What are personal rights and freedoms (rights of immunity / human rights) in Islam? Will you give information regarding the issue?

Details of the Question

Will you give information about the rights of immunity of Muslims?

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(editor) on Thu, 21/12/2017 - 15:23

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

According to Islamic belief, man is a being equipped with perfect mental, bodily, ethical and spiritual faculties and abilities. Man is born sinless and clean, in a way that is suitable for all kinds of material and spiritual elevation. He is the most beautiful creature in terms of his outward appearance and inner world. The following is stated in the Quran:

“We have indeed created man in the best of molds.” (1)

Therefore, respect to man and service to individuals need to be accepted as basic philosophy and will. For, man is an official and vicegerent of Allah on earth. This specialty of him is stated as follows:

"Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: ‘I will create a vicegerent on earth.’" (2)

According to Islam, every human being is a slave of Allah. All human beings without exception have natural rights. However, those rights are his inborn rights due to becoming a human being. All human beings are like the members of one family. Nobility does not originate from birth but from ethical virtues and devotion to rights and duties. All human beings have equal rights no matter what race, class, profession or rank they have. Thus, every individual will regard others as members of the same family and treat them accordingly. No individual can be deprived of his natural rights due to the class, profession, race or gender he belongs to.

According to Islam, all people are equal in the face of law. A Muslim is no different from a non-Muslim as long as he fulfills his duties toward the state. (3)

Consequently, man is a slave of Allah and a nice trust of Him whether he is a believer or not. Therefore, man has honor and he deserves respect. It is the basic philosophy of Islam not to see any differences among people in terms of being human and to regard them as beings that have equal rights, duties and values.

Farewell Sermon is regarded as one of the most important sources of Islam in terms of human rights. As it is known, Farewell Sermon is the name given to the sermons the Prophet (pbuh) delivered during Farewell Hajj in Makkah, where he went for hajj, in the 10th year of the Migration. Farewell Sermon is not only the sermon delivered in Arafat on the day of Arafah (Dhul-Hijjah 10) but also the one delivered in Mina on the second day of eid. (4) The famous one among them is the one delivered in Arafat, addressing a congregation consisting of more than 140.000 people, men and women. This sermon summarizes man’s rights and duties as a basic law. Since the Prophet (pbuh) passed away three months after this sermon, it is his real will. (5)

Before the Prophet (pbuh) started his sermon before such a crowded congregation, he ensured silence through Jarir b. Abdillah and Rabia b. Umayya, one of the Companions, appointed criers who repeated the speech of the Prophet sentence by sentence, enabling the sentences to reach everybody; which technically means using loudspeakers. (6)

Now, we will quote some of the sentences from this important and universal speech, which is recorded as “Farewell Sermon” in the history of Islam and will try to explain the issues it contains:

”Praise and thanks be to Allah! We praise him, ask for His help, want from Him and turn to Him. We take refuge in Allah from the evil of our souls and our bad deeds. If Allah misguides a person, nobody can guide him. I witness that there is no god but Allah, that He is one and that He has no partners. I also witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger."

"O slaves of Allah! I advise you to fear Allah and encourage you to obey Him. Thus, I want to start my words with the best thing:"

"O People! Listen to what I explain to you. For I do not know whether, after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again."

" O People! Your blood (lives), wealth, honor and dignity are sacred up to the day when you meet your Lord, as this place (Makkah), this month (Dhul-Hijjah) and today are sacred. Be careful! Have I conveyed it to you? O Allah! Be my witness!"

" Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners."

"The usury of the Era of Ignorance has been laid aside forever; your capital, however, is yours to keep. Thus, you will neither inflict nor suffer inequity. The first usury I abolish is the one that is due to my father’s brother, Abbas ibn Abdulmuttalib."

"Every right arising out of homicide (blood feud) in pre-Islamic days is henceforth waived, and the first such right I waive is that arising from the murder of my nephew, Amir Ibn Rabiah Ibn al-Harith."

"The customs of Era of Ignorance related the city of Makkah have been abolished except the duty of guarding the Kaaba and providing water to hajjis."

"O people! Satan has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things."

"O people! I advise you to show respect to the rights of your women and fear Allah about them. You have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Treat your women well and be kind to them, for they are under your protection. Fear Allah about women."

"O people! Every believer is the brother of another believer. Nothing shall be legitimate to a believer that belongs to a fellow believer unless it is given freely and willingly. Allah gave everybody their due (in the Quran)."

"Do not go astray after me and do not try to kill one another. I leave behind me two things, the Quran and my example, the Sunnah, and if you follow these you will never go astray."

"O people, your Lord is One, and your father is one: all of you are from Adam, and Adam was created from soil. The noblest of you in Allah’s sight is the most god-fearing. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab except taqwa."

After the sermon ended, the Prophet (pbuh) asked that tremendous congregation,

”O people! They will ask you about me tomorrow. What will you say?" The Companions said,

"We witness that you have conveyed the prophethood of Allah; you have fulfilled the duty of prophethood and that you have given us advice." The Prophet raised his index finger toward the sky and lowered it toward the congregation three times and said,

"O Lord! Be my witness! O Lord! Be my witness! Let those who are here convey my words to those who are not here.” (8)

As it is seen, the Prophet (pbuh) started his sermon with the exclamation "Ayyuhannas (O people)!" after praising Allah. First, he attracted the attention of listeners and addressed the whole world.   

This sermon is very important in that it mentions basic issues of Islam, and legal issues like the abolition of customs of Ignorance, equality, freedom, blood feuds, interest (usury), human rights, rights of wives and husbands in family law, will, lineage, fornication, debt and guarantee.

This sermon of the Prophet (pbuh) is not an ordinary sermon addressing only Muslims; it is a historical sermon involving humanity and a universal declaration of human rights.

The phrase "O people!" mentioned in 7-8 places and forming the paragraph openings in the sermon indicates the universal aspect of this sermon or declaration, that is, its inclusion of all people. For, this phrase aims to address not only the Muslims there but also non-Muslims, unbelievers, atheists, etc. who were not there. For, the word "nas (people)" is a general word containing all sane people whether a believer or unbeliever, Muslim or non-Muslim, who were present or absent. Therefore, that message was not specific to the people who were there that day; on the contrary, it was an open invitation to be conveyed to the whole world. The Prophet (pbuh) obtained a promise from the people there that they would accept the principles he declared and that they would convey them to others. He passed away three months later. (7)

Hz. Prophet (pbuh) suggested some social reforms in this sermon. The exploitation of the poor by the rich was forbidden and the interest added to the loan was abolished. Husbands were ordered to treat their wives well since they are their partners and helpers; the differences of race and country were abolished completely. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab because all humanity belongs to a single race actually. Besides, it is declared that lives, wealth, honor and dignity are sacred.   

Hz. Prophet virtually summarized the religion of Islam in Farewell Sermon. Every issue took place in the triangle of Allah, man and other beings. People are regarded equal like the teeth of a comb. Immunity is provided for everything of man, his soul, life, wealth and thought. To sum up, this sermon introduced the rights of the people that they had lost.

Along with other issues, the following issues, which are of great importance in the life of individual and community, are emphasized in farewell Sermon:

1. Everybody’s life, wealth and honor are protected from transgression.
2. Nobody has the right to harm others.
3. All Muslims are brothers.
4. All debts will be paid but no extra amount (interest) will be paid in addition to the amount that has been borrowed.
5. Blood feuds and realizing justice personally are prohibited.
6. Women are life partners of men; therefore, they are ordered to be treated well; it is stated that women have the right to own wealth and property like men. 
7. It is stated that people are equal irrespective of their race and color.
8. Deeds that harm family life like fornication are forbidden.
9. It is stated that the Quran was left as a trust to people and they are advised to adhere to it.
10. The calculation of days, months and years, which was a controversial issue among Arabs in the Era of Ignorance, were made clear; regarding some months halal and some months haram based on material interest and changing their places were prohibited; a year was determined to have twelve months. Besides, the sacredness of Makkah and places around it were pointed out.    
11. It was emphasized that the entrusted things had to be returned to their owners.

The values Farewell Sermon added to human rights in terms of law are clear. It introduced certain religious, scientific, social, administrative, political and familial rights and duties. The importance of this sermon in terms of sociological history cannot be denied. The Prophet (pbuh) eliminated all of the customs and traditions of the Era of Ignorance in this sermon and declared his decrees about rights and duties, each of which was revolutionary.

On the day when this sermon was delivered, Islam addressed the world with its power and magnificence and stated that the Era of Ignorance ended with all of its dark sides and aberrations.

Thus, Farewell Sermon declared human rights to the whole world in 632; today, Westerners date human rights back to 1215, when the British accepted Magna Charta Libertatum (Great Freedom Contract). However, this contract includes certain rights between the king and Lords, who represented citizens, not between the king and citizens directly. Afterwards, human rights came to the fore with French Revolution in 1789 and the declaration of human rights was issued. Finally, Universal Declaration of Human Rights was issued by the United Nations in 1948. Even if the issue of human rights can be dated back to 1215, Farewell Sermon brought it forward in 632. Therefore, Farewell Sermon has a historical value. (9)

Farewell Sermon is a document that affected the world of law, politics and administration of the future in many ways. Since Muslims regard the Prophet (pbuh) as a model in their lives, his traces are seen in every field. It is possible to see the examples of the sermon in legal, economic and political fields. If it is examined carefully, it will be seen that the political protocol / ordinance that Hz. Ali wrote and sent to Malik b. al-Harith al-Ashtar, the governor of Egypt, when he was the caliph, was inspired by Farewell Sermon of the Prophet (pbuh). (10)

We wish to live in a world in which people respect the rights of one another and which is full of love. 

Footnotes:

1. At-Tin, 4.
2. Al-Baqara, 30.
3. Alauddin Abu Bakr b. Masud Qasani, Badaius-Sanaii, Lebanon, 1974, Vol. 7, p. 100.
4. Kâmil Miras, Tecrid-i Sarih Terc. ve Şerhi, D.İ.B. Yayını, Vol. 10, p. 396.
5. Prof. Dr. Muhammed Hamidullah; İslâm Peygamberi, (Translated by M. Said Mutlu) İst., 1966, Vol. 1. p. 175.
6. Miras, ibid, Vol. 10, p. 396.
7. Prof. Dr. Hayrettin Karaman, Mukayeseli İslâm Hukuku, İst., 1978, Vol. 1, p. 46.
8. For the full text of Farewell Sermon, see Kâmil Miras, ibid, Vol. 10, p. 397-399; Prof. Dr. Muhammed Hamidullah, ibid, Vol. 1, p. 175- 177; Diyanet İlmî Dergi, Vol. 28, issue, 1, p. 3-6.
9. Prof. Dr. Osman Eskicioğlu, İslâm Hukuku Açısından Hukuk ve İnsan Hakları, İzmir 1996, p. 255, 256, 262, 263, 265, 269, 271.
10. Ahmet Gürkan, İslâm Kültürünün Garbı Medenîleştirmesi, Ankara 1975, p. 333.

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