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Human rights in Islam

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Jihad–Terrorism–Human Rights

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Human rights in Islam

Islam is balanced, broad, and universal on the subject of human rights. Except for those who strive to tear down the state or the legitimate administration, or who have willingly taken someone's life, the Qur'an teaches us that to take the life of a person unjustly is a crime against the whole of humanity (Al-Ma'ida 5:32). Such an evaluation cannot be found in any other religion or modern system, and such high value has never been attached on human life by any human rights commission or organization. Islam accepts the killing of one person as if all of humanity had been killed, for the murder of one person allows the idea that any person can be killed.

The son of Adam, Cain, was the first person to shed blood. Although their names are not mentioned specifically in the Qur'an or in the Sunna, we learn from previous Scriptures that a misunderstanding took place between the two brothers, Cain and Abel, and that Cain unjustly killed Abel out of jealousy, thereby opening an era of bloodshed. For this reason, in one of the hadiths, the Messenger of God said:

Whenever a person is killed unjustly, part of the sin for that murder is credited to Cain, for he was the first to open the way of unjust killing to humanity.[1]

This event, with an important lesson, is expressed in the Qur'an:

Explain truthfully to them the news of Adam's two sons: When they each offered a sacrifice, and one was accepted and the other rejected. He said: "I swear I am going to kill you." The other said: "God only accepts from those who are pious." He added, "I swear that even if you reach out your hand to kill me, I will not reach out my hand to kill you. I fear God, the Lord of the Worlds." (Al-Ma'ida 5:27-28)

The following judgment is given:

Anyone who kills a person, unless it be for murder or for causing dissension and spreading corruption in the land, it would be as if he killed humankind all together; and if any one saves a life, it would be as if he saved the life of humankind all together. (Al-Ma'ida 5:27-32)

This principle is universal and therefore valid for all times. Another verse states:

If someone kills a believer intentionally, his (or her) recompense is Hell, to abide therein (forever): and the wrath and the curse of God are upon him (or her), and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him (or her). (An-Nisa 4:93)

In another hadith, our Prophet stated: "Whoever is killed while defending their property is a martyr. Whoever is killed while defending their blood (life) is a martyr. Whoever is killed while defending their religion is a martyr. Whoever is killed while defending their family is a martyr."[2] All the values mentioned in this hadith have been protected as separate principles in all legal systems. These matters are given importance in the fundamental books comprising our law as being "indispensable." From this respect, freedom of faith, life, reproduction, mental health, and personal property are basic essentials that must be preserved for all. Islam approaches human rights from the angle of these basic principles.

Only Islam honors humanity with the of "God's vicegerent." No other system or religion does this. In addition, Islam states that everything in the heavens and the Earth is subservient, by God's law, for the benefit of humanity if used in a legitimate way. How could a religion that associates such a high importance upon human beings neglect the human rights of even one person? (Also see: Islam as a Religion of Universal Mercy in this book.)

[1] Bukhari, Diyat, 2, Anbiya, 1; Muslim, Kasamah, 27.
[2] Tirmidhi, Diyat, 22; Abu Dawud, Sunna, 32.