The French people pride themselves on the Principles of Liberty. Equality and Fraternity which the French Revolution called for towards the end of the eighteenth century, alleging that such principles were not there before the French Revolution, through which such great principles were Introduced for the good, prosperity and welfare of Humanity. Simultaneously, the nations of the western world consider “The Declaration of Human Rights” one of the greatest achievements in the history of man. Such a Declaration is the document that the United Nations prepared after The Second World War. It is erroneously thought that such an achievement was not preceded by any declaration caring for Human Rights. Neither the French Revolution nor the United Nations Document has provided Humanity with anything that Islam had not already prescribed. It was more than fourteen centuries ago – when the world was still enveloped by the dark clouds of ignorance – that The Holy Quran was revealed, providing Mankind with all the sublime Islamic principles that should govern people’s lives, thoughts feelings, attitudes, relationships, duties and rights.
The Verses of The Holy Quran and the Hadiths Allah’s Seal Prophet and Messenger ( Sayings ) of Muhammad ( peace be upon him ) explain the rights of man clearly and fully. According to Islam, all people are equal regardless of nationality, race or colour. The only quality that distinguishes a Muslim and draws him closer to Allah ( Glory be to Him ) is his Piety. No one can claim to be superior to another on grounds of birth, rank or wealth. It is only through one’s genuine, right, rightful, good and useful deeds that one is elevated above others. As for the principles of Equality and Fraternity, they are daily practised in our Islamic life when we all perform our Congregational Prayers in mosques. Besides, when we go on Pilgrimage and circumambulate around the Blessed Ka’ba and stand at Arafat, we all feel these sublime principles and forget our worldly vanity. As for the principle of Liberty, it is well shown in Islam; Since Islam declares that all people are born free and that they should not submit to any power except to their Creator, Almighty Allah (Glory be to Him). It was therefore natural for Islam with all these sublime teachings – fourteen centuries ago – to abolish slavery.
Besides, the Payment of Zakat ( Poor Dues ) which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam- is another aspect of the Human Rights stated by Islam. The financial and material aids regularly given by the rich to the poor are not considered as acts of charity; since they constitute a definite right for the poor. Moreover, justice is also stressed by Islam. We have all heard about the man who begged Allah’s Seal Prophet and Messenger Muhammad ( peace be upon him ) to forgive someone who had committed the crime of theft and we have all heard about the reply of Allah’s Seal Prophet and Messenger ” By Allah, if Fatima the daughter of Muhammad stole, I should cut off her hand.” Furthermore, it was before Islam that women were deprived of their rights. Then Islam came and gave them the rights of ownership and inheritance added to the right to have a say In the choice of a husband. Finally, it is needless to confirm that Islam also gave man his rights when it condemned tyranny, unfairness and racial discrimination, No Arab has superiority over a non – Arab, nor a white person has superiority over a black person except through Piety.