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The Quran and Human Rights

 

Table of contents

Preservation of Life

The Quran places a great emphasis on the sanctity of human life. The first commandment given to Prophet Moses is, “Do not kill anybody who Allah has forbidden.” ( Ал-إ promiseية \,itrāħ ما قضاه الله)

This concept is further stressed throughout the Quran. It explicitly states that unjustified murder is a serious crime and a direct breach of God’s commandments. Muslim scholars have agreed that killing an innocent human being is an offense against Allah and all human beings and the severest penalty for such an offense is mandatory according to Islamic law.

Prohibition of Forced Conversion

The Quran emphasizes that individuals have a fundamental right over their beliefs and that compulsory conversion to Islam is against the very spirit of the religion. It clearly states that, “La ikraa” – meaning there should be no force, coercion or compulsion in matters of religion. (البقرة 256) Muslims are enjoined to respect the faith of others, as well as their right to believe or not believe what they choose. A true Muslim treats others with kindness and respect, as is befitting for religious values.

Equality before the Law

One of the prominent principles of Islamic law is the equality of all before the law, guaranteeing equal rights and opportunities to every individual. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, once said, “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white except by piety and good action.” (سورة الحجات (١١) )

Protection of Women’s Rights

The Quran is unambiguous about the rights of women. It ensures women their full rights as human beings. The Quran restricts the differences between men’s and women’s rights to those that arise naturally from biological and physical differences between the sexes and stresses the equality of men and women in spiritual and communal terms. The Prophet Muhammad himself said, “The best of women is she who pleases her husband when she sees him after she has been absent from him, and the best of men is he who pleases his wife when she sees him after she has been absent from him.”( النور 21) This is a testament to the fact that men and women have certain unique rights associated with their physiological features, which do not, however, impinge upon their fundamental human rights. The Quran asks: “And what will explain to you (mankind) the Story of Moses? – After he (Moses) left (Pharaoh)” By the Blessed Book (this Quran) that distinguishes right from wrong, for it is a revelation from the (One) who is the Mighty, the Forgiving…” (سورة Saad 29) This passage from the Quran relates that the difference between men and women is God-given, natural, and that it should not be taken as evidence for superiority or inferiority. The verse ultimately culminates in the belief that the value of a human being lies in the guidance from the Quran, a fundamental principle and virtue that determines right from wrong and makes one a true believer.

Freedom of Speech and Religion

Islam not only values but also respects the freedom of expression and belief. As the Quran states, “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped (the firmest) handhold, that never breaks: and Allah heareth and knoweth all things.” (البقرة 256) This passage declares that the freedom of religion and expression is an innate quality of a constitutional society. It is a vital tenet of Islamic law that entitles a follower of Islam to the freedom of speech and expression while recognizing the inherent value of the freedom of other religions as well. This principle is a fundamental part of Islamic jurisprudence and has been a core value of civilization and modern society.

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