By the means of this project, I hope to explore and try to answer these
- Whether Islamic Law recognize the concept of Human Rights?
- What is the concept of Legal Equality in Islamic Countries?
Muslim countries are the bete noire of the Human Rights Movement. These
countries face a variety of issues, including denial of democratic rights and
limits on speech, movement, and education. In Afghanistan, for example, the
Taliban have excluded women from public life in their pursuit of the perfect
The Taliban also inflicts harm on Afghan men, which is less well-known. Recently, a man was detained for not growing a beard
eyewitness reports from Kabul, capturing the texture of human rights breaches
and the miseries that result:
Recently, a man was arrested for not growing a
beard. His young child and wife were left alone at home. The lady had no choice
but to leave her house with the baby in her arms in order to buy a loaf of
bread. Because her flowery skirt protruded from beneath her chador, she was
discovered by the Taliban and brutally tortured. The woman had lost her mind.
She dashed home, where she was cooking meat, and sprayed her assailants with
boiling water. They murdered her right there in front of her child.
Many in the West have asked, Why is Islam so violent, so different, and so
as a result of incidents like this one, as well as the rape laws in
Pakistan that punish the victim, the Algerian civil war that continues to claim
the lives of thousands of men and women, and personal status codes (family laws)
that reduce the woman to award. Indeed, it is this fear of Islam that underpins
much of the contemporary conversations in the West about "the clash of
civilizations" and encourages the West to employ force in Muslim nations.
Western non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have backed attempts in Muslim
nations to secularise laws, notably personal status codes, and construct
Western-style democracies, citing the same issue.
So long as an action for change is not based on basic knowledge of the nature of
the problems and the people involved, these attempts will be hindered, and
improvements in the human rights situation in Muslim nations will be postponed.
It's vital to remember that all three Abrahamic religions were revealed in the
East, as were most other religions. Muslims value spirituality highly and would
be willing to endure considerable pain and suffering rather than renounce this
Furthermore, many Muslims intuitively believe that it is those in authority, not
Islam, who are to blame. As a result, they keep looking for a spiritually
acceptable solution. Meanwhile, Western non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
offer little more than lightly modified Western secular answers, sometimes
thinly veiled with religious rhetoric.
Roots of the Crisis
The human rights situation in the Muslim world has deep roots. They're also
linked to questions of democracy and political legitimacy. Soon after the
Prophet Muhammad and the four rightly-guided khalifahs died, the Muslim state
lost its political legitimacy (caliphs). The Umayyad Dynasty rose to power at
that time not by free bay'ah (a sort of vote used at the time), but through a
combination of force and deception. They soon after established a hereditary
monarchy, further marginalising the people's will.
Throughout history, Muslim thinkers who contended that such a system was
incompatible with basic Islamic values have faced harsh retaliation. Most
scholars, tired of the oppressive state apparatus and committed to the stability
of Muslim society, eventually decided to leave politics behind and focus on
Authoritarianism grew more entrenched and patriarchal thinking flourished as
Islamic democracy based on the twin concepts of bay'ah and shura (consultation)
declined. Women, who had played a significant part in early Muslim society, were
gradually separated from, and then excluded from, the centers of power.
- Subjugation of Women
For example, following the Prophet's death, 'Aisha, the Prophet's learned wife,
interfered in a battle that divided Muslims. Her intervention was unsuccessful,
formally signaling the end of her political influence. Zainab, the Prophet's
brave granddaughter, witnessed the Umayyad's slaughtering her family. Despite
her challenging circumstances, Zainab was able to deliver a heartfelt public
statement in the Umayyad caliph's palace, condemning him. Other, less prominent
cases abound. While many women rose to prominence as intellectuals, as
demonstrated by significant male scholars who trained under them, their numbers
dropped over time, and their voices were eventually drowned out.
Eventually, legal interpretations of family laws were so restricted that they
effectively reduced women to wards, denying them the right to marry, work
outside the home, and travel without a male companion. Given that Khadija, the
Prophet's first wife, was a busy businesswoman who employed the Prophet and
eventually proposed marriage to him, the denial of the freedom to work seemed
particularly unjust. These legal interpretations were more influenced by
patriarchal social custom than by Qur'anic principles. Indeed, the jurists'
comprehension of Qur'anic principles was influenced by their social environment
Human Rights in Arab and Muslim countries
In terms of human rights and civil liberties, Arab countries have a long way to
go to catch up with the rest of the world. The survival of Arab regimes is their
common goal. What happens to an individual's rights under such regimes is
irrelevant, and if the individual is a member of a minority group or religion,
so it's very bad for her or him.
Let's take a look at some of the most egregious examples of human rights
breaches in Muslim countries.
Sudan's record of persecution is awful since it is highly vengeful against its
minority populations. For decades, the Arab north has fostered the kidnapping of
black African women and children in the country's south and their subsequent
sale as slaves. Slavery is certainly the most serious charge that can be leveled
against this Arab-African government, and it should be the focus of a concerted
campaign by human rights organisations from all over the world to put a stop to
this scandal. Villages have been destroyed, women have been raped, and men have
been tortured and slain as the people of southern Sudan (many of whom are
Christians) fight for their freedom. Hundreds of thousands of people have been
forced to flee their homes. Human rights activists, students, and lawyers who
have tried to preserve these people's rights have been assassinated.
Pakistan's administration is officially democratic, but elected officials have
imposed an autocratic style of the rule on the country. Human and civil rights
are respected in Pakistan more in the breach than in the observance, despite
some press freedom. There have been tales of torture and executions, religious
minorities are not protected, and women and children are subjected to a great
deal of violence. All political opposition has been outlawed, and regime critics
have been imprisoned. The administration has been elevated above the law, and
the judiciary has been severely hampered. The police force is crooked, and the
people it is intended to protect are terrorised. In Pakistan, jail conditions
are horrible, and prisoners have no rights.
Iran, which calls itself the Islamic Republic, is chastised every year by the
United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva for its numerous human
rights breaches. With numerous journalists imprisoned, journalistic freedom is a
thing of the past. The administration has closed down about 40 newspapers. The
regime's political opponents have been assassinated, and religious minorities
(Christians, Baha'is, Sunnis, and Jews) have been oppressed. Azeris, Arabs,
Kurds, Turkomans, and Baluchis are ethnic minorities who are treated as
second-class citizens. Iranian women are fighting for their rights, hoping that
their fate would not be the same as that of their Afghan sisters.
- Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is a conservative Islamic kingdom that adheres to the orthodox
Sunni faith of Wahhabism. All political opposition is prohibited in the kingdom.
The freedom of speech and the press are severely restricted, and the legal
system is Sharia-based. Amputation, lashing, and execution are all possible
punishments under this legal law. Christians do not have religious freedom, and
the Shia minority is closely monitored. Discrimination against women is
International organizations are constantly monitoring Afghanistan's human rights
situation. The Taliban party dominates Afghanistan and enforces its authority
via force and brutality. According to information obtained by Amnesty
International and other organisations, executions, limb amputations, and
flogging are carried out - sometimes without trial. Men, women, and children are
among the victims. Furthermore, the Islamic militia persecutes Hindus on
religious grounds, destroying Buddha statues, requiring women to wear veils, and
requiring them to wear identification tags, among other things. The Taliban
uphold Islam's most stringent standards, barring women from most professions and
fields of study and demanding men to grow beards and pray five times a day. Any
type of entertainment is prohibited, including watching television and listening
Re-evaluating Islamic law
Our "global village," on the other hand, has become more supportive of
democratic government changes, and patriarchy has been exposed and discredited.
As a result, the time has come for Muslims to finally achieve what centuries of
internal persecution and subsequent colonialism have stopped them from doing.
The fact that there is no central religious authority in Islam charged with
interpreting holy texts aids this attempt.
Every Muslim, male or female, has the
right to such an interpretation if they meet two criteria: piety and
The incident of the old woman in the mosque who challenged a proposed law by
Caliph Omar because it was in opposition with the Qur'an exemplifies this point.
She was asked to elaborate by the Caliph. In support of her position, she gave
unambiguous Qur'anic proof.
"The woman is correct, and the Caliph is wrong,"
Omar proclaimed to those in the mosque. As a result, not even the rightly led
Caliph Omar was the final judge on religious affairs. "If you dispute on an
issue, refer it to God and his Prophet," the Qur'an says. The final arbiter is
thus not a jurist or a ruler, but the Qur'an and the Prophet's Sunnah
As a result, a new generation of Muslims who are well-versed in their faith is
required to re-examine prior juristic interpretations in light of Qur'anic
verses is required for Islamic jurisprudential reform.
Other sources of change can be found within the legal tradition itself. For
example, a fundamental Islamic legal principle is that laws change as time and
place pass. Clearly, this notion has significant restrictions, as the
fundamental beliefs of Islam are unchangeable. This notion is represented by the
historical precedent of the great Imam al-Shafi'i, who altered his jurisprudence
to one more fit for Egyptian society when he moved from Iraq to Egypt.
hundreds of years removed from the time when al-Shafi'i lived. We are also
thousands of miles away from both Iraq and Egypt in the West. Modern-day jurists
would be shocked to learn that Imam al-Shafi'i and other Imams who have been
deceased for centuries are still held in high regard for their views.
- Development of Rigidity
It is critical to recognize that some of the current legal inflexibility has its
roots in the colonial era. Colonialists made a concentrated attempt to erode the
colonial people's ties to the Qur'anic language. Algeria, where entire
generations grew up speaking French, is the most prominent example of such
measures. As a result, many people's attachment to Islam has become emotive
rather than rational.
They couldn't understand or read the Qur'an or related
books any longer. As a result, they could only imitate their parents and
grandparents. This was the case in many Arab and non-Arab countries, where
mastery of complex religious texts was limited to a select few. As a result,
rigidity developed, and medieval jurisprudence flourished at the expense of
Muslims in the twentieth century. As a result, for women and men interested in
re-examining current laws to establish their applicability to our time and
location, a good theological education is required today.
- Changed circumstances
Maslaha, or the public interest, is another fundamental traditional idea that is
a potent agent for change. The main idea is that the Supreme Lawgiver gave us
laws that promote the common good. When extraordinary circumstances emerge that
prevent a law from serving or even harming, the public interest, jurists may
suspend the legislation until the situation returns to its previous position.
Caliph Omar provides us with another historical precedence for applying this
guideline. During a year of hunger, he deferred theft penalties. Of course, in
his opinion, shortage and necessity had sufficiently altered circumstances to
render punishment unjustifiable.
- Denial of Education to women
This notion of Maslaha, on the other hand, has been employed by some Muslim
academics in the past to restrict women's education. These academics believed
that, because education may lead to a deterioration of women's morality, it is
preferable to avoid such societal harm. This situation is particularly
concerning because the Qur'an encourages learning and the Prophet emphasised
emphatically that "education is the duty of every Muslim, whether male or
female." Those who want to be like the Prophet should keep in mind that he
employed a teacher to educate his wife. How can the Taliban dismiss such strong
religious evidence in support of women's education?
- Ignorance is no longer a bliss
Clearly, more educated Muslims are required, as ignorance is no longer bliss,
especially under authoritarian government. These are just a few examples of
Islamic jurisprudence's shifting principles and precedents. They abound in the
literature. They can be a very strong weapon against oppression and ignorance,
as well as for the advancement of human rights, if properly understood and
unleashed. The Taliban's insistence on males wearing beards and women wearing
drab clothing will then be exposed as arbitrary. Pakistani rape laws will be
exposed as being incompatible with Islamic law, and gender-based personal status
rules will be rendered unjustifiable.
A Muslim state, in reality, lacks the theological authority to establish a
personal status code. Muslims are directly answerable to God for their own
choices because there is no central religious authority. Ijtihad (using one's
intellect to arrive at the correct religiously-based solution or interpretation)
was also advocated by the Prophet.
As a result, in the first few centuries of
Islam, hundreds of schools of thought arose. Individually answerable to God,
Muslims choose the school of thought that they deemed most suited or convincing
in their particular lives. As a result, a man may choose the Maliki School of
thinking while his wife chooses the Shafi'i school. These schools of thought
disagreed quite a little at times.
It was consequently crucial to establish the
jurisprudence controlling the contract in marriage contracts, for example. This
decision of law frequently determined a woman's rights in terms of executing the
marriage, maintaining a monogamous marriage, and leaving the marriage at any
With the advent of Western influence in the Muslim world, modern Muslim states
have decided to codify family law, following the lead of several Western
countries. They frequently specified a formal school of thought before adopting
the takhayur principle. Under this approach, the state granted itself the
authority to ignore certain of the adopted school's laws in favour of those
borrowed from other schools.
Generally, the clauses that were chosen were more patriarchal than those that
were dismissed. As a result, many of these codes have become more repressive
over time. It's past time to reconsider this deviation from tradition. Because
marriage contracts are a type of civil contract in Islam, prospective couples
should be able to choose the legislation that best matches their values and the
familial relationship they wish in their contract. Except to the extent that it
is absolutely required, the state should quit regulating family life. Instead,
it should resurrect the earlier tradition of religious and contracting freedom.
Change-Catalysts and Conclusion
Western Muslims have the potential to be the catalyst for change in the Muslim
world. Muslim policymakers in the East have used Islam to legitimize harsh
cultural decisions thus far. Islam, on the other hand, does not belong to any
one region. It is a global religion dedicated to tolerance and diversity. In
fact, according to the Qur'an, God created men and women, nations and tribes so
that we could get to know one another.
Thus Islam's approach to variety is a
welcoming one that opens the door for all cultural differences to bloom, so long
as they do not contradict the essential foundations of the religion. As a
result, scholars in the past were able to augment their theological laws with
culturally derived customs. People came to regard outmoded customs as part of
religious heritage as the boundary between the two eroded over time. As a
result, people are now unwilling to question these conventions, no matter how
oppressive they may have grown.
Muslims in the United States and Europe are not bound by the traditions of other
countries. Immigrants among them have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sort
through the many practices and traditions they brought with them from their
homelands. The indigenous people have a distinct edge in that they can see
things from a different perspective. They can get rid of the customs and
traditions associated with custom and culture if they work together.
then review the remaining ones' jurisprudence from a new perspective. This new
approach, which is more favourable to Western civilization, technology, and
constitutional liberties, will help to improve Islamic jurisprudence, which has
been suppressed by tyrants and tyrannical kings for a long time. Finally, the
first Muslim society's democratic principles and practises will be permitted to
flourish in American and European Muslim thought and communities.
However, impunity for those who violate human rights is the fundamental reason
for the absence of long-term improvement. The International Criminal Court's
jurisdiction is confined to its member countries. As a result, new techniques of
punishing criminals must be sought. In circumstances where local courts are not
able to administer justice, the countries committed to human rights must come to
the help of the victims of human rights violations and provide them the
opportunity to file complaints against their abusers.
To put it another way, it
is past time to discuss the globalisation of justice, so that those who violate
human rights can be prosecuted even in other countries. Only if we succeed in
globalising the court will globalisation be regarded a success.
- Azizah Y. al-Hibri, Legal Reform: Reviewing Human Rights in the Muslim
World, 20 Harvard International Review 50 (summer, 1998)
- Supra Note 1.
- Ann E. Mayer, Universal versus Islamic Human Rights: A Clash of Cultures
or a Clash with a Construct, 15 MICH. J. INT'L L. 307 (1994).
- (www.dw.com), D., 2021. Women's rights in the Islamic world | DW |
- M. K. Nawaz, 'The Concept of Human Rights in Islamic Law' (1965) 11 Howard
- 2021. Human Rights in Arab and Muslim Countries.
- Supra Note 5.
- M. K. Nawaz, 'The Concept of Human Rights in Islamic Law' (1965) 11 Howard
- Azizah Y. al-Hibri, Legal Reform: Reviewing Human Rights in the Muslim
World, 20 Harvard International Review 50 (summer, 1998).
- Supra Note 8.
- Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh, Sami A. (1990) "Human Rights Conflicts Between Islam
and the West," Third World Legal Studies: Vol. 9, Article 11.