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- Qatada -
04-12-2007, 04:04 PM

Human Rights in Islam

Contrary to popular belief, the struggle for universal human rights is not a modern one. Although some claim that the idea of human rights is a Western concept or ideology, Islam was the first institution to advocate and implement such human 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.

Human rights in Islam have been granted by Allah (God), and no individual or legislative assembly has the right to amend, change, or withdraw them. Every Muslim or administrator who claims to be Muslim must accept, recognize and enforce these rights. All those temporal authorities who claim to be Muslims yet violate the rights sanctioned by Allah are either disbelievers or wrong-doers.

Islam grants certain basic human rights to all people, Muslims and non-Muslims, and regardless of their race, nationality, ethnic origin or language. The first of these rights is the right to live and respect human life. Only a proper and competent court of law can decide to take a life in retaliation for murder or for punishment for spreading corruption on the earth. Only a properly established government can decide to wage war. No human being has the right by himself to take a human life for retaliation or for causing mischief on the earth.

Every human has the right to the safety of life. This means that if someone is ill, wounded, starving, or drowning, et cetera, he has the right to be saved.

Islam recognizes absolute equality between people

Islam grants every woman the right to have her chastity respected and guarded under all circumstances. Even in war, a woman who is of the enemy nation cannot be violated. All promiscuous relationships are forbidden to a Muslim, irrespective of the status or position of the woman, and whether or not she is a willing partner to the act.

All people have the right to a basic standard of life. Anyone who is suffering from deprivation has a right in the property and wealth of the Muslims.

Islam grants the individual the right to freedom. It is categorically forbidden to capture a free person and make him a slave or sell him into slavery.

Islam recognizes absolute equality between people. There is no superiority of Arab over non-Arab, white over black, or vice-versa. All people are descended from Adam and are as brothers and sisters.

Islam prescribes the general principle of the right to cooperate and not to co operate. Any person who undertakes a noble and righteous work has the right to expect the Muslims to cooperate with him or support him. The one who perpetrates vice and aggression does not have the right to the Muslims’ support and cooperation.

These are general human rights that Islam gives to all. There are other rights set down by Islam dealing with issues such as the rights of citizens in an Islamic state and the rights of enemies during times of war.

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- Qatada -
04-12-2007, 04:05 PM
In Times of War
Rights of Enemies

Prior to the revelation of the Qur’an fourteen hundred years ago, there was no concept of civilized behavior neither in war nor of the rights of enemies. Yet Islam decreed humane rules of war, many centuries before such ideas were put into conventions and agreements in the West.

First, Islam draws a clear distinction between combatants and non-combatants. Non-combatants such as women, children, the old and infirm are not to be killed. Also, monks in monasteries and people in places of worship are to be spared.

These are the rights that Islam confers on combatants:

  • No one should be burned alive or tortured with fire.
  • Wounded soldiers who are neither unfit to fight, nor actually fighting, should not be attacked.
  • Prisoners of war should not be killed.
  • It is prohibited to kill anyone who is tied up or in captivity.
  • Residential areas should not be pillaged, plundered or destroyed, nor should the Muslims touch the property of anyone except those who are fighting against them.
  • Muslims must not take anything from the general public of the conquered country without paying for it.
  • The corpses of the enemy must not be disgraced or mutilated.
  • Corpses of the enemy should be returned.
  • Treaties must not be broken.
  • Muslims are prohibited from opening hostilities without properly declaring war against the enemy, unless the adversary has already started aggression against them.


- Qatada -
04-12-2007, 04:07 PM
Justice in Islam
The Backbone of Creation

Islam attaches the highest importance to justice. In fact, Divine Justice is the backbone of the whole act of creation. The balance and the due proportion evident in the heavens and the earth are a manifestation of Allah’s (God’s) Justice.

Thus in Islam, balance and justice are central to the design and order underlying Allah’s creative fiat as also in the ultimate Reckoning on the Day of Judgment. It is the consequence of Divine Justice that man has free will because, without free will, man does not merit either reward or punishment for his deeds. For this reason, the great scholars of Islam have called free will the Principle of Justice.

If we study the cause of the ruin of many past civilizations, we find at the root the neglect of justice. In fact, justice is a value that a ruler can ignore only at his own peril. In the case of a people who violate the fundamentals of justice, Allah will punish them severely. That is the valuable lesson we learn from history. The Qur’an repeatedly admonishes the believers to travel in the world and study the history of past societies, particularly the nations that were destroyed for their iniquities.

Allah commands us in the Qur’an to do good and to avoid shameful deeds, injustice, and rebellion. He commands us to be just, even if we hate a people.

Islam takes all measures to ensure that justice prevails in every field

Social justice is an important prerequisite for peace in the world since an unjust social system is a temporarily dormant volcano whose eruption can be expected any moment. How can there be peace when stolen property is not restored to the owner, or when criminals go free after blatantly breaking law and order? Since Islam is a practical religion and not a religion of sweet, impracticable homilies, such issues are necessarily addressed within the purview of religion itself.

For in Islam, religion is not so rarefied and sublimated as to ignore social or political concerns. For this reason Islam cannot approve of a purely spiritual movement that never bothers about the problems of the people. Islam does not leave burning issues of the society to the whims of self-seeking Machiavellian politicians, but deals with politics itself, which cannot be separated from life. It is for the same reason that good Muslims are committed citizens of a country and not ascetics who flee from the day-to-day affairs of the world.

In a society where the best minds are absorbed in abstruse metaphysical disquisitions, Vedantic philosophy may develop; but the most grievous injustice will prevail in that society, causing incalculable suffering to the people. Isn’t it a pity that in the “most civilized countries”, people are still treated as second class citizens on the basis of their skin color?

Islam is strongly opposed to all forms of injustice and takes all measures to ensure that justice prevails in every field. Naturally, Islam faces staunch opposition from those quarters where the vested interests want to continue their exploitation freely, without any interruption.

The emphasis on justice very clearly bears out Islam’s stance on a justly balanced society, the realization of which in space and time, is the desired end of all the means at the disposal of a Muslim society.

- Qatada -
04-12-2007, 04:07 PM

Rights of Citizens in an Islamic State

Islam protects the rights belonging to the citizens of an Islamic state, whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims.
  • The first is the right to security of life and property. Islam prohibits killing except for that which is done in the due process of law at the hands of a God-fearing court. No government has the right to murder its citizens, openly or secretly, because they oppose its unjust policies and actions or criticize it. Furthermore, Islam confers the right of security of ownership of property.
  • Another right is that of the protection of honor. Under Islamic Law, if one is proved to have said things that could have damaged the reputation and honor of the plaintiff, the accused is declared guilty of defamation — regardless of whether or not the plaintiff is able to prove that he is respectable and honorable in the first place.
  • Citizens of an Islamic state have the right to the sanctity and security of private life. Thus spying on others, reading their mail, tapping their phones, etc., is illegal. Espionage on the life of the individual cannot be justified on moral grounds. In fact, when a government does begin to spy on its own people, the common citizens cannot speak freely even in their own homes, and society begins to suffer from a state of general distrust and suspicion — which in turn leads to more dissatisfaction and eventually unrest.
  • No citizen can be imprisoned unless his guilt has been proven in an open court in which he has the opportunity to defend himself.
  • Citizens have the God-given right to protest against the government’s tyranny, whether that abuse is directed against individuals, groups, or the entire population.
Citizens have absolute and complete equality in the eyes of the law regardless of their religion
  • Islam grants the right of freedom of thought and expression on the condition that it should be used to propagate virtue and truth, not to spread evil and wickedness. Further, no one has the right to use abusive or offensive language in the name of criticism. In fact, the citizen not only has the right of freedom of expression in order to propagate virtue, but also the duty to propagate virtue and stop the spread of evil.
  • Islam gives people the right to freedom of association and formation of parties or organizations, provided that this right is exercised to spread virtue and righteousness, not to spread evil and mischief.
  • Citizens of an Islamic state have the right to freedom of conscience and conviction. Non-Muslim citizens cannot be forced to accept Islam, and no moral, social, or political pressure can be put on them to make them change their minds.
  • Religious sentiments are to be protected. Discussion and debate on religious matters can be held, but these must be conducted in decency with no abusive language. This applies to followers of all faiths.
  • An individual cannot be arrested or imprisoned for the offenses of others. Every person is responsible for his own acts.
  • Citizens have the right to the basic necessities of life. It is the responsibility of the State to provide the basic necessities for the poor and needy, invalid, orphaned, elderly, unemployed, et cetera. Even a dead person with no guardian or heir has the right to a proper burial by the State.
  • The citizens of an Islamic state have absolute and complete equality in the eyes of the law, regardless of their religion.
  • In an Islamic state, the rulers are not above the law. All officials of the state, whether they are the head or ordinary employees, are equal in the eyes of the law. None can claim immunity. Even an ordinary citizen has the right to forward a claim or file a complaint against the highest executive in the country.
  • Citizens have the right to avoid sin. No government, or administrator, or head of a department can order another person to do wrong. A person who is so ordered has the right to refuse to comply, and this would not be seen as an offense under Islamic Law.
  • Islam grants the right to participate in the affairs of state. Thus every citizen has the right to have a direct say in the affairs of the state or a representative chosen by him and others.

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- Qatada -
04-12-2007, 04:10 PM
Treat Them Kindly
Prisoners of War

“Treat the prisoners of war kindly.”

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No, this is not a statement in the Geneva Conventions summarizing the rights of POWs. This is the Prophet Muhammad’s instruction to his Companions more than 1400 years ago. Islam has set down rules for warfare, detailing when Muslims should fight, whom they should fight, and how they should fight.

In the time of the Prophet Muhammad, the Muslims set an unprecedented standard for the ethics of dealing with captured enemies. They treated prisoners of war in a manner that has yet to be imitated in history. Islam set the basic rule that the captive is protected by his captivity and the wounded by his injury.

Islam instructs Muslims either to free captives who cannot offer ransom (in the form of money or an equivalent number of Muslim captives) or to ransom prisoners of war.[1]

Prisoners of war are not to be humiliated or degraded in any way. They have the right to their human dignity and the right to be protected from sexual, emotional, and physical abuse. Sufficient health care should be provided for prisoners who need it. Proper food and clothing should also be provided, as well as sanitary facilities. The Prophet also instructed his Companions to shelter their prisoners from the summer sun and to provide them with water to drink.

Captives are invited to learn about Islam, but they are under no pressure whatsoever to convert. [There is no compulsion in religion] (Al-Baqarah 2:256) means that sincerity is an essential requirement of one’s faith, so, therefore, no one can be coerced to become a Muslim nor should anyone convert to seek some worldly benefit.

The Qur’an describes the righteous:

[And they, though they hold it dear, give sustenance to the indigent, the orphan and the captive. (Saying) we feed you for the sake of God alone: no reward do we desire from you, nor thanks.] (Al-Insan 76:8-9)

Relating how the Companions complied strictly with the Prophet’s instructions on treating POWs, one of the prisoners of the Battle of Badr[2], Huzayr ibn Humayr, said: “I was with one of the Ansari families, after being taken as captive. Whenever they had lunch or dinner, they used to give me preference by providing me with bread while they’d eat only dates, in compliance with the Prophet’s order to treat prisoners well.”
Another, Thamama ibn Athal, was taken prisoner and brought to the Prophet, who said, “Be good to him in his captivity.” When the Prophet went home, he asked that any food in his house be collected and sent to Thamama.

Each human being has inherent value and distinction as God’s creation.

Later, the Prophet approached him respectfully and inquired whether Thamama could ransom himself: “What have you, Thamama?” He replied, “Actually I have a lot going for me. If you kill me, you kill a man whose blood will surely be avenged. If you are generous, then you are generous to a man who knows how to be grateful. If you are after money, then ask of me whatever amount you like.”

The Prophet left him and on the second day when he approached him, Thamama said basically the same thing. On the third day, the Prophet said, “Let Thamama go.”

They unbound him and let him go. He went on his way, quickly took a bath and returned, declaring, “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and I bear witness that you are the Messenger of Allah. O Muhammad! I swear to Allah that there was no man on the face of the Earth whom I hated more than you. Now you have become to me the dearest of men. And I swear by Allah that there was no religion on earth more loathsome to me than your religion, but now it is the most beloved to me of all religions. There was no country on earth more despised by me than your country, yet now I love it more than any other country in the world.”[3]

The Islamic ethics of treating prisoners of war is part of the whole system of Islamic ethics, which places utmost importance on the preservation of human dignity and rights. This principle extends from the rights of the unborn child to the rights of women, the elderly, non-Muslims living in a Muslim country, to aggressive enemies captured as prisoners of war. Each human being has inherent value and distinction as God’s creation.

Read Also:
[1] For more on the topic, see Muhammad Abu Zahrah’s book, The Concept of War in Islam.

[2] The first battle the Muslims fought against their enemies who had persecuted them, forced them out of Makkah and stolen the money and properties the Muslims left behind while fleeing the persecution.

[3] Reported by both Al-Bukhari and Muslim.


- Qatada -
04-12-2007, 04:15 PM
The Pacifism of Islam*

By Harun Yahya

According to the Qur’an, war represents an “unwanted obligation” which has to be absolutely carried out with strict observance of particular humane and moral values and resorted to only when it is inevitable.

In a verse, it is explained that those who start wars are the disbelievers and that God does not approve wars:

[…Each time they kindle the fire of war, Allah extinguishes it. They rush about the earth corrupting it. Allah does not love corrupters.] (Surat Al-Ma’idah 5:64)

A closer examination of Prophet Muhammad’s life reveals that war is a method resorted to for defensive purposes only in unavoidable situations.
The revelation of the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad lasted for 23 years. During the first 13 years of this period, Muslims lived as a minority under a pagan rule in Makkah and faced much oppression. Many Muslims were harassed, abused, tortured, and even murdered, their houses and possessions were plundered. Despite this, Muslims led their lives without resorting to any violence and always called pagans to peace.

When the oppression of pagans escalated unbearably, Muslims emigrated to the town of Yathrib, which was later to be renamed Madinah, where they could establish their own order in a more friendly and free environment. Even establishing their own political system did not prompt them to take up weapons against aggressive pagans of Makkah. Only after the following revelation, the Prophet commanded his people to get prepared for war:

[Permission to fight is given to those who are fought against because they have been wronged - truly God has the power to come to their support - those who were expelled from their homes without any right, merely for saying, ‘Our Lord is God’…] (Surat Al-Hajj 22:39-40)

In brief, Muslims were allowed to wage war only because they were oppressed and subjected to violence. To put it in another way, God granted permission for war only for defensive purposes. In other verses, Muslims are warned against use of unnecessary provocation or unnecessary violence:

[Fight in the Way of God against those who fight you, but do not go beyond the limits. God does not love those who go beyond the limits.] (Surat Al-Baqarah 2:190)

For more on war and Islam, read:

After the revelations of these verses, wars occurred between Muslims and pagan Arabs. In none of these wars, however, were the Muslims the inciting party.
Furthermore, Prophet Muhammad established a secure and peaceful social environment for Muslims and pagans alike by signing a peace agreement (Hudaybiya) which conceded to the pagans most of their requests. The party who violated the terms of the agreement and started a new war was again the pagans.

However, with rapid conversions into Islam, the Islamic armies attained great power against the pagan Arabs and Prophet Muhammad conquered Makkah without bloodshed and in a spirit of tolerance. If he willed, he could have taken revenge on pagan leaders in the city. Yet, he did not do harm to any one of them, forgave them and treated them with the utmost tolerance. Pagans, who would later convert to Islam by their own will, could not help admiring such noble character of the Prophet.

The Islamic principles God proclaims in the Qur’an account for this peaceful and temperate policy of Prophet Muhammad. In the Qur’an, God commands believers to treat even the non-Muslims kindly and justly:

[...God does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you over religion or driven you from your homes, or from being just towards them. God loves those who are just. God merely forbids you from taking as friends those who have fought you over religion and driven you from your homes and who supported your expulsion...] (Surat Al-Mumtahanah 60:8-9)

“Islam recognizes that war is inevitable and sometimes a positive duty in order to end oppressions and suffering.”

Karen Armstrong

The verses above specify the outlook of a Muslim on non-Muslims: A Muslim should treat all non-Muslims kindly and avoid making friends only with those who show enmity to Islam. In case this enmity causes violent attacks against the existence of Muslims, that is, in case they wage a war against them, then Muslims should respond them justly by considering the humane dimensions of the situation. All forms of barbarism, unnecessary acts of violence and unjust aggression are forbidden by Islam.

In another verse, God warns Muslims against this and explains that rage felt for enemies should not cause them to drift them into injustice:

[You who believe! Show integrity for the sake of God, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just. Be just. That is closer to heedfulness. Heed God (alone). God is aware of what you do.] (Surat Al-Ma’idah 5:8)

The Meaning of “Jihad”

Another concept that deserves clarification is that of “jihad”.
The exact meaning of “jihad” is “effort”. That is, in Islam, “to carry out jihad” is “to show efforts, to struggle”. Prophet Muhammad explained that “the greatest jihad is the one a person carries out against his lower soul”. What is meant by “lower soul” here is the selfish desires and ambitions. A struggle given on intellectual grounds against anti-religious, atheist views is also a form of jihad in its complete sense.

Apart from these ideological and spiritual meanings, struggle in the physical sense is also considered as “jihad”. However, as explained above, this has to be a struggle carried out solely for defensive purposes. The use of the concept of “jihad” for acts of aggression against innocent people, that is for terror, would be unjust and a great distortion.

Compassion, Tolerance and Pacifism in Islam

The Islamic political doctrine is both peaceful and moderate. The British historian, Karen Armstrong, a former nun and a renowned expert on Middle East history, wrote in her book, Holy War, in which she examines the history of the three great divine religions:

... The word Islam comes from the same Arabic root as the word peace and the Qur’an condemns war as an abnormal state of affairs opposed to God’s will: “When the enemies of the Muslims kindle a fire for war, Allah extinguishes it. They strive to create disorder in earth, and Allah loves not those who create disorder.” (Qur’an 28:78).

Islam does not justify a total aggressive war or extermination, as the Torah does in the first five books of the Bible. A more realistic religion than Christianity, Islam recognizes that war is inevitable and sometimes a positive duty in order to end oppressions and suffering. The Qur’an teaches that war must be limited and be conducted in as humane a way of possible. Mohammed had to fight not only the Meccans but also the Jewish tribes in the area and Christian tribes in Syria who planned on offensive against him in alliance with the Jews. Yet this did not make Mohammed denounce the People of the Book. His Muslims were forced to defend themselves but they were not fighting a holy war against the religion of their enemies. When Mohammed sent his freedman Zaid against the Christians at the head of a Muslim army, he told them to fight in the cause of God bravely but humanely. They must not molest priests, monks and nuns nor the weak and helpless people who were unable to fight. There must be no massacre of civilians nor should they cut down a single tree nor pull down any building. This was very different from the wars of Joshua.1

“Religiously, Islam proved a more tolerant religion, providing greater religious freedom for Jews and indigenous Christians.”

John L. Esposito
Following the death of Prophet Muhammad, Muslims continued to treat the members of other religions with tolerance and respect. Islamic states became the secure and free home of both Jews and Christians. After the conquest of Jerusalem, Caliph Omar calmed the Christians who were in fear of a massacre and explained to them that they were secure. Furthermore, he visited their churches and declared that they could continue to practice their worship freely.

In 1099, four centuries after the conquest of Jerusalem by Muslims, Crusaders invaded Jerusalem and put all Muslim inhabitants to the sword. Again, contrary to the fears of Christians, Salah El-Deen, the Muslim general who captured Jerusalem and saved the city from invasion in 1187, did not touch even a single civilian and did not allow a single soldier to plunder. Moreover, he allowed the invading Christians to take all their possessions and leave the city in security. The periods of Seljuk Turks and the Ottoman Empire were also marked by the tolerance and justice of Islam. As is known, Jews who were expelled from Catholic Spain found the peace they sought on the lands of Ottoman Empire, where they took refuge in 1492. Sultan Mehmed, the conqueror of Istanbul, also allowed Jews and Christians religious freedom. Regarding the tolerant and just practices of Muslims, historian A. Miquel states the following:

The Christians were ruled by a very well administered state which was something that did not exist in the Byzantium or Latin sovereignty. They were never subjected to a systematized oppression. On the contrary, the Empire, and foremost Istanbul, became a refuge for the much tortured Spanish Jews. They were never forced to accept Islam.2

John L. Esposito, a professor of Religion and International Politics at the Georgetown University, makes a similar comment:
For many non-Muslim populations in Byzantine and Persian territories already subjugated to foreign rulers, Islamic rule meant an exchange of rulers, the new ones often more flexible and tolerant, rather than a loss of independence. Many of these populations now enjoyed greater local autonomy and often paid lower taxes... Religiously, Islam proved a more tolerant religion, providing greater religious freedom for Jews and indigenous Christians.3

*Reprinted with permission from the author. Slight editorial changes have been made to the article. To see the original, visit www.harunyahya.com.

1- Karen Armstrong, Holy War, MacMillian London Limited, 1988, p. 25
2- Feridun Emecen, Kemal Beydilli, Mehmet Ýpþirli, Mehmet Akif Aydýn, Ýlber Ortaylý, Abdülkadir Özcan, Bahaeddin Yediyýldýz, Mübahat Kütükoðlu, Osmanlý Devleti Medeniyeti Tarihi, (The History of the Ottoman State), Istanbul: 1994, Ýslam Tarih, Sanat ve Kültür Araþtýrma Merkezi, p. 467.
3- John L. Esposito, The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality, Oxford University Press, New York, 1992, p. 39.

- Qatada -
04-12-2007, 04:18 PM
Of Torture and Abuse*
Q & A Session

By Dr. Taha Jabir Al-`Alwani

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Dignity is a distinguishing characteristic of the human being, bestowed upon him by God. Dr. Taha Jabir Al-`Alwani asserts “The dignity of a human being is the essence of his humanity”. Dr. Al-`Alwani answers questions about violations against human dignity in general and torture and abuse from an Islamic perspective in specific.

Q. How does Islam view torture?

A. Allah the Almighty has honored human beings and made them vicegerents on earth and responsible for conveying His revelation. Allah has put all of us through a test in life to see which of us is best in action. The dignity of a human being is the essence of his humanity, it is like a brain to the body; if the dignity of human being is humiliated, his “humanity” is de facto debased. Therefore, if we find a human being, regime or a party torturing someone, especially if a prisoner or a captive, it means the torturer’s “animal qualities” have dominated his human characteristics, and therefore, oppressed his human brother who could have been in his shoe to torture him—and it might happen one day.

Torture has been practiced by people since old times, during the struggle between the truth and falsehood, since Adam (peace be upon him). As we know, Islam commenced with Adam and ended with Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), and all Prophets of Allah, including Abraham (Ibrahim), Noah (Nuh), Isaac (Is-haq), Moses (Musa), Jesus (`Isa), and Muhammad – peace and blessings be upon them all, preached the same message - Islam. This resembles a program of study where each “Prophet” gave a course and all courses have been re-edited and published in one book revealed to Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

We know that the two sons of Adam (peace and blessings be upon him) disputed with each other as one of them was righteous while the other was deviant. When each of them offered a sacrifice to Allah, it was accepted from the righteous, while it was not accepted from the other. The deviant brother threatened his brother with death, and then executed him, while the righteous brother said: [Surely I wish that you should bear the sin committed against me and your own sin, and so you would be of the inhabitants of the Fire, and this is the recompense of the unjust.] (Al-Ma’idah 5:29)

Torture has been used by those who want to enslave human beings

Therefore, torture is a battle between truth and falsehood, Islam and disbelief. It has been used by those who want to enslave human beings to make them bow down to them, and when the latter refuse to surrender, the former resort to those acts of humiliation and torture with in order to debase the human dignity.

Islam considers all humans as one family, and if those torturers realize that they are torturing their human brothers and sisters, they would never thought of doing such a heinous act.

Islam came when oppression and tyranny were rampant among people; yet, Islam elevated the rank of human beings and established justice on earth, which is the most important value that comes next to the belief in Allah.
So, all these acts committed since Adam till the present time, are signs of the ignorance and injustice people are suffering from nowadays. Torturing captives and prisoners is a sign of the lack of moral values, justice and human dignity.

Q. Is it justified in Islam to torture a prisoner or an accused person for the purpose of getting information?

A. This act is totally contradictory to justice and it is unacceptable by all means. To force an accused or a prisoner to admit to something is not permitted in Islam, nor is it acceptable from a human point of view. This act is only accepted by people of no faith, oppressors and tyrants who want to convert people into slaves. All faiths condemn this act. The history of Islam shows that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to tell the criminals who came to him voluntarily admitting their crimes, to repent and seek forgiveness from Allah.

Torturing prisoners and the accused at the time of investigation in an attempt to make the accused witness against his own self, are flagrant violations of human dignity.

Therefore, it is the right of the judge to refuse all information got under duress and force.

Q. What is Islam’s position on international human rights?

Islam is a holy and sacred religion that cannot be viewed through the wrong practices of some of its followers.

A. I think that all Muslims today are required to work in this field and to promote any effort in this regard. Muslims have lost many of their human rights and dignity, especially in many Arab and Muslim countries. Therefore, we need to work together to restore some of these missed rights.
We should work with all human rights organizations, even those ones that don’t work from a religious point of view. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to say: “I witnessed a peace treaty conducted in the house of `Abdullah Ibn Jud`an that even if I were invited to a similar alliance or treaty in Islam, I would have welcomed the idea.” So, we need to promote any organization that works in the filed of human rights.

Q. How do we interpret violations carried out by Muslim leaders if we say that the Islamic perspective of human rights is much more superior to the western one?

A. Islam is a religion and a mission, and people implement it in different degrees. While some people apply Islam in an excellent manner, others misrepresent Islam. In no case should we blame Islam for the mistakes of its followers. Islam is a holy and sacred religion that cannot be viewed through the wrong practices of some of its followers.

Q. Does Islam allow Muslims to behead civilians and prisoners of war?

A. In principle, Islam forbids targeting civilians and those who don’t contribute to the war. A Muslim fighter can only target those who attack him and waged war against his country.

As for civilians or those who oppose the war, it is unacceptable to kill them at any case. That is why the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and Muslim Caliphs after him, used to advise the leaders of the Muslim army in all battles not to kill monks, civilians, or whoever surrenders and decides to leave off the battle. This is because fighting in the perspective of Islam is like a surgery sought only as the last resort. Allah SWT commanded us to establish peace entirely: {O you who believe! Enter into peace whole-heartedly.} (Al-Baqarah 2: 208)

Therefore, fighting is an exceptional case; if it happens, it has to be limited to the warring parties.

Killing captives is unjustifiable in the perspective of Islam, except in case of retaliation or responding to the same tactic the enemy is using. If there is a war between Muslims and non-Muslims and the non-Muslim army get used to kill Muslim captives—only in this case it is allowed that captives be killed in return, in conformity with Allah’s saying: (whoever then acts aggressively against you, inflict injury on him according to the injury he has inflicted on you and be careful (of your duty) to Allah and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).) (Al-Baqarah 2: 194)

*Adapted from a live dialogue session with Dr. Taha J. Al-`Alwani. To read the entire session, click here.

- Qatada -
04-12-2007, 04:20 PM
Human Rights and the Prophet Muhammad
Q & A Session

By Discover Islam Team
Apr. 30, 2006

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“There are a number of principles that form the foundation of human rights tradition in Islam, foremost among which is the Qur’anic declaratio n of the equality of human beings... Another central principle is the freedom of consciousness that is the right of people to follow their own convictions,” Dr. Louay M. Safi, Executive Director of ISNA’s Leadership Development Center, wrote in a live dialogue hosted by IslamOnline.net.

Does Islam have a place for human rights? What is Islam’s perception of freedom of expression? Dr. Louay Safi answered these and other questions about Islam and the concept of human rights. Read the full transcript of the live dialogue, by clicking here.

- Qatada -
04-12-2007, 04:38 PM

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