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fundamental rights in islam

IQBAL EBRAHIM

UNDERSTANDING ISLAM

For Muslims the Qur’an is an all-embracing guide that lays down the basis of Islamic law, economic and social systems of Islam and also certain basic rights that we should render to our fellow humans. When we talk of human rights in Islam we mean those rights that have been granted by God Almighty; not those granted by any legislative body or ruler.  

In the world of today there are many organisations that fight for and promote the rights of individuals some of those rights are against the laws of the Almighty. For example in some countries people are openly urging and pressuring religious organisations and even churches to accept and conduct same sex marriages, taking it even further they are pushing for the ordination of gay priests; both the Quran and the Bible prohibit such acts yet there are the proponents for such rights of an individual. It is strange that those who shout the loudest for ‘rights’ usually introduce many ‘wrongs’ in the name of those rights?

In todays’ world there are groups that are demanding ‘personal rights and freedoms’ of the individual however let us differentiate ‘freedom’. Their logic is that it is their ‘human right’ to do or say whatever they want to. This is in despite of the fact that even though some of those rights and freedoms being claimed may be or are in direct contravention of the Laws of God; regardless they want to abolish the Laws of God and to replace them with the laws of man. In Islam or in any other religious faith for that matter, the laws of man cannot take precedence over the Laws of God. Here are but a few of those fundamental, individual and communal rights that are embedded in Islam.

Right to life

The most basic and fundamental of human rights is the right to life, the Qur’an says: “Whosoever kills any human being (without any valid reason) unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief on earth, it is though he had killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life it is though as he had saved the lives of all mankind” (Qur’an 5: 32). “Do not kill a soul which Allah has made sacred except by way of justice and law” (Qur’an 6: 151). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) explained: ‘The greatest sins are to associate partners with Allah and to kill a human being’. In Islam this right to life is for all human beings and not only confined to its adherents.

Justice

This is a right which God Almighty has bestowed on all human beings, believer or non-believer, friend or foe. The Qur’an teaches and promotes universal justice. Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an: “We sent our messengers with clear teachings and sent down along with them the Book and the Balance so that society may be established on the basis of justice” (Qur’an 57 : 25). It further says “O Believers stand for the cause of God and as witness to justice and remember that enmity of some people should not lead you to injustice. Be just as it is nearest to God consciousness” (Qur’an 5: 8 ). This makes it obligatory that a believer in God Almighty must uphold justice in all circumstances and not only to his own people but even to his enemies.

Equality

The Qur’an recognises that all human beings are equal irrespective of any distinction of race, colour or sex. The Qur’an says: “O Mankind We have created you from a male and female, and We made you as nations and tribes so that you may be able to recognise each other…… Indeed the most honourable among you before God is the most righteous”. (Qur’an 49 : 13).. Therefore any superiority for man is based on his piety, righteousness, sense of responsibility and character. Even then one who has these noble qualities would not have any privileged rights over others.

Freedom of conscience and religion

The Qur’an asserts that Islam is the path to salvation however it clearly mentions that there is no compulsion in accepting or rejecting the religion of Islam. “There is no compulsion in (submitting to) the religion, truth stands out clear from error” (Qur’an 2 : 256). Every individual has been granted basic freedom to accept a religion of his or her choice.

Therefore no religion should be imposed on a person. Additionally there is personal freedom; No person can be deprived of his or her personal freedom except in pursuit of justice. Therefore there should not be any arbitrary detention without the permission of a duly appointed judge and with proof.

Protection of Honour

Every person must be afforded basic human dignity which should not be violated. If someone attacks the honour of a person the culprit will be punished according to the Islamic Law. The Qur’an says: “Do not let one group of people make fun of another group”…. “Do not defame one another”…………. And do not backbite or speak ill of one another” (Qur’an 49: 11-12).

Another important right granted is the respect for the honour and chastity of women which must be respected and safeguarded in all circumstances and cannot be outraged even in war. A report in South Africa revealed that ‘on average a woman is raped every five minutes’. This violation of women is slowly beginning to rear its ugly head in Botswana. Can we just sit by and allow the honour of our women folk to be abused and violated in this manner? In Islam if a person is found guilty of raping a woman then capital punishment applies.
 
Right of Association

The right to associate with anyone in the matters of virtue and goodness and the right to oppose evil and not cooperate in sinful acts is enshrined in the following verse; “And co-operate with one another on matters of righteousness and God-consciousness and do not co-operate with one another on matters of sin and enmity” (Qur’an 5: 2)

Rights of the Weak

It is not permissible to oppress or take undue advantage of women, children, old people, the sick or the wounded. The hungry person must be fed, the naked clothed and the wounded or diseased treated medically irrespective of whether they belong to the one’s own community or not. A believer has a duty to support and help the less privileged, poor and needy persons of our society:

“and in their (believers) wealth there is an acknowledged portion for the needy and the deprived” (Qur’an 70: 25. Therefore in Islam we have what is called Zakaat (poor due). This is the fourth pillar of Islam and it is obligatory upon every Muslim who possesses enough means, to yearly distribute a certain percentage of their assets to the poor and needy. ‘…..and those who pay Zakaat have the assurance of the Hereafter…..and these are the ones that will prosper’ (Quran 31; 1-5)

This is but a partial list of those rights that have been sanctioned and granted by Almighty Allah; they cannot be suspended, trodden over or tampered with by any individual or legislative body. They have to be respected and promoted in all circumstances as a religious duty.

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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