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Chapter-3: Human Rights & non Muslims in Islamic Rule

Islamic Society & Culture


In communities which base their civil rights on brute strength, the weaker go to the wall, and public opinion expects nothing else. Even in modern democracies of the saner sort, it is often told that it is the fate of minorities to suffer; strength of numbers here becomes the passport to power and privilege. Islam, while upholding balanced views in general, enjoins the most solicitous care for the weak and oppressed. The minorities are treated with justice in every way-in rights of property, in social rights, and in the right to opportunities of development. The non-Muslim living under the protection of a Muslim state is referred as Dhimmi, a free non-Muslim subject. They are exempt from duties of Islam like military service and zakat, instead they are required to pay jizyah (poll-tax). Historically some Islamic governments paid this poll tax for poor non-Muslim subjects or reduced it to mere symbolic tax. If the State cannot protect those who paid jizyah, then the amount they paid is returned to them. Islam guarantees full protection and security of the State including freedom of religion to all. The killing of innocent people is strictly prohibited, according to Qur’an: “..if anyone slew a person unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land it would be as if he slew the life of all mankind: and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear Signs yet even after that many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.”(Qur’an;5:32). Thus the notion that the minorities are treated as second class citizens in an Islamic state is based on malicious propaganda.

God of Bible and Quran:
Followers of same God, the God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (pbut), should be closer than apart.
Allah is Arabic name of God. “ELAH” is another name for God, used about 70 times in the Old Testament. It is very similar to Arabic “Allah” or ‘Eelah’.  Elahh [hla]‘ (Aramaic; el-aw’): corresponding to God. In Hebrew [hwla] ‘elowahh el-o’-ah; probably prolonged (emphat.) from [la]‘el ale; a deity or the Deity:–God, god. Again, when combined with other words, we see different attributes of God. Some examples: Elah Yerush’lem – God of Jerusalem: (Ezra;7:19), Elah Yisrael – God of Israel: (Ezra;5:1), Elah Sh’maya – God of Heaven:(Ezra 7:23). Elah Sh’maya V’Arah – God of Heaven and Earth: (Ezra;5:11). Jehovah is popular name of God mentioned in Old Testament.
Pope Declared that 'Allah' and 'Jehovah' are the names of same God: The Arabic Bible uses Allah as name of God. In his weekly general audience in late May of 1999, Pope John Paul II addressed Muslims in a series discussing “inter-religious dialog.” He quotes from the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 841 which states, “… together with us they (Muslims) adore the one, merciful, God.” The Pope and many other religious leaders today, who are being wooed into the ecumenical movement, are accepting the idea that the God of the Koran and the God of the Bible are one and the same. [Issue Date: January/February 2000]

Traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the main enforcer of human rights safeguarding the legitimate interests of minorities. The monks of Mount Sinai were provided protection. On establishing the first Islamic state at Medina, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) entered into many alliances, treaties with the Muslims and the non-Muslims, securing peace and tranquility for the Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

The Charter of Medina:

The Charter of Medina, in fact was the first ever written constitution in the history of mankind. This was based on the contract agreed upon by Muslims, Jews and others, stipulating that they all would be treated as equal citizens of Medina, giving the non-Muslims right of choosing a legal system they wished their affairs be governed by, be it Islamic or Jewish law or pre-Islamic Arab tribal traditions. This confirms the principle “no compulsion in religion”, freedom of expression and religious practice was open to everyone. It gave the right of protection, security, peace and justice; not only to Muslims, but also to the Jews who lived in the City of Medina, as well as the allies of Jews who were non-Muslims. The Jews were recognized as a separate political and ethnic minority, and allowed to practice their religion quite freely. In fact, Jews were considered on an equal bases as Muslims under the Islamic State.

Safety, Security and Protection of Non Muslims:

Narrated Abdullah bin Amr : The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever killed a Mu'ahid (a person who is granted the pledge of protection by the Muslims) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of traveling)."(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith:9.49). Narrated Amr bin Maimun: The second Caliph Umar (after he was stabbed by a man from minority), instructed (his would-be-successor) saying, "I urge him (i.e. the new Caliph) to take care of those non-Muslims who are under the protection of Allah and His Apostle (peace be upon him) in that he should observe the convention agreed upon with them, and fight on their behalf (to secure their safety) and he should not over-tax them beyond their capability." (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith: 4.287).

Prophet Muhammad’s Everlasting Promise to Christians:

In 628 AD, a delegation from St. Catherine’s Monastery came to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and requested his protection. He responded by granting them a charter of rights, still available at St.Catherine’s Monastery located at the foot of Mt. Sinai and is the world’s oldest monastery. It possess a huge collection of Christian manuscripts, second only to the Vatican, and is a world heritage site. It also boasts the oldest collection of Christian icons. It is a treasure house of Christian history that has remained safe for 1400 years under Muslim protection.

The copy of this charter is reproduce below, also available at the website of monastery:

Freedom of Faith:

There are no forced conversions in Islam, the non Muslim subjects have the right to freely choose to convert to Islam or keep practicing their faith. But once a person converts to Islam, it is obligatory to practice his faith to be a good Muslim. Apostasy has always been considered as a capital offence in all the religions and political systems of the world, because it is considered as a high treason against the established norms of society. The Bible prescribes death by stoning for apostasy: “You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God..”(Deutrony;13:10). The pagan Romans brutally killed the early Christians on same ground. Subsequently this practice was repeated by the Christian Church against opposing Christians, who were killed and burnt alive. Death penalty for apostasy remained in force in England for long time. It was abolished due to social and cultural developments. In early Islam, the pagans of Makka, and Jews of Medina used to indulge in this practice to gain intelligence and to demoralize the fragile expanding Muslim community of Median. Hence apostasy is considered as a major sin in Islam. Whether it is punishable by Islamic law is a debatable matter among Muslim scholars. Some believe that the apostate should be punished after trial because they consider this crime as a betrayal, high treason against the community, while others opine that if someone changes his faith and does not challenge the Islamic society, it is a matter between him and Allah, Who will punish him in hereafter. However, both opinions agree that it is a major worst form of sin punishable by Allah. As per Qur’an; “Those who turn back as apostates after Guidance was clearly shown to them the Evil One has instigated them and buoyed them up with false hopes.”(Qur’an;47:25). Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) is reported to have said, "The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits adultery and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims." (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith:9.17). Non-Muslims are allowed to teach their faith to their followers, but they are not allowed to go against the mainstream of the Muslim society.

Kindness and Equity:

Muslims are encouraged to act towards all the non-Muslims living in Islamic state with kindness and equity. As per Qur’an; "As for such (of the unbelievers) as do not fight against you on account of your faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, Allah does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity. Indeed, Allah loves those who act equitably"(Qur’an;60:8). There are numerous Hadiths, which encourage Muslims to be kind to other religious communities, especially those who constitute minorities in the Muslim State. As a result many deserving non Muslims were able to get very high positions in the Muslim hierarchy. Islam does not forbid engagement in respectful and peaceful dialogue with others, especially the People of the Book, provided that neither side exploit the illiteracy or dire financial need of others so as to psychologically manipulate them in the name of outreach.

Legal and Dietary Freedom:

Islamic law also permits non-Muslim minorities to set up their own courts, which implement family laws drawn up by the minorities themselves. The rights of minorities are well protected in Islam. Another interesting fact in Islamic history is that although Muslims are prohibited from preparing, selling and consuming alcohol, whereas the ruling is not the same with non-Muslim. If non-Muslim minority in an Islamic state wish to do so, and do not involve Muslims, they would actually be given this right, they even consume  pork, strictly prohibited for the Muslims. This points out that the concept of human rights in Islam has often been given a much negative view. While throughout Europe and America, Muslims are not permitted to make the call to prayer (adhan) on loud speakers, church bells ring freely in the Muslim world.
Special Status of People of the Book: The Christians and Jews are called People of the Book in Qur’an. Muslims are asked to call upon the People of the Book for common terms that is to worship One Allah, and to work together for the solutions of the many problems in the society. “Those who believe (in the Qur'an) and those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures) and the Christians and the Sabians (monotheistic followers of John the Baptist) and who believe in Allah and the last day and work righteousness shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.”(Qur’an;2:62).
Equitable Muslim Rule of Spain: The history of Islam proves this, when Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived together in dominant Islamic societies. The Spain was under the tyrannical, suppressive and corrupt rule of King Roderick, who after death of King Witiza, in 710 through intrigue managed to become king.  Roderick was a brute ruthless, tyrant and corrupt ruler, he faced a revolt of the Basques and was never recognized in the Northeast. He even did not spare the daughter of Count Julian the governor of Ceuta and raped her. Meanwhile, Witiza's family had made contact with the Muslims for assistance against oppressor rule of Roderick, Count Julian also requested Musa bin Nasir, the Muslim governor of North Africa for help. He after getting approval of Caliph sent Tariq bin Zyad to Spain in 711 C.E, by 713 C.E Spain was under Muslim control. This rapid success can be explained by the fact that Hispano-Visigoth society welcomed the end of tyrannical rule of Roderick. The Jews, harassed by the legal ordinances of Toledo, were particularly hostile toward the Christian government. Moreover, the Muslim conquest brought advantages to many elements of society: the burden of taxes was on the whole less onerous than it had been in the last years of the Visigoth epoch; serfs who converted to Islam (mawali; singular: maula) advanced into the category of freedmen and enrolled among the dependents of some conquering noble. This group formed the majority of the population because during the first three centuries religious, social and economic motives induced a considerable number of natives to convert to Islam, there were no force conversions. Jews were no longer persecuted and were placed on an equal footing with the Hispano-Romans and Goths who still remained within the Christian fold. Thus, in the first half of the 8th century, there was born a new society in Muslim Spain.
In Spain under the Umayyads and in Baghdad under the Abbasid Khalifahs, Christians and Jews enjoyed a freedom of religion that they did not allow each other or anyone else. In contrast forced conversions to Catholicism have been documented at various points throughout history. The most prominently cited allegations are the conversions of the pagans during Emperor Constantine (306-337 C.E); of Muslims, Jews and Eastern Orthodox during the Crusades(1095-1291 C.E) ; of Jews and Muslims during the Spanish Inquisition; and of the Aztecs by Hernando Cortes in South America.

The Jews which fled from Spain during the Inquisition, were welcomed by the Muslims and they settled in the heart of the Islamic Ottomans Caliphate. They enjoyed positions of power and authority. In contrast the Muslims who lived in Christian Spain were persecuted and prejudiced against on account of their faith. When the 2nd Caliph Omar took Jerusalem from the Byzantines in 634 C.E, he insisted on entering the city with only a small number of his companions. Proclaiming to the inhabitants that their lives and property were safe, and that their places of worship would never be taken from them, he asked the Christian patriarch Sophronius to accompany him on a visit to all the holy places. The Patriarch invited him to pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but he preferred to pray outside its gates, saying that if he accepted the invitation to pray in church, later generations of Muslims might use his action as an excuse to turn it into a mosque. A mosque was built on the spot where Omar prayed. The Christians entrusted the Muslims, and as such the key of the Church in Jerusalem kept in the hands of the Muslims.

Freedom of Worship:

It is one function of Islamic law to protect the privileged status of minorities, and this is why non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all over the Islamic world. Muslims during their rule granted freedom of worship to all religious communities in the Holy City of Jerusalem. Throughout the Muslim world, churches, synagogues and missionary schools were built within the Muslim neighborhoods. These places were protected by Muslims even during the contemporary crises in the Middle East. As per Qur’an;  “…Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another there would surely have been pulled down monasteries churches synagogues and mosques in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid His (cause); for verily Allah is Full of Strength Exalted in Might (Able to enforce His Will).”(Qur’an;22:40)

Marriage with Chaste Women of People of the Book:

Islam is not exclusive faith, social intercourse, including food and inter-marriage, is permitted with the People of the Book. According to Qur’an: “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 ye give them their due dowers and desire chastity not lewdness nor secret intrigues.  If anyone rejects faith fruitless is his work and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good).” (Qur’an;5:5).

Racisms Rejected:

Any man or woman, of any race or faith, may, on accepting Islam, freely marry any Muslim woman or man, provided it be from motives of purity and chastity and not of lewdness. As always, food, cleanliness, social intercourse, marriage and other interests in life, are linked with the duty to Allah and faith in Him. Duty and faith are for individual’s own benefit, here and in the Hereafter.

Reward of Good Deeds of Non Believers:

Islam looks after the interest of non believers with justice, the good deeds of non-believer will not be wasted. Narrated Anas ibn Malik: Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) said about reward for a non-believer, that  he would be made to taste the reward (of virtue in this world). (Sahih Muslim Hadith:1305). The children of minorities (non-Muslims), are similar to the children of Muslims with respect to their entry into Paradise.(Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Fiqh 4.89a).

Social Courtesies:

There are other social courtesies which Muslims are urged to extend to non Muslims: like the respect is to be extended to the non Muslim deceased;(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith:2.399). Condolences are desirable, even if the deceased was a non-Muslim.  It is permissible for a Muslim to visit a sick non-Muslim person.(Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Fiqh 4.5). The strong emphasis placed on the need to behave with equity towards minorities has been heeded by Muslims throughout the ages. Minorities in the Muslim State have always enjoyed a fair and kind treatment by the Muslim majority. On the personal level, there is nothing to stop any Muslim from forging a friendship with non-Muslims who harbor no ill intentions against Islam or its followers.

Tolerance and Moderation:

 Tolerance and moderation is the hallmark of Islam. Tolerance and moderation is the hallmark of Islam, Allah says :“We have made you (Muslims) a community of the middle way (keeping balance in extremes) so that you may testify against mankind and that your own Messenger may testify against you.”(Qur’an;2:143).. Human life of Muslims and non Muslims alike, has a very high place in Islam, Allah says: “whoever kills a person, except as a punishment for murder or mischief in the land (through judiciary), it will be written in his book of deeds as if he had killed the mankind and whoever will save a life shall be regarded as if he gave life to all the mankind.”(Qur’an;5:32). Killing is only permitted in state of war or through judiciary if some one commits some crime warranting such punishment. The English educationist and historian, Thomas Arnold observed: ‘During the Muslim rule, on the whole, the level of tolerance exhibited towards non Muslims was missing in Europe till modern times’. Marmaduke Pickthall noted: "It was not until the Western nations broke away from their religious law that they became more tolerant, and it was only when the Muslims fell away from their religious law that they declined in tolerance".

Human Life:

Human life has very high value according to Qur'an ; “He who saved one life should be regarded as though he had saved the lives of all mankind.”(Qur’an;5:32). Islam is the final message for the mankind for all times. It has the ability to meet the challenges posed by scientific developments.

Permissible Food:


Muslims are allowed to eat everything which is good for the health and permissible. “O mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and wholesome in the earth, and follow not the footsteps of the devil. Lo! he is an open enemy for you.”(Qur’an;2:168). The permissible (Hilal) animals are to be slaughtered in Islamic way by reciting the name of Allah. There are certain prohibition in eating and drinking etc for the betterment of Muslims: “This Day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you”(Qur’an;5:5), “He hath only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which any other name hath been invoked besides that of Allah. but if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits,- then is He guiltless. for Allah is Oft-forgiving Most Merciful.” (Qur’an;2:173).

Similar prohibitions are also mentioned in Bible:

“That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.”(Acts;15:29),“You shall not eat anything that dies of itself” (Deuteronomy;14:21), “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.”(Genesis;9:4) Leviticus 17:14-15, Deuteronomy 12:16, 1Samuel 14:33 and Acts 15:29 also at Revelation 2:14. Pork is also prohibited in Bible: “And the swine, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch; they are unclean to you.”(Leviticus;11:7-8) also Deuteronomy 14:8 & Isaiah 65:2-5. Consumption of alcohol and gabling is prohibited in Islam: “O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination,- of Satan's handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper.”(Qur’an;5:90). According to Bible: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” (Proverbs;20:1),“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” (Ephesians;5:18). Muslims are allowed to consume permissible (Hilal) food from the people of the book (Jews and Christians).

Humanitarian Obligations:

Humanitarian obligations (Haqooq-ul-Ibad) are highly relevant in Muslim communities. Generally Haqooq Allah, the duties towards Allah (belief, rituals, prayers) are over emphasized while duties toward fellow human beings are given a low priority  in practice, both at the individual and community level. Since a good balance is the main characteristic of Islam and its code of living so, the responsibilities toward other human beings are indeed given a very strong emphasis in Islam.

Bible on Human Obligations:

Obligations towards fellow humans have been emphasized in Bible at ‘Romans; chapter 12: “love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor.”(Romans;12:10),“Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”(Romans;12:12), “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”(Romans;12:12),“If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." No, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans;12:18-21).

Islamic Role Model:

The Sunnah of Prophet (peace be upon him) is the role model for the Muslims. The virtues like justice, truthfulness, kind and courteous behaviour with fellow humans, fairness in trade, dealings, respect of life and property of others, helping underprivileged, oppressed and weak, Muslim or non Muslims alike are hall mark of Islam, the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)  is full of practical examples. The rights of parents and non Muslims have been elaborated separately due to their special significance. During his last address to the Muslims Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said; “O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.……You know that every Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. You are all equal. Nobody has superiority over other except by piety and good action.” He said that a Muslim has a "sanctity" which means that he must always be respected, well treated and immune from assault on his person, property and integrity. Hence, the Prophet (peace be upon him) defines the relationship of brotherhood between Muslims, and what it entails in practical life. He says that a Muslim is a brother to every Muslim: the one never treats the other unjustly, nor lets him down, nor tries to humiliate him." He also told that the "sanctity" of a believer is "in God's view, greater than the sanctity of the Ka’bah." The Hadith implies that all rights, minor or major, that belong to a Muslim must be always respected. A person at the receiving end of injustice is sure to have God's help. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that; "supplication by a person treated unjustly goes directly to God without any hindrance." This very statement should be sufficient to make anyone who exercises any degree of power to be on his guard lest he should treat anyone unjustly. Moreover, mutual help between members of a Muslim community is highly emphasized.

Helping Each Other:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) says: "Whoever helps his brother with a certain need shall have God helping him in accomplishing his own purpose." Prophet (peace be upon him) himself was the best example of extending a helping hand to all and sundry. Even the weakest member of the community could draw on an inexhaustible source of help from the Prophet (peace be upon him). Prophet (peace be upon him) was also the head of the Muslim state, would let even a slave make any demand on his time and service. It may be kept in view that the Arabian society in the pre-Islamic days was highly unjust to both women and slaves.
Charity: Islam places great emphasis on charity. Zakah (compulsory charity) is an important pillar of Islam, while Sadqah is the alms disburse voluntarily to help deserving poor and destitute over and above Zakah. Allah says: “Righteousness is not whether you turn your face towards East or West; but the righteousness is to believe in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Books and the Prophets, and to spend wealth out of love for Him on relatives, orphans, helpless, needy travelers, those who ask for and on the redemption of captives; and to establish Salah (prayers), to pay Zakah (alms), to fulfill promises when made, to be steadfast in distress, in adversity, and at the time of war. These people are the truthful and these are the pious.” (Qur’an;2:177). “They ask you what they should spend in charity. Say: "Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, Allah is aware of it.”( Qur’an;2:215). “The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain that sprouts into seven ears, each bearing one hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He wishes. Allah has boundless knowledge.” (Qur’an;2:261). “Surely the charitable men and the charitable women, and those who give a goodly loan to Allah, shall be repaid manifold, and also be given a liberal reward besides it.” (Qur’an;57:18).“O believers! Spend out of the sustenance which We have provided for you before the arrival of that Day when there will be no bargaining, friendship or intercession. It is the unbelievers who are wrongdoers.”(Qur’an;2:254). If charity is practiced with the true spirit of Islam there will be no poor person left in society. Narrated Haritha bin Wahb: I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "Give in charity because there will come a time on the people when a person will go out with his alms from place to place but will not find anybody to accept it." (Sahih Bukhari Hadith Number: 9.236)

Rights of Neighbors:

Qur’an and Bible are unanimous on the good treatment f neighbors (Qur’an;4:36, Leviticus;19:18, Mark;12:31). Prophet (peace be upon him) was also the best of neighbors and he emphasized that neighbors have a claim on our kindness. He mentioned that; "The Angel Gabriel has reminded me so often of the rights of a neighbor until I began to think that a neighbor may have a claim to inheritance." .”[Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith Number:48 Volume:8]. This means that the status of a neighbor should be viewed as comparable to that of a family member. 

Equality and Respect:

On the other hand, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) heard one of his companions say to Bilal (an African companion) during an argument, "You son of a black woman", he was very angry indeed. He said to that man: "You insult him on account of his mother? You certainly have not purged yourself from the values of an ignorant society." All that gives just an idea of the sort of emphasis Islam attaches to the rights of individuals, particularly those who are vulnerable in society.

Fair Treatment of Women:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) appreciated good treatment of women, he said: "The best among you are those who treat their wives best. I am indeed the best of you in the way I treat my wives." When  this is compared with the notion that prevails among the overwhelming majority of men in the Muslim world, it is found to be at variance with the Prophet's instructions. In his last address, Prophet (peace be upon him) said; “O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have right over you. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to  be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to commit adultery”.

Treatment of Servants:

Prophet (peace be upon him) was very kind with his servants. Anas ibn Malik reports: "I served the Prophet (peace be upon him), for ten years and he never said to me: Why did you do this? or why did you omit that?" Delegations visiting Medina often thought that Anas and his mother belonged to the Prophet's own family.

Lack of Human Obligations a Sin:

It should always be remembered that God may forgive all sins that relate to human obligations toward Him, but He will not forgive anything that is due to a human being (Humanitarian Obligations) until that person is ready to forgive it. Hence, the Muslims have to perform their obligations like worship and simultaneously be kind to the other human in the society, which is also a form of worship being part of Islamic duties.
Rights of Animals: Apart from human, a believer has to be kind with the animals: Narrated Sahl ibn al-Hanzaliyyah: The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) came upon an emaciated camel and said: “Fear Allah regarding these dumb animals. Ride them when they are in good condition and feed them when they are in good condition.”(Sunnah Abu Dawood, Hadith.1065)

Obligations to Parents:

Islam attaches great importance to the human rights which include respect, love and obedience to the parents, and others living around in the society, specially the weak  and underprivileged. The respect of parents has always been part of great civilizations, cultures and teachings of previous scriptures. It is mentioned in Qur’an; “And remember We took a covenant from the children of Israel (to this effect): worship none but Allah; treat with kindness your parents and kindred and orphans and those in need; speak fair to the people;”(Qur’an;2:83). The ten commandments given to Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) on Mt. Sinai, included respect of parents. The Commandments are recorded virtually identically in Exodus;20:2-17 and Deutronomy;5:6-21, it is mentioned; “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” According to the New Testament, Jesus (peace be upon) said: “For God commanded, Honour your father and mother: and, He who speaks evil of or mother, let him surely die.” (Mathew;15:4).

High Priority after Tawheed:

It may be noted that the respect and good behavior towards the parents have been mentioned immediately after belief in One Allah, in Qur’an: “Your Lord has decreed to you that: You shall worship none but Him, and you shall be kind to your parents; if one or both of them live to their old age in your lifetime, you shall not say to them any word of contempt nor repel them and you shall address them in kind words. You shall lower to them your wings of humility and pray: "O Lord! Bestow on them Your blessings just as they cherished me when I was a little child. Your Lord knows best what is in your hearts. If you do good deeds, certainly He is most forgiving to those who turn to Him in repentance.”(Qur’an;17:23-25). The spiritual and moral duties have been amalgamated here.

Individual Act of Piety:

The kindness to parents is an individual act of piety. Hence this matter must be approached with gentle humility: for the parental love, remind him of the great love with which Allah cherishes His creatures. There is something here more than simple human gratitude; it goes up into the highest spiritual region. The Muslim is asked to honor their father and mother, upon much higher and more universal grounds, such as befit a perfected revelation. In the first place, not merely respect, but cherishing kindness, and humility to parents, are commanded. In the second place, this command is bracketed with the command to worship the One True God. Parental love should be like a type of divine love: nothing can ever really compensate for that which have been received. In the third place the spiritual advancement is tested by this: no one should expect Allah's forgiveness if one is rude or unkind to the parents who unselfishly brought him up.

No Right in Deviation to Faith and Worship:

While there is deep respect for the parents but in the matters of faith and worship, they have no right to force their children. They cannot and must not hold up before them any worship but that of the One True God. Children and parents must all remember that they have all to go before Allah's tribunal, and answer, each for his own deeds. But even then, it does not mean that one should be arrogant or insolent. Allah says: “We have enjoined on man kindness to parents: but if they (either of them) strive (to force) thee to join with Me (in worship) anything of which thou hast no knowledge obey them not.  Ye have (all) to return to Me and I will tell you (the truth) of all that ye did.”(Qur’an;29:8).  “And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command) "Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal.” But if they strive to make the join in worship with Me things of which thou hast no knowledge obey them not; Yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration) and follow the way of those who turn to Me (in love): in the End the return of you all is to Me and I will tell you the truth (and meaning) of all that ye did." (Qur’an;31:14-15).
Qur’an on Kindness to Parents: Allah has repeatedly asked the children to be good and kind with parents, He says :  “We have enjoined on man Kindness to his parents: in pain did his mother bear him and in pain did she give him birth.  The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (a period of) thirty months.  At length when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years he says: “We have enjoined man to treat his parents with kindness. With much trouble his mother bore him, and much pain did she give him birth. His bearing and his weaning took thirty months. When he reaches the age of full strength and becomes forty years old, he says: "My Lord! Grant me the grace that I may thank you for the favors which You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may do good deeds that will please You, and grant me good children. Surely I turn to You in repentance and surely I am of those who are Muslims. Such are the people from whom We shall accept the best of their deeds and overlook their misdeeds. They shall be among the residents of paradise: true is the promise that has been made to them in this life. But those who rebukes his parents and say: " Fie upon you both! Do you threaten me with a resurrection, whereas many a generations have passed before me and none has come back from among them?" And they both cry for Allah's help and say: "Woe to you! Be a good believer. Surely the promise of Allah is true." But he replies: "This is nothing but tales of the ancients.” (Qur’an;46:15-17). The respect to parents could result in great rewards as Allah says in Qur’an: “Those who believe and work righteous deeds from them shall We blot out all evil (that may be) in them and We shall reward them according to the best of their deeds.” (Qur’an;29:7).

Traditions of Prophet (peace be upon him):


There are many traditions (Hadiths) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which emphasize the respect and high status of parents: Narrated by Mu'adh ibn Jabal; “Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) instructed me to do ten things saying: (1). Do not associate anything with Allah even if you are killed and burnt on that account. (2). Don't be disobedient to your parents even if they command you to abandon your family and your property……..” (Transmitted by Ahmad, Al-Tirmidhi Hadith: 61). Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar: A woman was my wife and I loved her, but Umar hated her. He said to me: Divorce her, but I refused. Umar then went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and mentioned that to him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Divorce her.(Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith Number.2437). Narrated by Abdullah bin Amr: A man said to the Prophet(peace be upon him),"Shall I participate in Jihad?" The Prophet(peace be upon him) said, "Are your parents living?" The man said, "Yes." the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Do Jihad for their benefit."(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith:8.3). Narrated by Abdullah bin Amr: The Prophet(peace be upon him)  said, "Al-Kaba'ir (the biggest sins) are: To join others (as partners) in worship with Allah, to be undutiful to one's parents,"(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith: 9.9). Narrated by Anas : The Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked about the great sins He said, "They are:(1 ) To join others in worship with Allah. (2) To be undutiful to one's parents. (3) To kill a person (which Allah has forbidden to kill-murder). (4) And to give a false witness." (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith:3.821).

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