Assalamo Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatohu which say: ‘May you all live in peace, may you go on enjoying the mercy and infinite blessings of God Almighty.’
These greetings, which we exchange daily with each other, and which we are enjoined by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to extend to all Muslims, friends and strangers, contain the very essence of the teachings of Islam, which means nothing but the unqualified submission to the Will of God Almighty and peace for all.
Since times immemorial, man has, at the hand of man, been suffering all kinds of miseries and cruelties; his rights have been violated; he has become alienated from his own species.
Today, most of the evils humanity is confronted with are rooted in the violation and deprivation of human rights. No doubt in the dark corridors of history, we hear echoes reverberating protest against human sufferings and exploitation. No doubt in these very corridors sometimes we also see a chink of light of hope for man in the form of Charters, such as Magna Carta, English Petition of Rights, The Virginian Declaration of Rights, American Bill of Rights and so on and so forth. However, when we critically look at these various documents, we are a bit disappointed. We soon realise that they are not after all what humanity expected them to be. They disappoint not so much in what they say, but in what they leave out to say. They give no redeeming hope to man, or offer any source of perennial light for humanity. They, if not in their letter, at least in their spirit and the way in which they were composed, and have been understood, interpreted and applied, epitomise the Orwellian formula:
‘All are equal but some are more equal than others.’
(Adapted from Animal Form – Penguin Classic, by G. Orwell).
As far as the U.N.O’s Charter of Human Rights is concerned, by and large its value remains academic, in that it is a testimony to a very important historical fact; namely, that over the centuries man’s conception of human rights has gradually evolved to reach a stage where it could be documented in such detail as we find in the U.N. Charter and subsequent Declarations.
When we make a comparative study of Human Rights as prescribed by Islam and those found elsewhere, we are at once impressed by three facts:
Firstly, for Islam the question of Human Rights is part of a much wider question of rights of all creation of God, and for that matter the Rights of the Creator Himself. We cannot separate the question of Human Rights from the question of, say, the rights of animals. If we do so the very rationale of Human Rights would collapse.
Secondly, all kinds of rights as prescribed by Islam derive their significance from the moral and spiritual values of Islam in which they are firmly embedded and on which they are founded. These values are, in turn, based on the concept of the unity of God. No other view of rights has ever been able to provide such secure foundations for them. The assumptions and the principles on which secular doctrines base the concept of rights are, on examination, found to be either outright untenable or inadequate and flimsy.
Thirdly, Islam deals with all kinds of rights, including human rights, in such profound depth and in such wide range that no secular view has ever been able to cover them in such depth and in such range.
To expand on, and elaborate all these points, doing full justice to the subject is not possible in the short time available. So I shall be selective and brief in my humble presentation, hoping that I shall, in this short time, be able to do at least some justice to the subject.
In Surah Rahman (Ch. 55) verse 10 of the Holy Quran, God Almighty says:
‘Weigh all things with justice and fall not short of the measure.’
That is, God has set up the measure and balance so that order and harmony pervade and govern the entire Universe. It is the right of every creation of God that its order and balance should at no cost be disturbed. We are enjoined to weigh all things with justice and not to fall short of the measure.
Thus ‘Justice’ – the very principle and basis of all rights – is inexorably joined with measure, balance and order of the Universe. The fabric of rights surrounds the entire Universe and is bound up with God-created order, harmony and measure of the Universe; Violate rights in one area and you not only violate rights in other areas but also disturb the balance and order of the Universe.
As there is an all-comprehensive harmony in the whole Universe, man, the crown and the object of creation, is enjoined to maintain a just balance in everything and treat with equity and justice his fellow beings, giving everyone his due, and to avoid extremes and discharge his duties to his Creator and His creations.
Thus, the Islamic view of human rights is pivoted on the overall view of justice, harmony and order in the Universe. This is one foundation on which the entire edifice of Human Rights is built. The other foundation of this edifice is the moral and spiritual values of Islam.
The field of Islamic moral and spiritual values is vast. All other Islamic values, civic, political, social and economic, are determined by these.
However, this fabric of values is based on certain fundamental principles.
Once we grasp these principles we can have an idea of Islamic values. However, within the time available, I can just discuss two of them here.
The first principle can be derived from the following verse of the Holy Quran:
‘O mankind, We have created you from a
male and a female; and We have made you into tribes
and sub-tribes that you may recognise one another.
Verily, the most honourable among you,
in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most
righteous among you. Surely,
Allah is All-knowing, All-Aware.’ (49:14)
The subject we are discussing is vast and the time is short. But before I close I would like to draw your attention to a few excerpts from the writings and recorded sayings of the Promised Messiah, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (Peace be upon him), the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Community in Islam, which beautifully sum up the teachings of Islam regarding the rights and the brotherhood of mankind. He said:
‘A person can be held to be a Muslim when the whole of his being together with all his faculties, physical and spiritual, is devoted to God. This devotion has two aspects. First, that God Almighty should become the object of worship and the true goal and beloved, and that no one should be associated in His worship and in His love. The second, that one’s life should be devoted to the service of His creatures and to sympathise with them and to share their burdens and sorrows. One should suffer pain to bring them comfort, and one should experience grief to bring them consolation.’ (Aeena Kamalat-e-Islam pp. 559-62).
He further said:
‘Be the true well-wishers of every one. There should be nothing inside you except truth and there should be nothing outside you except truth and sympathy for mankind. If you desire that God should be pleased with you in Heaven, become to each other like real brothers. It is our principle to have sympathy for the whole of mankind. If a person sees that fire has broken out in the house of a Hindu neighbour and he does not get up to help in putting it out, I tell you truly he is not of me. If one of my followers sees a Christian being killed and he does not go to his assistance to rescue him, then I tell you quite truly that he is not of us.’ (Malfoozat, viii pp 26-27)
We Ahmadiyya Muslims, not only in Mauritius but everywhere in the world today, are striving to promote, support and create the environment where the dignity of all human beings without any discrimination of faith, race, colour, language or culture is respected and as prescribed in Islam their rights honoured and all kinds of injustice, depravation, oppression, exploitation, violence and brutality eradicated from which man suffers today.
Let us pray that with our slogan ‘Love for all Hatred for None’, we as models of true Islam, fulfil our obligations to God Almighty and to humanity.
And our last words are that all Praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds!
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