Sunday, 28 August 2016

HUMAN RIGHTS IN ISLAM: 1. PROTECTION OF LIFE

Five types of human rights have been given special protection in Islam. These are;

1. Protection of life
2. Protection of property
3. Protection of reputation
4. Protection of beliefs
5. protection of right to earn an income

InshaAllah these will all be discussed individually in the next few posts.

The first human right that has been protected in Islam is protection of life. Rasool Allah ﷺ has said، لا تقتلو النفس التی حرم الّٰلہ الّا بالحق
No one has a right over another human being's life. Hazrat Abdullah Ibne Masood RAA has narrated that one day he was doing the Tawaf of Ka'aba with Rasool Allah SAW when Rasool Allah addressed the Ka'aba saying, "O Allah's house. You are so noble, so exalted." Then Rasool Allah SAW addressed Hazrat Abdullah Ibne Masood RAA and said, "O Abdullah! This Ka'aba is very noble, very exalted, but there is one thing in this universe that is even more sacrosanct than this Ka'aba, and that is the life, property and reputation of a Muslim." So according to this teaching of Rasool Allah SAW if a Muslim attacks the life, property or reputation of another Muslim,  then he is committing an offence worse than him trying to demolish the Ka'aba. 


There are specific injunctions in Shariah about the protection of life of non-Muslims as well. Non-Muslims are generally divided into two categories, combatant (حربی), or non-combatant (غیر حربی). The second category includes all non-Muslims the Muslim nations have a peace treaty with, or even if they don't have a peace treaty they have undeclared peace and are not at war, and those non-Muslims who live in a Muslim country peacefully and follow its laws. In case of non-combatant non-Muslims Shariah has extended them exactly the same protection of life as any Muslim, there is no difference between the two in terms of sanctity of life

Even in times of war Shariah has issued very specific injunctions about who Muslims can harm and who they can't. Shariah has forbidden Muslims even in war from harming non-Muslim non-combatants, women, children, elders, and religious leaders. In addition, Rasool allah SAW issued a specific injunction not to harm anyone who recites the Kalimah even right in the middle of battle. There was an incident when in the heat of battle a Sahabi (companion of Rasool Allah SAW) killed a combatant even though he recited the kalimah, believing that he was doing it just to save his life. When this was reported to Rasool Allah SAW he expressed extreme displeasure and said words to the Sahabi to the effect that, had you opened his heart to check whether he was telling the truth or was lying?

There are specific questions to ponder for Muslims living in non-Muslim countries. It has been narrated in the Quran that Hazrat Musa AS (Moses) had unintentionally killed an Egyptian by punching him while intervening in a fight between the Egyptian and an Israelite. The Quran says that Hazrat Musa (AS) kept doing Istighfar (asking Allah Ta'alah for forgiveness) for the rest of his life for this act. In Ma'ariful Quran Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Shafi RA asks the question that the person Hazrat Musa AS killed was a non-Muslim, and a combatant non-Muslim at that, then why did Hazrat Musa AS kept doing Istighfar for killing him? Then he has answered the question saying that as Hazrat Musa AS was living in Pharaoh's country it means he had implicitly given an undertaking that he will abide by the laws of that country. And because it was illegal to kill a person under their law, and Hazrat Musa AS had broken that law, he considered it a sin and kept doing Istighfar for it. 

If we apply this verse of the Quran to today's circumstances one does wonder how it can be permissible under Shariah for a Muslim living in a non-Muslim country under their peace, implicitly and explicitly giving an undertaking to obey the laws of that country, and then breaching that law by deliberately killing innocent men, women, children and elderly without any just cause, while one of Allah's great Prophets kept asking for forgiveness all his life having done something similar unintentionally? Some people seem to believe that what they are doing is Jihad (religious war). What they they do not seem to realise is that Jihad is an Ibadat (a form of prayer) and Ibadat are only acceptable if they conform to the rules and ways taught by Allah Ta'alah and Rasool Allah SAW. If a 'Jihad' is conducted completely ignoring and defying the injunctions laid down by Allah Ta'alah and Rasool Allah SAW, can it really be Jihad? 

The primary difference in right to protection of life as preached by Islam, and as practiced by some parts of the world today, is that in Islam every life is equally sacrosanct. There is no difference in the sanctity of lives of those who belong to 'us', and to 'them'.

(This post is primarily derived from the talk "Human Rights in Islam" by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani DB but in the write up a lot of words are the writer's own. Even though I hope I have accurately reflected what i have read, heard and understood, please feel free to correct me if I have made a mistake. May Allah SWT forgive me for any unintended errors. Ameen)