"How Does Islam View Human Rights?"
We seem to be witnessing in our day a sharp increase in the persecution
of Christians in the Muslim World. To just cite a few recent cases, take
the incarceration and torture of a number of Christian converts from Islam
in Egypt over the past 5 years, the 3 year prison term given a Bible Correspondence
Course student in Morocco in October 1993 for refusing to stop the course,
the execution of a pastor in Iran in December 1990 because he was a convert
from Islam, and the genocide being practiced by the Sudanese government
against its Christian and animist population. And these cases are just
the "tip of the iceberg."
How can such things take place in a day when human rights are so emphasized
in the family of nations? The UN adopted its Universal Declaration on
Human Rights in 1948, and promulgated its two International Covenants
that give teeth to the Declaration in 1966. The latter were ratified by
the requisite number of members in 1976--including some Muslim nations,
but not all! Muslims even issued their own "Universal Declaration of Human
Rights in Islam" in 1981. So then how can Muslims justify such rights
abuses in the light of their own position?
A close look at these documents reveals that Muslims approach the subject
quite differently. The UN documents base human rights on the inherent
dignity of human nature; every member of the human family has certain
inalienable rights which flow from his or her very nature as a human being.
Christians would go a step further and say that as human beings any rights
we have derive from the fact that we are made in the image of God. The
Muslim document, however, looks elsewhere for the ground of human rights.
It bases them in "divine law"; people only have those rights that are
specifically given them in the "Law of God," which they identify with
the Qur'an and the Hadith (traditions).
On the surface it sounds great to refer human rights to God; unless these
derive from a transcendent being to whom everyone is accountable, all
talk about "rights" is ultimately meaningless. God alone has the moral
perfections that are required for a truly equitable approach to human
rights. But here is where the fundamental problem with the Islamic approach
becomes most evident: Islamic Law on which it is based is inherently inequitable.
Is not Islamic Law inequitable when it gives the woman fewer and lesser
rights than the man? That is not all. Is it not also inequitable in its
treatment of Muslims who leave Islam, and of non-Muslims living within
a Muslim state? Non-Muslims have the right to choose whatever religion
they want [especially Islam], but Muslims do not have the right to choose
another faith; this is considered equivalent to sedition, and according
to the Law is punishable by death. As for non-Muslim peoples in an Islamic
country, Islamic Law segregates them from the Muslim population and relegates
them to a subservient, second-class status. No wonder we are seeing an
increase in the persecution of Christians in a day when radical Islam
is on the rise.
Arab World Ministries
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