Islam And Human Rights
Islam is a religion of peace, progress and prosperity.The word “Islam” has been derived from “salam”, which means “peace”. Itbestows upon its followers a superset of all varieties of rights, of which all human rights is a small subset.In Islam, people are awarded rights and duties to honor those rights of others for every stage and turn in life. From parents’ rights, relatives’ rights, friends’ rights to poor people’s rights, neighbor’s rights, spouses’ rights and children’s rights, the religion makes provisions for every type and extent of human rights to be awarded to every single person. The religion also makes it mandatory for its followers to respect the very same rights of other people as well, whether or not they are followers or believers. Despite the race, color, cast, creed or religion of people, Muslims are taught to deal with one and all with great respect and honor, as they would want done unto them.
The first and foremost provision that Islam makes towards ensuring the human rights of its followers as well as those of the non-believers is to clarify that religion cannot be imposed upon people: the choice to follow the religion must come to a person from within the self. All Muslims are taught that religion is a matter of choice and the freedom to choose paths for one’s life is one of the greatest human rights that must be made available to each and every person. This is one of the primary human rights that Islam honors all human beings with, and not just the Muslims.
One of the most noted human rights as defined by Islam is that of the sanctity of life, and the duty of every person, especially the Muslims, to honor and cherish this sanctity. The Holy Book of Islam, the Quran, clearly states that the act of killing one person, be he a Muslim or not, is akin to killing all of humanity. By placing this immeasurable value on human life, regardless of the religion the person follows, Islam makes it clear that all people are to be protected and helped and that killing or harming a fellow human, regardless of what religion they may practice, is a moral sin. The first human right awarded to all people, Muslims and non-Muslims, in Islam, is the right to life. Keeping in tune with this right to life, Islam also makes it a sin for people to commit suicide, as killing of the self is considered detrimental towards society and humanity as well. Under this light, it becomes evident that the religion prohibits massacre and murder in any form and scale, and hence promotes the ultimate message of peace and safety for one and all. At the same time, the act of helping one person, be he a Muslim or not, is akin to helping all of humanity. Those who help save a life are considered virtuous in the eyes of God and are said to have done a great deed towards all of mankind. It is interesting to note that the act of saving a person does not necessarily have to translate to saving their life, it can also be about helping to save their interests, their life and their dignity, irrespective of their caste, color, creed or religion.
When discussing human rights, it is important to discuss the right to equality. The above explanation has made it clear that Islam instructs all its followers to treat everyone, regardless of whether they are Muslims or not with the utmost respect. Within the broader spectrum of human rights and right to equality it becomes interesting to discuss the right to gender equality. While women all over the world and from different religions are fighting to save and promote their rights, the Muslim women are guaranteed equal rights and honor by the religion. While many people are of the opinion that Islam as a religion is backward and restrictive for women, it is actually honorable in nature, by specially venerating women and holding them in great esteem. According to Islam, women and men have some differences regarding their capacities. In some spheres women possess extra ability and in some cases men are positioned one step ahead.However, while their roles are separate, men and women are respected as equal players at every turn in life.Islam prescribespunishment to those who disrespect women.
Islam makes a special provision for the needy, in an attempt to award them some safety and dignity of life as well. All Muslims who are well-settled in life, are prosperous and are not suffering from the want of any need are expected to treat their less fortunate brothers and sisters with love and compassion. As a Muslim one cannot deprive the destitute and needy of their rights; in fact one has to make a special effort for them. Every year, those who are doing well for themselves and their families are expected to donate 2.5% of their earnings towards helping the less fortunate. This concept is known as Zakat.
Islam has also granted individual rights for all. Islam believes in forgiving and it is one of the major religions that attained success in abolishing slavery .To enslave a man is completely prohibited in Islam .In Islam, those who choose to free their slaves of their own will shall receive compensation for their sins.