By: Hossein Boroujerdi, et al.
Necessity of free debate and discussion
Abstract—Freedom, democracy, peace and security are among absolute rights to be provided, else the life will be disturbed. These rights are trampled upon by religious governments. Basically many of the teachings and laws, especially in Islam, somehow have violated human rights and allowed religious rulers and religious fanatics to trample upon, under religious excuses, freedom and individual and social rights both in material and spiritual aspects. Based on a library sources, this study is aimed to answer to this question whether there would be some concepts within the Quran and Islamic narratives to be adopted with and to support international human rights measures and articles. The results have demonstrated that after a free research in religious contexts without a fanaticism and sectarian background and viewpoint, some concepts could be extracted in accordance to human rights measures. These concepts could be publicized and promoted to assist in removing challenges and contradictions between religion and modernity.
Key Words: human rights, freedom, democracy, peace, security, monotheism without border
Subjects of human rights, freedom, democracy, peace andsecurity are related to anthropology, sociology and theology and are considered as vital essentials of human life and are treatedin some universal documents. The most important documents are as follow:
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(ICCPR)
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against woman(CEDAW)
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)
The Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, inhumanor Degrading treatment or punishment
The UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary (BPIJ)
The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICCPED)
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
History has demonstrated that conformity between religious laws and values and the universal principles of human rights has been practically impossible. However, one of duties of religious leaders throughout the world is to try to point out those religious laws and teachings coextensive with the universal principles of human rights, and in harmony with the necessity of time to break down the barriers of prejudice to help solve individual, social and international crises.
This study contains a summary of the writer's speeches and written works on human rights taught during three decades of religious activities. Its publication can be used to in the direction of establishing human rights, and of extending freedom, democracy, peace and security.
The necessity to respect human dignity-equality in rights- dignity and value of humans-the necessity of kind treatment of people- the necessity of establishing security and quietude- negation of arbitrary arrests- negation of oppressing the gatherings-negation of court trials by order
In religious culture, man is mentioned as the supreme of creature and glorified by god, and it is announced that humans, of whatever religion, gender, ethnicity, nationality, race, color and language, are equal [1, 3:195, 15: 29-30, 17: 70, 48: 24, 95:4, etc]. Therefore, there should be no discrimination against people in terms of freedom and in terms of political, social, cultural and judiciary rights.
One of the rights of all humans is to be treated and spoken to pleasantly and with good intentions even if they are against and enemy to us [1, 2:83, 6:108, 20:44, 28:77]. All kinds of oppression and maltreatment of people are ugly and condemned [2, hadith 3928]. Also, security is announced as the basis of life without which life is impossible.
Also, security has been introduced as the basis of life, without which life is impossible[2, hadith 5438]. It is even one of the promises of divine religions that they provide security and comfort and peaceful life for the followers [3, p.117].
Therefore, whatever limits or threatens man's or society's inherent benevolence, dignity, security and comfort is forbidden, including discrimination, violent encounter, arbitrary arrests, unjust trials and those ordered behind closed doors and in absence of a lawyer and jury, oppression of gatherings and demonstrations, imprisonment and torture of dissidents, and the cruel punishment by whipping, dismemberment, hanging and stoning.
Negation of harsh treatment under religious excuses, necessity of forgiveness, concession, leniency and pity
God and prophets have announced that they do not deliver harmful and unbearable laws [1, 2:286, 5:6, 23:62, etc]. Against harshness mentioned in religious documents, are also mentioned forgiveness, granting,tolerance, being just and having pity as divine adjectives and of the highest values [1, 2:178, 2:219, 4:28, 7:156, etc]. Therefore, the ruler has no right to treat people harshly under religious pretexts, and if there are harmful and limiting laws and rules and unbearable 0r violent punishments anywhere in the world they should be abolished.
It is a fact that humans do not often have sufficient familiarity with the consequences of their own actions and cannot resist against severe needs, even the prophets were not invulnerable against temptations and pressure of needs [1, 4:28, 12:53].
How, then, considering the facts, can humans be punished for having committed a guilt and a wrong-doing (to be whipped, dismembered, hanged and...)? It is strange that god who created man and sent divine religions orders not to be harsh, to be conciliatory and forgiving, but the religious rulers who claim to represent god on earth maltreat people, devise harsh and unbearable laws and punishments and torture people in prisons to get confession and force them to write repentance.
The right of people to vote for autonomy- the necessity of democracy (free referendums)
Real religiosity supports people's will, and the nations' destinies should not be determined for them [1, 13:11]. Participation in decision making and determination of the future is, on the one hand, the absolute right of each nation and, on the other, its religious and rational duty [1, 3:159, 27:32, 42:38].
Therefore, at the international level, each nation has the right, first, to be autonomous and to choose its form of government and, as it wishes, to set upon economic, social and cultural development. Hence, no power and country has the right, first, to colonize and exploit another country, and to interfere in and disturb its peace and quietude in order to gain its own profit-seeking aim.
Second, in terms of its interior, each country's laws, and specially its constitutional laws, should be amended, if needed, and there should be available peaceful ways to change the form of government and of people in power. In today's world, participation of people in determining their destiny is realized through freedom of expression and free media activities, NGO's, syndicates, parties, national assembly and free referendums. Therefore, rulers have no right to claim legitimacy on behalf of god and, under such pretext, ignore democracy. Any regime whose behavior is not expressive of people's inclination and will and ignores the above points is not acceptable to god and is considered illegitimate.
Necessity of freedom in choice of religion- Necessity of freedom of expression (written and verbal) -Negation of search, eavesdropping, inquisition - Negation of tyrannical and religious regimes
If god wanted to send one single religion, he would have done it [1, 11:118]. But, on the contrary, he established a religion so each nation would approach him through that one [1, 2:4, 2:5, 22:34]. Therefore, any religious conflict, imposition of religion and belief and establishment of tyrannical religious rule is considered disobeying god's commands.
God who sent divine religions says that a forced religion and that of ruling religion is not religion and imposition of a particular religion and belief is beyond prophets' mission [1, 2:256]. He also says there is no difference among prophets, and the followers of all religions are a great monotheistic family [1,2:285, 3:133, 42:13]. In divine books, imposition of belief through threat, imprisonment and torture is considered Pharaonic [1, 7:124, 26:29] and oppression of pen is considered as an insult to divinity. That is why god has sworn by pen and set it as a means of education [1, 68:1, 96:4].
No authorization has been issued for conflict and war against the followers of other religions, nor any to deprive them of their security and quietude or to prevent them from propagating activity [1, 29:46]. Religion is a private matter, and to search for obvious or hidden affairs of citizens in material and spiritual matters, to search their beliefs and to pursue their religion and sect and their private opinions and to enter into their private spheres is impermissible [1, 49:12, 24:27], .
According to religious documents, therefore, it can be concluded: religious regimes (in which religion and politics are combined) like Iran's government by religious jurists (“Velayat-e Fagih”) are illegitimate and invalid. Every tyrannical and dictatorial religion and ideology is condemned. The commanders and executors of belief searches, and oppressors of pen and speech are at war with god and his creatures and should be sued. There should be no belief or political prisoner. No civil or citizenship right of any individual or group should be trampled upon because of religious belief. An individual should not be deprived to study, to marry the person interested in, to acquire a profession and to be employed in a government job. In different aspects of life, including delegating position and government professions, religion and people's belief should not be a measure.
Negation of tyranny, dictatorship and suppression -All humans are innocent unless proved guilty
In the world we live today, man's knowledge and science regarding the triangle of anthropology, sociology and theology are incomplete and limited and whatever man says is based on imagination, guess and assumption. No one can claim to be the all-knowing and omniscient.
Ibn Sina, with all his genius and exclusive knowledge, used to say:" I have learned so much to know that I know nothing." David the prophet was reprimanded by god to have judged in haste! Moses who was among the supreme prophets and in a special position (the one who directly spoke with god) asked god if there was anyone more learned than he. God answered, yes, Khezr is more learned than you. Ali ibn Abitaleb has confessed to be ignorant vis-a-vis god.
Therefore, first, no child of any ruler should rely on his knowledge and wisdom and ignore the opinions, criticisms of dissidents and create an atmosphere of suppression and intimidation. No judge, second, has any right to claim that the judgement he has issued is precise and correct, and should respect that all human beings are innocent until the opposite is proved.
In negating tyranny and suppression, it is essential to note that, first, in religion, to rely on an individual opinion, and to be self-reliant in one's opinion and to be tyrannical is condemned and stated to be dangerous [2, hadith 2570 and 7947]. God, second, has given men degrees of the power of recognition of good and bad and he needs no intermediary in his supervision of man. Therefore, no ruler has any right to consider men as ignorant and unqualified, and, based on his own opinion or on religious grounds, make decision for them [1, 6:149, 75:14, 91:8]. Prophets, third, who were givers of religions, were merely authorized to invite and propagate the religion and divinity and were not allowed to impose religion on men [1, 29:18, 76:3], [5, hadith 546]. The worst creatures,fourth, are those for whose positions men are afraid of them and respect them and obey them unwillingly [6, p.246].
The necessity of individual freedoms, the right to ownership of life, wealth, vote and destiny
In religious culture it is announced that man is not born slave, or woman-slave, and servant but born free and owner of his life, property, land, family, vote and destiny. Therefore, he is free to choose his profession, residence, spouse, to have his religious, political and social belief and should not be under any pressure and discrimination. Also, no man should be disrespected because of poverty, bankruptcy, sickness, displacement, homelessness and desperation, nor his inherent dignity and rights be trampled upon [2, hadith 1322].
Necessity of freedom to organize non-governmental prayer gatherings
Religious societies are authorized to organize participatory small and large meetings and government should not prevent them [1,3:64]. In prayer to god others should not be shared, and mosques and prayer places should not be used to maltreat people and be used to plot and for militarism. Mosques and prayer places of opponents should not be confiscated [1, 2:114, 72:18].
Nations should not be boycotted and punished for wrong-doing and war-mongering of their rulers
According to religious and rational document, no individual should be punished for the wrong and crime of another or be taken as a lien and hostage [1, 2:141, 17: 15, 74:38]. No one should be made a captive for not performing his obligations and guarantees.
In a larger context, it is an unforgivable oppression that nations suffer the consequences of arbitrary, illegal actions of tyrannical governments against international laws and obligations. It is essential that the United Nations, Security Council and other international institutions and unions pay attention to this general law of human rights, and when imposing sanctions or wars against criminal governments take care not to sacrifice people.
The right of oppressed nations to complain to international institutions and human rights organizations
The governments have the duty to be tolerant, to observe human rights and to lead the society toward material and spiritual advancement [3,p.367].
One of the great sins is the empty promises of politicians to achieve power [1, 61:3], [6, p.337]. According to religious and rational laws, if rulers are oppressive and do not fulfill their promises, people have the right to complain and disclose such oppression at the international level and are authorized to ask for help from reporters and inspectors of human rights and international institutions and unions [1, 4:148, 6:20, etc].
From another point of view, a famous religious and rational saying is:
Humans are members of a whole- In creation, one of essence and soul
If one member is afflicted with pain - Other members uneasy will remain.
Therefore, defenders of human rights and governments and international institutions are duty-bound to rush to help oppressed people and should not stay indifferent.
The necessity of defending god's sanctity- The necessity of declaration of hate against oppressive religious leaders and violators of human right
Religions describe god as, first, not tyrannical [1, 8:51, 10:44, 41:46], and, second, does not send cruel and criminal missionary [1, 2:124, 19:14, 19:32], and, third, has ordered justice and kindness [1, 4:135, 16:90].
It is obvious that god does not need to be bound by justice and pity. However, the most important message of the above three points is: rulers claiming to be religious should not oppress and trample upon human rights in the name of god, should not destroy their opponents, should not force people to follow their adventurous and war mongering policies, should not deny the citizens the right to criticize, to protest and to gather; should not deprive people of a just legal procedure and lawyer.
These are some examples of practicing justice. Rulers who ignore these points give a bad name to the creator and lead the society to poverty and desperation. They are, therefore, in war against god and prophets, they are oppressors, and violators of human rights. People have the right to declare publicly hatredand call them to account and try them.
People's right to inspect property and activities of government officials and try the traitors
According to religious and rational rules, people have the right to inspect and call to account the government officials because each person who undertakes a responsibility and occupies a position should account for the consequences of his actions. If a government official causes, intentionally or unintentionally, the waste or theft of people's property or wealth, he should be responsible.
Necessity of establishing free media and news agencies - Negation of censorship -Necessity of free research
Rumor -mongering and spread of false news and fake documents have been in existence throughout history, and, thanks to modern technology, have gained extensive dimensions. Therefore, people should have access to free media in order to be able to study about the truth of news and rumors they hear and to be informed of correct news [1, 49:6].
All people are like guardians and responsible vis-a-vis the society and should participate in the determination of the destiny of the country . The right and free reporting and informing is more valuable and sacred than fighting in battle field and dying for god, it is equal to prophets’ work, and is effective to correct incorrect judgements regarding monotheistic matters [1, 15:49, 93:11], .
Every aware individual has the duty to inform people of their freedoms and their rights. Individuals who are informed of oppression and of violation of human right have the duty to inform and those who fail are cursed [3, p.16].
Also, no work is superior and more important than free research and analysis [2, Hadith 10483], specially about matters relating to people's livelihood, security, prestige and beliefs. It is obvious that correct and systematic study and research is not possible without relying on correct reporting and absence of censure and suppression.
Necessity of free debate and discussion
All prophets were men of discussion and debate. One of the features of each divine religion is to have firm and rational bases and its principal and subsidiary tenets be based on reasoning and logical demonstration so that the intellectual enemies cannot dominate it [1, 57:25], [3, p.117]. This proves that in propagating any religion or belief there should be the possibility of discussion and debate, and no religion should be imposed through force, terror of character, suppression and oppression upon others.
Negation of imprisonment - Negation of physical and mental torture
In religious culture, prison is named as graveyard [2, p.Hadith 1631]. After being released from prison, Joseph the prophet wrote above the gate of prison that here is the graveyard of those alive!
God has declared that no prophet has the right to limit, to enchain, or terrorize people by the order he issues or the news he transfers [1, 3:161]. Imprisonment and torture of government opponents and dissidents are features of pharaonic rule [1,7:124, 26:29], and prophets have exonerated themselves from imprisonment, cursing, damning and torture of people [5, Hadith 40616], .
God has placed people's right above his own and has not permitted anyone to beat others under religious pretexts (like like “Amre-Be-Marof-Va-Nahye-Az-Monkar“[Commanding right and forbidding wrong], or executing other religious laws or commands) [2, Hadith 4780]. In religious culture, we have statements against torturing people (including beating and swearing, threatening, pressuring, and severity ...against men, women, faithful, infidel, dissidents and....), and that god will severely punish the commanding and executing agents [5, Hadith 13377], [11, p.402].
Confession in prison or under pressure is invalid
Confession from a person who is in prison or is beaten, sworn at, threatened and scared is invalid and his statements are unreliable in court. A person cannot be condemned on the basis of confessions obtained under physical and mental torture [11, p.408].
Prohibition of framing up and betrayal
Whoever threatens another person or through espionage and framing up causes to scare that person from government is a criminal. A person who frames up another person and causes that person to be captured by government by taking pictures, recording of voice or hiring mercenary witnesses, forcing confession, is among people of Pharaoh (that is, among people who cut innocent people's hands and feet, tear up pregnant women's bellies and behead boys) [6, p.368].
Necessity of protecting the rights of captives
Captives should be treated kindly, their basic needs provided, maltreatment, torture and murder avoided .
Negation of terror, Negation of suicide operations- Negation of war-mongering
Considering that there is no obligation in choosing religion [1, 2:256], can the enemies be killed? Extremists like Daeash (ISIS) and al-Qaeda and anathematizes, according to what authority order terror, suicidal operations, war and murder? In religions, killing the captive is prohibited, so how can humans be killed in non-war fields suddenly and unaware (through terror and suicidal operations)?
Religions have been sent to establish different dimensions of justice [1, 4:135, 5:8, 6:152, 57:25]. Is killing someone without trial just? First, suicidal operations cause death of innocent people. Second, the person committing it is also destroyed. Third, it is done along the line of punishment before the crime. All three mentioned cases are, nevertheless, prohibited by religion [1, 2:195, 5:28, 5:32].
Necessity of respecting neighbors and negation of causing them distress in social and international respects-Necessity of peacefulness -Negation of war-mongering
In religious culture, respecting neighbors, having peaceful relations and respecting their rights are introduced as essential and valuable issues which promote security, quietude and prosperity [6, p.666]. The real faithful are those people who are trusted and others are immune from their hands, tongues and their encounter .
Some important religious recommendations are concerned with maintaining internal and international peace and quietude, removing tension and conflicts and negation of war-mongering [1, 2:197, 3:20, etc].
Prohibition against use of chemical, microbial arms and of mass murder
Use of mass murder arms and methods even against enemies of god, like poisoning water and food, use of chemical, microbial... arms .
Prohibition against killing non-military
Killing women, children, old, crippled and blind individuals in time of war is not permissible .
Necessity of esteeming national and ethnic traditions
Religion favors national and ancient traditions and respects the traditions of races. Once, one of Abbasid caliphs (Mamoon) asked Imam Reza concerning glorification of Iranian new year, No-rooz, the Imam mentioned what was mentioned above and explained that since there is no enjoining or negating in this respect from the prophet, it is, hence, proper that you (the caliph) dignify the Iranian festive days and, along with people, esteem them.
The right of people to ownership and exploitation of the country's wealth (oil, mines...) -Duty of governments to create employment
According to rational and religious laws, work and effort are necessary to achieve a better life [1, 53:39]. Therefore, laws and policies should be set up in such a fashion to indisputably support work and effort of people for employment, development and welfare and to open up space for reaping the result. God has created the necessary background and tools for employment and earning one's life and the earth and its resources (like oil, gas, mines and...) are at the disposal of residents in order that people of each country enjoy them in common [1, 45:13, 67:15].
A nation's common wealth (common wealth and property, both liquid and non-liquid, and earth resources like oil, gas and mines) are sacred and respectable and if rulers, due to imprudence or plundering, prevent the acquired benefits to reach the nation, they have committed a silent mass murder.
Necessity of removing poverty and improvement of people life condition
Poverty is like a fatal dagger which falls on body of the poor. A great prophet like Abraham says, bearing poverty is harder for me than bearing Namrood's fire . God himself has sworn to his magnificence and glory that there is, in his obvious and hidden creation, nothing worse than poverty [17, p.47]
According to historical experience and to religious teachings, when people, under pressure of poverty, call god and receive no answer they become, gradually, pessimistic. Wherever there is poverty god is, directly and indirectly, accused and religious belief destroyed. Therefore, one of common duties is supporting the poor and the effort to remove poverty and improve people's condition of life.
Negation of arbitrary generosity by rulers
In using a country's wealth no one has priority over its people. Presenting a country's wealth to others (usually for propaganda purposes, expansion policies in other countries, and providing for political and military treaties) results in the poverty of the people who are the real owner of wealth, and it is not permissible [2, Hadith 4725].
Necessity of developing the world-necessity of utilizing welfare and pleasure
Instead of thinking about extortion and taxation, the rulers should think about developing education, industry, trade, economy and prosperity [3, p.375]. Developing the world is so important and sacred that if someone develops a land, he becomes its owner [5, p.Hadith 9044]. It is not permissible, under pretext of asceticism and piety, to declare blessing and pleasures impermissible .
Men and women, seeking to establish mutual emotional and sexual relationship, should not be searched and inspected [17, p.426]. Proper religiosity wants good and pleasant life in both worlds. Therefore, happiness in the next should not prevent welfare and comfort in this world [1, 2:201]. The share for pleasure and enjoyment of this world designated by god should not be wasted, and one should know that using and enjoying youth and life is not not only not bad but is like a prayer, a way to approach his omnipotent court [1, 28:77].
Necessity of entertainment, happiness, relaxation and listening to music
Rule and regulations should not prevent people to pass their time happily, to enjoy it, to have a good time and to relax , [5, Hadith 40616]. One of divine beauty and blessing is to have a pleasant voice and to play music. Man's nature inclines toward such and, therefore, no religion or sect is authorized to prohibit it [1, 7:32].
The right of girls to wear make-up and of women to adorn themselves
Not only wearing veil by force is improper, but women have the right to wear chic dresses, use make-up, to let their nail grow for adornment and to appear in public gathering wearing gold and jewelry .
Necessity of friendship and endearment at home-negation of harassment of women- necessity of observing equality among children
Stability and quietude within the family are one of the issues that religion pays attention to. The presence of man at home next to wife and children, a sense of belonging and attachment at home is more valuable than prayer in the prophet's mosque . With serving the family, great sins are forgiven and divine wrath appeased and punishments lowered. Relations should be based on kindness and love and not on prejudices. Friendship and sincerity at home are among blessings to be valued. Finding a spouse and mediating to establish a relationship between men and women is piety, and among the best initiatives and leads to quietude and completion. A person who resolves a conflict and an antagonism between a husband and wife and causes intensification of kindness and friendship in that family will gain the rewards of thousand martyrs.
Whoever causes animosity in a family will be inflicted with anger and damnation in this and the next world. Whoever slaps his wife, god will punish him severely. A person who marries should endear his wife and respect her, that is, should not treat her with anger, a sense of superiority, indifference, ill temper and violence. Parents should treat their children, in material and spiritual respects, with justice and equality, and do not discriminate among them.
Necessity of making children and orphans happy and provide for their welfare
In religious culture, children have a special place. Beating them is forbidden and making them happy and laughing highly recommended [5, Hadith 6009].
During the time the prophet appeared, there was this inhuman tradition of burying children alive, due to poverty and family prejudices. He did a great deal of cultural work to remove this great disaster, and made this cruel phenomenon completely disappear.
Ali ibn Abitaleb also considered a special position for children and specially for the orphans. Although he was famous for bravery and warmanship but if he saw a child crying and orphan, he would immediately kneel down and carry him on his back and would make him happy and laughing by doing different works! The onlookers would say Ali, you destroy the prestige of caliphacy but he would answer that the position of an orphan is higher.
The worst and the ugliest thing permitted in religion is divorce. One important reason is the existence of children. The children of divorce grow up in today's immoral and wicked world and will have a dangerous fate. It is appropriate, therefore, that parents take care of children and do not allow innocent children become victims of divorce process.
Necessity of obligatory education for children
According to a famous religious saying as the mark engraved in stone remains, the result of education in children and early youth also remains. Learning is among the issues which has received great attention , and one among them is children's obligatory education.
Necessity of supporting troubled people
Different teachings and commands in religions consider supporting, materially and spiritually the needy, the weak, the poor, the famine-stricken, victims of disaster, economic and trade bankrupts, the disabled, the sick, the refugees,those displaced by war, and other troubled individuals in order that no needy person feels desperate and miserable.
Necessity of protecting nature, air and water
In different chapter of Quran, god has sworn by different elements of nature and introduced them as his signs and, thereby, given them a sanctity. Also, in religion, there are direct and indirect recommendations to protect them. These points show that environment has special importance and one should protect its dignity and purity so there is the possibility of good life for the contemporary and future generations.
Therefore, any carelessness and absence if attention that night pollute or damage drinking water, air, forest, rivers, seas and other elements of nature will be cases of insulting the sacred and human rights.
As this study shows, if we consider religious resources with a view point of monotheism without border, and in terms of deconstruction, we come across documents that co-extend with values of consciousness and percepts in the universal documents of human rights.
The content of this study has been extracted from reliable religious sources and the religious men of learning are aware of them, but, often, ignore them because of prejudices or because of professional and political interests. It is hoped that with propagation and reinforcement of similar writing great steps will be taken to eliminate such harsh, discriminatory, insulting, cruel and war-mongering laws and regulations, and the way is paved for the establishment of human rights and extension of freedom, democracy, peace and security in the world and specially in Moslem countries.
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