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Misconceptions On Human Rights In Islam
by:  Abdulrahman A. Al-Sheha.
Original language:  Arabic.
Rendered into english by:  Dr. Mohammed Said Dabas.
Publishing house:  Islamic Propagation Office in RABWAH P.O.Box 29465 Riyadh 11457.
Publishing date:  1422H/2001G.
ISBN:  9660-39053.
Printed on the expense of:  Faisl Al-Samannoudi (may Allah forgive him and his parent).
Press via:  Safir Press, Tel:+966-1-4980780.


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Misconceptions on Human Rights in Islam

            The following are some of the misconceptions about the religion of Islam and the faithful Muslims. We will attempt to list them according to their priority and comment to the best of our ability on following subjects.


Reply to the Misconception about Shari'ah

            First: The Shari'ah, which was offered by Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) since fourteen centuries, became very restrictive, nowadays, on the human rights. The Islamic Shari'ah in the present days is a non-developing religion which is incompatible to the advanced civilization of the current world, which presents super services for the human needs!

            The reply:

            Islam differs from other previous Divine religions. Previous religions were essentially spiritual religions that suggest the relationships of man with His Creator, the Almighty Allah. Islamic Shari'ah, however, is a comprehensive, complete and adaptable religion because it is suitable for every age, location and people. Furthermore, Islamic Shari'ah is a worldly, as well as, spiritual religion. Islam is a religion, as it postulates the relationship between man and His Creator, the Almighty Allah. Islam is also a worldly religion as it organizes and regulates the relationships between man and his society as well with other peoples and nations. Islam, unlike Judaism, for instance, is not limited for a specific people and society. Likewise, Islam is unlike Christianity, which is descended unto Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who openly declared that:" I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel "[104].

            Jesus (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also said to his twelve disciples, who were selected to match the twelve Jewish tribes:" To these twelve, Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Saumar'i-tans enter not. 6. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel "[105].

            As for Islam, it was sent as a mercy for mankind. The Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Anbiya (The Prophets) 21:107 the meaning of which is translated as:� We sent thee not, but as a mercy for all creatures [worlds]�.

            Thus, Shari'ah laws are bi-dimensional, as follows:

  • One dimension of Shari'ah laws and regulations regulates the relationships of man with His Creator, the Almighty Allah. Faith, belief, various acts of worship and laws of inheritance has a solid basis that no one has the right to alter, add or delete. These are constant regardless of time, people and place or locality. Such laws are not ever subjected to any changes. For instance, Salah, prayer, in Islam has its own specific rules, rituals and regulations. No one has the right to change any of the various principles of Salah. Similarly, Zakah is another example that is solid, permanent and unalterable. Moreover, the individuals who are eligible to inheritance from parents, sisters, brothers, uncles and other relatives, have a set amount of inheritance that no one in the Islamic society can modify. Similar are other acts of worship in Islam.

  • The second dimension of Shari'ah laws tends to regulate the relationships of man with his fellow man and the society. Moreover, it also directs man's relationships with other people and nations. Such rules and regulations are stated in a general form in the Shari'ah laws. Details are left following the needs that arise in the developed societies. Such rules and regulations maybe amended, altered and adaptable in view of the pressing needs of the society. Such changes or modifications, however, may be suggested by specialists, or jurists who well-understand all the changes and development in the current society. Shura, the principle of consultation, for instance is one example. This principle was mentioned in the Glorious Qur'�n in a general form without giving much detail to the mechanics of Shura. No specific information was given in Qur'�n that explains how to apply, execute and implement Shura in the Islamic society. The door is left wide-open for Islamic scholars to assess any pressing situation, in light of Shura, and serve the public interest for the individuals, the society and the Ummah, nation as per the requirements of every age and place. For instance, what maybe applicable for one generation might not be applicable for another. This method of assessment illustrates the comprehensiveness, the international scope and the validity of Islam for all times and climes.


Reply to the Misconception about the Women's Rights

            Second: Some people, who do not truly know reality of Islam, who are either called scholars or Orientalists and enemies of Islam, claim that Islam does not respect the rights of the women. This disrespect, they claim, conflicts openly with human rights, which ensures the freedom of the belief of the individual.

            The reply:

            The standpoint of Shari'ah on the non-Muslims residents in the Islamic society, is frank and crystal clear. Both the Qur'�n and the Sunnah, traditions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) illustrate that freedom of religion is available to all members of the society under Islamic Shari'ah government. In fact, the Islamic state does not require to use any forceful measures to impel people from other faiths, who are not Muslims, to embrace Islam. This is an implementation of the verse of Qur'�n, Sura Yunus [Joanna] 10:99 the meaning of which is translated as:� If it had been thy Lord's Will, they would all have believed, all who are on earth! Will you then compel mankind, against their will, to believe!�.

            Commercial dealing is permitted with non-Muslims, both resident and non-resident, of the Islamic society. Eating their lawful food is also permissible to the Muslims. In fact, Islam goes a step further to permit male Muslims to marry a Jewish or a Christian woman. We must remember that Islam gives a special attention and importance on raising a family. Yet, marriage with the so-called people of the Book; Jews or Christians is permissible to the male Muslims [only]. The Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Maidah [The Table] 5:5 the meaning of which is translated as:� This day are (all) things Good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. [Lawful unto you in marriage] are [not only] chaste women who are Believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time, when you give them their due dowers, and desire chastity, not lewdness, nor secret intrigues. If any one rejects faith, fruitless is his work, and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost [all spiritual good]�.

            In addition, the Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Momtahinah 60:8 the meaning of which is translated as:� Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loves those who are just�.

            However, the non-Muslims who wage war against Islam and Muslims have a different treatment according to Islam. The Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Momtahinah 60:9 the meaning of which is translated as:� Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out, of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances), that do wrong�.

            Yet, Islam takes another step further in this regard. Islam permits religious discussions and dialogues with non-Muslims. Yet, Islam commands Muslims to adhere to the best approaches of discussions and dialogues with the non-Muslims. The Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Ankaboot [The Spider] 29:46 the meaning of which is translated as:� And dispute you not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury); but say, 'We believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; our God and your God is One; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)�.

            Furthermore, Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) addresses those of other faiths and religions, saying in the Qur'�n Sura Ahqaf 46:4 the meaning of which is translated as:� Say: Do you see what it is you invoke besides Allah? Show me what it is they have created on earth, or have they a share in the heavens? Bring me a Book (revealed) before this, or any remnant of knowledge (you may have), if you are telling the truth!�.

            In fact, we shall quote here Sir Thomas Arnold a Christian intellectual in his book Call to Islam, page 48:' Based on the friendly relationships, which were built and established between Christians and Muslims among Arabs, we can judge that force was never a decisive element in converting people to Islam. Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself participated in a pact with some Christian tribes. Furthermore, Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) took upon himself to protect and grant freedom for such people [non-Muslims] to practice their own religious rituals. In fact, Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) permitted the clergymen of the church to enjoy their rights and authority with peace and security '.

            It is sufficient, in rebuttal to this misconception against the human rights in Islam, to quote general jurist ruling as follows, '[The non-Muslims] are entitled for what we [Muslims] are entitled for. They are also demanded what we [Muslims] are demanded to do.' This statement proves beyond any doubt that there is no disparity against non-Muslims residing in an Islamic society.


Reply to the Misconception about Hudud

            Third: The application and execution of Hudood, legal punishments according to Islam, is a cruel and barbaric act. Also, it transgresses the human rights.

            The reply:

            Let us illustrate first that crime and murders in Islam are divided into two categories as follows:

  1. Crimes that have a definite punishment according to Shari'ah laws. These crimes are: killing, adultery, theft, drinking alcohol, false accusation with adultery or other immoral acts, aggression against people, rejecting Islam after being Muslim and fighting against Muslims or causing threat and harm them in their society.
  2. Crimes that do not have a definite punishment according to Shari'ah laws. The Muslim executive head is given the authority to set the punishment for such crimes according to the public interest of Muslims and the Islamic society. These types of punishments are known as reprimands.
            Crimes that have a definite punishment according to Shari'ah laws, however, are further divisible into two categories as follows:
  • First category:
    It refers to punishments which involve crimes of personal rights such as: killing, attacking a man and causing one of his limbs or organs to become disabled or falsely accusing someone with adultery. The penalties of such offenses maybe reduced if the plaintiff drops the charges. The punishments for such crimes will be Tazeer, which is a disciplinary punishment, decided by the ruling authority. Such punishment serves the interest of the Islamic society.

  • Second category:
    This refers to penalties, which involve violating the Commands of Allah and other prescribed Shari'ah injunctions. These crimes are drinking alcohol, fornication and thefts. The penalties for such crimes will not be dropped even if the plaintiff drops the charges.
Let us review some basis used for applying Hudood, capital punishment in the Shari'ah:
  1. Capital punishment is applicable to an adult, sane and matured individual.
  2. Capital punishment would be dropped in case of suspicion or insufficient evidence of the crime. This is based on the Hadith of Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):� Stop the Hudood, capital punishment by entertaining [lawful and supported] suspicions�[106].
  3. Capital punishment, according to Islam, is applicable only against crimes committed toward the five dire necessities of man in life.
  4. Capital punishment is confirmed by confession. However, it is possible to withdraw a confession. Only males' testimonies are acceptable in cases of capital punishment.
    The essential objective of establishing such punishments is to teach a lesson to criminals not to do anything that may create horror to the Islamic society. No infringement, of any type, may be practiced against the rights of all individuals of the Islamic society. Therefore, such penalties act as a protective measure to ensure these rights. Consequently, the entire society will enjoy peace and security.
            In addition, although Islam threatened people by heavenly punishment in the Hereafter for committing all types of crimes, it does not inflict worldly penalty as well. All individuals in the Islamic society who break the laws and Islamic regulations would be subjected to such severe penalties. There are certain individuals in any human society who would not be disciplined except by applying force on them to stop all their evil acts against the society. Thus, we notice that Islam determines a suitable penalty for every crime. Qisas, killing the killer, is a just and suitable penalty against a person who kills others. The Almighty Allah states about this penalty the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2:178 the meaning of which is translated as:� Oh you who believe! The law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the woman for the woman�.

            However, if the family of the victim pardoned the killer the capital punishment will be dropped. This is based on the verse in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2:178 the meaning of which is translated as:� But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain [his heir or guardian], then grant any reasonable demand, and compensate him with handsome gratitude�.

            Furthermore, Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) set the penalty of cutting the hand as a penalty for theft. This is based on the verse in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Maidah (The Table) 5:38 the meaning of which is translated as:� As to the thief, male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example, from Allah, for their crime: and Allah is Exalted in Power. Full of Wisdom�.

            Islam, however, does not apply or execute the cutting of the hand except based on very specific conditions and circumstances. First, the theft must be within the set limit. Second, the stolen item must be under lock and proper protection. Third, if the theft situation is only a suspicion, or if the reason for theft is a real and justified hunger [or real poverty], in such a case, the hand of the thief will not be amputated. Moreover, the theft is a very serious crime in the society. If theft spreads in the society, the entire members of the community will be threatened. Not a single individual would feel safe in his community. A secure community is essential to enable its members to enjoy a decent and honorable life. After stealing, a thief may confront resistance. This will prompt him to commit another offense, like murder. Similarly, he may rape a woman during the course of his offense. Therefore, such a serious crime must be dealt with properly and firmly. Hence, if a thief realizes that his hand would be cut off because of his theft, he may either hesitate or stop his theft. Consequently, the wealth and safety of the community would be secured.

            Islam, further, has prescribed a specific penalty called Hirabah [a specific punishment which will be explained in the following example] for crimes committed under the threat of weapon. Examples of Hirabah are: road blocking to rob the passers by, killing, breaking into peaceful residential areas, and even frightening and intimidating innocent residents. The stipulated punishment is based on the verse of Qur'�n Sura al-Maidah (The Table) 5:33-34 the meaning of which is translated as:� The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter; Except for those who repent before they fall into your power: in that case, know that Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful�.

            Punishment is applied according the nature and intensity of the crime. If the thief kills and grabs the money of the victim, the punishment will be killing and crucifixion of the thief. If the thief takes the victim' money only, but does not kill the victim the thief's hand will be cut off. If a thief kills the victim but does not take his money the thief will be killed. If the thief frightens innocent residents but does not kill any of them such a threatening person must be exiled from his home country.

            Moreover, Islam prescribes lashing punishment against bachelors who commit fornication. This is based on the verse in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Noor (The Light) 24:2 the meaning of which is translated as:� The woman and the man guilty of fornication flog each of them with a hundred lashes: 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�.

            As for the married male or female, who commit adultery, stoning to death is the punishment applied to him. This punishment is only applicable and executed when specific conditions are applied and met. A married, male or female, is stoned to death in either of the following two:
  • Open and clear confession:
    No compulsion or force is exerted to obtain a confession from the criminal. Besides, the sentence is not executed after the first confession or open admission of the guilt. The confession will become effective only if it is repeated four times, in four different meetings or court sessions. A judge in all such sessions and at every confession turns his face away and throws it expressing his dislike with it. In fact, the judge may offer some terms, phrases or words that discourage the confessor and make him review his confession. The judge may say something to the effect, 'It could be that you just kissed the other person, or physically touched, but not actually committed an illegal act of adultery. Alternatively, you may have only hugged the other person without actually have a full intercourse. All that is to leave the door wide open for them to withdraw their original confession. This is based on the Sunnah, traditions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), which he did when the Ghamidi woman insisted that she has actually and firmly, committed an act of illegal adultery and was pregnant as a result of this intercourse. Thus, in case of insisting on the confession of the doers, the stoning will take place. Even then, if the stoning is taking place and the person who is stoned runs away in order to escape such an attempt is interpreted as a withdrawal of their confession. In such a case, the stoning punishment will be relinquished.

  • The second situation requires four just witnesses:
    These four just and fair witnesses must be known as truthful in their statements and conduct. The four witnesses must confirm a true observation of the actual intercourse directly (this means that the four witnesses actually have seen the male's penis in the female vagina). Such a situation is only observed when the two parties are openly committing such an illegal act of indulgence, showing no respect, to the laws, honor and dignity of the Islamic society. Similarly, in case of suspicion only, the stoning punishment will not be inflicted, as we pointed out earlier. This is based on the Hadith of Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):� Stop the application of capital punishment in case of suspicion�.


            Adultery and fornication is not a personal prerogative or a private behavior. It is, indeed, an infringement on the rights of the Islamic society. There are many results and consequences for such immoral act. The following are only few of such consequences:
  • Demoralizes the social values and principles of the society and its members. Consequently, it leads to the spread of venereal diseases and possibly innocent individuals of the society may contract such dangerous diseases.
  • Mixing of the lineage. A child maybe attributed to a person other than his own father, or a child maybe deprived the honor of being attributed to his real father. In addition, this will entail a serious problem in inheritance. Those who are not entitled for inheritance may become heirs and those who are entitled may not get any of the inheritance. Furthermore, a person may, possibly, marry a spouse who might have been permanently forbidden to him to marry [such as a sister, a niece and aunt, etc.].
  • Creating a class of individuals who are deprived of the sympathy of parents, lineage and family as well as an identity of family belonging. This may lead to serious physiological diseases and instability. Consequently, this may also lead to a severe social deviation and disorders that could affect the entire society at large. Fatherhood and motherhood for a child are like a country. There they seek peace, shelter, security, support and happiness.


            Moreover, Islam set lashing as a punishment for false accusation of others for fornication or adultery. The Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Noor, (The Light) 24:4 the meaning of which is translated as:� And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, (to support their allegations), flog them with eighty lashes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors�.

            The purpose, Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) knows best, of establishing and executing this punishment is to protect and maintain good morals in the society and protect the intactness of the privacy of the innocent individuals. False accusation is a drastic social problem that must be treated and eliminated from the society. Human dignity is invaluable. Anyone who attempts to encroach generates retaliatory behavior. In some instances, such a false accusation may lead to a murder, killing the person who instigated the trouble. Therefore, Shari'ah prescribes such a serious punishment against the offender if he does not produce a substantial and true evidence.

            All types of punishments in Islam confirms the preservation of human rights in mind and in demonstration and illustration of the divine justice and fairness.

            Islam does not stop at the physical punishment only, but it goes a step further to physiological punishment as well. The false testimony of accusation, for instance, will not be accepted. It is described as corrupt, deviant and wicked act against Shari'ah. The only concession to this practice is to see that the accuser has fully repented to Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) and improved his entire behavior. Again, all this is done to ensure the preservation of human rights, Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) knows best.

            Similarly, Islam set a punishment against the all types of intoxicants and traffickers. Drinking alcohol or using any type of illegal drugs is also punished according to Shari'ah by lashing as well. Man is free to eat as he likes and drinks as he wishes, and dresses as he wishes, but within the confines set forth by Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala). Allah has forbidden certain types of meat, for instance, all types of alcoholic beverages and indecent clothes that cause social and moral problems in the society. Islam prohibits a Believer to eat the flesh of a dead animal, the blood of the living beings, the pork meat and animals that are slaughtered for the sake of deities, other than Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala). There is no set punishment for this type of crime or disobedience to the Commands of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), but who commits such acts must repent fully and wholeheartedly to Allah and withdraw completely from such unlawful acts and practices. However, if a person is caught doing such illegal acts openly and publicly, a suitable disciplinary punishment is applied against him in a way that serves the public interest of the Islamic society. Man is also restricted to drink and take or use all types of intoxicants that do not harm his body, mind and family alone, but it exceeds that to harm the society at large. Therefore, wine, or liquor of all types, is called, 'The mother of all evils or vices', according to Islam. Lashing alcholist is a prescribed punishment in Islam in order to limit the use of such harmful substances. Its intent is to ensure the protection of human being and his essentials: wealth, mind, and body. Also, it is oriented to efface the perilous impact, moral, economic, criminal and social, from the Muslim society. We may list below some of the negative effects and the consequences resulting from the abuse of alcohol and drugs:
  • A drunk may commit fornication, adultery, or even rape against incest, unconsciously and under the alcoholic or drug influence.
  • A drug addict becomes a useless member in the society. An addict may do any immoral act to get the illegal drugs by stealing or committing a crime.
  • Serious health hazards are caused to the druggists, which are substantiated by current medical specialists.
  • Wealth and time are wasted, which causes serious harms to the community and the society.
  • The society is deprived from the potentials and the faculties of the addicts. This by itself is an encroachment on the rights of the society.
  • The addict, temporarily, looses his mind and faculties. This situation may lead to very tragic circumstances. A person who is under the drugs or alcoholic influence may become barbaric in his attitude and behavior. Islam does not tolerate, accept or even condone such animalistic behavior for its society members.
            Islam, therefore, decides a very broad and general ruling in Shari'ah that prescribes the punishment commensurate to the size of the sin. The Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Shura (The Consultation), 42:40 the meaning of which is translated as:� The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree)�.

            Additionally, the Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Nahl (The Bees) 16:126 the meaning of which is translated as:� And if you do catch them out, catch them out no worse than they catch you out�.

            Islam, however, does not impose the application of these punishments. It rather leaves the door open for pardon and forgiveness insofar as the personal rights and injuries are concerned. The Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Noor (The Light) 24:22 the meaning of which is translated as:� Let them forgive and overlook do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful�.

            Additionally, the Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al Shura (The Consultation), 42:40 the meaning of which is translated as:� But if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah�.

            Islam does not aim to retaliate from a sinner. Islam does not impose sever punishment for the sake of being harsh and severe against Believers. The main and essential objective of the punishment is to preserve the rights of Believers in the Islamic society. Further, it seeks to maintain peace and tranquility and warns every evil practicing individual or evil instigator to think twice before he/she commits their evil act against the society. Islam also aims at warning every person who may think of committing crimes of such kinds threatening the members of the society to think twice before they do them. Islam also aims at purifying the Islamic society from all criminal activities. If a murderer realizes that he/she will be killed for killing a person, and if a thief realizes that his hand is going to be cut off for his theft, and if a fornicator or adulterer realizes that he is going to be lashed, publicly, and if a false accuser realizes that he is going to be also lashed publicly, they will all think seriously before they commit their intended crimes. Thus, the Islamic society becomes more secure and safe. The Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2:179 the meaning of which is translated as:� In the law of Equality there is (saving of) Life to you, Oh you men of understanding; that you may restrain yourselves�.

            One may object that some of these stipulated punishments in Islam are cruel. The answer to this objection is simple: 'All people agree that such crimes are extremely harmful to the society. Additionally, all agree that these crimes must be countered and the people who commit them should be punished. However, we should compare the fact whether these Islamic punishments are more effective in reducing the crime rate in the Islamic society or the man-made laws?

            Islamic punishments may appear cruel to an onlooker who looks at its face value. However, they are just, practical and logical punishments when closely examined. Islamic punishments are, with Allah's help, sufficient to wipe out all types of crimes from the Islamic society. Logic, before offering kindness to the criminal, demands not to overlook or forget the rights of the attacked people. A corrupt, and rotten or defective organ must be amputated from the society, as it is the case with a defective organ of the body in order to save the rest of the body.

            It may be noted that anti-Islamic media provide distorted image of Islam and Islamic society. It states, for instance, that Islamic society is a barbaric and savage society. It also claims that its judicial and penal systems are cruel. In addition, this media shows that members of the Islamic society are characterized with permanent physical defects, without hands, arms and with opposite leg. or people who are lashed on a daily basis, in public. One may also think that Islamic punishments are applied and executed on a daily basis. It is, however, worth pointing out that, throughout the Islamic history, there are only few instances where the punishment of stoning to death were recorded and applied. These instances were rare and based on the request of the sinners who confessed their crimes and they express their personal desire to receive the stoning punishment. The individuals who committed such crimes wished to purify themselves from such destructive sins. All other Islamic punishments are also the same.


Reply to the Misconception about Departing Islam

            Fourth: The punishment enunciated in Islam to the person, who chooses to depart Islam as a way of life, is an violation against human rights. Human rights ensure the freedom of religion to all people. Besides, such punishment contradicts the statement of Qur'�n, as the Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2:256 the meaning of which is translated as:� Let there be no compulsion in religion�

            The reply:

            Islamic Shari'ah enunciates this punishment to the person who turns his back to Islam as a way of life and reject its laws and regulations, based on the Hadith, the Sunnah, traditions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that states:� It is unlawful to kill a Muslim except for committing one of the three crimes, (1) A married man or woman, who commits [proven] adultery. (2) When killing another Muslim. (3) When turns one's back to Islam [rejecting it publicly as a way of life and attacking it openly] and turn away from it and from the Islamic community�[107].

            Moreover, it is based on the Hadith the Sunnah, traditions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):� Whosoever changes [rejects Islam as a religion and way of life] kill him�.

            However, we should take the following two points into consideration concerning the person who rejects Islam as a faith and way of life:

  • The killing of an apostate of Islamic faith implies such persons who deny and attack Islam openly and publicly. Such apostate is equivalent to an internal revolution within the Islamic society. If such a person confines his apostate to himself, and does not proclaim, he is left to Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala). Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) knows best who believes and who rejects the faith. Muslims can only base their judgements, sentences, and apparent matters and leave the realties to Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala).

  • A person who rejects the Islamic faith may be given a chance for three consecutive days to return to the fold of Islam. Matured Islamic scholars must sit with him and explain to him the major sin he is committing against his own soul, his family and the community. If this person returns to the fold of Islam he will be let free. If not he will be executed. Killing such an apostate is, in reality, a salvation for the rest of the society members.

  • Declaring a rejection against Islam is unacceptable in Islamic Shari'ah because he is not honoring his commitment to his faith. If a person does not keep his commitment to Islam he is looked as worse than a non-Believer in the first place. The Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Nisa (The Women), 4:137 the meaning of which is translated as:� Those who believe, then reject Faith, then believe (again) and (again) reject Faith, and go on increasing in unbelief, Allah will not forgive them nor guide them on the way�.

  • Rejecting Islam as a way of life amounts to a malicious propaganda against Islam. Furthermore, rejection of Islam is also a disgrace to the Islamic society and the immediate community where the apostate lives. Such rejection will discourage people for joining Islam as a way of life. The example of rejecting Islam indicates that the person who joined it was only testing it, but was not serious about his commitment to this way of life. Therefore, this rejection will tend to attack Islam and attempt to rebel from within. Therefore, such a punishment was prescribed, Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) knows best.

  • Islam, on the other hand, wants the apostates of the religion of Islam to take this matter very seriously and take their time to study it fully. They are requested to research, evaluate and seriously examine all the aspects of Islam as way of life prior to joining it and committing to its rules and regulations. If this reverting happened voluntarily it is well and good. If not, then, such a severe punishment will not give any slim chance to those who would like to play around and experiment with Islam.
            Moreover, Islam does not treat rejection of the faith as a personal matter. Rejecting Islam as a way of life is not a change to the religion of the apostate only, but rather it is a rejection of the entire system. Such rejection will, surely, harm and injure the entire system and not the apostate only. As pointed earlier, Islam looks at this rejection as a nucleus for an internal revolution and evil instigation in the society. Islam does not accept nor condone such an evil practice that leads to mischief and confusion in the society. In fact, this is very similar even to modern political system, which treat any coup-de-tat or other activities to overthrow an existing regime or government as illegal activities. Furthermore, such revolutionary activities against government are taken very seriously and the participants are killed, exiled or imprisoned. In fact, such dissidents of the political system maybe psychologically or physically tortured, or the personal wealth of these individuals are confiscated. Further, the family members and/or the relatives of such person of the political system are also subjected to the harassment.


Reply to the Misconception
[108] about Marriage to a non-Muslim

            Fifth: Banning a female Muslim to marry a non-Muslim is an infringement against the human rights, and especially, her personal freedom, which permits the individual to marry whom she likes.

            The reply:

            The Islamic rational understanding behind this restriction of the freedom of marriage is essentially the preservation and the maintenance of the family unit in Islamic society. Islam aims at protecting the family against dissolving by divorce because of the difference in religion between the two spouses. A husband may very well demonstrate a strong sense of disrespect of the wife's faith and principles of belief, as he thinks that he is more dominant member of the family. In addition, the wife may also feel that she is weaker and more sensitive as it concerns her faith in the family.

            The following three cases will explain this situation. However, all these three cases stem from the same principle, which we pointed out in the previous paragraph.

            1st Case: A male Muslim marries to an idolater or an atheist. Islam bans such a marriage because the Islamic Faith does not, in any way, respect the Faith of an idolater. Thus, the entire family will be in a continuous dispute and fight. Islam, moreover, considers divorce one of the most hated or disdainful acts, in the Sight of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala). Therefore, Islam discourages a marriage where a husband will not show consideration to the principles of Faith of the wife and her family. Consequently, such a problematic marriage, most likely, will end up with divorce, which will lead to the dissolution of an existing Islamic family. Islam, rather, discourages the dissolving of a Muslim family, as pointed out earlier. Therefore, Islam, in principle, eliminates the reason, which will lead to anticipated family problem.

            2nd Case: Islam permits a male Muslim to marry a Christians or a Jewish wife because Islam accepts the Message of Jesus u as a Prophet and Messenger from Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), who was born miraculously, by the Will of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala). Similarly, Islam accepts the Message of Prophet Moses (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) considering him a Prophet and Messenger to the Israelites. Therefore, a Christians or a Jewish wife, who is keen to maintain her Faith as a Christians or a Jew, will not confront identical problem in this regard. Regardless of difference in the principles of faith, belief and religion, the marriage will continue and the family will prosper if all goes well between the two spouses, God willing.

            3rd Case: Islam bans the marriage of a man with a Muslim female because the Christian person or the Jew denies the Message of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). In fact, such individuals may talk derogatory about the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), a situation that causes hatred, problems and dislike between the two spouses. Such attitudes will lead to a dispute and differences between the two spouses. Eventually it will lead to the breakage of the family by divorce. Based on this, Islam bans the marriage that eventually leads to divorce.


Reply to the Misconception about Slavery

            Sixth: Slavery system in Islam contradicts Islamic concepts of equality and full personal freedom. This, too, is an encroachment upon human rights.

            The reply:

            We would like to present, in brief, the standpoint of Islam against slavery. Islam accepted the slavery system because of the existence of peculiar economic and social conditions of the society in order to meet their economic, when Islam made first appearance. The entire society, then, depended heavily on the slavery system in taking care of the economic and social needs. In fact, this system of slavery was not restricted to the society of the Arabian Peninsula but it was worldwide. Moreover, the slavery system was well adopted and recognized in the previous religions. It is stated in the Bible, Deuteronomy 20:10-17,

  1. " When you come neigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.
  2. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.
  3. And if it will make no peace with thee, but it will make war against thee, then thou shall besiege it.
  4. And when the Lord Thy God has delivered it into thine hands, thou shall smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword.
  5. But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shall you take unto yourself, and you shall eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God has given thee.
  6. Thus shall you do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.
  7. But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God does give you for an inheritance, you shall save alive that breathes.
  8. But you shall utterly destroy them. "
            Islam followed a gradual and long-term plan to eliminate slavery from the Islamic society, like the banning of all types of liquors. Liquor (or wine) was not banned at once in Islam but rather gradually in stages. In the first stage, the Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2:219 the meaning of which is translated as:� They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say: In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the benefit [profit]. They ask thee how much they are to spend; say: What is beyond your needs. Thus does Allah make clear to you His Signs: in order that ye may consider�.

            However, with people widely accepting Islam as a way of life and a religion to follow, Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) revealed the following verse in Qur'�n, Sura al-Nisa (The Women), 4:43 the meaning of which is translated as:� Oh you who believe! Approach not prayers with a mind befogged, until you can understand all that you say�.

            Then, when Muslims became firm in faith and began learning and studying Islam thoroughly, showing full respect and obedience to the Commands of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) and the commands and the instructions of Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) issued a full ban for liquor. The Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Maedah (The Table) 5:90 the meaning of which is translated as:� Oh you who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination of Satan's handiwork: eschew such (abomination), that you may prosper�.

            Similarly, Islam followed an identical approach to eliminate slavery from the Islamic society. Islam did not command to abruptly stop all dealings with slavery, but rather wisely drained all the sources of slavery. Islam aimed at reaching a stage where all activities will vanish completely. Islam started with the first stage; liberating themselves from within their hearts and minds. They were instructed to feel strong, healthy and capable within. They were taught to quit feeling weak, inferior, about themselves. Islam reconstructed the human feeling and integrity in the hearts and minds of slaves by making them, or rather calling them, brethren to their masters or owners. Slavery never remained a permanent phenomenon in the Islamic society. Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said:� Your workers are your brethren. The Almighty Allah placed them under you [for your services]. Whosoever has one [of his brethren] under him [working for him] must feed him of what he eats, clothe him of what he clothes himself and do not assign them to do what they cannot do. If you do, then help them�[109].

            Islam, further, establishes the rights of slaves to life. Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said:� Whosoever kills a slave will be killed. Whosoever cuts off the nose of a slave, his own nose will be cut off [in punishment]. Whosoever removes the testicles of a slave, his own testicles will be also removed�[110].

            Moreover, Islam commands Muslims to be kind and good to their slaves and maids. The Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Nisa (The Women) 4:36 the meaning of which is translated as:� Worship [Serve] Allah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet) and what your right hands possess: for Allah loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious�.

            In fact, Islam upholds the feelings of the slaves with honor as it bans slave masters to remind their slaves about their slavish background. Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said:� One should not say 'this is my slave' or 'this is my maid', but rather one should say 'this is my boy' or 'this is my girl�.

            However, slavery, according to Islamic teachings is limited to physical slavery only and not mental and philosophical. A slave has the right to maintain his own faith if he wishes to do so. Furthermore, Islam sets forth the best example in human equality by making the superiority based on piety and righteousness. In fact, Islam made brotherhood or unity ties between slaves and their masters. Yet, Islam went a step further by presenting an excellent example of Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) when he offered in marriage his cousin; Zainab bin Jahsh (may Allah be pleased with him), a noble Korishite lady, to his slave fellow; Zaid bin Harithah. The latter was also assigned as a leader to the army that consisted of some leading and well-known Companions of Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

            Islam followed two main methods to eliminate slavery from the Islamic society and practiced them in a very subtle manners as to avoid any confusion or chaos in the society. These methods did not create any animosity, hatred between various classes of the Islamic society or cause detriment to the prevailing socio-economic situations.

            The first method: Draining the sources of slavery, which were very vast at one point during the Islamic history. Slavery sources were as follows:
  • Wars of all types where the defeated army fighters will be either killed or captivated, and consequently, enslaved.
  • If a person is in a financial debt and could not pay it back fully, such indebted person would become a slave to the debtor.
  • The practice of fathers to sell their children, male or female, if they chose to do so.
  • Personal decline of freedom. If a person was in need for something, he sells himself to another person in order to get what he needed.
  • All acts of piracy, kidnapping and abducting of people. Such kidnapped people were treated like slaves.
  • A punishment for crimes such as killing, theft and adultery, which imposed slavery on the doer. The criminal person will become a slave to the victim or his family members or heirs.
  • Reproduction of slaves even if the father was a freeman.
            The aforementioned were just few sources for slavery, which were practiced in the world before the advent of Islam. Thus, Islam has forbidden all these sources. Two remained as exceptions:
  1. War captives, or prisoners of lawfully declared wars by a Muslim ruler. However, such prisoners of war were not all declared as slaves. Some of them were set free while others paid ransom or else. This is based on the verse in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 47:4 the meaning of which is translated as:� Therefore, when you meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; at length, when you have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are you commanded): but if it had been Allah's Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost�. This, however, was at the beginning of the advent of Islam. The enemies of Islam then attempted to stop its progress and spread to others. Non-Muslims at that time held Muslims as prisoners-of-war. Islam did the same.

  2. An inherited slavery, on the other hand, is the child who is born for two slave parents. Such a born child is considered a slave as well. However, if the master of a slave girl had an intercourse with her, the product of this relation is a free child who is also attached in lineage to his free father. In such case, the slave-girl is called "a mother of a boy" who is not sold and not given as a gift, but she will be freed upon the death of her master.

  3. The second method involves expanding the exits of liberation of slaves from slavery. Originally, the only way for freedom was the will of the master to free the slave or the slave-girl. A slave, prior to advent of Islam, was considered a slave throughout his entire life. Yet, a slave master who would liberate his slave or slave-girl, had to pay a fine.
            Islam introduced the practice of liberation of slaves through their own masters and contracting of slaves with masters to pay a specific amount of money to purchase their freedom or liberty. Moreover, Islam widely opened this door before the slave master was given latitude to liberate his slave at any time and without any obligation or financial fine. Yet, it opened other doors and means for liberating the slaves as well, such as:
  • Atonement for sins:
    Islam set an atonement for killing by mistake, a liberation of a Believing, faithful Muslim slave, in addition to the blood-money to be given to the affected family. This is based on the verse in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Nisa (The Women) 4:92 the meaning of which is translated as:� Never should a Believer kill a Believer; but (if it so happens) by mistake, (compensation is due); if one (so) kills a Believer, it is ordained that he should free a believing slave, and pay compensation to the deceased's family, unless they remit it freely�.

  • Atonement for Thehar oath[111]:
    This is based on the verse in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Mujadalah (The Disputing One) 58:3 the meaning of which is translated as:� But those who divorce their wives by Thehar, then wish to go back on the words they uttered, (it is ordained that such a one) should free a slave before they touch each other: these are you admonished to perform: and Allah is well-acquainted with (all) that you do�.

  • Atonement for breaking an oath:
    This is based on the verse in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Maedah (The Table) 5:89'89 the meaning of which is translated as:� Allah will not call you to account for what is futile in your oaths, but He will call you to account for your deliberate oaths: for expiation, feed ten indigent persons, on a scale of the average for the food of your families; or clothe them; or give a slave his freedom. If that is beyond your means, fast for three days. That is the expiation for the oaths you have sworn. But keep to your oaths. Thus does Allah make clear to you His Signs, that you may be grateful�.

  • Atonement for breaking the fast during the month of Ramadan:
    This is based on the incident of the man who came to Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) telling him:� Oh Prophet of Allah! I have destroyed myself! Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked the man, Why? The man informed Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that he had an intercourse with his wife during the fasting hours of the day of Ramadan. Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked the man, Do you have a slave to free? The man answered negatively. Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked the man again, Do you have the means to feed sixty poor people? The man replied negatively. While the man and the rest of the people were sitting, Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was presented with an amount of fresh dates. Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked about the man who committed that sin, and he came forward. Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to the man, Take these dates and give them to the poor people in charity [atonement for your sin]. The man replied, Oh Prophet of Allah! By Allah! There is no poorer family in the entire city of Madinah than my family. Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) upon hearing this smiled in such a way that his fangs appeared, saying, Then, take the dates and feed your family�[112]. A person who has, however, committed one of these sins and is required to pay atonement for his sin, and he is financially capable, but does not possess a slave to liberate, must purchase a slave [if possible] and liberate it in atonement for his sin.

  • Islam declares liberating of slaves as one of the most beloved charitable acts of worship in the Sight of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala):
    This is based on the verse in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Balad (The Town) 90:11-13 the meaning of which is translated as:
    1. But he has made no haste on the path that is steep.
    2. And what will explain to thee the path that is steep?
    3. (It is:) freeing the bondman. �

    Moreover, the statements and actions of Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in this regard were one of the best incentives for people to free the slaves and liberate them for the cause of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala). Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:� Whosoever frees a slave will get a reward to free one of his organs from the fire of hell for every organ of the slaves organs�[113]. In addition, Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said:� Visit the ill, feed the hungry and release the suffering slave�[114].

  • Announcing freedom to the slave:
    If a slave master announces any word or synonyms of freedom, liberation, releasing or relieving a slave from his slavery, though jokingly, the slave is freed instantly. This is based on the statement of the Hadith of Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saying:� [There are] three matters if you utter them seriously or jokingly, you will commit yourself to do them. These are: divorcing [one's wife], accepting a marriage [to a woman] and freeing or liberating a slave�[115].

  • Liberating a slave by a will:
    One of the means of liberating a slave is through the death-will. The will may be written, announced verbally, pronounced to someone or the like. If a slave master declares, in any form, that his slave will be a freeman upon the master's death, the slave has secured his freedom after the death of the master. Therefore, as a precautionary measurement Islam bans to sell or give away such a slave after this declaration. If a slave-girl is given such a promise and the owner has an intercourse with her, the child who is a product of that cohabiting is born as a freeman also. Similarly, the slave girl, in such a case, is not to be sold or given away as a gift to a third party, but rather liberated as well.

  • Slave liberation is one of the proposed channels of Zakah:
    This is based on the verse in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Tawbah (The Repentence) 9:60 the meaning of which is translated as:� Alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer the (funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to the truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom�.

  • Atonement for slapping on the face:
    Islam requires freeing a slave if the slave master slaps or hits his slave on the face. This is based on the Hadith of Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):� Whosoever slaps his slave or hits him/her on the face must pay an atonement by freeing him�[116].
            Contracting a slave:
This involves a situation when a slave requests his master to sell him his freedom for a sum of money they both agree upon. If a slave requests his master to issue him such a liberation contract, it will become binding on the master to grant the slave such a contract. In such a case, the slave will have the liberty to buy, sell, trade, own and work in order to accumulate the needed money against his freedom contract. Even working for his master will be for a specific wages for his labor. In fact, Islam went a step further by asking donations, assistance and support for such people from the wealthy people and donors in the Islamic society. Even the master is urged to discount some of the money agreed upon, or to give him some easier payment facilities to help the salve obtain his freedom. This is based on the verse in the Glorious Qur'�n Sura al-Noor (The Light) 24:33 the meaning of which is translated as:� And if any of your slaves ask for a deed in writing (to enable them to earn their freedom for a certain sum), give them such a deed if you know any good in them; yet, give them something yourselves out of the means which Allah has given to you�.

            We can confidently say, in brief, that Islam did not legalize slavery. Conversely, it established laws and regulations that contributed significantly and effectively to help restrict the sources of slavery and helped slaves to be freed once and forever.

            The Ministry of Justice in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia held three symposiums during the month of Safar 1392 H (1982 G). The Minster of Justice and eminent scholars and university professors attended along with four eminent European canonists and scholars:
  1. Ex Foreign Affairs Minister of Ireland and the Secretary of the European Legislation Committee.
  2. A well-known scholar of Oriental and Islamic Studies Professor.
  3. An eminent professor of Law and the Director of the Human Rights Magazine published in France.
  4. Some of the eminent lawyers of Appellate Court in Paris.
            The Kingdom's scholars explained the concept of Islam as a way of life, in comparison with other competing concepts, illustrating the main rules of Islam and the Shari'ah and the details of such general rules and principles. Muslim scholars also illustrated that the Shari'ah preserves the real interests of people. The Muslim scholars also illustrated the value, the benefits and the effectiveness of the Islamic capital punishments that are prescribed against serious crimes committed against innocent people and society. Muslim scholars further explained that such capital punishments are rational penalties that preserve the peace, safety and security of the society at large. Furthermore, such punishments will reduce the percentage of crimes in the society.

            At their own, the Europeans expressed their admiration of the detailed explanations given by the Muslim scholars on these types of punishments. Europeans even admired the concept of the human rights in Islam.

            Mile Pride, the head of the European delegation, declared then:" From this place, and from this Islamic country the human rights must be declared and announced to people all over the world and not from any other country. Muslim scholars must declare these unknown human rights to the international public opinion. In fact, due to the ignorance about these human rights and lack of proper knowledge about them, the reputation of Islam and the Islamic ruling and governing is distorted in the rest of the world ".

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[104] Matthew 15:24.
[105] Matthew 10:5-6.
[106] Bukahri, Hadith No.6484 and Muslim, Hadith No.1676.
[107] Bukahri, Hadith No.6935 and Muslim, Hadith No.6524.
[108] The following is quoted from Symposium on Islamic Shari'ah and Human Rights in Islam, Beirut, Dar-al-kitab-al-lobnani, 1973.
[109] Bukahri.
[110] Bukahri and Muslim report this Hadith.
[111] Zehar is a type of oath where a person used to say to his wife, 'You are unlawful for me to touch, like the back of my mother'. This was a practice during the pre-Islamic era and Islam banned it.
[112] Bukahri reported this Hadith.
[113] Muslim reported this Hadith.
[114] Bukahri reported this Hadith.
[115] Bukahri reported this Hadith.
[116] Bukahri reported this Hadith.