The first part of verse 16:90 says:
"Allah enjoins justice, generosity and kind treatment with kindred."
The verse 16:90 is being recited in Jumuah khutbas every Friday in millions of Masajid throughout the world since the time of Umar bin Abdul Aziz (may Allah T'ala be please with him).
The first of these three commandments of Allah T'ala is justice which has two aspects.
To make such arrangements as may enable everyone to get one's due rights without stint. Justice does not, however, mean equal distribution of rights, for that would be absolutely unnatural. In fact, justice means equitable dispensation of rights which in certain cases may mean equality. For example, aII citizens should have equal rights of citizenship but in other cases equality in rights would be injustice. For instance, equality in social status and rights between parents and their children will obviously be wrong. Likewise those who render services of superior and inferior types cannot be equal in regard to wages and salaries. What AIIah enjoins is that the full rights of everyone should be honestly rendered whether those be moral, social, economic legal or political in accordance with what one justly deserves.
Allah T'ala says in the Holy Quran:
إَنَّ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَرْجُونَ لِقَاءنَا وَرَضُواْ بِالْحَياةِ الدُّنْيَا وَاطْمَأَنُّواْ بِهَا وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنْ آيَاتِنَا غَافِلُونَ
أُوْلَـئِكَ مَأْوَاهُمُ النُّارُ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَكْسِبُونَ
Surely those who do not expect to meet Us, who are gratified with the life of the world and content with it, and are heedless of Our signs,their abode shall be the Fire in return for their misdeeds. (The Holy Quran, 10:7-8)
The statement that is being made here is that rejection of the doctrine of the Hereafter necessarily entails the punishment of Hell, and the argument that is being proffered in support of it is that those who are oblivious to the Hereafter commit, because of their disbelief in it, evil deeds which can only lead to them suffering the torments of Hell. This argument is corroborated by the entire record of man's past. It is quite clear that the lives of those who do not believe that they will not be held to account by God for their deeds; who work on the assumption that life is merely confined to the span of worldly existence; who measure human success or failure only in terms of the extent of material comfort, fame and power that a person is able to enjoy; who under the influence of such materialistic notions do not even care to pay attention to those signs of God which point to reality, assume an altogether wrong direction with the result that their life is vitiated. Hence they live a totally unbridled life, develop the worst possible character traits, and fill God's earth with injustice and corruption, with sin and transgression, and ultimately end up meriting the punishment of Hell.
The above argument about the Hereafter is drawn from human experience itself. Although in the present verse the argument is found only in an implicit form, it is spelt out at several other places in the Qur'an. The argument essentially is that unless man's character rests on the consciousness and conviction that he will have to render an account for all his deeds to God, both man's individual and collective behaviour will fail to have sound basis and direction. It would seem, therefore, to be worth asking: why is this so? Why is it that once this consciousness and conviction are altogether ended or greatly enfeebled, the human character turns to iniquity and corruption? Had affirmation of the Hereafter not been in conformity with reality, and conversely, had its denial not been opposed to it, then the evil consequences flowing from the denial of the Hereafter would not have been found with such unfailing regularity. If adherence to a proposition invariably leads to good results, and failure to adhere to it invariably leads to evil consequences, then this definitely proves the proposition to be true.
In an attempt to refute the above argument it is sometimes contended that even atheists who reject the Hereafter and follow a materialistic approach to life often lead lives that are on the whole good and decent, that they hold themselves free from corruption and injustice. Not only that but also that their actual conduct is characterized by righteousness and benevolence. However, only a little reflection will make apparent the fallacy underlying this argument. For if one were to examine any atheistic or materialistic philosophy or ideology one will not find in them any basis for righteous behaviour which draws such lavish praise from so-called 'righteous' atheists. Nor can it be established by logical reasoning that an atheistic philosophy of life provides any incentive to embrace such virtues as truthfulness, trustworthiness, honesty, faithfulness to one's commitment, benevolence, generosity, preferring the interests of others to one's own, self-restraint, chastity, recognition of the rights of others, and fulfilment of one's obligations. The fact is that once God and the Hereafter are relegated to oblivion, the only practicable course left for man is to anchor his morality on utilitarianism. All other philosophical ideas which are expounded are merely theoretical embellishments and have no relevance for man's practical life.
As for utilitarian morality - no matter how hard we might try to broaden its scope - it does not go beyond teaching man that he ought to do that which will yield to him or to his society some worldly benefit. Now since utility is the criterion of all acts, such a philosophy tends to make man cynical, with the result that in order to derive benefits, he will not differentiate between truth and lie; between trustworthiness and treachery; between honesty and dishonesty; between loyalty and perfidy; between observing justice and committing wrong. In short, a person under the spell of utilitarian ideas will be ready to do a thing or its opposite, depending on what serves his interests best. The conduct of the British is illustrative of this stance. It is sometimes contended that though the British have a materialistic outlook on life and generally do not believe in the Hereafter, they are more truthful, fairer, and more straightforward and faithful to their commitment.
The fact, however, is that the tenuous character of moral values under a utilitarian moral philosophy is amply illustrated by the character of the British.
For their actual conduct clearly shows that they do not consider moral values to have any intrinsic worth. This is evident from the fact that even those values which are held by the British to be good in their individual lives are brazenly flouted when they act as a nation. Had the qualities of truthfulness, justice, honesty and faithfulness to one's committed word been regarded as intrinsic virtues, it would have been altogether out of the question for the elected rulers of Britain to cynically violate all moral principles in governmental and international affairs and yet continue to retain the confidence of the British people. Does such a behaviour of a people who do not take the Hereafter seriously prove that they do not believe in absolute moral values? Does it also not prove that, guided by concern for material interests, such people are capable of following mutually opposed views simultaneously? (The same arguemnt can be made against the United States and many other governments and societies of today.)
Nevertheless, if we do find some people who, in spite of their not believing in God and the Hereafter, consistently adhere to some moral virtues and abstain from evil, there should be no mistaking that their righteous conduct and piety represents the continuing influence which religious ideas and practices have over them - even if unconsciously - rather than their subscription to a materialistic philosophy of life. If they possess any portion of the wealth of morality, there can be no doubt that it was stolen from the treasure-house of religion. It is ironical that such persons are now using the same wealth derived from religious sources, to promote an irreligious way of life. We consider this an act of theft because irreligiousness and materialism are altogether bereft of morality. (slightly edited version of text taken from Tafheemul Quran)
Allah Subhanuhu wa-T'ala says in the Holy Quran:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّالِحَاتِ يَهْدِيهِمْ رَبُّهُمْ بِإِيمَانِهِمْ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهِمُ الأَنْهَارُ فِي جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ
دَعْوَاهُمْ فِيهَا سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ وَتَحِيَّتُهُمْ فِيهَا سَلاَمٌ وَآخِرُ دَعْوَاهُمْ أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
Surely those who believe (in the truths revealed in the Book) and do righteous deeds their Lord will guide them aright because of their faith. Rivers shall flow beneath them in the Gardens of Bliss. Their cry in it will be: 'Glory be to You, Our Lord!', and their greeting: 'Peace!'; and their cry will always end with: 'All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the universe. (10:9-10)
The sequence of ideas presented here is quite significant because answers have been systematically provided to a number of highly relevant basic questions. Let us look at these answers in their sequence. Why will the righteous enter Paradise? The answer is: because they have followed the straight way in their worldly life. That is, in all matters and in every walk of life, in all affairs relating to the personal or collective life they have been righteous and have abstained from false ways.
This gives rise to another question: how were the righteous able to obtain a criterion that would enable them to distinguish, at every turn and crossroad of life, between right and wrong, between good and evil, between fair and unfair? And how did they come to have the strength to adhere to what is right and avoid what is wrong? All this, of course, came from their Lord Who bestowed upon them both the guidance which they needed to know the right way and the succour required to follow it. In answer to why their Lord bestowed upon them this guidance and succour, we are reminded that all this was in consideration for their faith.
It is also made clear that this reward is not in lieu of merely a verbal profession to faith, a profession that is no more than a formal acceptance of certain propositions. Rather, the reward is in consideration for a faith that became the moving spirit of a believer's character and personality, the force that led him lo righteous deeds and conduct. We can observe in our own physical lives that a person's survival, state of health, level of energy, and joy of living all depend upon sustenance from the right kind of food. This food, once digested, provides blood to the veins and arteries, provides energy to the whole body and enables the different limbs to function properly.
The same holds true of man's success in the moral domain. It is sound beliefs which ensure that he will have the correct outlook, sound orientation and right behaviour that will ultimately lead to his success. Such results, however, do not ensue from that kind of believing which either consists of a mere profession to faith, or is confined to some obscure corner of man's head or heart. The wholesome results mentioned above can only be produced by a faith which deeply permeates man's entire being, shaping his mental outlook, even becoming his instinct; a faith which is fully reflected in his character, conduct and outlook on life. We have just noted the importance of food. We know that the person who, in spite of eating remains like one who has not partaken of any food, would not be able to enjoy the healthy results that are the lot of the person who has fully assimilated what he ate. How can it be conceived that it would be different in the moral domain of human life? How can it be that he who remains, even after believing, like the one who does not believe, will derive the benefit and receive the reward meant for those whose believing leads to righteous living?
"...their cry will always end with: 'All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the universe."
This should remove any misconceptions about Paradise which seem to have been formed by some people of frail understanding. Subtly, the verse suggests that when people are admitted to Paradise, they will not instantly pounce upon the objects of their desire as the starved and hungry are wont to do when they observe food. Nor will they frantically go about giving vent to their lusts, impatiently demanding their cherished objects of enjoyment - beautiful women, wine, dissolute singing and music.
The fact is that the men of faith and righteousness who are admitted to Paradise will be those who, during their life in the world, have embellished their lives with sublime ideas and noble deeds, who have refined their emotions, who have oriented their desires in the right direction, and who have purified their conduct and character. Thus, the nobility which they have developed in their personalities will shine in even greater splendour when they set their feet in the pure and clean environment of Paradise. Those same traits which characterized their behaviour in the world will appear with even greater lustre.
The favourite occupation of such people in Paradise will be the same as during their life on the earth - to celebrate the praise of God. Likewise, their relationships in Paradise will be imbued with feelings of mutual harmony and concern for each other's well-being as had been the case in this world.
The Prophet (pbuh) asked people to be just and kind. As the supreme judge and arbiter, as the leader of men, as generalissimo [head commander and chief] of a rising power, as a reformer and apostle, he had always to deal with men and their affairs. He had often to deal with mutually inimical and warring tribes when showing justice to one carried the danger of antagonizing the other, and yet he never deviated from the path of justice. In administering justice, he made no distinction between believers and nonbelievers, friends and foes, high and low. From numerous instances reported in the traditions, a few are given below.
Sakhar, a chief of a tribe, had helped Muhammad (pbuh) greatly in the siege of Taif, for which he was naturally obliged to him. Soon after, two charges were brought against Sakhar: one by Mughira of illegal confinement of his (Mughira's) aunt and the other by Banu Salim of forcible occupation of his spring by Sakhar. In both cases, he decided against Sakhar and made him undo the wrong. [Abu Dawud]
Abdullah Bin Sahal, a companion, was deputized to collect rent from Jews of Khaibar. His cousin Mahisa accompanied him but, on reaching Khaibar, they had separated. Abdullah was waylaid and done to death. Mahisa reported this tragedy to the Prophet (pbuh) but as there were no eye-witnesses to identify the guilty, he did not say anything to the Jews and paid the blood-money out of the state revenues. [Sahih Bukhari]
A woman of the Makhzoom family with good connections was found guilty of theft. For the prestige of the Quraish, some prominent people including Asmaa Bin Zaid interceded to save her from punishment. The Prophet (pbuh) refused to condone the crime and expressed displeasure saying,
"Many a community ruined itself in the past as they only punished the poor and ignored the offences of the exalted. By Allah, if Muhammad's (My) daughter Fatima would have committed theft, her hand would have been severed."[Sahih Bukhari]
The Jews, in spite of their hostility to the Prophet (pbuh), were so impressed by his impartiality and sense of justice that they used to bring their cases to him, and he decided them according to Jewish law. [Abu Dawud]
Once, while he was distributing the spoils of war, people flocked around him and one man almost fell upon him. He pushed the men with a stick causing a slight abrasion. He was so sorry about this that he told the man that he could have his revenge, but the man said, "O messenger of Allah, I forgive you." [Abu Dawud]
In his fatal illness, the Prophet (pbuh) proclaimed in a concourse assembled at his house that if he owed anything to anyone the person concerned could claim it; if he had ever hurt anyone's person, honour or property, he could have his price while he was yet in this world. A hush fell on the crowd. One man came forward to claim a few dirhams which were paid at once. [Ibn Hisham]
by Athar Husain
An excerpt from the book entitled "The Message of Mohammad," by Athar Husain.
Ignorant media, ignorant or hate-mongering "scholars" are busy in coining terms and propaganda of falsehood. Islam and its teachings are defined by the God, Almighty and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w.) and no one else!
A widely used term is "Islamic terrorists". Sorry, but there are NO Islamic terrorists. It is true that some with Muslim names have committed acts of murder and terror, but then there are governments, groups and individuals all over the world, some Muslim and some non-Muslims, engaged in such evil activities. When you use the word "Islamic", you associate it with the Islamic teachings. Islam does not teach evil. Islam asks for Faith, submission and obedience to God and God alone. Take it or leave it. Choice is yours. False definitions of Islam and propaganda of falsehood can only come from disciples of terror. Don't be one.
Now, let us read the following report:
Covering 150 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, Amnesty International Report 2006 is a commentary on the state of the world’s human rights. It covers a range of issues and the responsibilities of governments - big and small - armed groups and business. But the overarching message that comes through is that:
Powerful governments are playing a dangerous game with human rights.
Those with power and influence – the US, European Union members, China and Russia – have been either complicit or compromised by human rights violations in 2005 at home and abroad.
Governments continued to sacrifice principles in the name of “the war on terror”.
A year ago, almost to the day, here in this room, on behalf of Amnesty International (AI), I called for Guantánamo prison camp to be closed. What was then AI’s lone voice has now become a large and influential chorus, including opinion leaders in the US, religious figures, key governments and UN entities, including the UN Committee against Torture. The US Administration reacted strongly to our call, but in a recent interview on German TV, even President Bush said that he “would very much like to close Guantánamo and put the prisoners on trial”. We in AI strongly urge him to do that or to release them immediately.
A year is a long time in politics – but it is an even longer time if you happen to be a prisoner without charge, trial, or prospect of release in Guantánamo. Some 460 people of around 40 different nationalities remain in Guantánamo. Their desperation is evident in the large numbers of suicide attempts, in one case more than 12 times, and hunger strikes. Last Friday’s incident of the attack on prison guards was yet another sign of the desperate situation. Guantánamo is a pressure cooker waiting to explode.
Guantánamo is only the tip of the iceberg of a large network of detention centres in Iraq, Afghanistan and secret locations around the world where the US and its allies are holding thousands of prisoners without charge or trial. Last week the UN Committee against Torture asked the US delegation whether the US maintains secret detention centres, the delegate responded: “No comment”.
Duplicity and double speak have become the hallmark of the war on terror.
Senior US officials – including Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and President George Bush – gave assurances that the US does not practice torture. Yet, our research over the past year has shown evidence of widespread torture and ill treatment in the US-controlled detention centres. Our research also shows that the CIA has forcibly transferred prisoners to countries where they have been tortured. The IT industry outsources software development to India – the US outsources torture to countries like Morocco, Egypt, Jordan and Syria.
A new aspect of the “war on terror” in 2005 was the concrete evidence that European governments are partners in crime of the US in rendering or transferring prisoners forcibly to countries where they have been tortured. At least seven European countries have been implicated in the rendition of fourteen individuals – but so far only one country (Italy) has opened criminal prosecution against the CIA.
Public outrage has forced accountability, with investigations by the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and some national institutions, into renditions and US-run secret prisons.
Public institutions refused to undermine the prohibition on torture. The UK House of Lords rejected the argument of the government that it is lawful to introduce evidence in court proceedings that has been extracted as a result of torture by foreign agents abroad.
The US Senate adopted a law prohibiting the torture and ill treatment of prisoners in US custody anywhere in the world.
Sadly, instead of accepting and welcoming the efforts of courts and legislatures to reinstate respect for human rights, some governments found new ways to deny or dodge their international obligations
Bending to Republican pressure President Bush signed the bill prohibiting torture, but attached a statement effectively reserving the right of the executive to bypass the provision on national security grounds.
The UK professed to uphold the prohibition against torture but then, negotiated diplomatic assurances from countries that have a record of torture so that it could freely return people, including persons who had been tortured there previously. Lebanon, Jordan, Libya, Egypt, Algeria are all countries with which the UK has obtained or is in the process of obtaining such guarantees.
The position in international law is clear. Nothing can justify torture and ill treatment. Just as we must condemn terrorist attacks on civilians in the strongest possible terms, we must resist claims by governments that terror can be fought with torture. Such claims are misleading, dangerous and simply wrong – you cannot extinguish a fire with petrol.
When the US government ignores the absolute prohibition on torture and fails to investigate abuses by its soldiers, when the European governments bury their collective heads in the sand and refuse to question their own record on renditions, racism or refugees, they damage their ability to champion human rights elsewhere in the world.
Not every human rights abuse can be attributed to the war on terror but there is no doubt that it has given a new lease of life to old fashioned repression in some parts of the world.
In 2005 it provided an effective smoke screen for governments in the Middle East and North Africa to carry on with arbitrary detention, torture, unfair trial, suppression of political dissent, ethnic persecution, for instance of Kurds and religious minorities. These governments today do with greater confidence what they did in the past with fear of criticism. The war on terror has seen the rehabilitation of Libya, formerly considered a terrorist state, with the US re-establishing diplomatic ties, and the UK negotiating diplomatic assurances. On Sunday a Swiss Amnesty member in Tunisia was expelled, and yesterday a Tunisian member was arrested and then released – just two cases among many of harassment of human rights defenders.
But the real cost of the war on terror has not only been in the curtailment of civil liberties but in the lives and livelihoods of the poor.
2005 saw the biggest ever mobilization of civil society and public support to eradicate poverty. But in response, the UN Summit showed governments miserably failing to match promise to performance on the Millennium Development Goals. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and riots in France, 2005 was also a year which showed the glaring disparity, discrimination and alienation in the heart of richest countries of the world.
Women’s human rights have been another hidden casualty of the war on terror. March 2005 marked the 10th anniversary of the Beijing Platform of Action for Women – but rather than building on the progress, it was spent resisting the backlash from conservative forces who have gained new lease of life in the current security environment. War on terror gets attention – the war on women goes unnoticed, with hundreds of women, for instance, in Mexico and Guatemala being killed with impunity; or 25% of women globally facing sexual abuse at the hands of their partner.
At a time of unprecedented globalization, with barriers to goods and capital being dismantled, 2005 saw the building of borders against refugees and migrants. Ignoring the economic exploitation of illegal migrants, governments focussed instead on building borders – whether against Burmese workers in Thailand, or African migrants in the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, and now in the US.
The security agenda of the powerful and privileged hijacked the energy and attention of the world from serious human rights crises.
Social development was not the only casualty. The forgotten conflicts in Africa, Asia and the Middle East took their toll. Israel and the Occupied Territories also slipped off the international agenda in 2005, deepening the distress and despair of Palestinians and the fear of Israelis.
Powerful governments squandered their resources and spend their capacity in pursuit of military and security strategies that reaped a bloody harvest.
The score card of continued conflict and mounting human rights abuses are there for all to see in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The failure to investigate or prosecute abuses committed by their own soldiers or private security contractors undermined the claims by the Multi National Forces (MNF) that they were restoring the rule of law in the country. The current strategies of the Iraqi government and the MNF are clearly not working. When the powerful are too arrogant to review and reassess their strategies the heaviest price is paid by the poor and the powerless: in this case ordinary Iraqi women, men and children.
Governments, collectively and individually, paralysed international institutions and squandered resources and capacity in misguided military and security strategies.
Darfur was the saddest case in point in 2005. Two million people have been displaced, over 200,000 have died, thousands have been raped and the atrocities continue unabated. Intermittent attention and feeble action by the United Nations and the African Union fell pathetically short of what was needed in Darfur. China and Russia paralysed the UN Security Council to protect their oil interests and arms trade with Khartoum. The US was keen but its capacity was sapped by Iraq, and its moral authority tarnished by the war on terror.
In a year in which the UN spent much of its time discussing reform and membership of the UN Security Council, it failed to give attention to the performance of two key members – China and Russia – who have consistently allowed their narrow political and economic interests to prevail over human rights and responsibilities domestically and internationally.
Russia’s behaviour sent a strong message on human rights to its close neighbours. Its hostility to its own human rights defenders did not go unnoticed by other states with similar desires to clamp down on civil society. Russia supported Uzbekistan when it refused to allow an independent investigation into the Andizhan killings. Russia’s own approach to Chechnya was based on impunity for the abuses committed by its own security forces.
China’s rise as a global economic power places upon it greater responsibility in international relations. But China continued to show little concern for human rights at home or abroad, entering into economic partnerships with some of the most repressive regimes around the world, and continuing to restrict human rights at home.
2005 has been a year of contradictions – with signs of hope wrestling against failed promises and failures of leadership.
The overall number of conflicts worldwide has been decreasing, thanks to international conflict management, prevention and peace-building initiatives, giving hope to millions of people in countries like Angola, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In Nepal, resistance by human rights defenders, journalists and political leaders, on the one hand, and firm pressure from allies abroad on the other, forced the King to hand power back to Parliament.
Despite the shortcomings of national judicial systems, the fight against impunity continues to gain new strength with steps being taken to bring Augusto Pinochet, Alberto Fujimori and Charles Taylor to justice. The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first indictments against leaders of armed groups in northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The much discredited UN human rights machinery was overhauled and a new Human Rights Council has been established.
And in 2005 we saw an extraordinary display of solidarity and resistance across borders of human rights activists and ordinary people. From indigenous groups rallying in Latin America, to women asserting their rights in Asia, to mass demonstrations of migrants in US cities, the human rights idea – and the world-wide movement of people that drives it forward – is more powerful and stronger than ever.
More and more, governments are being called to account: before legislatures, in courts and other public forums. Lines, however fragile, are being drawn. Voices are being raised. This offers hope for a more principled approach to human rights and security in the future. In the long-term, this growth of civil society and mass action bodes well for the protection of human rights. There is real potential here for change.
As we look forward to 2006 it is clear that there are both opportunities and risks – through our campaigns we are putting four challenges.
First, Guantánamo must close. President Bush should keep his word. His credibility will be held hostage until he ends this shameful symbol of US abuse of power. The US and its allies must disclose the names and locations of all others held in secret detention – the detainees should be prosecuted or released.
Second, small arms are the real weapons of mass destruction. They fuel conflict, poverty and human rights abuses worldwide. The UN Review Conference this June is an opportunity for governments to agree to an Arms Trade Treaty. We call on all governments to support it.
Third, the new UN Human Rights Council machinery will meet for the first time next month. It must not be tainted with old power games. It must insist on equal standards by all governments, whether in Darfur or Guantánamo, Chechnya or China.
Finally, the killings, rape and displacement in Darfur must stop. The Darfour Peace Agreement contains strong human rights provisions that offer a way ahead, if properly implemented. But for it to work, the UN Security Council must urgently deploy UN peacekeepers, and must not allow itself to be manipulated by the government of Sudan. Pending their deployment, the African Union monitors must be supported by the international community to carry out their work. There is a particular responsibility on the Arab states to encourage Sudan to concede to the UN operation. Arab leaders do a disservice to themselves and their people when they use solidarity as a shield to avoid their human rights responsibilities.
More than ever the world needs countries with power and influence to behave with responsibility and respect for human rights. Governments must stop playing games with human rights.
For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566
Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW. web: http://www.amnesty.org
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