Freedom: Is it  a Human Right?

Freedom: Is it a Human Right?

Freedom written in the sky

Islam has combined between the objectives of spreading freedom and preserving the general system by giving the reasons of freedom supremacy over the reasons of slavery.

By Sheikh `Abdullah Bin Bayyah

This valuable word that poets eulogized and wise men recommended and for which bloods have been shed is derived from the word “hurr” which, according to the Arabs, is an antonym to “salve” denoting the person who has full control over his affairs. But he is also the person who has good manners; because the word “hurr” (i.e. free) represents values which denote the best of everything. It also indicates good work and favorable deed.

In the light of the linguistic definition, we can deduce that freedom in the Arabic concept denotes release and possession of will but with righteous word and noble manner. No wonder that freedom could turn to be wrongdoing if it does not wear the garment of virtuous manners. Thus, it becomes worthy of the words of the French Madam Rolland who said when she saw the violations of the French Revolution under the banner of freedom “O freedom! How many crimes have been committed in your name!”

Freedom is parallel to and matches equality. Therefore, the erudite scholar Ibn `Ashur considered it, in a sense, as a result of equality in his book al-Maqasid where he underscored equality in the following way:

Equality in legislation for the ummah (Muslim nation) takes in consideration people’s equality in creation and its ramifications on the basis of which distinction has no effect with regard to the welfare of the world. People are equal in terms of humanity “You all belong to Adam” and in terms of the right to live in this world according to natural disposition. Their difference in color, form, race, and home country should have no effect in this regard.

Islam has combined between the objectives of spreading freedom and preserving the general system by giving the reasons of freedom supremacy over the reasons of slavery. Islam abolished many of the reasons of slavery such as one’s selling of his children and enslaving the criminals as practiced by the Arabs and the creditors as practiced by the Romans as found in the Solon’s Greek laws and in the Torah. In chapter 4 of the Kings 2, “a woman came to complain for Prophet Elijah that her husband died and the usurer came to take two of her children for the debt.” This indicates that enslaving people for debts was in the laws of Moses (peace be upon him).

Only enslaving war prisoners remained as reciprocal treatment. But many are the reasons of ending it. One of the avenues of spending Zakah (charity) is to emancipate slaves. Emancipation has been made among the obligatory compensations. General exhortations have been issued to emancipate slaves and the treatment of the salve has been changed. Even bad treatment has been made a reason for obligatory emancipation.

Thus, surveying these procedures, it becomes clear that the Shari`ah aims at emancipating slaves. Muslims emancipated many slaves and from among them were masters, imams, scholars and masters of the recitations of the Qur’an.

Over history there were incidents of collective emancipation as happened in Morocco in the 11th century during the reign of king Islam`il of Morocco by a fatwa from scholars on the basis of the rule that “the lawgiver’s aims for emancipation.” (See in this regard A-Istiqsa fi Khabar Al-Maghrib Al-Aqsa)

Freedom has many manifestations including freedom of speech, freedom of opinion and of practicing ijtihad (legal reasoning), the principle of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, and the thriving of different opinions.

In the first three centuries of Islamic history scholars spread their fatwas and schools of juristic opinions and each group supported their opinion with evidences. This never gave rise to bad feelings or rancor. Jurists themselves were keen to give opportunity to those who disagree with their opinions. Abu Ja`far al-Mansur offered to force people to adopt Malik’s book Al-Muwatta’ to abide by it. He said, “O Malik! I would like to make copies of your books and send them to each country commanding them to act according to them and never to go beyond them.” Imam Malik said, “O Commander of the Believers! Do not do this, for other opinions have reached people and they heard other hadiths; and thus each group adopted what they received from among the different opinions of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and others. In fact, it is difficult to turn them away from this. So, leave people and what they have.”

This is a wonderful attitude that shows this Imam’s keenness to preserve freedom of opinion and the practice of ijtihad (legal reasoning). This attitude has made him issue a fatwa concerning the oaths of paying homage to the ruler that the divorce of the one under coercion is not enforceable. This incurred the wrath of the ruler upon him in addition to the punishment which he suffered but did not take back his opinion.


Source: Taken with modifications from:

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Islamic Answers to the Questions of the Youth

Islamic Answers to the Questions of the Youth

By: Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah

Youth is a period of production, a time of creativity and originality, a time of strength between two weaknesses

Youth is a period of production, a time of creativity and originality, a time of strength between two weaknesses: God created us is in a state of weakness and we return to weakness in old age. The youthful period is extremely important in relation to how grave it is, because it is in these times that he asks himself existential questions; and these questions will determine the course of action for the rest of his life.

What are these questions of the youth?

From where do they come? These questions are from the beginning of time – they don’t change from one civilization to another; although the answers may differ. Where am I from? Who am I? What is my purpose in life? These are universal questions.

Youth in today’s modern countries are torn between three types of approaches when attempting to reconcile these questions: the methodology of following knowledge and science; that of philosophy; and that of religion.

The scientific approach relies on the senses and that which can be perceived (empirical sciences). The problem with this particular approach, however, is the natural reaction people have to it. In other words, the empirical sciences do not give us an ultimate answer; they simply say about certain things we don’t understand, and our knowledge has arrived at this particular point. Oftentimes, instead of saying that we do not know, we say that it doesn’t exist, but this ignores the basic principle that not having discovered something does not mean that it doesn’t exist. Thus, science constitutes a problem in answering existential questions which is not in science itself – but in how people understand it.

Scientists who are fair-minded will never say that the things they cannot perceive do not exist, but rather that they haven’t arrived at knowing or how to know. Claud Bernard, a French physiologist, used to remark during his experiments, ‘We’re dealing with secondary causes’, in the sense that the primary causes are things we don’t have knowledge of. We know, of example, how bacteria grow – but we don’t know why it grows: ‘Theories are only hypotheses, verified by more or less numerous facts. Those verified by the most facts are the best, but even then they are never final, never to be absolutely believed.’ These first principles are something that pertain to God and something that we don’t know.

As for the philosophical approach, it is connected to proofs – it is something that is based on syllogistic logic: minor premise, major premise, and conclusion. It also deals with first principles; consequently, it can also talk about first principles; but it does not have the capacity in how to define those first principles.

The religious approach, without negating the other approaches, works with the phenomena of relation, confidence and belief in revelation. Religious methodology deals with the certainty that comes with taking revelation from the Prophets. Imam Al-Ghazali says, ‘Revelation is the highest level and it is able to give us answers that the senses and intellect cannot give’ (that is, science and philosophy).

These three approaches, mired as they are with challenges, require that a youth have a guide. For the scientific and philosophical approaches will leave him in a state of confusion insofar as they do not give concrete answers. With regard to the situation of doubt, however, revelation can give him a definitive answer. This is a matter that was spoken about by Ibn Abi Zayd in the 4th Islamic century in two words: ‘God made them aware of Him by His creation, and then He clarified it through His Prophets.’ God drew our attention to His existence though what He made – via the tools of the intellect, i.e. science and sound philosophical thought. Scientific research points to how incredibly the world is put together; and philosophy says there has to be something behind all of this – hence the point about revelation.

The stage of asking question, of wondering, is something legitimate. To give an example: there’s a person at a crossroads – one goes to the right the other to the left. Perhaps he wants to go to Madinah; maybe he wants to go to Riyadh. He stops at the crossroads and asks: which is the way? He will search for a guide. So if a guide came, he wouldn’t just stand there and say I don’t believe you. If so, he’s wasting his time. Life is similar to this: if you find an answer, you should follow it. This is the first challenge – the challenge of the creed – with regard to the youth. For this reason, you need to have a guide to guide you so that you can answer these types of questions: From where do we come, where are we going, what is my purpose in my life? And if you find an answer, then there’s no excuse for you to just stay standing and not take the path.

The second challenge is the challenge of living in these societies between individualism and co-existence; this challenge presents a great problem to the youth. Just like in other cases before, different situations overlap with each other and clash. Is the solution to withdraw inwardly and not ever interact with others? Or is it to forget about individuality and lose oneself amongst a group mentality? Neither of these two extremes is a valid solution. Navigating this is the challenge. This challenge also needs knowledge and needs a guide. Therefore, you need to learn the reality of life so that you live in facility and ease with other people. We must learn how to live and co-exist together.

The crux of navigating between egoism on one hand and pure groupthink on the other needs two types of knowledge: 1) a profound knowledge of the Shari`ah and its ultimate purposes, and 2) the knowledge of the reality in which we live today – which is changing in every aspect. For this reason, we are here in this situation as minorities in need of scholars and guides and sound institutions that can teach us in a new way – and a profound and authentic way – with a sound perception of the reality of life today, as well as understand different types of values, what is beneficial and what is harmful.

The Shari`ah is in fact based on this deep wisdom in that it only calls to what is useful. Ash-Shatibi said, ‘All of the prophetic law revolves around getting that which brings benefit to people in this life and the next life.’ Another major scholar, Ibn Al-Qayyim, went so far as to say, ‘Shari`ah is all wisdom, and all of it is benefit, and all of it justice, and all of it is mercy. Everything that passes from wisdom to meaningless, or from benefit to harm, or justice to injustice, or mercy to its opposite – has nothing to do with Shari`ah – even if someone thinks it is by some kind of “interpretation”.’

How then can our young people be wise people? How can they be just and merciful? For the Prophet’s message is mercy: he was sent as a mercy to the worlds. These meanings have to be in your minds and you must not listen to any voice calling to something contradictory to this. We must spread mercy around ourselves and we must participate with other citizens seeking to do justice. We must be upright citizens and undertake initiatives that will bring about cooperation amongst the various members of society.


Translated and edited by Yusuf Lenfest

Source: Taken with modifications from

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Is There any Special Significance for Reason in Islam?

Is There any Special Significance for Reason in Islam?

By Sheikh `Abdullah Bin Bayyah
Is There Significance for Reason in Islam

The question of reason was one of the most important philosophical issues that have preoccupied Muslims since the second Islamic century to the eighth.

The question of reason was one of the most important philosophical issues that have preoccupied Muslims since the second Islamic century to the eighth. Philosophers, theologians, physicians and jurists participated in the debate, according to Az-Zarkashi (A Muslim renowned jurist). We can also add the grammarians who were interested in deriving linguistic meanings and synonyms. Each scholar looked at the issue from his unique perspective.

The definition of reason has up to a thousand variations, as some say. Islam glorifies reason when associated with virtue and ethics, and it gives it more than one name—all of which refer to its sensible reality and its relationship with wisdom.

It is `aql, hajr, nuha: it was named ‘reason’ because it reasons one away from ignominious acts and vices; and it was called hajr also because it forbids, i.e. prevents, one from committing vices. Reason (al-`aql) is also interpreted as a spiritual light by which the self perceives things or discerns necessary and theoretical knowledge. It is also explained as a force or power by which one distinguishes between good and bad.

To comprehend something (`aqla ash-shay’) is to understand it. God says, “After they comprehend it then they know” and He says, “These are signs for those who reason”, “Do they not reason/understand (ya`qilun)”, “And they said, if we had heard or comprehended”, “They do not comprehend it—except for the knowledgeable”.

Overwhelmingly, the meaning of this word (`aql) in the Qur’an is to be of correct understanding and perception, or its meanings of “If you were to use reason (ta`qalun)” and “an oath for one of perception (hajr)”. The word lubb (intellect, reason) is also often used in the plural to mean `aql (reason): “O people of understanding, perhaps you may be aware of God (tattaqun); and so is the word qalb (intellect, heart), “Verily in this is a reminder to whomever has an intellect (qalb)”, fouad (heart, mind) “…and the hearts (af’ida), that you may be grateful”, and nuha (intelligence, understanding): “Verily in this are signs for those of intelligence”.

There is a famous saying that the first thing God created was reason and He said, “By My Power and Might, I have not created anything nobler than you: by you I take and by you I give and by you I punish.” Although this saying is not established as being attributed to the Prophet from God but it refers to the status of reason and the rational mind amongst Muslims.

Islam makes reason a source of basic knowledge—even the first primary source in creed and belief—and one of the four sources in the institution of Islamic law, according to the Proof of Islam, Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali in his Al-Mustasfa.

Reason (al-`aql) is one of the five imperatives upon which Islamic law is built, in addition to religion, life, lineage, and property. These are the universals that govern the system of legislation in Islam.

Reason is the focus of legal capacity and integrity, which the Creator entrusted to man after the heavens and the earth proved incapable of enduring the burden. Thus, Islam prohibits intoxicants and anything that leads to the absence of reason.

The Qur’an has called for utilizing reason and thought. When it calls for reflection and thinking about the signs of the universe and the verses of revelation, it is an invitation to insights into the mysteries of creation and the judgment of the command: “Unquestionably, His is the creation and the command.” And pointing to human attention to the proof existing in himself and from himself, “In yourselves, do you not perceive?” and in the universe around him, “We have not created the heave and the earth and all that is between them in vain”, “God has not created the heavens and the earth and what is between them except with truth”.

God commanded meditation upon His creation and reflection on His revelation when He says, “Have they not considered the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and that God created from nothing” and the Almighty says, “Reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth” and “Will they not ponder the Qur’an”, “Have they not pondered the speech”; He says “So let them ponder His signs and verses and let the people of intellect remember.” The command to meditate and reflect comes in the form of rhetorical questioning so as to be more eloquent in statement and more conducive to thought.

It was reflection and contemplation which were the means to understanding the reality of the wisdom of creation and the benefit which is contained in the provisions and judgments of truth and the right. These distinctions are not found in any religion with such clarity and cohesion. Proceeding from this came the objectives of the law (maqasid al-shari`ah) representing a complete system, attributing Shari`ah to rational origins safeguarding people’s interests and staving off evils. This has all arisen after thoroughly examining the Shari`ah, and it has been developed in the best interests of the people via induction and investigation—Ar-Razi does not dispute this, nor does anyone else according to Ash-Shatibi (Muslims scholars).

Ultimately, there is no conflict between reason and revelation. The Islamic religion, for example, does not accept the rational impossibility of the trinity, which claims that three are one and one is three, or that God is transubstantiated in Man. Which is more rational true: the doctrine of the trinity or pure monotheism? Many Western theologians who converted to Islam did so because of the inherent rationality they found in it, while also recognizing that what they found in their own religions did not always correlate to reason. Even the 1793 French Revolution, when it organized ritual glorification of reason to eliminate the beliefs and practices of the church, reflected its own narrow and irrational beliefs and practices according to the opinions of Enlightenment philosophers.


Source: Taken with modifications from, translated by Yusuf Lenfest

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How Does Islam Care for People’s Family and Lineage?

How Does Islam Care for People’s Family and Lineage?

By Dr. Abdul-Rahman Al-Sheha
How Does Islam Care for Peoples Family and Lineage

The family unit is the basis of a healthy society and this can only be maintained by upholding the sanctity of marriage.

The family unit is the basis of a healthy society and this can only be maintained by upholding the sanctity of marriage. For the preservation of moral purity among all men, women and children in the society, Islam strictly prohibits adultery, fornication and homosexuality. Islam concurs with previous divine religions in this prohibition but goes further by banning many acts that may lead to committing this sin, like immodest dress and free mixing of the sexes in public or private quarters. These manners and precautions cut the avenues towards temptations. Allah the Almighty says in the Glorious Qur’an:

Nor come near to unlawful sex. Verily it is a great sin, and an evil way. (Al-Israa’ 17:32)

Abdullah ibn Mas`ud relates that he said: “O Messenger of Allah, which sin is gravest to Allah? He said: “That you make others to be equal to Allah even though (He Alone) has created you.” I then asked: And then what? He said: “To kill your child fearing that he will eat along with you.” I then said: And then what? He said: “To fornicate or have adultery with your neighbor’s wife.” Then the Messenger of Allah recited the following verses of the Qur’an (reaffirming what he just said):

And those who invoke not with Allah any other god, nor slay such life which Allah has made sacred, except for just cause, nor commit fornication – and whoever does this shall meet (the due reward of his) sin. The torment will be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein in disgrace. Unless he repents, believes, and works righteous deeds, for those Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-forgiving Most Merciful. (Al-Furqan 25:68-70) (Muslim)

The punishment of flogging is legislated for a previously unwed male or female who commit fornication. Allah, the Exalted, states in the Glorious Qur’an:

The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication, flog each of them with a hundred stripes: let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment. (An-Nur 24:2)

As for the married male or female who commits adultery while being married or after divorcing one’s spouse, the penalty for such a criminal is like in the Torah scriptures: stoning to death. To apply this punishment, the judge must either have the full confession, or the testimony of four trustworthy eyewitnesses who testify that they clearly saw sexual penetration.

Confession means that the crime is confessed openly by the adulterer/fornicator before the Muslim Judge or ruler. The confession must be repeated four times to remove any doubt. In the case of testimony, four trustworthy, honest and sound people must report to the Muslim judge or ruler seeing the actual sexual penetration of the fornicators or adulterers, a scenario that is very rare under normal circumstances.

The early history of Islam recorded a few instances of confession of the crime of adultery wherein the individuals openly confessed their crime because their strong faith in Allah propelled them to the desire for sincere repentance and purification. As the traditions make clear, Allah will not punish someone twice for the same crime, and they wanted to be protected from having the punishment in the Hereafter. It should be noted that if sexual penetration and intercourse does not fully take place – if a person, for instance only kisses, hugs or touches – then there is no application of the punishment.

The penalty of false accusation for those who do not produce evidence to support their claims and accusations is eighty lashes, and a further punishment is that their testimony is thereafter rejected. As Allah says in the Glorious Qur’an

And those who accuse chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, (to support their allegations), flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their testimony ever after: for such men are disobedient. (An-Nur 24:4)

Mockery and derogatory words and deeds that violate the honor, dignity and respect of others in the community are strictly prohibited, as Allah says in the Glorious Qur’an:

O you who believe! Let not some men among you mock others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women mock others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: and those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong. O you who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: and spy not on each other, nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, you would abhor it. However, fear Allah: for Allah is Oft-Returning, Most-Merciful. (Al-Hujurat 49:11-12)

Islam safeguards the sanctity of reproduction for the maintenance of the human race on earth. The human race is entrusted with the guardianship of the entire earth and the representation of divine wisdom to serve as the vicegerent of the Almighty Allah on earth. Destroying the means of reproduction by any means or tampering with it in any way for no legitimate reason is an unlawful practice according to Islam. The Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur’an:

When he turns away his aim is to spread mischief everywhere through the earth and destroy crops and cattle. But Allah loves not mischief. (Al-Baqarah 2:205)

Islam considers deliberate abortion of the fetus after four months a premeditated act of murder tantamount to infanticide that entitles punishment for all who participate. Unintentional abortion may require blood-money substitution for the aborted fetus and fasting for two consecutive months in repentance to Allah, if caused by accident or manslaughter.

Many hadiths recommend a Muslim to get marry and seek offspring. Allah’s Messenger said, “Marry a woman who is loving and can bear many children, for verily I will display your outnumbering of the other nations on the Day of Requital (due to the large number of my followers).” (Ahmad)

Islam places special value on strong family bonds and good relations among relatives. Since the family is the basis and the foundation of the society, many rules help protect this family against break up and disintegration. Relatives have obligations and rights. One must recognize the rights of kith and kin and consequently satisfy the rights of each relative in the most appropriate fashion.

Mixing between the male and female members of the family -who are permitted to marry one another lawfully- may lead to many family social problems. To avoid any unwanted situation, Islam commands segregation between the male and female members of the family who are allowed to marry each other. A woman is allowed to appear without her outer garments only before her father, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, father-in-law and sons.

In the pre-Islamic days of Jahiliyyah (ignorance) the family system was corrupted and decadent. Islam initiated decisive reformations and annihilated all existent malpractice. Some of the institutions banned by Islam will be mentioned as examples.

Islam bans ascribing a child to a man as a son without the man’s admission to be the father because such a claim jeopardizes marital relationships as well as family life. A woman is to be protected from false accusations that blemish her honor and dignity of illegitimate sexual activities with a man other than her husband. Moreover, such a false claim of a man may create doubts and in turn a rift between the rest of the children of the family, not knowing legitimate from illegitimate. Any child born who is a legitimate product of a marriage contract is attributed to the father with no need of any further proof or denial. A husband of a woman needs not to announce that the child is his. This practice is based on the statement of Allah’s Messenger, “The child (born as a result of a lawful marriage) belongs to the (bed of) his father.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The only exception to this rule is when it is proved, beyond a doubt, that the wife has betrayed her husband and is pregnant from other than her husband. In such a case, specific rules of disowning the child will apply. After disowning, he will become as a total stranger in relation to the husband. This means that if the disowned child is female, she must not appear before such a man at her leisure, travel with him, live with him or deal freely with him.

A Muslim woman, after marriage keeps her maiden name according to Islamic jurisprudence. According to Islamic teachings and law, it is unlawful for a woman to bear the family name of her husband after marriage. Looking at this closely one can comprehend the great honor, dignity and respect granted to the woman in Islam. This practice preserves the equality and equal right of a Muslim woman to the Muslim man of the right of carrying her own independent name, especially in the event of divorce.


Source: Taken with modifications from the author’s “Human Rights in Islam And Common Misconceptions”

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The Concept of Common Values in Islam

The Concept of Common Values in Islam

By: Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah

People should always respect human rights and values, as arguably this is a bare minimum quality without which humanity cannot survive.

The definition of Qiyam (values)

Firstly, let us demonstrate the definition of ‘values’. If we review the corresponding synonyms of the word values in French we will find ‘ethique‘ which indicates a set of rules of conduct. We also find the term ‘valeurs‘, which refers to matters qualified as being right, beautiful and good, in accordance with personal or societal criteria, and can be used as a criterion and reference of a moral principle.

As for the meaning of the word in Arabic, it is the plural of qimah (“value”) which refers to what makes something valuable or useful. An Arabic maxim says: “The value of a person is what they are excelled in.” The word value means a praiseworthy and noble character which prompts man to acquire it, just as precious things. Also, it refers to the price of a value.

The word qiyam may be mentioned to refer to a singular infinitive as in the Qur’an:

Truly, my Lord has guided me to ‘Din-an Qiyam-an’ (a Straight Path, a right religion)” (Al-An`am 6:161)

Also, it is mentioned in Allah’s Words:

And give not unto the foolish your property which Allah has made ‘Qiyam-an’ (a means of support for you) (An-Nisaa’ 4:5)

If something is qayyim, it has a precious value. Another recitation of the aforementioned verse says, “Din-an Qiyam-an” with the meaning of a straight religion or a religion sufficient for the interests of people and considers them.

In Islam, all our intellectual conceptions refer to a common basis for values between humans, in accordance with the following principles:

  1. Islam admits the principle of absolute equality between people and refers them to one source because their Lord is One and their father is one. Almighty Allah says:

O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “O people, your Lord is One and your father is one. You all are Adam’s offspring, and Adam was created from soil. Verily, the most honorable of you with Allah is that who has piety. An Arab is not superior to a non-Arab, a non-Arab is not superior to an Arab or a white person is not superior to a red person except through piety.” (At-Tirmidhi)

  1. The Message of the seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (peace be upon him), is for all people. Allah (exalted be He) says:

Say, (O Muhammad), “O mankind, verily I am sent to you as the Messenger of Allah-to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. None has the right to be worshipped but He; it is He Who gives life and causes death. So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, who believes in Allah and His words…and follow Him that you may be guided. (Al-A`raf 7:158)

  1. Islam maintains that an inclination to good, faith and right is the natural disposition of all people. Allah says:

So set your face towards the religion of pure Islamic monotheism, (Allah’s Fitrah) with which He has created mankind. No change let there be in Khalqillah (the religion of Allah), that is the straight religion, but most of men know not. (Ar-Rum 30:30)

Noble characteristics

All minds and languages consider ‘justice’ a noble and beloved word. It is commonly accepted that ‘truthfulness’, ‘freedom’, ‘tolerance’, ‘faithfulness’ and the like are praiseworthy words for all people. Mankind also deems the opposite of such words as dispraised and unacceptable, for example ‘injustice’ or ‘oppression’. If you say to the most wrongful person that he is unjust he will become annoyed, even if he is described fairly. The same is true for ‘lying’, ‘fanaticism’ and ‘betrayal’ that are reprehensible words and detested by all people. Likewise, nature and reason deny them. Is this not a practical evidence and clear proof on the existence of common values?

People should always respect human rights, as arguably this is a bare minimum quality without which humanity cannot survive. But, employment of noble characteristics, such as leniency, mercy, altruism, cooperation and helping the needy or disabled regardless of their race, religion or geographic origin, provides a new concept for humanity. This concept surpasses the neutral principle of human rights, such as equality and blindness to difference, to positivity in treatment which gives the other a sense of love and brotherhood.

This notion conforms with the Arabic saying: “Treat people as you would like them to treat you.” There is a hadith which refers to such deeper meanings which states: “None of you believes until they love for his brother what they love for themselves.” This hadith confirms the value of love and the value of human brotherhood which gives a sense of kinship. In fact, this explanation is not my own as, many centuries ago, scholars such as Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali in his explanation of Al-Arba`in Al-Nawawiyyah (“The Forty Hadith compiled by Al-Nawawi”) and Al-Shabrakhiti said, “The brotherhood mentioned in the hadith is the human brotherhood.”

Love is a graceful value, as every human being yearns to be loved. It is rare that you come across a person who enjoys being hated by others. Such behavior is a paradox, where some people quarrel with others on the plea that the latter do not love them. However, they mistake the means to people’s hearts, as maintained by the Mauritanian scholar. When love is felt by both sides, no aggression emerges. Love is constituted of sentiment, behavior, incarnation, and declaration. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When one of you loves another, let he inform him of that.” So, it is a value because all people have a high opinion of it, even those who do not share it. Such is the criterion of value. Everybody seeks to acquire it because everyone wishes to be just and tolerant.

However, these values may dry up if they are not fostered and developed by education. An Arabic poet once said: “If nurtured by noble deeds…good manners grow like a plant.” As a matter of fact, the most important value that symbolizes the solution of the world’s problems is the respect of disagreement, or even love of disagreement, so that it is regarded as a source of cultural richness, a sort of gracefulness and a basis for human character. If we think highly of disagreement and develop the law of virtue in addition to the law of human rights, we can put the basis of employing the common values that turn difference into harmony and change enmity to love in accordance with Allah’s saying:

The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better; then verily! He, between you and whom there was enmity (will become) as though he was a close friend. (Fussilat 41:34)

It is a moral law confirmed by the Qur’an, namely tolerance, that gives birth to love.

Scholars of religion should be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem. We have witnessed in the past some scholars who have only agitated disagreement by trying to please others, but such actions have reflected negatively on the values of human cooperation and good understanding. Media, institutions of civil society, universities and research centers are also invited to play a positive role in developing values. Likewise, political leaders should take part and make great effort to decrease injustice. Leaders should look to obtain solutions for enduring problems, even if they are not conclusive or perfectly fair, as solving matters through military means is simply immoral.


Source: Taken with modifications from

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