Human Rights in Islam by Syed Maududi


Before I discuss the human rights in Islam I would like to explain
a few points about two major approaches to the question of
human rights: the Western and Islamic. This will enable us to
study the issue in its proper perspective and avoid some of the confu-
sion which normally befogs such a discussion.

The Western Approach:

    The people in the West have the habit of attributing every good
thing to themselves and try to prove that it is because of them that the
world got this blessing, otherwise the world was steeped in ignorance
and completely unaware of all these benefits. Now let us look at the
question of human rights. It is very loudly and vociferously claimed
that the world got the concept of basic human rights from the Magna
Carta of Britain; though the Magna Carta itself came into existence six
hundred years after the advent of Islam. But the truth of the matter is
that until the seventeenth century no one even knew that the Magna
Carta contained the principles of Trial by Jury; Habeas Corpus, and
the Control of Parliament on the Right of Taxation. If the people who
had drafted the Magna Carta were living today they would have been
greatly surprised if they were told that their document also contained
all these ideals and principles. They had no such intention, nor were
they conscious of all these concepts which are now being attributed to

    As far as my knowledge goes the Westerners had no concept of
human rights and civic rights before the seventeenth century. Even
after the seventeenth century the philosophers and the thinkers on
jurisprudence though presented these ideas, the practical proof and
demonstration of these concepts can only be found at the end of the
eighteenth century in the proclamations and constitutions of America
and France. After this there appeared a reference to the basic human
rights in the constitutions of different countries. But more often the
rights which were given on paper were not actually given to the people
in real life.

    In the middle of the present century, the United Nations,
which can now be more aptly and truly described as the Divided
Nations, made a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and passed a
resolution against genocide and framed regulations to check it. But as
you all know there is not a single resolution or regulation of the
United Nations which can be enforced. They are just an expression of
a pious hope. They have no sanctions behind them, no force, physical
or moral to enforce them. Despite all the high-sounding ambitious
resolutions of the United Nations, human rights have been violated
and trampled upon at different places, and the United Nations has
been a helpless spectator. She is not in a position to exercise an
effective check on the violation of human rights. Even the heinous
crime of genocide is being perpetrated despite all proclamations of the
United Nations. Right in the neighbouring country of Pakistan,
genocide of the Muslims has been taking place for the last twenty-
eight years, but the United Nations does not have the power and
strength to take any steps against India. No action has even been taken
against any country guilty of this most serious and revolting crime.