Fundamental Rights in Islam

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In the West, though the issue of fundamental or (also called) human rights was raised by the thinkers of the post-Renaissance period, it is only since the last two hundred years or so that it became an issue of prominence and fundamental significance. First of all Magna Carta (Charter of Liberty) was promulgated on June 15, 1215. In 1225 King Andrew II of Hungary issued the Golden Bill in the words of Magna Carta. In 1283 King Peter III of Aragon bestowed upon his subjects the Law of Privileges. In 1355 British Parliament re-affirmed the declaration of Magna Carta and introduced the words due process of law. It stated, No man of what state or condition so ever he be, shall be put out of his lands or tenements nor taken nor imprisoned nor put to death, without he be brought in to answer by due process of law. In 1689 the British Parliament passed the Bill of Rights which Lord Acton described as the greatest thing done by the English nation. In 1690 John Locke propagated theory of social contract attempting to reconcile sovereignty and democracy. There were two great revolutions at the end of 18th century, in America and in France inspired by philosophers like Samuel Adams, Jefferson, Rousseau and Kant who emphasized on the Law of Nature and the natural rights of man. Similarly in Virginia in 1776, Declaration of Rights was promulgated which guaranteed freedom of press and religion, rights to jury trial and other safeguards of a criminal trial. It made the military authorities to civil power and provided for free elections. In 1776 there was also the declaration of American independence drafted by John Locke. The preamble read: All men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In 1789 the American Congress passed the Bill of Rights in the shape of ten amendments of the Constitution while in France the French Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. It recited: Men are born free and equal in rights, aim of every political association is the preservation of the practical and imperceptible right of man. The rights are liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression.

In the 18th and 19th centuries the basic human rights were included in the constitutions of various nations, Sweden, Spain, Norway, Belgium, Sardinia, Denmark and Switzerland, Russia, Turkey, China, etc. The fourth Amendment of the American constitution in 1868 stipulated: No state shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction, the equal protection of law. In 1941 President Roosevelt stressed on four freedoms, Freedom of speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear. The same year Winston Churchill wanted to ensure that the war ended, with the enthronement of human rights. France in the pre-amble of its Constitution of 1946 reaffirmed: Every human being without distinction of race, religion or belief possesses inalienable and sacred rights. The 1946 Constitution of Japan provided: The people shall not be prevented from enjoying any of the fundamental rights.

During the last decades the emphasis on fundamental rights reached its climax in the West. With the formation of the UNO after the Second World War and the subsequent drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a concrete model came into existence that can serve as a criterion and basis of our judgment and analysis of the ideals voiced in this regard during the last two hundred years and especially in the last few decades.

In the light of the above it may be concluded that the West had no concept of human rights before the seventeenth century; and it was not until the end of the eighteenth century that the concept took on practical meaning in the constitutions of America and France. The claim that the world first derived the concept of basic human rights from the Magna Carta of Britain is not correct because the Magna Carta contained only the principles of trial by jury, Habeas

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