Islam, as the most complete religion, has studied all the general and partial aspects of society, so it is natural that not only is it not indifferent to human rights issues, but it has presented it in the form of the general rights of society with its own view of human beings.
In this regard, we must first refer to the pre-Islamic human rights framework that Islam continues. Hereof, the legal system of the divine prophets is referred to as the first founders of order, justice and human rights, because without providing a specific framework for society with an emphasis on divine order and justice, any other right would be incomplete.
In addition, the prophets, by insisting on the human and spiritual dimension of man, have introduced the value of his essence in such a way that attention to it is at the center of man’s movement towards evolution. Outside the religious system of the prophets, historically, the Charter of Cyrus the Great (538 BC) is considered to be the first human rights document in the world, the main feature of which has been the focus on human rights. It should be noted that the regulation of the laws of society has began in the Orient, that is the “cradle of civilization”, the place of the prophetic mission of the divine prophets and the place of formation of great civilizations that still exist themselves or their traces.
Existence of the charter or law of “Orenamo” (2100 BC), the law of “Lipit Ishtar” (1930 BC), the law of “Ashnona” (1800 BC) the law of “Hammurabi” (1700 BC) and … are evidence of the historical and ancient principle that the formulation of the first human laws was in the Orient. In Islam, also, the human value of man is valued over its material value, and in a way, attention to “man’s rights” (instead of human rights, which are the material dimension of human beings) as the best creation of God, is at the center of Islam.
After the Holy Quran and Nahjul-Balaghah of Imam Ali (A.S) and other narrations of the Infallibles (A.S), as the Islamic sources of human rights, the first document in the Islamic world that is inherently based on human rights, is the “Risalat Al-Huquq” of Imam Sajjad (A.S), the fourth Imam of the Shias. It refers to 50 human rights in the form of reciprocal rights of God, man and individuals in society.
These rights include the following:
- The reciprocal rights of God and man,
2. The right of prophets, leaders and advisers,
3. The rights of prayer, fasting, zakat, charity and sacrifice on human beings,
4. The rights of rulers and members of society towards each other,
5. Mutual rights of parents and children towards each other,
6. Teacher and student rights,
7. Rights of human organs over human beings,
8. The rights of benefactors and advisors, etc.
9. Rights of neighbors, friends and interlocutors,
10. Rights of spouses towards each other,
11. Rights of property and assets over human beings (observing their legitimacy),
12. The right of the creditor and the claimant (rightly or wrongly) and the one who does evil to man,
13. The rights of the non-Muslim minority over the Muslims.
Imam Sajjad’s (A.S) view of society is a divine view of humanity taken from the Holy Quran and the tradition (Sunnah) of the Prophet (PBUH) and the infallible Imams (A.S), and it is natural that if these things happen, an ideal society will be formed on earth, that has been promised to man. Along with Imam Sajjad’s (A.S) Risalat Al- Huquq, several verses of the Quran and narrations emphasize the observance of each of these rights, including the rights of minorities, immigrants and even non-believers who do not harm the Islamic system.
For example, God says in verse 8 of surah Al-Mumtahina in this regard:
“Allah (SWT) does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah (SWT loves those who act justly.”
Imam Ali (A.S) in Nahjul-Balaghah in his famous letter to Malik Ashtar, who was appointed as governor of Egypt, wrote:
“Develop in your heart the feeling of love for your people and let it be the source of kindliness and blessing to them. Do not behave with them like a barbarian, and do not appropriate to yourself that which belongs to them. Remember that the citizens of the state are of two categories. They are either your brethren in religion or your brethren in kind.”
It is clear that from the Imam Ali’s (A.S) point of view, observing justice and fairness and paying attention to the human dimension of individuals, whether in the case of being brethren in religion or brethren in kind, is more evident than other issues.
He says in another place:
“The general public itself consists of Muslims and Zimmis and among them of merchants and craftsmen, the unemployed and the indigent. God has prescribed for them their several rights, duties and obligations. They are all defined and preserved in the Book of God and in the traditions of his Prophet.”
Therefore, the concern of the Quran and the infallible Imams (AS) in this period, which was the period of the presence of the infallibles, is the observance of justice and fairness in a society in which religious minorities are present and may be persecuted by the majority or the rulers. From the time of the caliphate until the end of World War II, nowhere else in the world has there been such attention to human rights as the Innocents or the way it is today.
Attention to the rights of certain individuals has been largely due to their position on the enemy front. For example, the situation of Jews living in the Austro-Hungarian, Prussian and Russian empires led to the introduction of “minority rights” for the first time at the Congress of Vienna (1815), the establishment of the World Red Cross (1864) and the Red Crescent (1876) to reduce the hardships of war for those involved in the war and those not involved, the International Humanitarian Law in Geneva (1949) and … .
However, after World War II, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the UN General Assembly in Paris in 1948, following which several conventions and treaties were ratified by the United Nations. In 1989, at the Tehran Conference, the draft text of the “Declaration of Islamic Human Rights” was drafted in 32 articles, but in 1990, when it was discussed in Cairo, some of the articles proposed at the Tehran conference were deleted or moved and was finally approved in 25 articles.
This statement guarantees the rights of all members of society from all walks of life, races, languages and religions, which is accepted in accordance with the moral framework, the limits of responsibility in the use of human rights.
According to the dual clauses of the first article of this statement:
A. Human beings, in general, are a family that the fact that all are servants of God and the children of Adam, gathered them together and, and all people are essentially equal in human dignity, duty and responsibility, without any discrimination in terms of race, color, language or gender with religious beliefs or political affiliation or social status and so on. By the way, accurate belief is the only guarantee for the growth of this honor through human evolution.
B. All creatures are God’s family, and the most beloved of them to God is the most beneficial to their kind. And no one is superior to another except in piety and good deeds.”
Also, according to clause (a) of Article 17, “Every human being has the right to live in an environment free from corruption and moral diseases in such a way that he can build himself spiritually, and society and the state are obliged to provide him this right.”
Attention to this human moral dimension has not been addressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Regarding respect for the religious values of individuals, the Islamic Declaration of Human Rights also prohibits offensives to the religion of individuals.
The article was written by Dr. Mohammad Saeid Taheri Moosavi, a specialist in Public Law and Political Sciences in French, translated into English by Fatemeh Aghaei and first published in Shafaqna.