How would we translate the word “Haqooqulibad” in English? It is a very important term rather a concept in Islam. Try it. Although it is difficult to accurately translate a concept, the closest in English would be “Human rights”. This simple translation is nearly unknown and unappreciated by over a billion Muslims alive. It conveys a simple but very interesting message that the world had to go through more than a millennia and different phases of history like renaissance, reformation and enlightenment etc to come to an enlightenment which our Prophet (PBUS) gifted us 1500 years ago. Despite our strong relationship with the concept it is ironic that in today’s world it is the non-Muslim west that is prompting General Musharraf, presiding a Muslim country to return the basic rights of 160 million Muslims he seized on November 3rd with the proclamation of emergency or the new kind of martial law. What a paradox; the western nations are pleading and fighting for the human rights of the Muslims threatened at the hands of fellow Muslims.
This is not the first time that the basic human rights of Pakistanis have been confiscated by its rulers. Our rulers never trusted the millions of Pakistanis with choices and did not relinquish sufficient rights to the people the rest of the world takes as granted. Even out of the few rights different governments gave to the people, most of them were seized periodically on different grounds. Special circumstances were routinely quoted as the reason for revoking the rights and threats to the nation were also mentioned. Basic human rights are treated as charity, which is doled out as a favor, and not right. All the military rulers played their part in this unhealthy exercise starting with Ayub and still continuing with Musharraf, but unfortunately the elected civilian governments didn’t fare much better either. Bhutto ruled with emergency powers for years and BB and Nawaz are also accused of different human rights abuses during their tenures as PMs..
Pakistan is not an exception as the state of human rights in all Muslim countries is far from desirable. There is hardly a democratic Muslim country in the modern world. A billion Muslims are denied the right to elect their governments and free speech is severely curtailed in most of these countries. After denial of these two basic rights a whole list of other human rights are then seized which follows as a natural consequence of autocratic regimes. Unfortunately the sorry state of affairs is prevalent across the Muslim world with very few and inconsequential variations of degree. Not even a singly Muslim country out of 4 dozen is considered democratic or observant of basic human rights.
“Neel key sahil sey ley key tabakhak i Kashgar” human rights are routinely trampled making lives of crores miserable and that also at the hands of fellow countrymen and Muslims.
We have again been denied our basic rights and freedoms in the form of the new PCO. Partial return of some of them is promised soon as a favor. Print and electronic media has been silenced and right to freedom and judicial trial for many has been seized. All these draconian steps have been taken on the pretext of national interests suggesting that human rights are the gravest danger to a nation. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Certain liberties might make life a bit difficult for some rulers by making them answerable, but those certainly don’t harm or risk the state. Most of our rulers lose the distinction of their persona and the state and they start considering any threats to their rule of dubious legitimacy as threat to the nation and start crushing them ruthlessly. They routinely protect their personal interests on the pretext of protecting national interests making the ordinary people and the nation suffer.
Adherence to laws and the confirmed dispensation of rights makes nations strong and not weak. It can be an asset not a liability. It imparts strength to a nation not weakness. It might be a major cause out of many that have made the Muslim world very weak and vulnerable. This weakness is so resilient that the fabulous bravado and “jazba” of all kinds seem to be earning them nothing but personal shahadat. We are still weak and humiliated as a routine across the globe.
Human rights or Haqooqulibad is extremely important in Islam. Allah SW who is Omnipotent and without whose instructions not even a leaf can move, expresses his inability to forgive someone who tramples others rights while he can forgive any other sin. This is certainly a voluntary stance of the Omnipotent basically to stress the importance of Haqooqulibad in Islam. This example confirms that strict adherence to the principals of Haqooqulibad is certainly one of the most important lessons of Islam. Knowledge acquired but not used is not only a waste but also a kind of slur. We should observe human rights not because west forces us but because we as Muslims are obliged to do it.
Still we are not adhering to them across the Muslim world and the west routinely identifies this weakness of ours and encourages us to observe human rights ridiculing us in the process. This negative practice of snatching the basic rights of the people has seriously hurt the image of Islam associating it with oppression and subjugation by the enemies of Islam looking for opportunities to slander and malign it. It has hurt the image of Muslims and Islam more than any kind of stupid attempts of blasphemy and needs similar if not more attention.
It might be the need of time for Muslim scholars of all sects to get together and clearly come out with the set of rights promised to Muslims. Maybe a kind of Islamic bill of rights. Once identified clearly, defending those would become a duty of all Muslims discouraging the future tyrants and their foreign backers. This would discourage the elements that try to divorce faith from people’s real life problems restricting it to a set of rituals. We believe that our religion has answers to all our problems and we must practice what we claim to believe.
This serious situation calls for a serious reevaluation of our attitudes and priorities. We must control our destiny and stop looking for help from the west. Destiny is not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. We should stop considering human rights as some kind of political issue and start considering it as religious issue that it is. No one should have the power to take away the human rights my Good Lord Allah SW has graced on me. And in case any tyrant tries to snatch the basic human rights he must be resisted by all segments of society along with the religious parties, which should never ever side with anyone denying people their rights. Those who cannot protect their independence ultimately get enslaved. The people must prevail over forces of suppression and protect the human rights of the citizens against all odds and at any cost. No one should be allowed to revoke the rights of millions of Muslims at his whims again. We are blessed with the only religion that guarantees rights to even stray dogs and promised human rights 1500 years ago. We must guard this proud heritage of ours very jealously and religiously, even from our own homegrown tyrants. We owe it to our religion, our nation, our future generations and ourselves.