The History of Human Rights Compilation in Islam
By: Dr. Sayyid Mustafa Muhaqqiq Damad
At the initial years of the descending of the Holy Qur'an verses, the compilation of human rights in Islam began. The depletion of issues bearing on human rights was compiled in divine verses prepared by the Hakim. Hence we may relate the compilation of human rights in Islam to the second decade of the 1st century A.H. or the second half of the 7th century A.D. In contrast to the literature of human rights in the West, the Qur'an is one of the oldest documents on human rights.
The compilation of the preaching, views and traditions of Islam's prophet was another landmark in the bistory of human rights in Islam; and the basic and stems of human rights were set forth in tradition books, and like other fields of Islamic sciences, a firm foundation was provided for Islamic scholars to conduct researchers and analysis in this area. The 3rd century A.H. witnessed the advent of hundreds of books on various subjects of faith under different titles, elaborating on the principles of comprehensive Islamic thinking, regarding man's culture and civilization including human rights.
Fortunately most of these books containing the deeds and speeches and views of the prophet on Islamic affairs have been preserved. Now, we have access to a great portion of this cultural heritage of the dawn of Islam.
The next step was the purgation of existing literature on narrations by Islamic scholars, which was another cornerstone in the trend of human rights development. At this juncture, the narrations were specified and classified in order and thus the issues of contradiction were clarified.
The beginning of the compilation of religious Jurisprudence and Ethics (two major fields in the Islamic sciences) and their development in the third century A.H. resulted in the presentation of Shaykh Tusi, in which issues were discussed on the basis of reasoning.
The following stages of development may be traced in the works of Muhaqqiq and 'Allamah Hilli in the 7th and 8th centuries A.H. This was continued throughout the 13th and 14th A.H., when Islamic jurisprudence flourished, and human rights in Islam were discussed more deeply and comprehensively in various classifications and traditional categories of jurisprudence.
It should be emphasized here again that Islam consists of religious rules and ethics, mysticism and philosophy, which constitute a great part of our faith. In Islamic mysticism, man has a high position, a view which has jurisprudential implications. And philosophical and mystic principles govern man's and society's existence.
In our era, the great jurisprudents like the late Imam Khomeini opened new ways in jurisprudence which not only adds mystic aspects to man's value and personality, but also includes the elements of time and place in jurisprudential leadership which allows experts to interpret religious texts according to the demands of contemporary man.