Human rights in islam


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Many human rights are directly linked to the family structure. To protect this structure, Islam has legislated certain duties and rules of behaviour, which both husband and wife are required to observe at home to strengthen the bond of love between them and avoid family problems.

Islam has also legislated similar duties and rules for the state to undertake so as to protect society against external dangers threatening the family structure.
The major responsibility on the husband is the necessity of working to protect his wife and children against the pangs of poverty. He also has to treat his wife well and has to assume certain duties that require him to think a great deal before he opts for divorce. Islam requires that the wife work faithfully in her husband’s house, to safeguard his property and to take care of the care of the children. She is prohibited from allowing anybody into her husband’s home unless her permits he to do so. Concerning the upbringing of children the Prophet (pbuh) said, Attend to your children and bring them up well.” Islam even allows the woman to forego fasting during Ramadhan if she is nursing her child in order to protect her and the child from weakness or harm.
If these duties are carried out property, the structure of the family will remain strong even in difficult times, and its remembers will be able to make fruitful contributions to the welfare of the nation.
Men and women are ordered to lower their gazes, to behave modesty and to avoid lewd and sinful looks at the opposite sex which may lead to actions that could damage the integrity of the family. God expresses this principle in the Qur’an as follows:
Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest.” (Surah Al-Bur 24:30).
Tel the believing women to lower their gazes and be modest.” (Surah Al-Bur 24:31).
Within Islam, women are also enjoined to behave and dress modesty and not to display their charms to others, as was the habit of pre-Islamic women in order to protect them from corrupt and unscrupulous individuals. The Prophet (pbuh) was commanded, in the Qur’an, to inform Muslim women of these characteristics:

O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the believing women to draw their cloaks close round them when they go out. That will be better so that they may be recognized and not annoyed. And God is ever forgiving merciful.” (Surah Al-Ahzab 33:59)

It should also be noted that Islam is the first universal religion which limited polygamy. The maximum was set at four wives and only one under certain conditions. This limitation was delineated in the following Qur'anic verse:
Marry of the women that please you; two, three or four, but if you are afraid that you cannot observe justice (equality of treatment between wives) then one wife is enough for you.” (Surah Al-Nisa 4:3)
Islam confers on the home s special sanctity that should never be violated. It also enacts sever punishments for adultery, defamation of character and all kinds of misbehavior that my lead to the destruction of the family and the dissipation of youthful energies in corruption and vice. In the light of these instructions, the government is responsible for the maintenance of family stability and the protection of public morality, for people as individuals are limited in what they can do on a societal level. Defense of the family structure is of no less value than the defense of the state against an outside enemy. The inside enemy, taking the insidious form of vice and moral degeneration, can undermine the family and Islamic society as a whole in a more vexing and brutal way than an easily recognizable external enemy.


The significance that Islam attaches to learning and education is unique in that Islam believes that goodness cannot prevail in the absence of these two qualities. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “The one who teaches and the one learns are companions in goodness, and there is no goodness in other people.” [At-Tabarani]. This principle is not limited to formal education, but applies to the whole of life. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the first verse to be revealed in the Qur’an commands the Prophet (pbuh) to read.

Read: and your Lord is the Most Bounteous, Who teaches by the pen. He teaches man that which he knew not.” (Surah Al-Alaq 96:1/5)
One of the main qualities by which Adam surpassed the angels was knowledge which God gave him. Similarly, in Islam, the educated man is more excellent than the illiterate man, even if the latter is a good worshipper. God asks rhetorically:
Are those who know equal to hose who know not?” (Surah Al-Zumar 39:9)
Knowledge, as the Qur’an states, leads the educated person to grasp the reality of life.
Those who have been given knowledge see that what is revealed unto you from your Lord is the Truth.” (Surah Al-Saba 34:6).
Real knowledge leads to consciousness of God. It is stated in the Qur’an that it is only the erudite alone among God’s bondsmen who truly fear Him. As was previously stated, for the Muslim, education is an obligation. The Prophet (pbuh) said. “Seeking knowledge is an obligatory duty on all Muslims.” This tradition clearly indicates that the education of young people, boys and girls, is a compulsory right to be fulfilled by their parents and the state. The following example from early Islamic history further clarifies the Prophet’s position with regard to education. As a ransom for some captives from the Battle of Badr, the Prophet (pbuh) agreed to free those who taught ten Muslim children how to read and write.

On various occasions, the Prophet (pbuh) stressed the point that it was the duty of society to uproot illiteracy and ignorance. He charged educated people with the responsibility of instructing the ignorant and encouraged all people to endeavor to educate themselves. Moreover, the Prophet (pbuh) considered teaching one of the rights of neighbors. Once he delivered a speech in which he praised some Muslims and then said, “What about some people who neither learn from their neighbors nor seek advice? By God if people do not teach their neighbors or learn from their neighbors, I will be quick in penalizing them.” When he finished, some people said, “Whom did he mean?” Later it became known that he meant the Ash’arians who were learned people while their neighbors were ignorant. When the Ash’arians realized the Prophet’s (pbuh) implication, they came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said, “O Prophet you have praised certain people and associated us with evils. What about us?”. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “If people do not teach their neighbors or learn from their neighbors. I will be quick in penalizing them in this life”. They said, “O Prophet of God, should we instruct others to make them wiser (than us)?” The Prophet (pbuh) repeated hi statement, so they asked to be given a one year grace period to put his instruction into effect.

In Islam, learning is not limited to religious studies, but includes the study of all that may lead to the betterment of life. Islam considers learning a means by which the secrets of the universe and its law may discovered. Whenever science discovers something, the conscious mind can only wonder at the preciseness and greatness of the Creator. To this end, the Qur’an calls people to study the natural sciences; botany, anatomy and geology and underscores the call with statement to the effect that is the learned people who fear God most.

“Have you not seen that God cause water to fall from the sky, and We produce herewith fruit of diverse hues. Among the hills are streaks, white and red, of diverse hues and (others) raven-black, and of men and beasts and cattle, in like manner, diverse hues. It is the erudite alone among His bondmen who fear. Lo! God is mighty, forgiving.”

On the other hand, limiting knowledge to the secular sciences results in a futile materialist study of only the outward appearance of things. Such material knowledge devoid of a spiritual base eventually destroy even the greatest of civilizations whenever man decides to use the devastating was war machines which he has built. In this respect, God says:
But most of mankind know not. they know only some of the outer appearances of the life of this world and are heedless of the hereafter.” (Surah Al-Rum 30:6)

Upon Contemplation of these facts, one realizes that Islam requires the state to provide free obligatory education for all children. The Prophet (pbuh), spoke of the seeking of knowledge as an ordinance which the government should endeavor to execute to the best to the best of its ability. Just as the fathers of the children who were taught by the captives of Badr were not asked to pay anything in return for their children’s education, the government should heed Islamic injunction to educate its citizen.

Institute for technical and vocation training should be opened and the different talents and natural abilities of children should be directed into the areas which best suit their talents. The Qur’an offers example that reveal the magnificence of the artisan. For example, Prophet David, was a maker or armament as stated in the Qur’an:
And We made iron supple for him, saying, ‘Make long coats of mail and measure its link.

(Surah Saba 34:10-11)
His son, Prophet Solomon, also used to melt metals. “And We caused a fount of copper to gush forth for him.”
And the Jinns around him worked in the manufacture of prayer niches and pots according to his directions by God’s command.
They (the Jinns) made for him what he willed; synagogues and statues, basins like wells and boilers built into the ground.” (Surah Saba 34:13)
God even draws attention to the construction of dams in the story of Dhul-Qarnain:
“…I will erect a strong barrier between you and them. Bring me blocks of iron. At length when he had filled up the space between the two steep mountain-sides..’ (Surah Al-Kahf 19:95-96)
The Qur’an is full of advanced technological references that encourage innovation and inspire man to seek perfection in various arts and trades. Islam has encouraged scientific advancement throughout its long history, and Islamic civilization became a rich source of knowledge from which the West took the science and learning which fueled the renaissance and provided the basis for modern western technological advances.

As for higher education and the value of learned people, Islam recommends the pursuit of knowledge by man till the end of his life, and honors educated people by according to them a status near that of the Prophets. God commands the prophets and Muslims to pray as follows:

And say, ‘My Lord, increase me in knowledge.” (Surah Ta-ha 20:114)
The Prophet (pbuh) further emphasized the importance of continually seeking knowledge saying, “If a man dies while seeking knowledge, he meets God immediately after the prophets.” Within Islam, specialization in practically important branches of science is considered an obligation which has to be undertaken by those in the community who possess talents in these fields.
The Islamic educational curricula seek to purify the soul. Elevate the mind, and invite contemplation. These curricula guarantee the development of the human personality in such a way tat it will respect basic human rights to dignity and freedom and wish prosperity for all people. Needless to say, Islam requires parents to instruct and rear their children well and choose suitable fields for them to excel in. the Prophet (pbuh) said, “The man is shepherd over his family and he is responsible for them. [Bukhari]. Therefore it is incumbent upon the head of the family to prepare his dependants for the future by educating them.
Indeed, Islam encourages every aspect of knowledge and culture which does not contradict the teachings of God, destroy virtues or call to corrupt movements, creeds and deviant philosophies. These exceptions are mentioned because the theoretical aspect of culture is governed by our divinely inherited eternal legacy which has saved us the human effort expended by non-Islamic nations which have not reached the desired harmony between the mind and the heart, nor were these nations able to mould human nature and curb animal drives to create a balanced society like that produced by Islam.


Many people exhaust their time and effort demanding their rights and are discounted with whatever they receive. But rights are not an end in themselves, they are simply a means to fulfill the duties of life. Some people pass through life as animals do and they die without leaving any trace of themselves behind. The real value of man lies in the things which he leaves for posterity, his contribution to life and his share in the services of humanity which are related to the economic, scientific moral and religious advancement of society. Without this sort of participation, man cannot be distinguished from other creatures, and his existence becomes pointless. God says in Qur’an”.

Deemed you then that We have created you for naught, and that you would not returned unto us? May God be exalted, the True King. There is no God save Him, the Lord of the throne of grace.”

(Surah Al-Muminun 23:115-116)
According to the teachings of Islam, man was granted the right to life in order to use it in the production of good words and deeds. Hence, life is merely a means by which man may earn the right to happily meet God with his record full of god deeds and deserve a dignified position on the Day of Judgment. Man is granted the right to liberty to that all opportunities to used his energies without obstacles or restriction may be available him as long as he respect the freedom of others and observes the rights of God.
Man is endowed with the right to equality in order that he able to work in an atmosphere of equal opportunity, wherein the protection of human dignity is guaranteed. Such an atmosphere should inspire man to do his utmost and thereby benefit society with his talents and abilities. The rights of dignity, justice, marriage and learning are all means to fulfill duties. Therefore, these means should not in themselves become obstacles preventing man from realizing his ultimate goals. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Each of you is like shepherd and each is responsible for his flock.” [Bukhari].

Thus, we see that man has a duty towards himself, a duty towards God, a duty towards his family and his society and a duty towards his life in this world and the next, as is outlined in detail in the teachings of Islam. Being conscious of these duties and fulfilling them is the main problem man faces at the present time. If a human being, whatever race or nationality he belongs to, is deeply aware of these duties, he can with God’s help, surmount all obstacles that confront him in life. In fact, consciousness of these duties drives him to go beyond himself to uphold the rights of the oppressed by strengthening the relevant legal and social foundations of society and by purging the earth of those who trample on the rights and dignity of mankind.

1 Note that the "We" here in reference to God does not mean plurality, but is the "Royal We" used to indicate Majesty & Highness.

2 Abu Dharr Ah-Ghifari (d. 31 AH/652) an early companion of the Prophet was well-known for his asceticism, deep religious knowledge, and narration of the sayings of the Prophet. Died 31AH.

3 Amr ibn Al-As was a companion of the Prophet. As a Muslim General he annexed Egypt to the Muslim state under the Caliph ‘Umar ibn Khattab’. Appointed as governor of Egypt by Umar, he remained in that position for several years until he was removed during the Caliphate of ‘Uthman.

4 Al-Hasan means father of Hasan. To address a man in this way is a mark of respect among Arab Muslims to this day.

5 Usamah ibn Zaid (d. 58 A.H. / 660 C.E.) was one of the nearest and most intimate companions of the Prophet. In spite of him being a teenager, he was sent by the Prophet immediately before his death to lead a major military campaign to Syria.

6 It has been narrated that the son of Amr ibn Al-As, the Governor of Egypt under Umar ibn Al-Khattab, once entered into a horse race with a native Egyptian. When the Egyptian won the race, Amr's son became very angry and slapped the Egyptian. The Egyptian went to Madinah and complained to Caliph Umar. Umar ordered the Governor and His son to come to Madinah. After their arrival, he ordered the Egyptian to retaliate and blamed 'Amr ibn Al-As for allowing his son to abuse his rule.

7 Dhimmi comes from the word Dhimmah, meaning responsibility. The Muslim state undertakes the responsibility of protecting its non-Muslim citizens.

8 Banu Qurayzah were a clan of treacherous Jews who violated their accord with Muslims and allied themselves with the pagan confederates during the invasion of Makkah.

9 Dung is a symbol of shame.

10 The Bait Al-Mal is the Ministry of Finance in the Islamic state.

11 Umm Salamah Hind bint Abu Umaiyah was a wife of the Prophet and a narrator of many of his sayings (died 59 AH)/ 661 C.E.)

12 Usually made from the thin roots of a tree called Arak.

13 Consultation.

14 The Battle of Uhud was the second armed conflict between the Muslims and the Pagans of Makkah. It took place on the third year of Hijrah. The pagans intended to take revenge for their defeat at Badr. Although many Muslims were killed in this Battle, the enemies could not achieve their goals

15 This was the Prophet's opinion, to fight them from Madinah.

16 The early name of the City of Madinah.

17 Hamzah, one of the paternal uncles of the Prophet Muhammad, was killed in the Battle of Uhud wherein the pagans inflicted severe loses to the Muslims.

18 Abdullah ibn Amr, son of Amr ibn Al-As, was a very pious and sincere Muslim. He is among the more famous narrators of the Prophet's sayings among the Prophet's companions.

19 The twelfth month according to the lunar Hijri Calendar.

20 Meaning that he considered himself at fault.

21 Tawaf is a form of worship which involves walking around the Ka’bah seven times while praying.

22 Abdullah Ibn Umar was a very pious first generation Muslim and a narrator of many traditions of the Prophet. He died in 73 A.H. / 693 C.E.

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