International Islamic Human Rights Day

Thus it could be said that the Islamic Human Rights Declaration is a great stride forward at the international level to acquaint mankind with the dynamism of Islam to take human societies toward moral and spiritual perfection in harmony with innate nature...

Last Wednesday on August 3 was the day of the International Declaration of Islamic Human Rights and Human Dignity. In this article we will focus on the Islamic Declaration and its differences and its differences with the UN International Human Rights Declaration.

The idea of compiling a charter or a declaration for supporting human rights was raised after World War One and took practical shape after World War Two. In view of the crimes committed during the wars and the risk of violation of human rights in the future, officials of countries that emerged victorious in the two World Wars compiled a charter under the auspices of the UN in 1948 and called it the International Human Rights Declaration.

However, the 30-article charter, despite its emphasis on the three general principles of freedom, equality and brotherhood, has been drafted wholly from the viewpoint of western culture without taking into consideration the ethical, spiritual, and religious values of the other cultures of the world, especially of Islam and Muslims. As pointed out by Islamic thinkers although some of its contents are confirmed by Islam, the majority of its concepts are quite contradictory to the benign teachings of Islam, where human rights and dignity are much more elaborate and well defined than in western culture. For this reason, from the beginning, many Muslim countries refused to endorse the UN Human Rights Declaration, calling it highly flawed.

They thus decided to draft a charter of human rights from the viewpoint of Islam in order to prove that Islamic human rights are more perfect. In 1979 and 1981, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), issued the first two resolutions in this regard, and after years of debate, it was decided at the 19th foreign ministerial meeting of Muslim countries in Cairo in August 1990, to approve the outlines of the Islamic Human Rights Declaration and consequently August 3rd was declared as the Day of Islamic Human Rights and Human Dignity. The Islamic Human Rights Declaration is spread over 25 articles and encompasses many vital aspects of human dignity ignored by the UN Human Rights Declaration. The Islamic Human Rights Declaration begins with emphasis on ayah 13 of Surah Hujurat in which God Almighty says:

"O mankind! Indeed we have created you from a (single pair of) male and a female, and made you nations and tribes that you may identify yourselves with one another. Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most Godwary among you. Indeed Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware."

It is thus obvious that contrary to the racial and religious discriminations of the liberal democracy of the West, Islam emphasizes universal human brotherhood, considering all mankind to be the offspring of Adam and Eve, irrespective of the superficial differences of colour of skin, language spoken, social status, creeds followed and geographical area of living.

The Islamic Human Rights and Human Dignity Declaration stresses faith in God and adherence to morals, virtues, and spiritual values – points which the UN human rights charter ignores and overlooks despite the obvious fact that peace and harmonious co-existence is not possible without Divine Grace and Guidance. The other basic point of difference between the UN and Islamic Human Rights Charters is that the former does not take into account innate human nature and the development of moral virtues, neither as a personal right nor as a criterion or value for the society.

This is indeed a major flaw of western culture, and for this reason, the Islamic Human Rights Charter states that the main purpose of God's sending of Prophets that culminated in the revelation of the message of Islam to Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), is to lead humanity towards development and perfection of ethical values, morals and virtues.

Thus, any so-called legal rule that is in contradiction with the moral principles and values of human beings is invalid. Accordingly, the Islamic Human Rights Declaration underlines that mankind should live in an atmosphere free of ethical corruption. It says that every human being has the right to live in an atmosphere freed of corruption and ethical deviation, and the society and the government are duty bound to guarantee this right.

Another major deficiency of the International Human Rights Declaration is its inability to discern the finer points of differences in creation, especially the delicate biological, physical and psychological aspects separating males and females. Actually the UN Human Rights Charter has degraded the status of women by treating them as per men. It is only Islam and its dynamic teachings that discern the delicate differences between male and females.

Thus, the Islamic Human Rights and Human Dignity Charter, stressing the equal value and rights of both men and women, takes note of the undeniable differences in creation, and thereby defines their respective duties as per their role in family life and in society, in accordance with their physical and sentimental peculiarities. Another distinction of the Islamic Human Rights Declaration is its comprehensive definition of freedom and its categories. Freedom is among the fundamental rights of a human being. In Islamic Culture, freedom is considered a divine gift, whose framework is determined by the dynamic laws of the Shari'ah.

Therefore, one should not violate the rights of others under the pretext of freedom. In contrast to the Islamic concept, the UN Human Rights Charter actually infringes on the rights of others by decreeing animal freedom and leaving liberties borderless and undefined. The UN Human Rights Declaration actually violates freedom, hurts the sentiments of others, and creates strife and tension in the society. In Islam, however, human rights are far more superior compared to western culture, and the right of freedom of expression does not mean the insulting of the sanctities and sentiments others. This is evident by the frequent attacks on Muslims and Islamic sanctities in the west on the pretext of freedom of expression.

An article of the Islamic Human Rights Declaration says: Attack on sanctities and the dignity of Prophets or any measure which disrupts values and insults divine ideas is strictly prohibited.

It also negates any form of colonialism and considers campaign against this exploitation, occupation, and usurpation, to be the right of all human beings. It supports the right of self determination of all nations, and calls on all governments to help the victims of colonialism. In contrast to the Islamic Human Rights Declaration, the UN Human Rights Charter is ominously silent on the rights of occupied nations to struggle free from the yoke of colonialism and neo-colonialism, while western regimes term any campaign against colonialism, occupation, and usurpation as terrorism.

The Islamic Human Rights Declaration negates dictatorships and considers the forming of a government as a trust for serving the people without misuse of authority. Unfortunately, freedom according to the regimes in the West is suppression of the aspirations of the masses and the support for dictators and dictatorial rule in Muslim states. In conclusion, one can say that the most important characteristic which distinguishes the Islamic Human Rights Declaration from the UN Charter of Human Rights is the attention paid to the spiritual dimensions of human life within the framework of dignity as defined by divine laws.

Thus it could be said that the Islamic Human Rights Declaration is a great stride forward at the international level to acquaint mankind with the dynamism of Islam to take human societies toward moral and spiritual perfection in harmony with innate nature.

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