Monday, December 06, 2004

Human Rights Declaration

In December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 30 articles of which focused on respect for human rights and basic personal freedoms. The unanimous adoption of the resolution was preceded by considerable debate; and the final proclamation of an individual’s personal, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights was understandably hailed as an exceptional historical achievement which would have everlasting repercussions for mankind. Interestingly, it took the United Nations a further 28 years to ratify the declaration into two human rights covenants, both of which helped to formalise the need for universal respect for personal and social freedoms. Yet, over 1400 years ago, mankind had witnessed a much more significant and, given the circumstances prevailing at that time, an extremely profound declaration of rights. The revelation of the Holy Quran , which for Muslims is the true and final word of God, bestowed and promoted personal and communal values which human society till then had not fully appreciated. This unique Book continues to guide and influence millions of faithful followers all over the world. It is an emphatic endorsement of human prerogatives, setting the basis for an equitable society in which both individual and communal rights are unequivocally guaranteed. But the Holy Quran is not simply a code of ethics or a series of directives which are to be taught and blindly obeyed. Its message is much more fundamental and its aims have a far deeper meaning, dealing essentially with a person’s inner self. The values it propagates are absolute and timeless, and the principles therein are not relative to any particular circumstance. Throughout the Holy Quran , however, the need to constantly reflect on the meaning, significance, relevance and practical application of its timeless message is repeatedly stressed. The fundamental covenants of the United Nations Declaration are, in fact, clearly enshrined in the Holy Quran , which with philosophical and practical justification proclaims the rights to life, liberty, personal security, fair trial, individual privacy, education and social equality. And more importantly, it propounds the freedom of movement, thought, religion, opinion and expression.The main doctrine of Islam is that the purpose of existence of man, as of all other creatures, is the submission to the inimitable laws of God. But whereas nature in general obeys God’s laws instinctively, man alone possesses the choice to comply or to disobey.The consequences of man’s action are judged by God, He being the creator and the real law maker in this universe. There is, however no compulsion in Islam, and man is encouraged to reason, to seek, to question and to judge. This naturally generates a moral struggle, manifested by man’s constant endeavour to comfort and satisfy his inner self, and then to look beyond himself to utilise his many potentialities for the sake of others. This is a far-reaching responsibility, which according to Islamic theology is a vital purpose of our existence. The Holy Quran leaves no doubt about its concern for the dignity of human beings. It encourages social service in terms of alleviating suffering, helping the needy and caring for the weak. Again, the aim is not simply showing mercy or doing a good deed because it is required of us to do so, but rather the integration of man’s many virtues towards making himself a balanced personality and in turn helping to create a fair society.

:: As explained
(17:70), Allah Almighty honours mankind; has given it superiority over other creatures and has granted it special favours.

:: On the other hand, all human beings are equal and everyone gets the rewards or otherwise for what he or she has done
(3:195). One of the more fundamental liberties, which man always strives for, is the right to free thought and expression. In proclaiming these liberties, however, the UN Declaration does state limits by recognising societal obligations, the rights of others and the concern for morality, public order and general welfare. These, of course, are not unreasonable restrictions. The Holy Quran also recognises the need for such social norms to be respected, but it remains singularly certain about the value it places on expression.

:: In Sura Al-Rahman
(55:4) the emphasis is clear. Man has been given intelligent speech; the powers to communicate; the capacity to comprehend and the ability to explain.

:: And the parable
(2:253) further amplifies this vital message by highlighting differences of opinion, and the right to differ.Clarity of expression and sanctity of thought are desirable virtues.

:: The Holy Quran itself is devoid of ambiguity and reveals
(12:1-2), that its verses are intended to make everything clear; that they are explicit and comprehensible, so that one may adopt them with reasoning.

By this same token, the person most dangerous in society is the hypocrite or the ‘Munafiq’, who expresses things quite differently from what he or she actually believes and whose actions are more likely to be tinged with ulterior selfish motives.On a more social level and within the realms of a just society, expressing oneself and conversing call for certain etiquette to be respected. The Holy Quran asks that there be no dubiety in speech; that the language used be common and understandable; that conversation remains free from falsehoods and artificiality, and that the speaker’s manner be reserved and restrained. These virtues are, of course, faultless !Islam seeks to establish a society in which everyone can walk freely and have complete physical, mental and spiritual freedom. The only restrictions would be those placed by the Divine Laws.If human beings earnestly make the effort to endorse, practice and propagate the rights, guidance, wisdom and values bestowed upon them, then society would continue to evolve and benefit from the boundless munificence which Allah Almighty has placed at our disposal. Let us then rededicate ourselves to reading about, understanding and practicing with more earnestness, the call for a fair and peaceful society which the Holy Quran guides us towards. The creation of a blissful and universal united nation may then become that much easier.

Concept Of Jehad In Islam

Quran's Perspective

The concept of Jihad in Islam has been grossly misunderstood, rather distorted. In the West, where it has been presented as barbarism, as aggressive use of brute force. The term, ‘militant Islam', which has been in vogue in the world Press recently, is a follow-up of this very approach to the fundamental concept of Islam and a continuation of the old Jihad' phobia of the non-Muslims.
The after-affects of the Crusades, which badly affected the relations between the Muslims and the Christians, still linger on. European Christians are still smarting under that defeat. They have, therefore, tried all sorts of means to eliminate the spirit of Jihad from amongst the Muslims, as it was this spirit that reduced their designs to dust. Through malicious propaganda campaigns, distortion on the true concept of Jihad and labeling of Muslims as barbarous killers and usurpers, they have depicted a horribly ugly picture of Islam in the eyes of the world. The significance of Jihad must, therefore, be elucidates in the light of the Holy Quran. ‘Jihad' means striving utmost to achieve an objective. The primary objective before the Muslims is establishment of a social order based on the Quranic fundamental principles. All efforts to that end fall with in the meaning of ‘Jihad'. Armed fight against formidable resistance by self-seeking people, which is called ‘Qatal' is also Jihad and has been allowed by the Quran. Otherwise, Islam is a ‘Deen' of peace and safety.

Three questions arise here: (1) Is Islam really a ‘Deen' of peace, justice, and tolerance? (2) Does it allow discriminate fighting against the enemy, or has it laid down certain checks and rules for it? (3) Under what circumstances did the Muslims fight against non-Muslims?

So for as the first question is concerned, the Holy Quran says, “There has come to you from Allah Almighty a light in the form of a perspicuous book where with Allah Almighty guides all who seek His good pleasure to a path of peace and safety.”
(5: 15-16). The very word ‘Islam' means peace. Mischief is prohibited in Islam. Thus it is said, “Do no mischief on the earth after it has been set in order.” ( 7:56 ). The Quran refers to past nations who were destroyed for spreading mischief in the world. According to the Holy Quran, the very object of sending Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last messenger of God, was to eradicate mischief which had spread on account of human whims and wishes replacing the Divine laws brought by the previous messengers of God (30:41). Belief in God and mischief cannot go together. They are opposed to each other, (38:28).

A Muslim society cannot accommodate injustice. “O you who believe stand out firmly for justice as witnesses to God, even as against yourself, or your parents, or your kins, or whether it be (against) rich or poor for Allah Almighty can best protect both.”
(4:135). To do justice in a favorable and neutral atmosphere is meritorious but the real test comes when you have to do justice to people who are your enemies. The Quran says: “O you who believe, stand out firmly for God as witnesses to fair dealing and let not the hatred of others make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice.” (5:8). The Holy Quran has strongly prohibited killing anyone unless one is a murderer, or one who spreads mischief in the land.” ( 5:33 ). The Quran strongly prohibits plunder and arson whether the offender or the victim & a Muslim or a non-Muslim (2:205). In code of ethics, how can one expect the followers of the Quran to be cruel and usurpers. The vigorous enemy propaganda that Islam spread by Deent of sword springs from sheer prejudice. Compulsion in the matter of faith is contrary to the basic Quranic teachings. The objective before a Muslim is so to develop his personality in accordance with the Divine laws as to survive physical death and reach a higher evolutionary stage in the life hereafter.

Can an unwilling convert then fit in the Quranic society? The Quran says, “If it had been thy Lord's will, they would all have believed, all who are on earth; will you then compel mankind to believe against their will?
(10:99). Again it is said, “So the truth is from your Lord. Let him who will, believe, and let him, who will, reject it.” ( 18:29 ). The Holy Quran has forcefully declared: “Let there be no compulsion in ‘Deen'; truth stands out clear from error” (2:256).

The question then is, under what circumstances did Muslims fight against non-Muslims. Islam is a ‘Deen' which relates to a social organization encompassing all aspects of human life. In a State based on ‘Deen', the sovereignty is that of Allah Almighty or of the fundamental and immutable laws that lie safely inside the Holy Quran. The central authority of the State is only an instrument for the enforcement of laws.

Law & power

An organized political community cannot exist without power. According to the Holy Quran, the Book (law), the balance (justice) and the iron (power) hold a society together. Thus the law its enforcement with justice and the power to protect the rule of law are the basic pillars of a State organization under Divine guidance. The Quran says: “We sent afore time our messengers with clear signs an sent down with them the Book and the balance that men may stand forth in justice; an we sent down iron which is a great strength (for protection) as well as many other benefits for mankind.”
(57:25). A law becomes law in reality when it has been enforced which cannot be done without power. But power too should be used in accordance with law for otherwise it will reduce itself to barbarism.

QITAL: Qital is only a part of Jihad, which is constant struggle for the establishment and protection of ‘Deen'. It was first permitted to Muslims in self-defence only when the Quraish attacked Medina. Where the former had migrated to escape persecution by the Meccans to work for Islam in a more favorable environment”. To those against whom war is made permission is given (to fight) because they are wronged: and verily Allah Almighty is more powerful for their aid. (They are) those who have been expelled from their homes for no truthful cause except that they say, ‘Our Sustainer is Allah Almighty.” The Quran enjoins upon believers to protect non-believers living in an Islamic State and allow them the freedom of worship and protection of their places of worship. Are they not then entitled to protect themselves? The concept of religious freedom amongst non-Muslims is the freedom of worship and freedom to observe their rituals. But in Islam it is the right to determine a way of life or organize a political community based on the Quranic fundamentals. Anybody who comes in the way of this freedom, or interferes with this way of existence shall be resisted by the Muslims. The believers cannot exist in an atmosphere of slavery, though it may be called peaceful from the worldly point of view. Generally, a peaceful reign means the one where all sorts of crimes are forcibly eliminated. This is a positive act, but the Quran leads further. According to the Holy Quran, a real peace can exist only where there is subservience to Allah Almighty alone. Such is the only constructive reign. Subservience of an established truth to human whims and wishes is ‘Fasad' (disorder and confusion) in the Quranic terminology
(23:71). Accordingly, any conflict between State based on Divine fundamentals on the one hand and one based on man-made laws on the other is a conflict between truth and falsehood between order and confusion. Thus fighting is allowed against the forces of evil which interfere in the establishment of a social order based on truth. But believers are commanded only to raise arms in defense of ‘Deen' and are not allowed to transgress limits. Fighting is also allowed in the event of violation of international contracts. Fulfillment of contracts is one of the basic teachings of the Quran. (5:1, 17:34 , 16:91). The Muslims are bound to honour them as long as the other party is faithful to them. But a contract can be openly, not deceitfully, terminated of treachery on the part of the enemy is feared.As against this, the modern pattern of international relationship is based upon diplomacy, which is hailed as an art and a commendable act, though it is another name for deceit. Machiavellianism governs modern inter-State relations. Alliances are made only to be broken at will. But the Quran has laid down specific rules for breaking a treaty. It is ordained that a period of four months should be allowed by way of notice after denunciation of the treaty; that due protection be accorded in the intervening period; that the door to repentance and reunion with the people f God should always be left open; and that if all measures fail and war is bound to be undertaken, it must be pushed with the utmost vigour.

Defence of weak

The Quran also allows fighting for the help of the oppressed. “And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah Almighty and those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? Men, women and children whose cry is: ‘Our Nourisher! Rescue us from this town where people are oppressors and raise for us from thee one who will help.”
(4:75). Evil consorts evil The good have all the more reason for drawing together by not only living in mutual harmony, but also by being ready at all times to protect each other. Otherwise, the world would be given over to aggression by unscrupulous people and the good will fail in their duty to establish peace and strengthen the forces of truth and righteousness (8:73). To help the oppressed, wherever they are and whatever is their race, colour, language and faith, is the duty of the Muslims enjoined by Allah Almighty. Allah Almighty's plan is universal. He provides protection to all his creature. To protect one, He may have to check another. “And did not Allah Almighty check one set of people by means of another, the world would indeed be full of mischief: but Allah Almighty is full of bounty to all the worlds.” (2:251). Within the Islamic State itself, use of force is allowed, first, against those guilty of treason against the State ( 5:36 ); and, secondly against the hypocrites who, though given the privileges of association with goodness and piety, persist in wicked deeds. (66:9) The Rasool (peace be upon him) and his immediate successors acted upon these principles. It was because of their having strictly observed _______ is ethics that the Muslim rule of law spread over vast areas of the globe within a short span of time. But when the subsequent Muslim generations turned their back upon the teachings of the Quran, they were bound to reap what they had sown.

Source: Parvez-video