In Sahih Al-Bukhari, the Prophet (PBUH) said that our blood, possessions, and honor are sacred to each other. Islam is a religion that does not allow discrimination. The basis of Islam is justice, and denying someone their human rights is a form of injustice. Thus, bigotry, racism, and the ilk are all incompatible with the religion of Islam.
The Islamic concept of human rights, however, differs from the universal definition of the term. Western human rights organizations aim to allow a person to do anything of his or her own accord. Human rights advocates also believe in complete freedom of expression, allowing people to say anything. That includes offensive statements about Allah, Islam, the Prophet (PBUH), etc.
Human rights in Islam view society collectively as a whole. Allah’s commands are the only way to determine right and wrong. As mentioned earlier, Islam focuses on justice. Human rights organizations focus on across-the-board equality, equality for men and women in everything, for example, which defies the laws of nature. Thus, Islam does indeed protect human rights, but not in line with Western definitions of the term.
Learn more about the Quran to know the specifics of Islam and human rights. You can get to know more about learning the Quran online here.
Racism and bigotry
Allah outlines in the Quran, in Surah Al-Hujurat, how tribal differences, etc., only serve to help us to know each other. However, these differences of race, color, ethnicity, etc., amount to nothing when it comes to being judged in front of Allah. Piety and obedience to Allah are the only things that matter.
The Prophet (PBUH) explicitly stated this in a Hadith in Musnad Ahmad, declaring that an Arab is in no way greater than a non-Arab, nor is one with red skin superior to one with dark skin or vice versa, except in terms of piety. Hence, piety is the only criterion by which one can be deemed superior to another.
Allah also says in the Quran, in Surah Ar-Rum, that among his signs is the creation of the universe and our various languages and colors. Hence, our Lord explains that the diversity among human beings is one of his signs. It does not make anyone superior or inferior to another.
All Muslims are born equal in front of Allah, and it is our deeds that determine our fate. If Allah created someone with dark, reddish, or yellowish skin, what does it mean if we ridicule such people? Racism and prejudice based on things like the color of someone’s skin is a form of mocking Allah’s creation.
Human life is sacred.
In Surah Al-Ma’idah, Allah informs us that killing a soul without an Islamically valid reason is like killing all of mankind while saving a soul is akin to saving the whole of mankind. In no uncertain terms, Allah has placed importance on the sanctity of life in Islam. We cannot take life for minor reasons, as life is extremely precious. The killing of innocent persons is a heinous crime.
Islam also prohibits acts such as suicide. In the West, there has been serious discussion about the permissibility or the “right” to commit suicide. This concept is utterly alien to Islam and is not allowed under any circumstances.
However, capital punishment for certain crimes is permissible. Human rights organizations, nowadays are pushing for the elimination of this concept. However, it is very much a part of Sharia and is essential for justice. Crimes such as murder require that the option be available for retribution. After that, it’s up to the victim’s next of kin to decide if he wants to apply Qisaas (retaliation), Diyah (blood money), or forgiveness. The elimination of capital punishment in the name of “human rights” infringes upon the realm of justice.
Slavery and human rights
When Islam was introduced to the Arab lands, slavery was rampant in society. It was a way of life amongst the desert Arabs. Islam focused on a long-term effort to end this institution. The statement from the Prophet (PBUH), in Saheeh Al-Bukhari, to visit those who are sick, give food to the ones experiencing hunger, and free the slaves is one of the well-known Hadith on the topic. However, there aren’t any texts that encourage people to take slaves.
Islam, therefore, mainly focused on improving the conditions for slaves. Muslims are encouraged to utilize their zakat to free slaves. Freeing slaves is also a form of expiation for sins, such as breaking vows. Several Prophetic Hadith emphasized the importance of treating slaves well and being kind and compassionate to them. These were unfathomable concepts at the time.
In the West, the emphasis on ending slavery has resulted in the old form of slavery being mostly wiped out. However, it has been replaced by a psychological form of slavery, whereby people willingly get involved in all kinds of harmful things that benefit the corporate industry. The drug and sex industries and associated addictions are a few of the examples that are relevant here.
No compulsion in religion
In Surah Al-Baqarah, we are clearly told that there is to be no compulsion when it comes to entering the religion. The Quran puts a lot of emphasis on the importance of disbelievers accepting Islam. Muslims are, however, prohibited from forcing others to accept Islam. The acceptance of Islam must come from the heart, and forced conversions have no meaning.
Muslims must treat all human beings with kindness. Neighbors are amongst those who have rights. In this regard, Allah mentions in Surah Al-Mumtahanah that He does not tell us to not show righteousness and fairness to those who don’t fight us over religion and drive us out of our homes. Therefore, upholding ties and being fair with the non-Muslims is very much a part of Islam.
Regarding the treatment of non-Muslims in a Muslim state, the Prophet (PBUH) also said that if one wrongs a contracting man, or lessens his right, or coerces him to work beyond his capability, or takes something from him without acquiring his permission, the Prophet (PBUH) will plead the case of the wronged man on the Last Day.
Justice is among the paramount human rights in Islam
We can determine that human rights are indeed ingrained in Islam as long as they don’t infringe upon the realm of justice. Allah said in Surah Al-Ma’idah to not let one’s dislike of a people stop him from being fair.
Therefore, we must realize the rights of others. The ones mentioned earlier are just a few of several human rights in Islam. We need to make sure that we always behave in accordance with Islamic injunctions and obey Allah’s commands.
Islam is a beacon of human rights, promoting fairness, equality, and the utmost respect for life. It resolutely condemns racism and discrimination, highlighting the value of every individual. While its view on human rights may vary from the West, it guards these rights firmly within the boundaries of justice and faith, cherishing the rich tapestry of humanity.