Home > English (General) > Ridhuan Tee, Dr M are wrong: Human rights were in the Quran, long before the West

Ridhuan Tee, Dr M are wrong: Human rights were in the Quran, long before the West

Redhuan Tee

by  Moaz Nair

Human rights are absolute fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because he or she is a human being. As long as these are not nihilistic in nature or that would cause social and moral mayhem, every citizen should be able to espouse human rights for the betterment of our nation.

The view that human rights from the Western perspective in general would undermine Islam is more of a political statement than reality. This view is erroneously smeared with prejudice and smacks of politics. Ridhuan Tee and comrades who, reportedly, criticized with a jaundiced view the fundamental values of human rights in the Malaysian context should instead honestly highlight the issue of human rights from the Islamic perspective rather than from the Western perspective.

They should take into discussion the many Western precepts on human rights that are intrinsically compatible with Islam. So sad that in their fervour to criticize human rights and the Opposition they must refer, in a selective manner, to what the Western countries preach and practice when the essence of the same corpus could readily be found – in fact very much earlier –  in the very religion they profess.

They should instead convey to the people the sanctity of human rights as wished for in Islam – referring to the Quran – and suggest that these rights be practised by true Muslims and that they are sanguinely applicable to non-Muslims as well. The Quran, in essence, has advocated human rights long before the West.

The Quran lays down:

“…When you speak, speak with justice … “ (6:152)

Attempts to derail the growing support for human rights

The problem with these bigoted critics of human rights is that they would always want to view the ideals of human rights from the racial and political points of view despite claiming to be professing the religion of Islam. These politically stained views are deliberate attempts to derail the growing support for human rights among Malaysians. True Muslims do not fear human rights but consider these rights as part of their faith. In fact, they should be promoting human rights in a multi-racial society in the country to ensure that all people irrespective of race or religion get to live together without prejudice and fear for one another.

The fact that the ummah is divided because of political ideologies does not warrant statements from those with some vested interests to describe human rights as mechanisms created by the West to diminish the power of the state or religion. This group of people need to take some simple lessons on Islam to understand what Islam has in store for them as far as human rights are concerned before they start triggering their voice chord.

Malaysians have no reason to be influenced into thinking that human rights cannot be practised compassionately in this country. One of the biggest Malay-Muslim based political party in this country is PAS and PAS – as opposed to UMNO – has reiterated many times before that understanding the importance of human rights from the Islamic standpoint is significant to make Muslims and non-Muslims in the country live together in peace and harmony.

Do not practise what they preach

Human rights in Islam are not just expressions of pious hope. If the Western democracies do not practice what they preach on human rights it does not mean that this facet of doctrine endorsed by the United Nations becomes irrelevant to others. The same quandary is seen in many Muslim countries when it comes to this issue.

“Despite all the high sounding ambitious resolutions of the United Nations, human rights have been violated and trampled upon at different places, and the United Nations has been a helpless spectator. The UN is not in a position to exercise an effective check on the violation of human rights. “

“Despite all the precepts on human rights being clearly stipulated in the Quran most Muslim countries and leaders are violating the Divine order by not adhering to these ordained precepts.”

In other words the perpetrators here are that those in power and with vested interests are with intent not practising the ideals of these sacred doctrines. And this therefore is more of a human problem rather than the underlying principles of human rights itself. Malaysia is blessed with people of various races and religions and they aspire the best when it comes to their rights as citizens.

The government of the day has to be fair

The fundamental principle of human rights – from the Islamic or non-Islamic source -–  is about creating a just society and this should be acknowledged by every true Muslim. The government of the day has to be fair to all its citizens – irrespective of their race or religion. In here, we should be able to see social justice in the country.

The theological approach to human rights – involving all religions – has been uncared for, derided or overlooked by some critics. Believe in God is a precept of the Rukun Negara. Hypothetically, we could conclude that almost all Malaysians believe in God or the Divine power. Temporal authorities who claim to be religious and yet violate the rights sanctioned by God on all human beings are actually propping up injustice.

To true Muslims the Divine precepts on human rights found in the Quran are applicable to people of all races and religions in the country. They are in essence part and parcel of the Islamic Faith. Every Muslim or administrators who claim themselves to be Muslims will have to accept, recognize and enforce them. If they fail to enforce them, and start denying the rights that have been guaranteed by God or dilute them, or just about violate them is doing injustice to the people and hence the people will have the right to abominate.

The right to criticize

The people demand that the elective representatives of the people – the executive head of the government and the members of the assembly – should be elected by free and independent choice of the people.  The media mechanism should demonstrate fairness to all aspiring political candidates.  The people and their representatives should have the right to criticize and freely express their opinions.

The actual situations of the country should be brought before the people without suppressing any information so that they may be able to form their opinion about whether the government is competent, accountable and transparent. There should be fair elections and adequate guarantee that only those people who have the support of the masses are elected to govern the country. There has to be a guarantee that manipulation and electoral rigging are not the practice. These elements are also part and parcel of Islam and all these embody the precepts of human rights aspired in a democracy.

Islam lays down some rights for man as a human being. Injustice is abhorred. Every man irrespective of his belief, creed or race has their basic human rights by virtue of the person being a human being. This is recognized by every true Muslim and it will be the government’s duty to fulfil these obligations.

One cannot kill or order a soul to be killed

The Quran lays down:

“…  that whoever kills a person, unless it be for man-slaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he killed all men; and whoever saves a life, it is as though he saved the lives of all men…” (5:32)

Thus, the first and the foremost basic right  in Islam is the right to live, let live and  the respect of human life. No human being has any right by himself to take human life unjustly, in retaliation or for causing mischief on this earth. Justice is foremost in Islam.

The Quran lays down:

“Do not kill a soul which Allah has made sacred except through the due process of law …” (6:151)

This elucidates the fact that one cannot kill or order a soul to be killed as he wishes and that only a proper and competent court will be able to decide whether or not an individual has forfeited his (or her) right to life by disregarding the right to life and peace of other human beings. Outside this legal perimeter, one has no right to take a person’s life.

The Quran lays down:

Whosoever kills a human being without (any reason like) man slaughter, or corruption on earth, it is as though he had killed all mankind …” (5:32)

In all these verses of the Quran the word ‘soul’ (nafs) has been used in general terms without any distinction made on the basis of race or religion. The injunction applies to all human beings and the destruction of human life in itself has been prohibited. The right to life in Islam does not apply only exclusively to Muslims but those of other faiths and those of other countries. Every single person on earth is regarded as a human being with dignity in Islam.

The right to safety of life

The Quran lays down:

“God commands justice and fair dealing…” (16:90)

“Do not approach (the bounds of) adultery.” (17:32).

“If you fear that you cannot be just, then marry only one…” (4:3)

In relation to this, the chastity of women – often referred to as the physically “weaker” sex –  has to be respected. Human rights granted by Islam is that a woman’s chastity has to be respected and protected under all circumstances irrespective of her race or religion. A woman cannot be outraged under any circumstances. She has dignity in life. Her chastity is as precious as her life. They are not gloves to be destroyed after use.

The Quran lays down:

God has said: “And whoever saves a life it is as though he had saved the lives of all mankind.” (5:32).

The right to safety of life is fundamental. Every person thus has the right to the safety of life. He has to be protected from elements that could deprive him (or her)  of his (or her) life and property.

The poor and the deprived

The Quran says:

“And in their wealth there is acknowledged right for the needy and the destitute.” (51:19).

Islam has recognized the right of the needy people – irrespective of race or religion – that help and assistance will be provided for them. They have the right to basic necessities of life such as food, shelter, education and jobs. A truly Islamic state is therefore a truly welfare state which will be the sentinel or minder of all those people in need. The poor and the deprived irrespective of his nationality, race or colour need to be helped and it the duty of the rich to help the poor. There should not be any sentiment of racialism, as for the able it should be regarded as their duty to save every human life as enjoined in the Quran.

The Quran lays down:

“And in their wealth there is acknowledged right for the needy and destitute.” (51:19)

Human rights in Islam involves the  basic standard of life. The prosperous should not ignore the poor. The poor who ask for help or are deprived of basic needs in life – irrespective of their race or religion – need to be helped. It is the duty of the government or individuals who have the means to help those who are deprived of their basic needs in life.

Individual’s right to freedom

The Quran lays down:

“And surely We have honoured the children of Adam, and We carry them in the land and the sea, and We have given them the good things, and We have made them to excel by an appropriate excellent over most of those whom We have created.” (17:70)

Human rights allow individual’s right to freedom. Human beings are allowed to live with dignity and as free individuals.  Political freedom is a means of leading mankind to justice, goodness and peace. It guarantees and protects the political rights of all people. Freedom is an indisputable right which enables individuals to lead a moral and upright life. It liberates the mind, soul, and helps mankind overcome tyrannical despot, unjust laws, greed and discriminations. Freedom here lies in commitment and responsibility. Freedom without restraints leads only to nihilism, corruption and immorality.

The Quran lays down:

“God commands you to render trusts to whom they are due, and when you judge between people, judge with justice…” (4:58)

“Do not let your hatred of a people incite you to aggression.” (5:2).

“God does not forbid you from doing good and being just to those who have neither fought you over your faith nor evicted you from your homes…” (60:8)

“And do not let ill-will towards any folk incite you so that you swerve from dealing justly. Be just; that is nearest to heedfulness.” (5:8).

“You who believe stand steadfast before God as witness for (truth and) fair play.” (4:135).

Human rights demand the right to justice. Muslims, therefore, cannot be unjust to anyone – Muslim or non-Muslim. It should be such that no man should ever fear injustice at their hands, and they should treat every human being with justice and fairness.

The right to be treated equally

The Quran lays down:

The Almighty God has laid down in the Holy Quran: “O mankind, we have created you from a male and female.”  And we set you up as nations and tribes so that you may be able to recognize each other.” (49:13).

Human beings have the right to be treated equal. Islam recognizes equality in all human beings irrespective of any distinction of colour, race or nationality. In other words, all human beings are brothers to one another. They are all descendants of Adam. This implies that the division of human beings into nations, races, groups and tribes is for the sake of identification, so that people of one race or tribe may meet and be acquainted with the people belonging to another race or tribe and work with one another. This division of the human race is never designed for one nation to be superior over others nor is it intended for one nation to treat another with disdain or ignominy. The Prophet’s saying is thus:

“No Arab has any superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab. Nor does a white man have any superiority over a black man, or the black man any superiority over the white man. You are all the children of Adam, and Adam was created from clay.” (al-Bayhaqiand al-Bazzaz).

God has given man this right of equality as a legacy. Therefore no man should be discriminated against on the ground of the colour of his skin, his place of birth, the race or the nation in which he was born. Human rights in Islam have established equality for the entire human race with no distinctions based on colour, race, language or nationality.

The Quran lays down:

“Whenever you judge between people, you should judge with (a sense of) justice.” (4:58).

Islam has also laid down the principle that no person can be imprisoned (or detained) unless his guilt has been proven in an open court. There has to be proper court proceedings and the accused be given  a reasonable opportunity to produce his defence.

Freedom of association

The Quran says:

“God does not love evil talk in public unless it is by someone who has been injured thereby.” (4:148).

It has been conferred on human beings the right to protest against government’s oppression or despotism. This means that God strongly disapproves condemnation or defamation but the person who has been the victim of injustice or oppression is given the right to openly protest against the injury that has been done unto him.

The Quran lays down:

“They enjoin what is proper and forbid what is improper.” (9:71).

Islam gives the right of freedom of thought and expression to all citizens on the proviso that it should be used for the promulgation of virtue and legitimacy and not for spreading malevolence and impiety. The right to freedom of expression for the sake of propagating virtue and righteousness is not only a right in Islam but an obligation. And this is the path of righteousness which an individual, nation or government should espouse.

The Quran lays down:

“You are the best community which has been brought forth for mankind. You command what is proper and forbid what is improper and you believe in God … (3:110)

“Let there be a community among you who will invite (people) to (do) good, command what is proper and forbid what is improper, those will be prosperous.” (3:104).

Islam has also given people the right to freedom of association and formation of parties or organizations. These are employed for disseminating virtue and rectitude and should never be used for spreading falsehood.

No coercion in the matter of faith

The Quran lays down:

The Holy Quran has laid down the injunction: “There should be no coercion in the matter of faith.” (2:256).

No moral, social or political pressure will be put on any citizen to change his faith. Islam gives the right to freedom of conscience and conviction to the citizens. No force will be applied in order to coerce them to accept Islam. Whoever accepts it he does so by his own will. But if somebody does not accept Islam, Muslims will have to respect his decision.

The Quran lays down:

“God commands justice and fair dealing…” (16:90)

“O you who believe, be upright for God, and (be) bearers of witness with justice!…” (5:8)

“We sent Our Messengers with clear signs and sent down with them the Book and the Measure in order to establish justice among the people…” (57:25)

Justice is an obligation of Islam and injustice is prohibited.  The phrase “Our Messengers” shows that justice has been the goal of all revelations and scriptures sent to humanity. The right to equality before law in vividly pronounced in Islam. No individual is above the law or can claim exemption. An ordinary citizen in Islam has the right to put forward a claim or file a legal complaint against the highest authority of the country if he feels that injustice is done to him or the society in general.

Western world espouses human rights too

Human rights are absolute fundamental rights of a human being. To the critics, these are just some out of the numerous precepts ordained in the Quran that promotes the importance of human rights in any society.  These precepts do not contradict with most of the elements prescribed by the West on human rights.. The Western world espouses human rights too and other than those that could lead to nihilism, hedonism and irreligiosity are acceptable in Islam, as they would not undermine Islam or the rights of all religions and citizens. The fact that the Western countries or most Muslim countries are not practising what they preach should not preclude the needs for most of these fundamental doctrines to be adhered to in Malaysia. To those critics, rest assured that human rights that espouse fairness to the people – irrespective of race or religion – would see a more harmonious society that is void of oppression, unfairness and injustice.

Source : MC

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