Islam Grants Human Rights and Freedom
Contrary to popular belief, the struggle for universal human rights is not a modern one. Although there is a claim that human rights is a Western concept or ideology, Islam was among the first institutions to advocate and implement such rights as universal equality and women’s rights. In fact, Islam promoted the universality of the human experience over 1300 years before the United Nations declared it to exist. Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an excellent step towards acknowledging the importance of human rights on a worldwide political and legal level, in reality it is not binding any government, and therefore it is often ignored. Islam on the other hand, does not limit human rights to political and legal standards.
Islam advocates human rights as part of a complete way of life. Human rights are inextricable from Islam and Islam, in return, requires that human rights be acknowledged and respected by all Muslims. Realistically speaking, the concept of human rights was thought of, but not taken seriously, by the time humanity had entered the 7th century. Before Islam entered the global stage, oppression was common, women were regarded as property in many parts of the world, and the right to a fair and public hearing was unheard of. If human rights are one of the standards by which we can judge a civilization, a close reading of history will reveal that the world was not very civilized before the rise of Islam.
There were many wonderful civilizations before Islam; however, they are held in high regard mostly because of their contributions in the field of arts and sciences, and consequently, the production of tangible contributions to humanity. Unfortunately these same civilizations were also engaged in the brutal repression of many human rights. If there were any advances in civil, economic, or human rights, they were dependent on the particular ruler or government then in place, and were not necessarily extended by the successor, who might have had his own ideas on how to govern his empire. Then the message of Islam spread with—and beyond—its borders at a stunning pace. History affirms the claim that Islam is a universal message to all people.
Islam was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as a merciful and eternal religion that fits for all ages. If during his life, man submits to the Will of Allah, he can depend on His mercy in life and in the Day of Judgment.
“And We have not sent you but as a mercy to the world’s.” Qur’an (21:107)
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:
“Surely, I am a granted mercy.”
Islam enhances each individual’s self-respect: it establishes the true and only equality open to man - the equality in surrender to Allah for His service amongst mankind. Such surrender gives each one the chance to find his place in the whole without faction, partisanship rule or superiority. Everyone is his own master.
Islam is a religion that gives high respect to human rights. It regulates every detail of personal and community life in equity. It is the guardian of freedom before Allah- Its first and paramount thought is unity. It excludes no one - though some exclude themselves: it opposes no one-though some may oppose themselves to it. It makes no differences - though some may choose to be different.
The freedom that Islam grants is based on commitment and responsibility without which one can enjoy no true freedom.
Freedom without rules leads to the breakdown and corruption of the moral and social order. Allah says:
“Say, O People of the Scripture! Let us reason together, that we worship none but Allah and we associate nothing with Allah, and that we do not set up from among ourselves lords other than Allah. But if they turn away, then say, Bear witness that we are Muslims.” Qur’an (3-64)
Today, people are in desperate need for unity, justice and freedom. They want to be saved from exploitation and war.
They wander lost, like sheep gone astray. Let them turn to the sunshine of Islam. Under that common sun, all - black, white, red and yellow-are equal in justice, freedom and equality. For Islam, true excellence lies, not in the intellectual or manual attainments of people of differing gifts; but in the level of piety and fear of Allah. These are equally open to all whatever their other gifts. Allah says:
“O Mankind: We created you from a male and a female; and made you into tribes and nations that you may get to know each other. And verily, most honored before God is the most virtuous.” Qur’an (49:13)
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) asserted saying:
“Arab is not more privileged than non-Arab, nor white than black. Spiritual excellence and true piety is the only distinction amongst humans recognized by Allah.”
Submission to the will and laws of Allah is the essence of freedom. It liberates the mind, soul, and behavior from the evil influences of the world. It helps mankind overcome oppressive tyrants, unjust laws, lusts, deviation and psychological complexes, which enslave his will. Submission to the will of Allah grants man the right to choose for his life, to live his life in a moral and upright way.