Real Rights? What About Limits in Islam?
"What the Devil Doesn't Want You to Know about Islam"
Rights of all kinds have always been an important subject since the beginning of mankind. We talk of "human rights"; "women's rights"; "children's rights"; "parents rights"; "grandparents rights"; "gay rights"; "taxpayer's rights"; "animal rights"; "victim's rights"; "debtor's rights." Everyone wants their rights. Islam provides those rights - and more.
DAYS OF IGNORANCE - BEFORE ISLAM
When Islam came to the ignorant Arabs living in the desert over 14 centuries ago, the poor and weak had no one to appeal to for assistance against the oppression of the wealthy and powerful. Rulers and leaders took charge by force and ruled according to their pagan customs and tribal cultures without regard or concern for the women, children, orphans or poor amongst them.
GOLDEN RULE - OF IGNORANCE
Whoever had the most power and wealth was in control. The only "Golden Rule" in those days was, "Whoever has the gold - rules."
RICH & POOR TREATED SAME
The Quran ordered the redistribution of wealth through "zakat" and charity, for all believers. All men were to be treated fairly and without regard to their worldly possessions. The prophet, peace be upon him, told his own daughter, if she violated the law then she would be punished the same as anyone else. This was demostrated in actual cases during the life of the prophet, peace be upon him.
WOMEN TREATED LIKE PROPERTY - BEFORE ISLAM
Females were considered as property and could be bought, sold or traded off or given away without concern. When a girl was orphaned or a woman was widowed, her estate would be immediately confiscated by some man, claiming he was now the rightful owner due to his "marriage" to the poor lady.
WOMEN HAD NO RECOURSE
Women had no recourse against the oppresive and unfair treatment of the men. The Quran gave women equal status as to ownership of property and freedom of their person. No longer could they be inherited against their will or married off in arranged marriages.
MUSLIM WOMEN DON'T PAY
Women of Islam are not tasked to pay for any of their upkeep, nor are they required to give anything to support the children. All of their wealth is theirs to keep, yet their male relatives are responsible for them from the time they are born until the time they die.
Muslim women do however, pay the "zakat" or charity tax on wealth the same as men.
BALANCE COMES FOR WOMEN
The balance comes in the Quran in the very same verse that orders men to provide for them. Allah Almighty tells us:
O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will, and you should not treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dowery you have given them, unless they commit open illegal sexual intercourse. And live with them honourably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good. [4:19]
O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife [Hawwa (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an AllWatcher over you. [4:1]
And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr (obligatory bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart, but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah has made it lawful). [4:4]
MEN RESPONSIBLE FOR CARE & SECURITY OF WOMEN
Women's rights do not end after marriage in Islam, they are only just beginning. A huge emphasis for the responsiblilty of women is placed on men to provide for the needs and security of all the females, including the daughters, sisters, mothers and wives. Men are ordered to care for the women and protect them at their own expence:
"Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allah and to their husbands), and guard in the husband's absence what Allah orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband's property, etc.)." [4:34]
MAN & WIFE HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS TO ARBITRATION
When marital problems get out of hand, Islam is providing solutions to differences amongst couples by arbitration. Allah Almighty says:
"If you fear a breach between them twain (the man and his wife), appoint (two) arbitrators, one from his family and the other from her's; if they both wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation. Indeed Allah is Ever AllKnower, WellAcquainted with all things." [4:35]
Men are taken into consideration for their impatience. Almighty Allah says,
"Allah wishes to lighten (the burden) for you; and man was created weak (cannot be patient to be with a woman)." [4:28]
INFANTS AND ORPHANS NO LONGER ABUSED
The children were in not in any better condition as they had no one to look out for their interests when they were orphaned or killed without any justification according to tribal or cultural whims. New born girls were viewed as a bad omen and dealt with in the most dispicable way, by being buried alive in the buring sands at the hands of their own fathers. This was one of the very first things to be forbidden by the Quran.
Allah speaks to us clearly on the subject of children, orphans and handling their estates until they are old enough to take financial matters into their own hands:
And give unto orphans their property and do not exchange (your) bad things for (their) good ones; and devour not their substance (by adding it) to your substance. Surely, this is a great sin. [4:2]
And try orphans (as regards their intelligence) until they reach the age of marriage; if then you find sound judgement in them, release their property to them, but consume it not wastefully, and hastily fearing that they should grow up, and whoever amongst guardians is rich, he should take no wages, but if he is poor, let him have for himself what is just and reasonable (according to his work). And when you release their property to them, take witness in their presence; and Allah is AllSufficient in taking account. [4:6]
Verily, those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, they eat up only a fire into their bellies, and they will be burnt in the blazing Fire! [4:10]
CHILDREN ALSO ORDERED TO BE OBEDIENT
Children and family rights are a vital part of Islam. No one can call themselves a believer and at the same time they are not providing for the wellfare and safety of their family and children.
Allah talks about the "father's advise to his son":
"O my son! Establish salat (daily devotions), order the people to believe in One God and do righteousness and forbid them frm disbelief, polytheism and all evil, and be patient with whatever comes your way in life. Surely, these are some of the most important commandments ordered by Almighty Allah with no exemption. [31:17]
ESTATES PRESERVED FOR PROPER INHERITANCE
Today there is a big demand for lawyers and legal councel to help sort through financial matters whenever someone dies. What about the "rights" of those who inherit? Can a person be assured today, that his or her wealth is being destributed according to their Last Will and Testament?
Almighty Allah provided for this along with the proper amount to be given to each member of the family, according to His Will:
"Allah commands you as regards your children's (inheritance); to the male, a portion equal to that of two females; if (there are) only daughters, two or more, their share is two thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is half. For parents, a sixth share of inheritance to each if the deceased left children; if no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased left brothers or (sisters), the mother has a sixth. (The distribution in all cases is) after the payment of legacies he may have bequeathed or debts. You know not which of them, whether your parents or your children, are nearest to you in benefit, (these fixed shares) are ordained by Allah. And Allah is Ever AllKnower, AllWise. [4:11]
In that which your wives leave, your share is a half if they have no child; but if they leave a child, you get a fourth of that which they leave after payment of legacies that they may have bequeathed or debts. In that which you leave, their (your wives) share is a fourth if you leave no child; but if you leave a child, they get an eighth of that which you leave after payment of legacies that you may have bequeathed or debts. If the man or woman whose inheritance is in question has left neither ascendants nor descendants, but has left a brother or a sister, each one of the two gets a sixth; but if more than two, they share in a third; after payment of lagacies he (or she) may have bequeathed or debts, so that no loss is caused (to anyone). This is a Commandment from Allah; and Allah is Ever AllKnowing, MostForbearing. [4:12]
These are the limits (set by) Allah (or ordainments as regards laws of inheritance), and whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad SAW) will be admitted to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), to abide therein, and that will be the great success. [4:13]
And whosoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad SAW), and transgresses His limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein; and he shall have a disgraceful torment. [4:14]
And to everyone, We have appointed heirs of that (property) left by parents and relatives. To those also with whom you have made a pledge (brotherhood), give them their due portion (by Wasiya wills, etc.). Truly, Allah is Ever a Witness over all things. [4:33]
POOR AND NEEDY PROVIDED FOR
Regarding the poor and needy, Almighty Allah has ordered the wealthy to care for them out of their own provisions. He warns them what will happen if they are stingy or miserly:
"Those who are miserly and enjoin miserliness on other men and hide what Allah has bestowed upon them of His Bounties. And We have prepared for the disbelievers a disgraceful torment." [ 4:37]
Those having wealth and power are admonished not to look down on the less fortunate and others. Almighty Allah says,
"And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not each arrogant boaster." [31:18]
"And be moderate (or show no insolence) in your walking, and lower your voice. Verily, the harshest of all voices is the voice (braying) of the donkey." [31:19]
Allah balances this by reminding those who are poor and needy not to envy or covet others good fortunes. Allah Almighty says:
"And wish not for the things in which Allah has made some of you to excel others. For men there is reward for what they have earned, (and likewise) for women there is reward for what they have earned, and ask Allah of His Bounty. Surely, Allah is Ever AllKnower of everything." [4:32]
We all know the effects an interest based economy has on a society. The interest on a home load can cause the total payments to exceed the value of the property 3 times over.
Allah forbids dealing with interest in the Quran, just as He did in the Bible (Bible says, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be.")
Allah Almighty says in His Quran:
"O you who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves unjustly except it be a trade amongst you, by mutual consent." [4:29]
And whoever commits that through aggression and injustice, We shall cast him into the Fire, and that is easy for Allah. [4:30]
Then comes a promise from Allah to those who will give up these ill-gotten worldly gains for His sake:
"If you avoid the great sins which you are forbidden to do, We shall remit from you your (small) sins, and admit you to a Noble Entrance (i.e. Paradise)." [4:31]
ANIMALS RIGHTS DEFENDED IN ISLAM
Animals had none to stand up for them when they were being beaten, over burdened or tortured and killed for sport. The prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, taught his followers that even animals have rights, and if anyone was cruel or inhumane to the animals in their charge, they would have to answer for it on the Day of Judgment.
He even gave the example of a woman who left a cat tied up to starve, while she prayed and fasted. Due to her willful negelect of this poor animal, she was deprived of any benefit from her worship and as a result had to go to Hell.
Another example he gave was that of another woman who was a prostitute who showed mercy to a poor dog on the road. She went down into a well to get a drink of water for the dog and saved his life. For this act of mercy and kindness, Allah forgave her and as a result, she was admitted to the Paradise. Hunting for sport without taking benefit from the meat or hides, just to kill for trophies is not permitted in Islam.
PLANTS AND TREES PROTECTED
Flowers, trees and other plants had never in the history of humans, had such rights as came with Islam one thousand four hundred years ago. Muslims are encouraged by prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to plant trees even if they feel sure the end of the world is tomorrow. He also did not allow destruction of crops or plant life even while in battle with their enemies.
ENEMIES GIVEN RIGHTS - 1400 YEARS BEFORE THE GENEVA CONVENTION
Speaking of enemies, Muslims were charged to take care of their enemies when captured, just as they would care for themselves. Food, drink and shelter was provided for their opponents while being held prisoners, even though it was clear the same treatment would not have been provided for Muslims should they fall in the hands of their enemies. Respect and dignity for everyone was demanded by Islam, even disbelievers who had tried to kill them, provided they had stopped and were not engaged in battle or combat at the time.
NON-MUSLIMS GIVEN RESPECT
Dignity and honor was given even to those who unintentionally violated the sanctity of the mosque. One man entered the mosque and began to urinate there, when the companions of Muhammad wanted to strike him for that. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, ordered them to let him finish, clean it up and then tell him not to do that anymore, because this is a place where we put our heads down on the ground.
ALLAH MAKES CLEAR - FOR ALL
Just as Islam provides for the rights of everyone and everything, there is also true equalization of rights by putting undeniable limits for every right. He has revealed a complete Way of life for humans to follow, showing us what is permissable and what is forbidden to us in this life.
Almighty Allah says:
"Allah wishes to make clear (what is lawful and what is unlawful) to you, and to show you the ways of those before you, and accept your repentance, and Allah is AllKnower, AllWise." [4:26]
"Allah wishes to accept your repentance, but those who follow their lusts, wish that you (believers) should deviate tremendously away from the Right Path." [4:27]
LIMITATIONS VS. RIGHTS - the balance to all "Rights"
The list of rights coming with Islam is far too large and detailed for this short paper. But there is another side to Islam that few, if any take into consideration when it comes to the subject of "rights."
As we list some of the more obvious rights in Islam, we will show the balance through limitations that Islam brings about. Consider the following:
The first and foremost right in Islam, is the Right of Allah, to be worshipped alone without any partners. His servants are to love Him with their whole being, heart and soul and not to have other 'gods' beside Him. All worship is limited to Allah, without any partners or associates.
Almighty Allah says in His Quran:
"Why should Allah punish you if you have thanked (Him) and have believed in Him. And Allah is Ever AllAppreciative (of any good), AllKnowing." [4:147]
Notice the "right" versus the "limitations."
The second right in Islam is that of the prophet, peace be upon him, to be followed and obeyed, as he is the messenger and representative of the Lord of the Worlds and as such he is the guide to true salvation. The limit here is that no other person, even the previous prophets should be taken into consideration when he gives any directive, as he is not speaking on his own authority, but rather on the authority of the One Almighty Allah who sent revelation to him.
Allah Almighty says:
"Messengers as bearers of good news as well as of warning in order that mankind should have no plea against Allah after the Messengers. And Allah is Ever AllPowerful, AllWise."[4:165]
"And those who believe in Allah and His Messengers and make no distinction between any of them (Messengers), We shall give them their rewards, and Allah is Ever OftForgiving, Most Merciful." [4:152]
The third right in Islam is for the parents, with a special focus on the rights of the mother. Someone came to the prophet, peace be upon him, and asked him if carrying his mother on his back around the kabbah in Mekkah was sufficient to pay back all the rights his mother had on him. The answer was, "Not even for one birth pain." Another man asked him, "Who has the most rights on me, after Allah and His messenger?" The answer was, "Your mother." And he repeated it three times.
Allah tells us in the Quran about the many rights parents have on us, yet He balances it by saying not to obey them in worshipping false gods or taking partners with Allah in worship.
EVEN THE SOUL HAS RIGHTS
Each individual has rights over himself. As the prophet, peace be upon him, told us, "Even your body has rights over you. So, give your body its rights."
Allah Almighty forbids anyone to take their own life, thereby giving the body its own right. As Almighty Allah says:
"And do not kill yourselves (and do not kill others). Surely, Allah is Most Merciful to you." [4:29]