Human Rights In Islam & Their Significance

Importance of Human Rights in Islam

The human rights conferred by Allah are a part and parcel of the Islamic faith. Every Muslim administrator or government, which claims to be truly Islamic, will have to accept and give their citizens these rights. If they fail to do so this and deny their people their rights conferred by Allah or make amendments in these rights or pay only lip service while practically violating these rights then they are the transgressors, as stated by the Quran:

“And those who do not judge by what Allah has laid down are the transgressors.” (Holy Quran 5: 47)

Every administrator who claims to be a Muslim has to accept these laws. If he denies them or does not enforce them he is a disbeliever, as the Quran states:

“And those who do not judge by what Allah has laid down they are surely disbelievers.” (Holy Quran 5: 44)

Therefore we may conclude the rights of humans granted by Allah cannot be withdrawn from any race, party or individual. No one has the right to abrogate or withdraw them. They are not simple basic rights only to be conferred on paper for the sake of show and exhibition and not to be enacted upon.

In this blog I will discuss the basic human rights especially with their Islamic viewpoint.

Basic Human Rights in Islam

1. The Right to Life & the Right of Necessity to Safety of Life

The punishment of taking life in retaliation for murder or for spreading mischief can only be decided by a competent court & a just trial.  No individual or party or government itself has the right to decide such a question of life by itself.

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

This saving of life is irrespective of race, color, religion etc. And saving of life takes several forms.

Significance of Death Penalty 

“And there is for you in legal retribution (Qisas) [saving of] life, O you [people] of understanding, that you may become righteous.” (Holy Quran 2: 179)

The death penalty for murder is an insurance to basic human right of life. It has been observed historically & universally that whenever and wherever the death penalty was/is imposed for the crime of murder, the crime rate has been and remains very low.

In this way, the Holy Quran states that law of retribution is actually the basis of life for humans. Murderers and killers will  think a million times before committing a murder and humans will feel million times more safe and secure in their homes, travel, work place etc.

2. Individual’s Right to Freedom

Islam has forbidden the primitive practice of capturing a free man and making him a slave or to sell him into slavery.

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) has stated:

“ There are three categories of people against whom I shall myself be a plaintiff on the Day of Judgment. Of these three one is he who enslaves a free man, then sells him and eats his money.” (Albukhari and Ibn Majah)

This right to freedom is for everyone irrespective of nation, color, race, religion etc.

3. Equality of Human Beings

Islam recognizes the principle of absolute equality between men irrespective of colour, race or nationality.

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.

(Holy Quran : 49: 13)

This has been perfectly stated by the Holy Prophet (PBUH):

“No Arab has any superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; no white man has any superiority over a  black man neither does the black man have any superiority over the white man.” ( Last Sermon)

In other words all humans are brothers. They are all descendants from one father and mother. This means that the division of human beings into nations, races or tribes is only for the sake of distinction so that they may meet and cooperate with one another. This division of humans is neither meant for one nation to take pride in its superiority over others nor for one group of people to assume superiority over others.

In this manner Islam established the principle of equality of the entire human race and struck at the very root of all distinctions based on colour, race, language or nationality. According to Islam, Allah has given man this right of equality as a birthright.

Sanctity of home life requires that every citizen has right to take residence wherever he feels convenient and desires to reside. Division of localities on the basis of race, colour and language is against the fundamental human rights of the people.

4. The Right to Equal Justice

Since all humans are equal, they have right to receive equal justice. Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. Thus everyone has the right to justice. Justice before the law is to be strictly impartial without regard to religion, race, position, wealth or any other criteria.This is another important & valuable right given in Islam to all  people, irrespective of race, religion, etc.

“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, acquainted.”

(Holy Quran 4: 135)

Rulers Not Above The Law:
A woman belonging to a high and noble family was arrested in connection with theft. The case was brought to the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon HIM), And it was recommended that she might be spared the punishment of theft. The Holy Prophet (Peace be upon HIM) replied:

    “The nations that lived before you were destroyed by Allah because they
punished the common man for their offenses and let their dignitaries go
unpunished for their crimes; I swear by Him Who holds my life in His hand
that even if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, had committed this crime,
I would have amputated her hand.”

(Sahih Bukhari)

5. Freedom of Expression

Islam gives the right of freedom of thought and expression to all citizens of an Islamic state.

It is the obligation on every individual to attempt to stop evil whether committed by another individual or by a group of people or by a party or even the government. The Holy Quran says about the true believers of the Islamic faith:

“They enjoin what is right and forbid what is evil.” (Holy Quran 9: 71)

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said:

“If any one of you comes across an evil, he should try to stop it with his hands i.e. by force; if he is not in a position then he should speak up with his tongue, and even if he can’t do this then he should condemn it in his heart and this is the weakest of the faith.”

This obligation is incumbent upon all true Muslims. Any government that deprives its citizens of this right is in direct conflict with its people and most importantly with Allah. It is then trying to seize a right that Allah has conferred on man.

Freedom of expression is on the condition that it is used for propagating virtue and not for spreading evil e.g. speaking against Islam,  or any or other religion or against Holy revered personalities is NOT permissible, as this may hurt the sentiments of other humans & in this way fringe upon their other basic human rights.

6. Security of Personal Freedom

Islam has laid down the principle that no citizen can be imprisoned unless his guilt has been proven in an open court. To arrest a man only on the basis of suspicion and to throw him into a prison without proper court proceedings and without providing him a reasonable opportunity to produce his defense is not permissible in Islam.

In Islam everyone is innocent until proven guilty through evidence in the court of law. 

Caliph Umer bin Abd-ul-Aziz (RA) issued instructions that accused should not be subjected to coercion. Officials expressed their apprehension. In their view this was the only way to maintain law and order, they tried to justify coercive measures to eliminate offences from the society. The Caliph rejected their concerns and replied: Let it happen, if it was the result of obedience to Allah’s Commands.

Protection From Arbitrary Imprisonment:
Islam also recognizes the right of the individual not to be arrested or imprisoned for the offenses of others. The Holy Quran from the English translation of the “Kanzul Iman” has laid down this principle clearly:

“And no soul bearer of burden will bear the burden of another. And if any
one heavily loaded calls any other to share its load, not anyone will bear
anything from its burden, even though he may be a near relation…” (35:18)

7. Freedom Of Conscience And Conviction:

Every human can freely practice his/her religion of his choice. Islam or any other religion cannot be enforced upon another human. Islam has laid down the injunction in the Holy Quran:

“There is no compulsion in religion; no doubt the virtuous path has become
clearly distinct from the erring; then whoso does not accept devil and
believes in Allah, he grasped a very firm knot which is never to open and
Allah Hears and Knows.” (2:256)

“And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed, all of them together. So, will you (O Muhammad) then compel mankind, until they become believers?” (10:99)

“Say: O you mankind! Now truth has come to you from your Lord. So whosoever accepts guidance, he does so for the good of his own self; and whosoever goes astray, he does so to his own loss; and I am not (set) over you as an agent (disposer of affairs to oblige you for guidance).” (10:108)

“The truth is from your Lord. Then whosoever wills, let him to believe; and whosoever will, let him disbelieve.” (18:29)

 “So remind them (O Muhammad), for you are but a remembrance. You are not at all a warder over them. Save the one who turns away and disbelieves. Then Allah will punish him with the direst punishment. Verily, to us will be their return; then verily, for us will be their reckoning.” (88:21-26)

On the contrary, totalitarian societies totally deprive the individuals of their freedom. Indeed, this undue exaltation of the state authority curiously enough postulates a sort of servitude, of slavishness on the part of man. At one time slavery meant total control of man over man – now that type of slavery has been legally abolished but in its place totalitarian societies impose a similar sort of control over individuals.

Freedom of Choice and Action:

Within the scope of law everyone has right to conduct his social, economic and political activities in his daily routine of life. State has no right to provide unnecessary, limitations over the activities of the citizens as regards their right to freedom of choice and action. The Holy Qur’an says:

“Say (O Muhammad): Who has forbidden the beauties of life as adornment from Allah which He has brought forth for those who submit to Him, and blessed them with provisions of life pure and agreeable” (7:32)

What is important about civil rights in Islam is that almighty the law Giver granted those rights and declared Himself the Guarantor, as state has no right to suspend them. Violation of these rights is considered injury to right of Allah.

Freedom to Cooperate in Good and Not to Cooperative in Evil:

“And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression.” (Holy Quran 5 : 2)

8. Rights of Non-Muslims in Islam

Islam has given more rights to humans of other faiths/minorities than any other religion.

9. Protection of Religious Sentiments

Along with the freedom of conviction and freedom of conscience, Islam has given the right to the individual that his religious sentiments will be given due respect and nothing will be said or done which may encroach upon his right.

It is not allowed to adopt insulting behaviour or use abusive language against any system of belief, personalities or teaching of their religions.

“Do not insult those (other than Allah) whom they worship; they may, in return, insult Allah in ignorance; God has made good the practices of every community in its sight; all will finally return to their God, they will then know the reality of all that they do.” (6:108)

10. The Right of Honor and Respect

One should not humiliate and disrespect another human especially in public.

Protecting the honor of fellow humans will avoid many social evils.

11. Right to Protest Against Tyranny

Islam has conferred on human beings the right to protest against a government’s tyranny.

The Quran says:

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

This means that Allah strongly disapproves of abusive language or strong words of condemnation, but that person or group of people upon whom grave injustice has been done, do have the right to protest strongly and openly against the injury that has been done to them.

This right also applies to a group of people or a party etc. If  an individual or a group of people or a party usurps power after holding the reins of authority, begins to harass individuals or group of men or the entire population, then to raise the voice of protest is a God-given right.

Abu Said al-Khudri narrates:
The Messenger of God said: “The most valuable jihad is to advocate justice in the face of an unjust ruler.” (Ibn Dawood, Ibn Majah)

12. Political Rights (Right to Participate in Government Affairs)

We can see how politics throughout the world has far reaching effects upon the masses and upon basic human rights. It is said that the destiny of a nation depends upon its rulers and the opposite is also true. If we have a good Muslim Khalifah (Imam or Muslim head of state) the masses will be good and if the masses will not or don’t strive for the establishment of an Islamic state or are somehow are prevented from doing so then Allah will give them a ruler who will lead them far away from Islam.

In Islam complete sovereignty belongs to Allah alone and thus only His laws and commandments are to be implemented.

It is the duty and basic right of Muslims in the state to keep a good check on the Khalifah and his council. They can’t just go on doing whatever they want to do while the Muslims of the state are ignorant of their activities. They have to set them straight if they go astray from any injunction of the Quran and Sunnah. Under no circumstances does Islam permit an individual or a group of people to deprive the common Muslims of their right to participate in the affairs of the state.

A hadith states:

“After me there will come some people as rulers. Whosoever supports their lying and helps their oppression, he is not of me and I am not of him.”

13. Respect for the Chastity of Women & Other Women Rights

A women’s chastity must be respected and protected at all times whether she belongs to one’s own nation or to the nation of an enemy, whether we find her in a remote forest or in a conquered city, whether she is a Muslim or a non-Muslim a Muslim may not abuse or harass her in any circumstances.

Heavy punishment has been prescribed for this crime.  Any person guilty of sexual assault or harassment or slandering against an innocent woman deserves punishment which Islam has laid down.

A Muslim can’t escape punishment for committing this crime in an Islamic government. This punishment protects the sanctity and chastity of women and only Islam gives this protection. Again it serves as a deterrence against crimes against women.

In many European/western countries, women are being forced to remove their Hijab and or their Niqab which is a grave infringement of their basic human right.

14. The Right To Basic Necessities Of Life

Speaking about economic rights the Holy Quran says:

“And in their wealth there is acknowledged right for the needy and the destitute.”(51:12)

The clear meaning of this verse is that anyone who asks for help and anyone who is suffering from deprivation has a right to share in the property and wealth of a Muslim country; irrespective of race, color, nation or religion. Therefore it is also the Government’s duty to help such people who are in need of these basic necessities of life. This includes food, health, education and shelter.

15. Property Rights:

Individual ownership of property is a trust from Almighty the Creator. No one has right to destroy or take away property belonging to other people. The Holy Qur’an says:

“O ye who believe! Eat up not your property among yourselves in vanities; but let there be amongst you business and trade through mutual agreement.” (4:29)

“O believers! Do not betray the trust of God and Prophet, and do not intentionally appropriate, property entrusted to you. (8:27)”

This is why Islam has advocated corporal punishments for theft and robbery so that one would think a million times before doing so. At the same time Islam encourages charity (Zakat and Sadaqat) as mentioned above.

Since Allah Almighty is the real owner of everything therefore we must observe limitations provided by him.

16. Rights of Employees, Laborers

17. Right to privacy:

It is a basic right of every citizen that his private life should be respected. He must enjoy moments of privacy at his home. The Holy Qur’an says:

“O believers! Do not enter houses of others, without respectfully seeking permission of their occupants; this is the conduct enjoined on you. And if you find none in a house, do not enter it unless directed otherwise. And go back if you are not allowed entry, this is what behooves you; and God knows all that you do. There is nothing wrong on your part, if you enter uninhabited places, if they are of any use to you; but God knows what you express or conceal.” (24:27-29)

Islam has forbidden spying into the private lives of people:

We are well aware of the disastrous effects media has caused by invading the private lives of people.

What is Personal & What is Not? – The Islamic Perspective

18. Right to Health Care

Poverty, ignorance and disease are considered to be the most disturbing factors in human life. It is duty of the state to provide health facilities to entire population of the country, and build infrastructure of small health units and a network of hospitals. Preventive measures play an important role in this regard. Clean and pollution free atmosphere is an essential requirement of healthy life. Cleanliness is part of faith as narrated from the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him). Faith is not complete without observing cleanliness.

Islamic teachings provide a complete code of health care and preventive measures to make a person healthy and active in his daily routine of life. It is obligation of the state to promote these measures and take adequate steps to ensure provision of clean, water and maintain clean atmosphere in living areas. This is the reason that concentration of population is discouraged, and development of new cities is recommended.

19. Right to Acquire Knowledge

The Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “It is duty of every Muslim man and woman to acquire knowledge”. It is an obligation to recite few verses from the Holy Qur’an during performance of five times prayers in a day; therefore it is duty of every Muslim to learn few chapters from the Holy Qur’an by heart.

He is supposed to know about his rights and obligations towards parents, spouse, children and near relatives. All this demands to acquire a minimum level of education. Islamic teachings can be made part of life only through a process of learning by each and every member of the community. It is fundamental right of a Muslim to have facilities and adequate opportunities for learning and acquiring knowledge. The Holy Qur’an says:

“Allah raises up in rank those of you who believe and have been given knowledge.” (58:11)

‘O, my Lord! Advance me in knowledge (20: 114)’ “That those who have no knowledge are not equal to those who have (39: 9)”

“That the meanings of revelation become manifest to those ‘who have knowledge’ and who have understanding’’ (6: 97-98)”

“That ‘whosoever has been knowledge indeed has been given an abundant good’ (2: 269)”

“That basic qualifications for leadership, knowledge and physical strength (2:247)” “And that of all things it is by virtue of knowledge that earth (2:30)”

Demand for acquisition of knowledge is not restricted to religious knowledge only; it covers almost every field of knowledge beneficial to humanity in any way. The Holy Quran is a book of knowledge and wisdom it is duty of the state to make adequate arrangements for teaching of the Holy Quran at various levels of education right from primary to university.

20. Rights of Parents and Children

Islam lays utmost importance to rights of parents, not only for what they endured for out upbringing, but for the betterment and welfare of the society as a whole:

This is opposed to the barbaric, inhuman, primitive practice started in the western countries of shifting parents to old homes where they receive less care and more importantly less love.


Summary of the basic human rights in Islam:

Some of these basic rights may not be implemented in Muslim countries (Turkey, Saudi Arabia) but that is the fault of the rulers, not a fault in teachings of Islam.

Human Rights Violations in Saudi Arabia

Importance of Human Rights in Islam

These human rights conferred by Allah are a part and parcel of the Islamic faith. Every Muslim administrator or government, which claims to be truly Islamic, will have to accept and give their citizens these rights. If they fail to do so this and deny their people their rights conferred by Allah or make amendments in these rights or pay only lip service while practically violating these rights then they are the transgressors, as stated by the Quran:

“And those who do not judge by what Allah has laid down are the transgressors.” (Holy Quran 5: 47)

These laws are Universal and for all mankind. Every administrator who claims to be a Muslim has to accept these laws. If he denies them or does not enforce them he is a disbeliever, as the Quran states:

“And those who do not judge by what Allah has laid down they are surely disbelievers.” (Holy Quran 5: 44)

Therefore from  we may conclude the rights of humans granted by Allah cannot be withdrawn from any race, party or individual. No one has the right to abrogate or withdraw them. They are not simple basic rights only to be conferred on paper for the sake of show and exhibition and not to be enacted upon.

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