Elijah and a Blind Man

`In the time of the prophet Elijah it came to pass that Elijah seeing a blind man weeping, a man of good life, asked him, saying: "Why weepest thou, O brother?" The blind man answered: "I weep because I cannot see Elijah the prophet, the holy one of God."

`Then Elijah rebuked him, saying: "Cease from weeping,  O man, for in weeping thou sinnest."

`The blind man answered: "Now tell me, is it a sin to see a holy prophet of God, that raiseth the dead and maketh the fire to come down from heaven?"

`Elijah answered: "Thou speakest not the truth, for Elijah is not able to do anything of all that thou sayest, because he is a man as thou art. For all the men in the world cannot make one fly to be born."

`Said the blind man: "Thou sayest this, O man, because Elijah must have rebuked thee for some sin of thine, wherefore thou hatest him."

`Elijah answered: "May it please God that thou be speaking the truth: because, O brother, if I should hate Elijah I should love God, and the more I should hate Elijah the more I should love God."

`Hereupon was the blind man greatly angered, and said: "As God liveth, thou art an impious fellow! Can God then be loved while one hateth the prophets of God? Begone forthwith, for I will not listen to thee any longer!"

`Elijah answered: "Brother, now mayest thou see with thine intellect how evil is bodily seeing. For thou desirest sight to see Elijah, and hatest Elijah with thy soul."

`The blind man answered: "Now begone! For thou art the devil, that wouldst make me sin against the holy one of God."

`Then Elijah gave a sigh, and said with tears: "Thou hast spoken the truth, O brother, for my flesh, which thou desirest to see, separateth thee from God."

`Said the blind man: "I do not wish to see thee; nay, if I had my eyes, I would close them so as not to see thee?"

`Then said Elijah: "Know, brother, that I am Elijah!"

`The blind man answered: "Thou speakest not the truth."

`Then said the disciples of Elijah: "Brother, he verily is the prophet of God, Elijah."

`"Let him tell," said the blind man, "if he be the prophet, of what seed I am, and how I became blind?'

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Three Who Were Tried on Wealth

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said that: He heard the Prophet (PBUH) said: "There were three men among the Banu Israel, one leper, one bald and one blind. Allah wanted to test them. He therefore, sent to them an angel who came to the leper and asked him what he would like best. He replied: "A good colour, a good skin and to be rid of what makes me loathsome to people". He (the angel) rubbed him and his loathsomeness vanished and he was given a good colour and a good skin. He then asked him what type of property he would like best. The leper replied that he would like camels - [or perhaps he said cattle, for Ishaq (one of the subnarrator of the Hadith) was uncertain, either said: 'Camels,' or: 'Cattle']. He was given a pregnant she-camel. The angel invoked for Allah's Blessing on it.

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Coming of a Muslim

Many places in the Holy Quran, feeding an orphan or an indigent, serving humanity is mentioned before belief in God. In other places, belief in God is followed by service to humanity. A person who shares his wealth and possessions with his needy relatives and others has a beautiful character. He does so only for the love of God without seeking a reward from people. God makes it easy for such a person to become a Muslim.

On the other hand, a person may already be a Muslim and also serving humanity. Such a Muslim is true in word and deeds. There are also many verses in the Holy Quran which speak about severe punishment and being placed in the Hellfire for those people who do not give a portion of their wealth to the needy.

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Ch 3: RIGHTS OF CITIZENS IN AN ISLAMIC STATE

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We have discussed the human rights in general. Now we would like
to take up the question of rights of the citizens in an Islamic State. As
these rights are more extensive than the general human rights which
have been described earlier, they need separate treatment.
 

1. The Security of Life and Property

In the address which the Prophet delivered on the occasion of the
Farewell Hajj, he said: "Your lives and properties are forbidden to one
another till you meet your Lord on the Day of Resurrection." God
Almighty has laid down in the Holy Quran: "Anyone who kills a
believer deliberately will receive as his reward (a sentence) to live in
Hell for ever. God will be angry with him and curse him, and prepare
dreadful torment for him" (4:93). The Prophet has also said about the
dhimmis (the non-Muslim citizens of the Muslim State): "One who kills
a man under covenant (i.e. a dhimmi) will not even smell the fragrance
of Paradise" (al-Bukhari and Abu Dawud). Islam prohibits homicide but
allows only one exception, that the killing is done in the due process of
law which the Quran refers to as bi al-haqq (with the truth). Therefore
a man can be killed only when the law demands it, and it is obvious
that only a court of law can decide whether the execution is being
carried out with justice or without justification. In case of war or
insurrection a just and righteous government alone, which follows the
Shari'ah or the Islamic Law, can decide whether a war is just or unjust,
whether taking of a life is justified or not; and whether a person is a
rebel or not and who can be sentenced to death as a punishment. These
weighty decisions cannot be left in the hands of a court which has
become heedless to God and is under the influence of the administra-
tion. A judiciary like this may miscarry justice. Nor can the crimes of
state be justified on the authority of the Holy Quran or Traditions
(hadith) when the state murders its citizens openly and secretly without
any hesitation or on the slightest pretext, because they are opposed to
its unjust policies and actions or criticize it for its misdeed, and also
provides protection to its hired assassins who have been guilty of the
heinous crime of murder of an innocent person resulting in the fact,
that neither the police take any action against such criminals nor can
any proof or witnesses against these criminals be produced in the courts
of law. The very existence of such a government is a crime and none of
the killings carried out by them can be called "execution for the sake of
justice" in the phraseology of the Holy Quran.

Along with security of life, Islam has with equal clarity and
definiteness conferred the right of security of ownership of property, as
mentioned earlier with reference to the address of the Farewell Hajj. On
the other hand, the Holy Quran goes so far as to declare that the taking
of people's possessions or property is completely prohibited unless they
are acquired by lawful means as permitted in the Laws of God. The
Law of God categorically declares "Do not devour one another's wealth
by false and illegal means" (2:188).
 

2. The Protection of Honour

The second important right is the right of the citizens to the
protection of their honour. In the address delivered on the occasion of
the Farewell Hajj, to which I have referred earlier, the Prophet did not
only prohibit the life and property of the Muslims to one another, but
also any encroachment upon their honour, respect and chastity were
forbidden to one another. The Holy Quran clearly lays down:

(a) "You who believe, do not let one (set of) people make fun of
     another set.
(b) Do not defame one another.
(c) Do not insult by using nicknames.
(d) And do not backbite or speak ill of one another" (49:11-12).

This is the law of Islam for the protection of honour which is
indeed much superior to and better than the Western Law of Defama-
tion. According to the Islamic Law if it is proved that someone has
attacked the honour of another person, then irrespective of the fact
whether or not the victim is able to prove himself a respectable and
honourable person the culprit will in any case get his due punishment.
But the interesting fact about the Western Law of Defamation is that
the person who files suit for defamation has first to prove that he is a
man of honour and public esteem and during the interrogation he is
subjected to the scurrilous attacks, accusations and innuendoes of the
defence council to such an extent that he earns more disgrace than the
attack on his reputation against which he had knocked the door of the
court of law. On top of it he has also to produce such witnesses as
would testify in the court that due to the defamatory accusations of
the culprit, the accused stands disgraced in their eyes. Good Gracious!
what a subtle point of law, and what an adherence to the spirit of Law!
How can this unfair and unjust law be compared to the Divine law?
Islam declared blasphemy as a crime irrespective of the fact whether the
accused is a man of honour or not, and whether the words used for
blasphemy have actually disgraced the victim and harmed his reputation
in the eyes of the public or not. According to the Islamic Law the mere
proof of the fact that the accused said things which according to
common sense could have damaged the reputation and honour of the
plaintiff, is enough for the accused to be declared guilty of defamation.
 

3. The Sanctity and Security of Private Life

Islam recognizes the right of every citizen of its state that there
should be no undue interference or encroachment on the privacy of his
life. The Holy Quran has laid down the injunction: "Do not spy on
one another" (49:12). "Do not enter any houses except your own
homes unless you are sure of their occupants' consent" (24:27). The
Prophet has gone to the extent of instructing his followers that a man
should not enter even his own house suddenly or surreptitiously. He
should somehow or other inform or indicate to the dwellers of the
house that he is entering the house, so that he may not see his mother,
sister or daughter in a condition in which they would not like to be
seen, nor would he himself like to see them in that condition. Peering
into the houses of other people has also been strictly prohibited, so
much so that there is the saying of the Prophet that if a man finds
another person secretly peering into his house, and he blinds his eye or
eyes as a punishment then he cannot be called to question nor will he
be liable to prosecution. The Prophet has even prohibited people from
reading the letters of others, so much so that if a man is reading his
letter and another man casts sidelong glances at it and tries to read it,
his conduct becomes reprehensible. This is the sanctity of privacy that
Islam grants to individuals. On the other hand in the modern civilized
world we find that not only the letters of other people are read and
their correspondence censored, but even their photostat copies are
retained for future use or blackmail. Even bugging devices are secretly
fixed in the houses of the people so that one can hear and tape from a
distance the conversation taking place behind closed doors. In other
words it means that there is no such thing as privacy and to all practical
purposes the private life of an individual does not exist.

This espionage on the life of the individual cannot be justified on
moral grounds by the government saying that it is necessary to know
the secrets of the dangerous persons. Though, to all intents and
purposes, the basis of this policy is the fear and suspicion with which
modern governments look at their citizens who are intelligent and
dissatisfied with the official policies of the government. This is exactly
what Islam has called as the root cause of mischief in politics. The
injunction of the Prophet is: "When the ruler begins to search for the
causes of dissatisfaction amongst his people, he spoils them" (Abu
Dawud). The Amir Mu'awiyah has said that he himself heard the
Prophet saying: "If you try to find out the secrets of the people, then
you will definitely spoil them or at least you will bring them to the
verge of ruin." The meaning of the phrase 'spoil them' is that when
spies (C.I.D. or F.B.I.agents) are spread all around the country to find
out the affairs of men, then the people begin to look at one another with
suspicion, so much so that people are afraid of talking freely in their
houses lest some word should escape from the lips of their wives and
children which may put them in embarrassing situations. In this manner
it becomes difficult for a common citizen to speak freely, even in his
own house and society begins to suffer from a state of general distrust
and suspicion.
 

4. The Security of Personal Freedom

Islam has also laid down the principle that no citizen can be
imprisoned unless his guilt has been proved 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 reason-
able opportunity to produce his defence is not permissible in Islam. It is
related in the hadith that once the Prophet was delivering a lecture in
the mosque, when a man rose during the lecture and said: "O Prophet
of God, for what crime have my neighbours been arrested?" The
Prophet heard the question and continued his speech. The man rose
once again and repeated the same question. The Prophet again did not
answer and continued his speech. The man rose for a third time and
repeated the same question. Then the Prophet ordered that the man's
neighbours be released. The reason why the Prophet had kept quiet
when the question was repeated twice earlier was that the police officer
was present in the mosque and if there were proper reasons for the
arrest of the neighbours of this man, he would have got up to explain
his position. Since the police officer gave no reasons for these arrests
the Prophet ordered that the arrested persons should be released. The
police officer was aware of the Islamic law and therefore he did not
get up to say: "the administration is aware of the charges against the
arrested men, but they cannot be disclosed in public. If the Prophet
would inquire about their guilt in camera I would enlighten him." If
the police officer had made such a statement, he would have been dis-
missed then and there. The fact that the police officer did not give any
reasons for the arrests in the open court was sufficient reason for the
Prophet to give immediate orders for the release of the arrested men.
The injunction of the Holy Quran is very clear on this point. "When-
ever you judge between people, you should judge with (a sense of)
justice" (4:58). And the Prophet has also been asked by God: "I have
been ordered to dispense justice between you." This was the reason
why the Caliph 'Umar said: "In Islam no one can be imprisoned except
in pursuance of justice." The words used here clearly indicate that
justice means due process of law. What has been prohibited and
condemned is that a man be arrested and imprisoned without proof of
his guilt in an open court and without providing him an opportunity
to defend himself against those charges. If the Government suspects
that a particular individual has committed a crime or he is likely to
commit an offence in the near future then they should give reasons for
their suspicion before a court of law and the culprit or the suspect
should be allowed to produce his defence in an open court, so that the
court may decide whether the suspicion against him is based on sound
grounds or not and if there is good reason for suspicion, then he should
be informed of how long he will be in preventive detention. This
decision should be taken under all circumstances in an open court, so
that the public may hear the charges brought by the government, as
well as the defence made by the accused and see that the due process of
law is being applied to him and he is not being victimized.

The correct method of dealing with such cases in Islam is
exemplified in the famous decision of the Prophet which took place
before the conquest of Makkah. The Prophet was making preparations
for the attack on Makkah, when one of his Companions, Hatib ibn Abi
Balta'ah sent a letter through a woman to the authorities in Makkah
informing them about the impending attack. The Prophet came to
know of this through a Divine inspiration. He ordered 'Ali and Zubayr:
"Go quickly on the route to Makkah, at such and such a place, you will
find a woman carrying a letter. Recover the letter from her and bring it
to me." So they went and found the woman exactly where the Prophet
had said. They recovered the letter from her and brought it to the
Prophet. This was indeed a clear case of treachery. To inform the
enemy about a secret of an army and that too at the time of a war is a
very serious offence tantamount to treachery. In fact one cannot think
of a more serious crime during war than giving out a military secret to
one's enemy. What could have been a more suitable case for a secret
hearing; a military secret had been betrayed and common sense
demanded that he should be tried in camera. But the Prophet
summoned Hatib to the open court of the Mosque of the Prophet and
in the presence of hundreds of people asked him to explain his position
with regard to his letter addressed to the leaders of Quraysh which had
been intercepted on its way. The accused said: "O God's Messenger
(may God's blessings be on you) I have not revolted against Islam, nor
have I done this with the intention of betraying a military secret. The
truth of the matter is that my wife and children are living in Makkah
and I do not have my tribe to protect them there. I had written this
letter so that the leaders of Quraysh may be indebted to me and may
protect my wife and children out of gratitude." 'Umar rose and respect-
fully submitted: "O Prophet, please permit me to put this traitor to the
sword." The Prophet replied: "He is one of those people who had
participated in the Battle of Badr, and the explanation he has
advanced in his defence would seem to be correct."

Let us look at this decision of the Prophet in perspective. It was a
clear case of treachery and betrayal of military secrets. But the Prophet
acquitted Hatib on two counts. Firstly, that his past records were very
clean and showed that he could not have betrayed the cause of Islam,
since on the occasion of the Battle of Badr when there were heavy odds
against the Muslims, he had risked his life for them. Secondly, his
family was in fact in danger at Makkah. Therefore, if he had shown
some human weakness for his children and written this letter, then this
punishment was quite sufficient for him that his secret offence was
divulged in public and he had been disgraced and humiliated in the eyes
of the believers. God has referred to this offence of Hatib in the Holy
Quran but did not propose any punishment for him except rebuke
and admonition.

The attitude and activities of the Kharijis in the days of the
Caliph 'Ali are well-known to the students of Muslim history. They
used to abuse the Caliph openly, and threaten him with murder. But
whenever they were arrested for these offences, 'Ali would set them
free and tell his officers "As long as they do not actually perpetrate
offences against the State, the mere use of abusive language or the
threat of use of force are not such offences for which they can be
imprisoned." The imam Abu Hanifah has recorded the following saying
of the Caliph 'Ali (A): "As long as they do not set out on armed
rebellion, the Caliph of the Faithful will not interfere with them." On
another occasion 'Ali was delivering a lecture in the mosque when the
Kharijis raised their special slogan there. 'Ali said: "We will not deny
you the right to come to the mosques to worship God, nor will we stop
to give your share from the wealth of the State, as long as you are with
us (and support us in our wars with the unbelievers) and we shall never
take military action against you as long as you do not fight with us."
One can visualize the opposition which 'Ali was facing; more violent
and vituperative opposition cannot even be imagined in a present-day
democratic State; but the freedom that he had allowed to the opposi-
tion was such that no government has ever been able to give to its
opposition. He did not arrest even those who threatened him with
murder nor did he imprison them.

5. The Right to Protest Against Tyranny

Amongst the rights that Islam has conferred on human beings is
the right to protest against government's tyranny. Referring to it the
Quran says: "God does not love evil talk in public unless it is by some-
one who has been injured thereby" (4:148). This means that God
strongly disapproves of abusive language or strong words of condemna-
tion, but the person who has been the victim of injustice or tyranny,
God gives him the right to openly protest against the injury that has
been done to him. This right is not limited only to individuals. The
words of the verse are general. Therefore if an individual or a group of
people or a party usurps power, and after assuming the reins of
authority begins to tyrannize individuals or groups of men or the entire
population of the country, then to raise the voice of protest against it
openly is the God-given right of man and no one has the authority to
usurp or deny this right. If anyone tries to usurp this right of citizens
then he rebels against God. The talisman of Section 1444 may protect
such a tyrant in this world, but it cannot save him from the hell-fire in
the Hereafter.

6. Freedom of Expression

Islam gives the right of freedom of thought and expression to all
citizens of the Islamic State on the condition that it should be used
for the propagation of virtue and truth and not for spreading evil and
wickedness. This Islamic concept of freedom of expression is much
superior to the concept prevalent in the West. Under no circumstances
would Islam allow evil and wickedness to be propagated. It also does
not give anybody the right to use abusive or offensive language in the
name of criticism. The right to freedom of expression for the sake of
propagating virtue and righteousness is not only a right in Islam but an
obligation. One who tries to deny this right to his people is openly at
war with God, the All-Powerful. And the same thing applies to the
attempt to stop people from evil. Whether this evil is perpetrated by an
individual or by a group of people or the government of one's own
country, or the government of some other country; it is the right of a
Muslim and it is also his obligation that he should warn and reprimand
the evil-doer and try to stop him from doing it. Over and above, he
should openly and publicly condemn it and show the course of
righteousness which that individual, nation or government should
adopt.

The Holy Quran has described this quality of the Faithful in the
following words: "They enjoin what is proper and forbid what is
improper" (9:71). In contrast, describing the qualities of a hypocrite,
the Quran mentions: "They bid what is improper and forbid what is
proper" (9:67). The main purpose of an Islamic Government has been
defined by God in the Quran as follows: "If we give authority to these
men on earth they will keep up prayers, and offer poor-due, bid what
is proper and forbid what is improper" (22:41). The Prophet has said:
"If any one of you comes across an evil, he should try to stop it with
his hand (using force), if he is not in a position to stop it with his hand
then he should try to stop it by means of his tongue (meaning he
should speak against it). If he is not even able to use his tongue then he
should at least condemn it in his heart. This is the weakest degree of
faith" (Muslim). This obligation of inviting people to righteousness and
forbidding them to adopt the paths of evil is incumbent on all true
Muslims. If any government deprives its citizens of this right, and
prevents them from performing this duty, then it is in direct conflict
with the injunction of God. The government is not in conflict with its
people, but is in conflict with God. In this way it is at war with God
and is trying to usurp that right of its people which God has conferred
not only as a right but as an obligation. As far as the government which
itself propagates evil, wickedness and obscenity and interferes with
those who are inviting people to virtue and righteousness is concerned,
according to the Holy Quran it is the government of the hypocrites.

7. Freedom of Association

Islam has also given people the right to freedom of association and
formation of parties or organizations. This right is also subject to
certain general rules. It should be exercised for propagating virtue and
righteousness and should never be used for spreading evil and mischief.
We have not only been given this right for spreading righteousness and
virtue, but have been ordered to exercise this right. Addressing the
Muslims, the Holy Quran declares:

  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)

This means that it is the obligation and duty of the entire Muslim
community that it should invite and enjoin people to righteousness and
virtue and forbid them from doing evil. If the entire Muslim community
is not able to perform this duty then "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). This clearly
indicates that if the entire Muslim nation collectively begins to neglect
its obligation to invite people to goodness and forbid them from doing
evil then it is absolutely essential that it should contain at least a
group
of people which may perform this obligation. As has been said before
this is not only a right but an obligation and on the fulfilment of which
depends success and prosperity here as well as in the Hereafter. It is an
irony with the religion of God that in a Muslim country the assembly
and association that is formed for the purposes of spreading evil and
mischief should have the right to rule over the country and the
association and party which has been formed for propagating righteous-
ness and virtue should live in perpetual fear of harassment and of being
declared illegal. Conditions here are just the reverse of what has been
prescribed by God. The claim is that we are Muslims and this is an
Islamic State5 but the work that is being done is directed to spreading
evil, to corrupt and morally degrade and debase the people while there
is an active and effective check on the work being carried out for
reforming society and inviting people to righteousness. Moreover the
life of those who are engaged in spreading righteousness and checking
the spread of evil and wickedness is made intolerable and hard to bear.
 

8. Freedom of Conscience and Conviction

Islam also gives the right to freedom of conscience and conviction
to its citizens in an Islamic State. The Holy Quran has laid down the
injunction: "There should be no coercion in the matter of faith"
(2:256). Though there is no truth and virtue greater than the religion of
Truth-Islam, and Muslims are enjoined to invite people to embrace
Islam and advance arguments in favour of it, they are not asked to
enforce this faith on them. No force will be applied in order to compel
them to accept Islam. Whoever accepts it he does so by his own choice.
Muslims will welcome such a convert to Islam with open arms and
admit him to their community with equal rights and privileges. But if
somebody does not accept Islam, Muslims will have to recognize and
respect his decision, and no moral, social or political pressure will be
put on him to change his mind.
 

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 this right. It has been ordained by God in the Holy
Quran: "Do not abuse those they appeal to instead of God" (6:108).
These instructions are not only limited to idols and deities, but they
also apply to the leaders or national heroes of the people. If a group of
people holds a conviction which according to you is wrong, and holds
certain persons in high esteem which according to you is not deserved
by them, then it will not be justified in Islam that you use abusive
language for them and thus injure their feelings. Islam does not prohibit
people from holding debate and discussion on religious matters, but it
wants that these discussions should be conducted in decency. "Do not
argue with the people of the Book unless it is in the politest manner"
(29:46)-says the Quran. This order is not merely limited to the people
of the Scriptures, but applies with equal force to those following other
faiths.

10. Protection from Arbitrary Imprisonment

Islam also recognizes the right of the individual that he will not be
arrested or imprisoned for the offences of others. The Holy Quran has
laid down this principle clearly: "No bearer of burdens shall be made to
bear the burden of another" (6:164). Islam believes in personal
responsibility. We ourselves are responsible for our acts, and the
consequence of our actions cannot be transferred to someone else. In
other words this means that every man is responsible for his actions. If
another man has not shared this action then he cannot be held
responsible for it, nor can he be arrested. It is a matter of great regret
and shame that we are seeing this just and equitable principle which has
not been framed by any human being, but by the Creator and Nourish-
er of the entire universe, being flouted and violated before our eyes. So
much so that a man is guilty of a crime or he is a suspect, but his wife
being arrested for his crime. Things have gone so far that innocent
people are being punished for the crimes of others. To give a recent
example, in Karachi (Pakistan), a man was suspected of being involved
in a bomb throwing incident. In the course of police investigation he
was subjected to horrible torture in order to extract a confession from
him. When he insisted on his innocence, then the police arrested his
mother, his wife, daughter and sister and brought them to the police
station. They were all stripped naked in his presence and he was
stripped naked of all his clothes before their eyes so that a confession
of the crime could be extracted from him. It appears as if for the sake
of investigation of crime it has become proper and legal in our country
to strip the innocent women folk of the household in order to bring
pressure on the suspect. This is indeed very outrageous and shameful.
This is the height of meanness and depravity. This is not a mere hearsay
which I am repeating here, but I have full information about this case
and can prove my allegations in any court of law. I would here like to
ask what right such tyrants who perpetrate these crimes against
mankind have to tell us that they are Muslims or that they are conduct-
ing the affairs of the state according to the teachings of Islam and their
state is an Islamic State. They are breaching and flouting a clear law of
the Holy Quran. They are stripping men and women naked which is
strictly forbidden in Islam. They disgrace and humiliate humanity and
then they claim that they are Muslims.
 

11. The Right to Basic Necessities of Life

Islam has recognized the right of the needy people that help and
assistance will be provided for them. "And in their wealth there is
acknowledged right for the needy and the destitute" (51:19). In this
verse, the Quran has not only conferred a right on every man who asks
for assistance in the wealth of the Muslims, but has also laid down that
if a Muslim comes to know that a certain man is without the basic
necessities of life, then irrespective of the fact whether he asks for
assistance or not, it is his duty to reach him and give all the help that
he
can extend. For this purpose Islam has not depended only on the help
and charity that is given voluntarily, but has made compulsory charity,
zakat as the third pillar of Islam, next only to profession of faith and
worship of God through holding regular prayers. The Prophet has
clearly instructed in this respect that: "It will be taken from their rich
and given to those in the community in need" (al-Bukhari and Muslim).
In addition to this, it has also been declared that the Islamic State
should support those who have nobody to support them. The Prophet
has said: "The Head of state is the guardian of him, who has nobody to
support him" (Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi). The word wali which has been
used by the Prophet is a very comprehensive word and has a wide range
of meanings. If there is an orphan or an aged man, if there is a crippled
or unemployed person, if one is invalid or poor and has no one else to
support him or help him, then it is the duty and the responsibility of
the state to support and assist him. If a dead man has no guardian or
heir, then it is the duty of the state to arrange for his proper burial. In
short the state has been entrusted with the duty and responsibility of
looking after all those who need help and assistance. A truly Islamic
State is therefore a truly welfare state which will be the guardian and
protector of all those in need.
 

12. Equality Before Law

Islam gives its citizens the right to absolute and complete equality
in the eyes of the law. As far as the Muslims are concerned, there are
clear instructions in the Holy Quran and hadith that in their rights and
obligations they are all equal: "The believers are brothers (to each
other)" (49:10). "If they (disbelievers) repent and keep up prayer and
pay the Ipoor-due, they are your brothers in faith" (9:11). The
Prophet has said that: "The life and blood of Muslims are equally
precious" (Abu Dawud; Ibn Majjah). In another hadith he has said:
"The protection given by all Muslims is equal. Even an ordinary man
of them can grant protection to any man" (al-Bukhari; Muslim; Abu
Dawud). In another more detailed Tradition of the Prophet, it has been
said that those who accept the Oneness of God, believe in the Prophet-
hood of His Messenger, give up primitive prejudices and join the Muslim
community and brotherhood, "then they have the same rights and
obligations as other Muslims have" (al-Bukhari; al-Nisa'i). Thus there is
absolute equality between the new converts to Islam and the old
followers of the Faith.

This religious brotherhood and the uniformity of their rights and
obligations is the foundation of equality in Islamic society, in which the
rights and obligations of any person are neither greater nor lesser in any
way than the rights and obligations of other people. As far as the non-
Muslim citizens of the Islamic State are concerned, the rule of Islamic
Shari'ah (law) about them has been very well expressed by the Caliph
'Ali in these words: "They have accepted our protection only because
their lives may be like our lives and their properties like our properties"
(Abu Dawud). In other words, their (of the dhimmis) lives and
properties are as sacred as the lives and properties of the Muslims.
Discrimination of people into different classes was one of the greatest
crimes that, according to the Quran, Pharaoh used to indulge in: "He
had divided his people into different classes," ... "And he suppressed
one group of them (at the cost of others)" (28:4).

13. Rulers Not Above the Law

Islam clearly insists and demands that all officials of the Islamic
State, whether he be the head or an ordinary employee, are equal in
the eyes of the law. None of them is above the law or can claim
immunity. Even an ordinary citizen in Islam has the right to put
forward a claim or file a legal complaint against the highest executive of
the country. The Caliph 'Umar said, "I have myself seen the Prophet,
may God's blessings be on him, taking revenge against himself
(penalizing himself for some shortcoming or failing)." On the occasion
of the Battle of Badr, when the Prophet was straightening the rows of
the Muslim army he hit the belly of a soldier in an attempt to push him
back in line. The soldier complained "O Prophet, you have hurt me
with your stick." The Prophet immediately bared his belly and said: "I
am very sorry, you can revenge by doing the same to me." The soldier
came forward and kissed the abdomen of the Prophet and said that this
was all that he wanted.

A woman belonging to a high and noble family was arrested in
connection with a theft. The case was brought to the Prophet, and
it was recommended that she may be spared the punishment of theft.
The Prophet replied: "The nations that lived before you were destroyed
by God because they punished the common men for their offences and
let their dignitaries go unpunished for their crimes; I swear by Him
(God) who holds my life in His hand that even if Fatimah, the daughter
of Muhammad, has committed this crime then I would have amputated
her hand." During the caliphate of 'Umar, Muhammad the son of 'Amr
ibn al-'As the Governor of Egypt, whipped an Egyptian. The Egyptian
went to Medina and lodged his complaint with the Righteous Caliph,
who immediately summoned the Governor and his son to Medina.
When they appeared before him in Medina, the Caliph handed a whip to
the Egyptian complainant and asked him to whip the son of the
Governor in his presence. After taking his revenge when the Egyptian
was about to hand over the whip to 'Umar, he said to the Egyptian:
"Give one stroke of the whip to the Honourable Governor as well. His
son would certainly have not beaten you were it not for the false pride
that he had in his father's high office." The plaintiff submitted: "The
person who had beaten me, I have already avenged myself on him."
'Umar said: "By God, if you had beaten him (the Governor) I would
not have checked you from doing so. You have spared him of your own
free will." Then he ('Umar) angrily turned to 'Amr ibn al-'As and said:
"O 'Amr, when did you start to enslave the people, though they were
born free of their mothers?" When the Islamic State was flourishing in
its pristine glory and splendour, the common people could equally
lodge complaints against the caliph of the time in the court and the
caliph had to appear before the qadi to answer the charges. And if the
caliph had any complaint against any citizen, he could not use his
administrative powers and authority to set the matter right, but had to
refer the case to the court of law for proper adjudication.

14. The Right to Avoid Sin

Islam also confers this right on every citizen that he will not be
ordered to commit a sin, a crime or an offence; and if any govern-
ment, or the administrator, or the head of department orders an
individual to do a wrong, then he has the right to refuse to comply with
the order. His refusal to carry out such crime or unjust instructions
would not be regarded as an offence in the eyes of the Islamic law. On
the contrary giving orders to one's subordinates to commit a sin or do a
wrong is itself an offence and such a serious offence that the officer
who gives this sinful order whatever his rank and position may be, is
liable to be summarily dismissed. These clear instructions of the Prophet
are summarized in the following hadith: "It is not permissible to dis-
obey God in obedience to the orders of any human being" (Musnad of
Ibn Hanbal). In other words, no one has the right to order his
subordinates to do anything against the laws of God. If such an order
is given, the subordinate has the right to ignore it or openly refuse to
carry out such instructions. According to this rule no offender will be
able to prove his innocence or escape punishment by saying that this
offence was committed on the orders of the government or superior
officers. If such a situation arises then the person who commits the
offence and the person who orders that such an offence be committed,
will both be liable to face criminal proceedings against them. And if an
officer takes any improper and unjust measures against a subordinate
who refuses to carry out illegal orders, then the subordinate has the
right to go to the court of law for the protection of his rights, and he
can demand that the officer be punished for his wrong or unjust orders.

15. The Right to Participate in the Affairs of State

According to Islam, governments in this world are actually
representatives (khulafa') of the Creator of the universe, and this
responsibility is not entrusted to any individual or family or a particular
class or group of people but to the entire Muslim nation. The Holy
Quran says: "God has promised to appoint those of you who believe
and do good deeds as (His) representatives on earth" (24:55). This
clearly indicates that khilafah is a collective gift of God in which the
right of every individual Muslim is neither more nor less than the right
of any other person. The correct method recommended by the Holy
Quran for running the affairs of the state is as follows: "And their
business is (conducted) through consultation among themselves"
(42:38). According to this principle it is the right of every Muslim that
either he should have a direct say in the affairs of the state or a
representative chosen by him and other Muslims should participate in
the consultation of the state. Islam, under no circumstance, permits or
tolerates that an individual or a group or party of individuals may
deprive the common Muslims of their rights, and usurp powers of the
state. Similarly, Islam does not regard it right and proper that an
individual may put up a false show of setting up a legislative assembly
and by means of underhand tactics such as fraud, persecution, bribery,
etc., gets himself and men of his choice elected in the assembly. This is
not only a treachery against the people whose rights are usurped by
illegal and unfair means, but against the Creator Who has entrusted the
Muslims to rule on this earth on His behalf, and has prescribed the pro-
cedure of an assembly for exercising these powers. The shura or the
legislative assembly has no other meaning except that:

(1) The executive head of the government and the members of the
    assembly should be elected by free and independent choice of the
    people.

(2) The people and their representatives should have the right to
    criticize and freely express their opinions.
(3) The real conditions of the country should be brought before
    the people without suppressing any fact so that they may be able to
    form their opinion about whether the government is working properly
    or not.
(4) There should be adequate guarantee that only those people
    who have the support of the masses should rule over the country and
    those who fail to win this support should be removed from their
    position of authority.

Reference:

HUMAN RIGHTS IN ISLAM

by  'Allamah Abu al-'A'la Mawdudi
al Tawhid Journal, vol. IV No. 3 Rajab-Ramadhan 1407

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