are unacceptable, as will be explained InShaaAllaah.

We are not here to refute that documentary declaration (of human rights), its corrections and the additions that followed; but rather we are clarifying that the perfect and lofty human rights are those which the Lord of humankind has given to the human being. When a human being wants to give rights to another person, he will not be free from desires, because the one who codifies laws, regardless of what that may be, will include his desires in it. And because of this, you will find that Western man made laws, such as French man made law, American man made law and other man made laws are subject to change from time to time – either because the law was first initiated for the sake of the country’s interests when it was established, or due to the influence of the [influential personalities or leaders etc] in that country in some matters, or because the time changed and thus the circumstances changed. And due to this, Allaah clarified that the pre-Islamic judgement is tantamount to a judgement based on desires. Allaah [Glorified be He] said: [وَأَنِ احْكُم بَيْنَهُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ – And so judge (you O Muhammad) between them by what Allah has revealed and follow not their vain desires]. [Surah Al-Maa’idah. Aayah 49]

Every ruling that contradicts the ruling of the divine Islamic legislation must have been dominated by desires and thus it is prevented from been correct (or upright). And there is no doubt that desires divert people from fulfilling rights in the manner it should be fulfilled. Therefore, those principles [regarding equality and human rights] were based on the opinions of human beings, so desires did interfere as well as the interests of the major powers and their desire to control weak countries or countries in which there is much good (or welfare).

A Robust Islamic Principle That Ended Class Struggle And Established Brotherhood Based On Taqwaa

After this presentation,  if you look at what the people were upon before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad [may peace and blessings be upon him]- whether the Arabs of Makkah and those who resided in its surrounding areas, or those in the Arabian peninsula, or those who lived in Syria and Iraq, or the people of Egypt, the Persians and the Romans, you will find that deprivation of liberties was rife and people were denied equality; rather, it was the law of the jungle, so the strong devoured the weak and the people subjugated one another. This is why when the Persian leader asked Rabee [may Allaah have mercy upon him], “What brought you?” Meaning, “You are Arabs, so what brought you to the land of Persia?” He replied, “Indeed, Allaah sent us to remove the one He wishes to be removed from the worship of the servants [i.e. people] and direct them towards the worship of the Lord [i.e. Allaah] of the servants, and remove them from the distress of the worldly life to the wellbeing [relief, security, ease, peace] of the worldly life and the Hereafter”.

The Prophet [peace and blessings be upon him] was sent, the Islamic legislation was revealed to him, Allaah commanded him to proclaim the truth, warn his closest family and then all the people. Allaah made his message a mercy for the entire creation. Allaah said:

[وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِلْعَالَمِينَ – And We have sent you (O Muhammad) not but as a mercy for the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists)]. [Surah Al-Anbiyaa. Aayah 107]

When the Prophet [peace and blessings be upon him] came to that society, it was a society in which class struggle occurred and class distinction was rife – this tribe is better than this tribe, these are superior, those are dominant over others…!!!  And the other similar tribal norms, which differentiated and gave preference to some over others. So the Prophet [peace and blessings be upon him] came to them with a mighty principle and that is the statement of Allaah [The Exalted]: [يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ وَأُنْثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوباً وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ – O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has more fear of Allaah]. [Surah Al-Hujuraat. Aayah 13]

So nobility, virtuousness and distinction was attributed to the one who has more fear of Allaah, and not because of one’s gender, skin complexation, tribe or country; rather Allaah attributed virtuousness based on a person’s piety.

[إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ – Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has more fear of Allaah]. Our Prophet [may blessings and peace be upon him] said, “There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, except based on piety.”

People are equal in a manner similar to the teeth of a comb. This is well-known in relation to the obligations that are obligated on everyone who has reached the age of responsibility. Allaah [The Exalted] made everyone equal, meaning His speech is directed at all people – male, female, the free person, the slave, the rich and the poor regardless their different social statuses. All people are commanded to single out Allaah in worship, obey His commands and fear Him as much as they are able. This is a type of equality in that which everyone is commanded and held responsible.

Likewise, when Islam came, splitting and discord between the people ended; rather, the affair alternated into close brotherhood. The Prophet [may Allaah’s peace and blessings be upon him] nurtured and established brotherhood between the Muhaajoroon [migrants from Makkah] and the Ansaar [the indigenous inhabitants of Madeenah].  This – without a doubt – shows the absence of differentiation and extends beyond fulfilling the rights of a person or giving a person something, because of the fact that he (or she) is a child of Adam and that all humans are equal in their rights in the sight of Allaah- equal in fulfilling rights and obligations between themselves.

Islam Laid The Solid Foundation of Equal Opportunities And Uprooted Structural Inequality

When the Muslims conquered the different regions of the earth and Islam spread, the affair became as if it started from the non-Arabs, until the people of Persia and other non-Arabs became the scholars and the Imams of the mosques, and people acquired knowledge from them. It is recorded in Islamic history that many non-Arabs led the Muslims in knowledge, in issuing religious verdicts and many affairs. Take for example Abu Haneefah [may Allaah have mercy on him] who was not an Arab, and Imam Al-Bukhaari [may Allaah have mercy on him] and how his book became an upright example, and there’s none amongst the Muslims except that he (or she) knows Imam Abu Abdillaah Muhammad Bin Ismaa’eel Al-Bukhaari. And consider other examples – besides Al-Bukhaari and Abu Haneefah – amongst the Imaams of Islaam. So when Islam came with its implementation, it abolished the differences that were initiated by the people and those non-Arabs became the leaders and Imaams of the Arabs; why? Because they carried the religion, raised the banner of pure Islamic monotheism – there is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, and because there is no distinction in virtue between a non-Arab and an Arab, except through fear of Allaah. When the Muslims disciplined themselves with Islaam, there was no dispute between them regarding social class by way of that pre-Islamic dispute and distinction, because indeed neither did they accept leadership nor give precedence to anyone based on this; rather they accepted everyone because people are equal in this affair.

Quraish’s rulership, the Umayyad rulership and the Abbasid rulership ended; then the rulership of the Mamluks arose and thereafter the rulership of Banee Uthman – meaning in the beginning when it was upright; so the Muslims obeyed them and they became the leaders and rulers, because the Muslims saw that there was welfare for the people in doing so (based on the texts of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah, and understanding of the Sahaabah). Therefore, class differentiation and its practice was abolished from the beginning; rather no one had any reservation in implementing Islam. So, Islamic history attests to the implementation of this great principle [i.e. sound equality]. [End of quote: paraphrased]

Finally: Ref 1: The implementation of Sharee’ah Law is the responsibility of Muslim governments and not the insurgents, such as ISIS and their ilk. Likewise, the call to Islaam does not begin with the call to establish an Islamic State nor the implementation of Sharee’ah Law on the people, rather it begins with the call to pure Islamic Monotheism. See here the Methodology of the Prophets in calling to the path of Allaah:

Rectification of Society – By Imaam Abdul Azeez Bin Baaz [may Allaah have mercy upon him]: Rectification of Modern Societies – By Imaam Abdul Azeez Bin Baaz [rahimahullaah] –

ISIS have NOT established the Khilaafah! [i.e. The Islamic State]- By Shaikh Abu Khadeejah [may Allaah preserve him]:

And even when Muslim rulers are oppressive, we do not initiate rebel against them. See here: The Tyranny Of The Rulers, A Reason For Rebellion?

Sharee’ah In The West: Shaikh Abdul Waahid Abu Khadeejah [may Allaah preserve him] stated: Although Muslims in Britain are subject to British law and the British legal system, Sharī’ah tribunals are allowed in certain areas as an alternative way of resolving disputes. These are aimed at resolving commercial, civil and matrimonial disputes to the satisfaction of both sides. Read here:

Also, a Muslim is obligated to fulfil his obligations and refrain from treachery whilst living with non-Muslims. See here: Living With Non-Muslims In The West: With Fine Conduct:

Alliance with the non-Muslims is of two types – misunderstanding this affair leads people astray:

Shaikh Ibn Uthaimeen on Interacting With Non-Muslims in Western Countries:

To be continued InShaaAllaah

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