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ISLAM AND HUMAN RIGHTS
ISMA'IL R. AL FARUQI
(Professor of Islamics, Department of
Religion, Temple University, Philadelphia)
Over a billion humans in
the world today are Muslims. As Muslims, they believe in human rights. But their
bill of human rights is not one composed by a committee of scholars or leaders,
resolved and promulgated by a government, a parliament, or a representative
assembly. What humans compose can only be tentative; and what they resolve can
only be temporary. With their partial knowledge and passing interests, humans
are known always to contend with one another, to agree and disagree and to keep
on changing. Human rights cannot be subject to such vicissitudes. Hence, Muslims
believe in a bill of human rights which is eternal whose author is Allah -
Subhanahu wa Ta'ala (SWT) Theirs is a bill which was taught by all the
prophets and which is crystallized in the Holy Qur'an, the revelation which came
to the Prophet Muhammad, Salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam (SAAS). Islam's
bill of human rights was promulgated by God for all places and times. The
Islamic bill of human rights is the oldest, as well as the most perfect and
greatest. The Muslims of the world rejoice that humanity has in this century
come to acknowledge the greater part of Islam's Bill of human rights and pray
that Allah (SWT) may guide humankind to recognize these rights and actualize
them in their lives.
The Islamic bill of human
rights is a system of axiolgical principles or values. The deontological
applications of them, or the duties and ought's deriving therefrom, have been
elaborated in the shari'ah- the law of Islam. Hence, Islam's human rights
are not merely ethical desiderata, or ideals of administrative policy,
which cannot be invoked in legal processes. They have the full force of
established law, and they have been known both to the literate and illiterate a
whole millennium before the age of printing. Equally, except in a few cases, the
letter of the prescriptive elaborations of human rights in Islam is not
sacrosanct and hence absolutely unalterable. The qualities of eternity and
immutability belong to the principles behind the prescriptive elaboration, not
to their figurization , i.e. to the legal form given them by translation of the
purposes of the law into legislative prescriptions. Eternity and absoluteness,
belong in the main, to the axiological postulates. With the exception of these
postulates and directions, all deontological elaborations, whether legal or
methodological, and other prescriptive particularizations of the shari'ah
are ever-open to reinterpretation by humans. This openness is dictated by the
ever-changing conditions and situations of human life which demand in turn a
readiness on the part of the law to meet them in pursuit of its eternal
objectives. The shari'ah is divine and eternal therefore, not in its
letter, but in its spirit. The letter of the law is honoured precisely because
of its derivation from that which is divine and eternal. To enable itself to
move with time and to accommodate changing human conditions, the shari'ah
established the science of usul al fiqh. This science recognized from the
earliest time that the shari'h has other sources, besides the texts of
the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah, which guarantee dynamism and creativity. To
this purpose, usul al fiqh established a methodology of logical deduction
and analogical extrapolation from the data revelata, as well as criteria
for an empirical discovery of the common welfare of the people which it declared
an equally valid source of law. For the overwhelming majority of Muslims (the
adherents of the Hanafi, Maliki, and Ja'fari schools or madhahib of law)
to establish critically - i.e. empirically - the requisites of public welfare
and to subsume them, either through istihsan (juristic preference) or
maslahah (juristic consideration of the commonweal), under the Maqasid al
Shari'ah (the general purpose of the law), is the pinnacle of juristic
wisdom and Islamic piety.
We are therefore dealing ,with
neither a fossilized law whose form or letter is immutable; nor with a flux of
precepts which change with every situation. Rather, Islam's human rights are
anchored in eternal principles or values whose applications may develop
following human situations, but only with critical guarantees for the
permanence of those principles and values.
As values, Islam's human rights
arrange themselves in clusters and are best discerned as such; for a
recognition of each value becomes at once a recognition of its relatives, as
well as of its order of rank within the cluster and in the realm of values as
a whole. There are nine such clusters.
I- Values Associated with
All humans are born innocent.
1) There is neither original sin nor
fall; neither vicarious guilt, nor vicarious
merit; neither predestination to
be saved, nor to be condemned.
2) On the contrary, all humans are
created in the best of forms and perfect; i.e.,
endowed with faculties which
enable them to recognise their Creator and their
creaturely status, to discern
good and evil, to acknowledge their own human
rights and obligations.
3) They are created absolutely
equal. Their physical characteristics as well as
those which pertain to the
geography or sociography of their birth and are no
more than aids for personal
4) There can therefore be no
division of human castes, destined at birth for one
kind of living or another, as
Hinduism claims; or into classes destined at birth for
one kind of function or another,
as Marxism claims; nor predestination to
salvation or damnation as Calvin
taught; nor, finally, ontological election to a
"chosen" status different from
all humans, as Judaism claims. A human's
personal worth or unworth can
never be a function of that person's birth. To be
born is to have the right to be,
to live as long as God alone permits.
No one may be deprived of life
except for legitimate cause, and none may take
away his own life.
5) Equally, to be born is to be
endowed with God's amanah or trust to actualize
the divine patterns, i.e., to
realize the absolute in this space-time.
6) This is the meaning of
khilafah or vicegerency of God.
7) As well as the ground of cosmic
status, the station higher than that of the angels,
which belongs to all humans by
virtue of birth.
8) No human may be deprived of the
right to fulfill the amanah and khilafah, to the
full extent of one's power.
II. Values Associated with
All humans are entitled to have
parents, descendence from whom gives them their names and identities.
9) No foundling may remain a
foundling but must be rehabilitated into his natural
family. All children are
entitled to love and care on the part of their parents or
guardians as well as to
acculturation and socialization, to guidance and discipline,
to redress and punishment where
10) All humans are entitled to a
free education which fully develops their
potentialities and prepares them
for their khilafah.
11) They are entitled to training in
the vocation best adapted to their capacities so
as to produce in their
productive years more than they cost or consume from
conception to burial. Unless
they do so they would not have increased the total
quantitative and qualitative
good of creation, of history, which is the criterion of
their moral worth.
III. Values Associated with
A- Rationalism. The truth
is, and it is knowable by humans. It is one; just as God is One.
12) It is knowable by any of the
twin avenues of reason and revelation, since the
object of both is one and the
same, namely, the will of God which is knowable as
the divine patterns of creation,
in the realms of nature, of the psyche, of society,
of ethical religious and
13) No contradiction between reason
and revelation is ultimate.
14) Wherever contradiction occurs,
it is our understanding of either the data
of revelation, or the data of
nature, that is at fault, necessitating re-examination.
All humans are entitled know the
truth; and no censorship or restriction may be
imposed by anyone.
15) All humans are hence entitled to
enquire, to search, to learn and to teach one
another. Human society is a
school on grand scale where everyone is student
and teacher at the same time.
Ideological or thoroughgoing skepticism is the
inseparable twin of cynicism. It
is false, and a defiance of God.
16) No one may promote it to destroy
the tradition of human knowledge and
wisdom, though questions may
always be asked to increase that legacy. No one
may prevent anybody from
appropriating it or contributing to its growth.
B- Life-and world-Affirmation.
God has created life and the world for good purpose. Life must therefore be
lived and the world developed. Instincts ought to be satisfied and happiness
sought and achieved. Talents, faculties and potentialities, ought to be
realized and the result must be the building and growth of culture and
17) Fulfillment of self as well as of
creation is indeed a divine purpose established that humans, in their pursuit
of it, do the good deeds which actualize the moral values, i.e., the higher
part of the divine will. Conversely, no human may destroy life and the world,
or subvert culture or civilization. Cynicism is a denial of the divine purpose
of creation and action based upon it is a defiance of the Creator Himself
C- Freedom. The liberty to
know and to think (mind), to judge and to choose (heart), to act or not to act
(arm), belongs universally and necessarily to all humans. Coercion in any
form, except as imposed by law, is a civil and religious offence, punishable
in this world as well as in the next.
18) As creatures of God, all humans
are absolutely equal in their relation to Him,
to His providence and justice,
His love and mercy as well as to His judgement in
this world and in the next.
19) Their equal creatureliness is
the corollary of His unity and transcendence.
Differentiation among them is
legitimate only when it is based upon individual
effort and merit.
20) On the other hand, racism,
chosenness, or any discrimination on the basis of
religion, race, colour,
language, ethnicity, descendence geography or history, is
evil prohibited by God and a
threat to His unity and transcendence.
E. Ummatism. Belonging to an
ummah or society is a fact of nature and a divine
pattern. All humans are members of one
ummah or another.
21) while no human may turn his back
to, and dissociate himself from society as
such, each is free to associate
with, or dissociate from any group or ummah. To
this end humans are free to
communicate and assemble with one another, to
build such institutions as would
promote and express such association.
F. Responsibility. Except
minors and the legally-declared insane, all humans are mukallafun;
i.e., responsible before God and the law, each within his/her sphere of
influence. Both men and women are responsible for the welfare of their
dependents, relatives, and neighbors, according to the prescriptions of the
shari'ah if they are Muslims, and to millah law if otherwise.
22) They are responsible for their
contracts and covenants;
23) for fulfillment of established
24) All duties incumbent upon the
collectivity of Muslims become personal
duties incumbent upon every
adult individually, wherever and whenever the
collectivity fails to carry them
25) It is both the right and the
duty of every member of the ummah, of every citizen
of the Islamic state, to bring
court action against any violation of the shari'ah;
and it is the duty of society to
support such an initiative and protect its author.
G. Universalism. Humans were
created to form an open society, where action is meant to actualize the divine
patterns. This is an open competition which any human may enter without
26) Any person or group may join
this society, fulfill its functions, rise in hierarchy
or achieve in its arena all that
personal qualification, self-exertion and effort
27) Righteous achievement of the
individual person is the only basis of merit. All
humans have the right to reside
wherever they choose, to change their
residences at will.
28) Equally, they are entitled to
transport their wealth and goods wherever they
wish, to join or secede from the
ummah of their birth. Muslims may not secede
from their ummah and
continue to reside in the Islamic state.
IV. Values Associated with
29) All wealth belongs to Allah
(SWT) who made everything in creation
subservient to man.
30) If they have acquired it
legally, humans are the trustees and stewards of it,
entitled to its usufruct and
enjoyment without limits. No property may be
expropriated without legitimate
cause and equitable compensation. No one may
prevent another from drawing
benefit from God's bounty in any amount.
31) Property may be owned privately,
corporately or publicly. It may not be
destroyed or abused. Likewise,
no one may make a misrepresentation in
business transactions or cheat,
steal, or rob another of his/her wealth.
32) None may hoard or monopolize any
commodity for the purpose of "cornering
the market" and raising prices
33) None may lend more on interest,
or share the profits without sharing the risks.
The benefits accruing from
public property should devolve to all citizens
according to their needs.
34) All humans are entitled to
employment, and all employment should earn enough
to support the workers and their
dependents throughout life, according to a
clearly defined and agreeable
minimum standard of living.
35) Equal works should earn equal
pay in all cases. All humans are entitled to their
savings and their private
properties. They may give their wealth as gifts or pass
it to their descendents
according to the inheritance laws of their ummah.
36) The orphans, the poor and the
destitute are entitled to the assistance of society
in such measure as would
guarantee the minimum standard of living.
V. Values Associated with
Islam regards decision-making as a
process determined by the principle of shura,
or participation of ruler and ruled
together. Participation in the political life of the ummah or world
state of Islam, is not only a basic human right, but a religious duty.
37) This participation Islam
directs, should express itself in the selection and
appointment of the ruler, in
obedience to and monitoring of the ruler's exercise
of power, in giving the ruler
the benefit of warning and advice and in impeaching
and/or removing the ruler from
office in case of failure.
38) Ruler and government are
expected to fulfill the shari'ah and actualize the
vision of Islam.
39) These are not only
"official" duties of the ruler and members of the
administration, but personal religious and civil duties incumbent
individuals in case the ruler and government fail to realize them.
abhors any discrimination between the citizens of the Islamic state
service based on anything but
personal competence and merit, its ethic forbids
the Muslim to seek public
office, expecting public servants to be sought and
elected or appointed by their
fellows. Self-nomination and promotion
40) Islam regards political office
as a sacred trust placed in the candidate most
capable of fulfilling the ideal
of Islam relevant to that office. Islam regards a
human as entitled to live under
the Pax Islamica - the jurisdiction of the Islamic
state - if they so wish,
regardless of whether or not they are Muslims; and to exit
therefrom, otherwise. In the
former case, they have to abide by the laws or
institutions of their millah,
or faith- community.
41) Islamic law will not apply to
them unless they themselves request such
application. No human may be
arrested or interned except under the laws of his
millah or under criminal
laws of the shari'ah; and none may be subject to
harassment or invasion of
privacy by government officers. No ruler or
government may command the
citizens anything that violates the shari'ah.
Wherever this happens, the
government loses its right to be obeyed , and to
oppose it becomes the duty of
the citizens. Wherever there is departure from the
shari'ah, no obedience is due.
VI. Values Associated with
All humans are entitled to marry and
raise a family;
42) to exercise control over their
children and to acculturate them into their own
traditions. The family in its
extended form is the basic unit constitutive of
society. Its formation,
constitution, and the rights and duties of its members
toward one another are all
defined and girded by the shari'ah. All may choose
and associate with their
friends; and may assemble for any purpose without
permission. All humans are
entitled to have their public morals protected by the
state and their moral/religious
sensitivities safeguard against offence by any
person or agency. All humans are
entitled to the protection of their persons and
properties by their neighbors,
against any damage, and all have the duty to stop
their neighbors' aggression
against any other's person or property.
43) All humans have the right to
identify with the ummah whose ideology
represents their personal
convictions, to lead their lives in ways which they
determine as most consonant with
that ideology, to express that ideology in
theoretical, actional or
esthetic form, and to order their life and leisure as the
ideology dictates. They are
entitled to build and maintain such social and cultural
institutions as their culture
and its creative development demand.
44) They are entitled to help and
support one another if they suffer injustice, and
to prevent same before its
occurrence whether themselves or others. Men and
women are full legal persons and
equal in all matters affecting their lives.
45) Both sexes are entitled to the names
and identities given to them at birth, to
equal education and full
exercise of all religious, cultural, moral, social,
economic, and political rights
and duties under the law. In matters of support and
inheritance, and in some cases
of legal witness, Muslim men and women are not
VII. Values Associated with
46) All humans are equal before the
law; the rulers and the ruled, the rich and the
poor, the black and the white,
the Muslim and non Muslim. All humans have
the right to arbitrate their
disputes among themselves or have them adjudicated
by the courts under the
47) if they are Muslims, under their
millah-law otherwise. They have the right and
the duty to defend one another
before a court, to give witness, to enjoin the
good, to prohibit and prevent
48) The best witness is one given
before it is asked for. No human may be tried in
absentia or without hearing of
49) No one may be commanded or
coerced to counter the shari'ah.
50) Every human is presumed innocent
and treated as such until proven guilty in a
court of law. No person may be
indicted except under the shari'ah, which
pluralistically includes the
millah-laws; and none may be condemned or punished
beyond its prescriptions.
51) No one may be held responsible for
the crime committed by another except in the case of a minor or a person under
52) And no one may be tortured or put
under duress to give witness or information under any circumstances. All
matters flowing out of coercion, cheating or spying are null and void, and
inadmissible as part of any legal process.
VIII. Values Associated with
53) All humans, whether Muslim or non-Nuslim,
citizen or non-citizen resident or non-resident of the Islamic state,
individuals or groups, are entitled to enter into a covenant of peace, mutual
security and friendly relation with the Islamic state. Any human may plead any
case in its shari'ah courts, seek and obtain permission to reside, to
work and trade in peace and security within the Islamic state.
54) In case the non-citizen,
non-resident is a Muslim, the shari'ah would apply to him/her in all
its provisions; in case of the non-Muslim, the laws of his/her millah
will apply. In no case may such a person be treated differently from the
citizens. Every human being is entitled to hear the message of Islam without
exception; and it is the duty of the ummah to present it.
55) No one may prevent the message from
being heard. The Islamic state has the duty to remove such obstacles or "iron
curtains" by any means at its disposal.
56) Besides this, the preservation of
freedom to hear the word of God, to consider and to judge according to one's
best conscience, no cause justifies recourse of force except in the repulsion
of an actual aggressor. No group or people or nation may ridicule another or
deride its faith and tradition. A fortioti, no group, people or nation
may aggress upon another. Inter-group disputes may be solved only through
arbitration or judicial procedure in a court of law. The Islamic state and all
nations ought to support the victims of aggression and to redress the
injustices committed. even if this requires the taking up of arms against the
57) All persecuted humans (not those
running away from justice) have the right to take refuge in the Islamic state.
And the Islamic state is duty hound to extend its protection to them.
IX. Values Associated with Death
58) All humans are entitled to medical
care throughout life and to special care in their old age. If they have no
young dependents to care for them, society is obliged to do so in a way which
safeguards their mental and social health as well as their personal dignity.
Humans are all entitled to free and proper burial according to their millah
59) The human rights and obligations
which Islam recognizes constitute a humanism in which man is not the measure
of all the thing as Protagoras had thought. God or His will is indeed such a
measure. Islam rejects the tragic Promethean view in which man defies God,
steals the fire from Him, and ends like the Greek and German gods in eternal
doom. It equally rejects the Christian view in which man is fallen and
helpless, hopeless except for a God messiah to pull him out of his tragic
predicament. But it commends Christianity and its adherent for their humility,
their love and concern for humanity. It equally rejects the Hindu Upanishadic
and Buddhist Theravadic view that life and existence are an aberration of the
Absolute or an evil to be surmounted by withdrawal and meditative processes.
Finally Islam rejects all ethnocentrist views of humanity and the world,
especially that of Judaism. But it commends Judaism and its adherents for
their tenacity in upholding the absolute unity and transcendence of God.
Islam acknowledges man to be the
vicegerent of God, fully endowed, free and responsible to realize his cosmic
function, and thereby to deserve his eternal bliss or doom. Moreover, Islam's
humanism under God is not a mere philosophy, a system of values advocated by
culture alone. Islam's humanism under God is law known to all, backed by
sanctions and the authority of the Islamic state, and promulgated equally for
its citizens as well as others, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.
1. The Prophet (SAAS) said: Every human
is born innocent ('ala al-fitrah). His parents make him adhere to one
religious tradition or other (i.e., man's historical religiocultural personality
is acquired and not necessary)
2. The Qur'an reported Adam's sin; but it
affirmed that his sin was his own; that he repented and was forgiven.
(Qur'an 2:36-37). The Qur'an also
affirms that no soul will get any more or any less
than it has earned (Qur'an 3:25); that
no person is responsible for the guilt of another, or may intercede on
(Qur'an 2:48): that guilt is not
(Qur'an 6:164); that no atom's weight of
good or evil will be lost in the final reckoning on the Day of judgement. (Qur'an
Allah who created everything perfect (Qur'an
We created man in the best of forms (Qur'an
God then perfected man, breathed into
him of His own spirit. God gave man his hearing, his sight and heart, as
faculties of cognition and knowledge (Qur'an 32:9)
Turn yourselves to the primordial
religion, as a hanif ; to the natural religion innate and absolutely the same
in all humans. That is the only true and worth religion ; (Qur'an 30:30). Add
to these verses the ubiquitous admonition to reason, to consider, to think, to
judge, to compare and contrast, to seek the truth, to choose the right
O People! We created you all of a single
pair of male and female; and We have constituted you into tribes and nations
that you may identify one another. The worthier in the eye of God is the more
righteous (Qur'an 49: 13).
Unless in retaliation for the killing of
another person or in punishment for spreading evil, whoever kills a person has
killed the whole of humanity; and whoever gives life to a person has done so
to the whole of humanity (Qur'an 5:32)
We (God) offered Our trust to heaven
and earth and mountains. They all rejected it, in fear of its burden. But man
accepted and carried it (Qur'an 33:72)
And when thy Lord said to the angels, I
plan to establish a vice-genent for Myself on earth, the angels asked, Would
you establish on earth a creature that sheds blood and spreads evil while we
constantly glorify and adore You? God said: I have designed a plan [for
humanity on earth] which you do not know.
And We commanded the angels to
prostrate themselves before Adam, and they did. (Qur'an 2:34)
We have ennobled and cherished
humankind, enabled them to traverse land and sea, provided them with all good
things, and granted them priority over many other creatures. (Qur'an 17:70).
9. Islamic law condemns adultery in the
strongest terms; but it is most considerate to the children of adulterous
unions, whom it regards as innocent of their parents' crime. It prescribes
their acquisition of the father's name, if known, as legitimate and rightful
in all cases.
(Allah) did not make your adopted sons
(truly) your sons. That is only your empty claim, whereas Allah says the truth
and guides to it. Give them the names of their real parents; that is more just
in Allah's judgement. And if their parents are utterly unknown, then regard
them as your clients, but always as your brothers in religion. (Qur'an
10. In the case of children devoid of
parents or relatives to assume these duties, the shari'ah imposes these
duties upon the Islamic state and regards the chief of state or khalifah
personally responsible for the welfare and Islamic upbringing of such
11. The Prophet (SAAS) decreed that the
pursuit of knowledge is a duty for every Muslim man and woman.
Rather, it is Allah indeed that is the
Truth (Qur'an 22:6).
And proclaim, O Muhammad, the truth has
come and is now manifest. Falsehood has been confuted; for it deserves to be
so (Qur'an 17:81).
Heaven and earth are full of patterns
of Allah for the believers to grasp. In the creation of man as well as in that
of every creature Allah has created, there are patterns to be perceived by those
who are convinced. (Qur'an 45:3-4).
We shall present to them our patterns in
the horizons as well as within themselves (in their consciousness) until they
realize that this is indeed the truth" (Qur'an 41:53).
say O Muhammad, My Lord Who knows all
things, challenges with the truth. Say, the truth has now become manifest. The
opposite of truth has nothing to stand upon and is devoid of effect or power.
Say, if I fall into error, it is my deed, my personal responsibility (Qur'an
Truth and wisdom have become manifest.
They are different from falsehood and straying (Qur'an 2:256). The Prophet (SAAS)
said: Whomsoever God wishes to bless, He causes him to acquire knowledge.
Does man think that he has been created
in vain? (Qur'an 75:36).
The righteous are those who examine and
ponder over the creation of heaven and earth and exclaim in conclusion: O God
You have not created all this in vain (Qur'an 3:191).
There shall be no coercion in religion (Qur'an
Whoever wishes to believe, let him do
so; and whoever wishes to disbelieve, let him do so likewise. (Qur'an 18:29).
19. Supra, note 4. On his last
pilgrimage, the Prophet (SAAS) said in his sermon at 'Arafat: All of you issue
from Adam, and Adam issued from dust. No Arab has any priority over a
non-Arab, no black over a white, and no non-Arab over an Arab and no white
over a black - except in righteousness.
20. Supra, note 4. To everyone a
place will be assigned corresponding to the merit of his deeds (Qur'an 6:83).
The Prophet (SAAS) said: Were Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad himself, to commit
theft, I would impose upon her God's sanction of having her hand cut off,
Let there be of you an ummah
calling to the good deed, enjoining the acts of righteousness and prohibiting
those of evil. Felicitous is such an ummah (Qur'an 3:104).
22. The Prophet (SAAS) said: Everyone of
you is a shepherd, responsible for his flock.
Fulfill your covenants perfectly; for to
convenant is to commit oneself responsibly (Qur'an 17:34).
Felicitous are those believers who keep
their promises and fulfill what they have committed themselves to do (Qur'an
24. Supra, note 21.
Take the side of forgiveness and enjoin
that which is right (Qur'an 7:199).
25. The shari'ah distinguishes
the fard 'ayn (personal duty) from the fard kifayah (collective
duty). But it prescribes the automatic transformation of any collective duty
unto a personal one wherever and whenever the collective has failed to fulfill
And if those whom you call to Allah turn
away from this cause, Allah will exchange them for another people who will be
otherwise (Qur'an 47:38).
No man may receive credit except for
what he himself had wrought. His accomplishments must indeed be shown, and he
must be rewarded accordingly (Qur'an 53:39 -41).
Is not Allah's earth wide enough to
accommodate all? (Qur'an 4:97)
And the earth has He spread out for
living creatures (Qur'an 55:10).
Allah has made the earth subservient to
you, O humankind, strike out then into the world and seek of Allah's bounty (Qur'an
29. This principle of the shari'ah
if often misunderstood to imply discrimination between Muslims and
non-Muslims. That non-Muslims may change their religion and join the Muslim
ummah, and Muslims may not to convert to other religions and join their
respective ummah, is alleged to constitute such illegitimate
discrimination. The fact, however, is otherwise. The shari'ah holds all
humans free to choose their religious affiliations, to enter into and exit
from any religious denominations, including Islam (Editor's Note: This is not
the generally accepted view). What it condemns is exit from political
affiliation with the ummah or the Islamic state while continuing to
reside within its territory. Since affiliation to the religion of Islam is
ipso facto affiliation to the Islamic state and the ummah it is not
conceivable to exit from the one without exiting from the other. Exit from the
religion is a religious matter in which personal freedom is guaranteed for
all. But exit from the ummah is at once an exit from citizenship, or
loyalty to, the Islamic state. No state can or does tolerate anybody's
self-exoneration from loyalty to itself while continuing to affirm one's
citizenship or residence in that state. Such loyalty is a conditio sine qua
non on residence or citizenship. That is why Islamic law has treated exit
from Islam as tantamount to exit from state, and therefore necessitating
either physical separation from the territory of the Islamic state or
prosecution as if it were treason. Naturally, the Muslim who converts to
another religion, secedes from the ummah and exits from the Islamic
state is not only safe because the jurisdiction of Islamic law does not reach
him; neither the ummah nor the Islamic state has any claim against him.
Do you not know that to Allah alone
dominion of heaven and earth (Qur'an 2:107)?
Do you not see that Allah has made
subservient to you everything in heaven and earth and showered His blessings
upon you (Qur'an 31:20)?
So strike out into the earth and seek
the bounty of God therein (Qur'an 62:10).
There are no restrictions on the bounty
of your Lord (Qur'an 17:20) The Prophet (SAAS) said: Whoever appropriates
something of the earth without due title, will be thrown on the Day of
Judgement into the seventh lowest level.
Woe to the fraudulent! Who exact full
measure when they receive but cheat when it is their turn to give (Qur'an
Whether male or female, the hand of
the thieves shall be cut off in retribution from Allah for their misdeed (Qur'an
5:38). The Prophet (SAAS) said: Whoever deals with fraudulence is not a
As to those who pile up their wealth of
gold and silver, who do not spend it in the cause of God, warn them of sure
and dire punishment (Qur'an 9:34). The Prophet said: Every monopolist is a
Allah has made trade or buying and
selling legitimate; but He has prohibited the collection of interest (Qur'an
Those who collect interest are like
those possessed by Satan (Ibid).
Felicitous are those who recognize a
right to the destitute and the deprived to a share in their wealth (Qur'an 70:
24-25). The Prophet (SAAS) said: Give the employee his wages before his sweat
has had time to dry... God honors the believer who practices a profession. In
another hadith the Prophet (SAAS) reported that Allah (SWT), will
prosecute mercilessly anyone who cheats a worker out of his wages.
The inheritance should be divided after
satisfaction of a debt due and the fulfillment of a willed gift (Qur'an 4:11).
37. The Prophet (SAAS) said: Those who
die without having participated in the election of one caliph or political
officer pass away as non-Muslim.
38. Upon his election to the caliphate,
Abu Bakr (Radiya Allahu 'Anh [RAA] May God bless him) said: If I govern
well, you should help me. If I govern badly, you should correct me. . . It is
your duty to obey me only so long as I obey God and His Prophet. Were I to
disobey them, you owe me no more obedience (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat al- Nabiyy
(SAAS) edited by M. M. D. Abdul Hamid, Cairo: M. Subayh, 1383/1963, Vol. IV,
p. 1075. Allah (SWT) described the felicitous believers as
those who conduct their affairs in
consultation among themselves (Qur'an 42:38).
Do not therefore nominate or praise
yourselves. (Qur'an 53:32).
41. This was one of the distinctive
features of the constitution of the Islamic state, the first written statement
constitution in history. It was dictated by the Prophet Mohammad (SAAS) in 622
A.C. on the very first day of the Hijrah, or his arrival to Madinah in that
year, and on account of which that day was declared the beginning of the
Islamic era. The constitution decreed as legitimate and indeed constitutive of
the Islamic state, the Jewish ummah, with its religion and institutions
and laws. Later, the same principle was applied to the Christians by the
Prophet himself (SAAS), and following in his footsteps, the Muslims later
applied it to Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists and adherents of all other
religions who had either lived in the Islamic state or entered therewith into
a covenant of peace! This was responsible for the creation of a novel system
of organization, the first pluralistic society- wherein several religious
communities live in peace under the aegis of a professedly ideological
(Islamic) state. Moreover, this Islamic pluralism is not one of a few
constitutionally guaranteed basic human rights, but a legitimization of all
the laws - religious, social, political, cultural, economic, criminal,
procedural - governing any non-Muslim society which opts for the Pax
Islamica, the world-order of Islam. Thus, the non-Muslim citizens of the
Islamic state may order their lives as their religious and cultural
traditions; and their own courts of law are backed by the Islamic state, for
the enforcement of their own laws.
In their possession is the Torah
wherein is the law of God (Qur'an 5:43). As to the People of the Evangel [the
Christians], let them rule themselves by what God has revealed therein (Qur'an
It is indeed Allah's pattern that He has
created of yourselves spouses in whom to find quiescence; that He established
between you the pattern of mutual love and compassion. Such are the patterns
of Allah that those capable of reasoning may ponder over and consider (Qur'an
30:21). The Prophet (SAAS) commanded Muslims to marry and procreate. Willed
celibacy is condemned in Islam, as is monkery (Qur'an 57:27).
43. Islam stands for the closest
solidarity and mutual security of humans with one another (see Qur'an
90:12-18). Condemning the others, the Qur'an affirmed:
They did not prohibit one another from
committing their evil deeds. Accursed indeed was their conduct (Qur'an 5:79).
The shari'ah is not satisfied to recommend neighborly love in a general
matter, but has established a number of duties which a person must observe
toward the neighbour: and it declared failure and neglect to observe them
subject to sanction.
44. See this author's "The Rights of
Non-Muslims under Islam: Social and Cultural Aspects," Journal of the
Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs. Vol. I, No. 1 (Summer, 1979), pp.
45. The shari'ah was first in
human history to recognize woman as a legal person, fully endowed to perform
all legal functions. This was the consequence of Islam's rehabilitation of
woman, its denial of the Christian myth of Eve as temptress and source of
evil, as cause of original sin and of the fall of humankind, and its
affirmation of equal rights and duties as belonging to her
Allah will not lose count of a single
deed whether committed by man or woman. For men and women are equally members
of one another (of society) (Qur'an 3:195).
46. In order to guarantee woman's
dignity and gird her person against abuse, Islam prescribed that woman is
always entitled to the support of her father, guardian, husband or nearest
male relative, regardless of her wealth. Islam thus exonerated all women from
having to earn their livelihood and be subject to the degradation usually
accompanying a woman in want. Nonetheless, woman is free to work and add to
her personal income if she wishes and has the requisite talent and competence.
Somewhat to balance this favourable position in the economic life of society,
Islam assigned to the male heir double the share of the female. The charge
commonly levelled against Islam as unfair to women usually omits from
consideration men's obligation to support all their women relatives and
concentrates on the half-share in her parents' inheritance assigned her. In
fact, Islam is biased in favor of woman and seeks her protection and welfare
at all times. Another charge against Islam refers to the refusal of the
shari'ah court to consider woman's witness as equal to a man's; but this
too is a misunderstanding. Being intended for the millions rather than the
exception, and assuming the patriarchal family as the basic social unit, the
shari'ah regarded a woman's witness as the full equal of man's in cases
of legitimacy, descendence and family relations - the area with which most
women are indeed familiar - but only half of man's witness in cases of civil,
administration, and criminal laws, with which she is usually not
If you dispute with one another on
any matter, refer it to Allah and His Prophet for adjudication (Qur'an 4:59).
O Muhammad, Adjudicate their disputes by
that which Allah has revealed, and do not follow their desires (Qur'an 4:49).
See also Qur'anic quotations at end of fn. 41 supra.
48. The ethic deterring Muslim conduct
in this regard is based firstly upon the Qur'anic verse:
Let there be of you an ummah
which calls to the good, which enjoins the acts of righteousness, prohibits
the acts of injustice and evil. Such are the felicitous (Qur'an 3:104).
Secondly Muslim commandment towards the neighbor is determined by the
Prophet's commandment: Whoever witnesses an injustice or evil, let him redress
it with his own hand. If he cannot, let him do so with his tongue. And if he
cannot, with his heart; but that is the weakest faith.
Conjecture is no substitute for true
knowledge (Qur'an 53:28
Do not spy on one another; nor talk evil
about another in his absence (Qur'an 49:12). The Prophet (SAAS) said: If the
evil you tell about your neighbor in his absence is true, you have committed a
sin. If it is false, a double sin. He further said: Whoever is sued in court
for a right violated must be heard.
50. Supra, fn. 38.
These are the sanctions of God. Never go
beyond them (Qur'an 2:229). The Prophet (SAAS) commanded: Avoid applying the
sanctions of the law wherever there is any degree of doubt.
52. In such cases, the responsibility of
the guardian is to compensate the victim for the damage or loss of sustained.
Otherwise, no one is responsible but for his/her own action. Allah (SWT)
Every person is responsible but for
what he had wrought (Qur'an 52:21).
Even a little suspicion is a crime (Qur'an
To harm the Believers, whether man or
woman, by ascribing to them what they have not done, is to commit a grave and
perfidious crime (Qur'an 33:58).
54. This is perhaps the greatest
breakthrough in international relations ever achieved, namely, that any
individual or group - not only sovereign nations - are entitled to enter into
the international arena as full legitimate contenders, defendants or
participants. They can conclude covenants or treaties and be responsible for
their fulfillment. Since its inception in 622, the Islamic state opened itself
to anyone or any group desiring to enter into a legitimate relation with it
for any purpose, and empowered all its courts-of-law to deal with any dispute
arising out of such agreements. Like any other legal person, the Islamic state
regarded itself as neither too shy to invite and enter into such relations,
nor too proud to plead in any first-instance court if its agreement was
violated. Indeed, under the shari'ah the court-of-law is a public
institution which any human may enter and use to bring about equity and
justice to any person or interest under the jurisdiction of the Islamic state.
Non-citizen transient residents may even challenge the action of the chief of
55. Calling humans to God is a permanent
personal duty for every Muslim man and woman. Allah ta'ala commanded:
(Qur'an 16:125) See next footnote.
56. This was the cause of all the wars
of conquest which took place in the first century of Muslim history. The state
sent missionaries to present Islam to the ruler and the ruled. Where they were
well received - regardless of whether or not their efforts led to any
conversions, the relation between their nation and the Islamic state remained
good, and that national entered into the "house of peace" with its political,
social, economic and religious structures intact. Where the missionaries were
killed, the state was forced to mobilize and march against the offenders.
Those who rise to redress an injustice
perpetrated against them, and achieve victory, are not blameworthy for what
they do in course of their action , (Qur'an 42:41).
Felicitous are those who, when We
establish their dominions on earth, uphold the salat, pay the zakat,
enjoin the good deeds and prohibit the evil (Qur'an 22:4l).
Call unto the path of your Lord with
wisdom and goodly counsel. Argue with them with the more comely arguments (Qur'an
Say: O People of the Book ! Come now to
a noble principle common to both of us, that we worship none but God; that we
associate naught with Him; and that we take not one another as lords beside
God (Qur'an 3:64).
If any two factions among the believers
quarrel together, reconcile them. If one transgresses the terms of peace, then
fight ye all against the transgressor till he complies. When he does,
reconcile them again in justice and fairness (Qur'an 49:9).
And if any polytheist asks for your
protection, grant it to him that he may hear the word of God. Then escort him
safely to his refuge (Qur'an 9:6).
59. The Prophet (SAAS) commanded: When
your neighbour dies, it is your duty to prepare his remains for burial and do
so well to their Creator who will judge them according to their deeds.