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Islam and Human Rights

Shirin Ebadi. (MKMK/Flickr)

Shirin Ebadi. (MKMK/Flickr)

Let us not forget that as the hemophilia disease is passed on through the mother, a child is infected through the mother, the patriarchal culture can also be transferred through the mother to her sons, because every man is after all raised by his mother. What people feel challenged by in Islamic countries and actually object to is this patriarchal culture, not Islam as a religion. The foundation of Islam is respect for the dignity of mankind.

In reality, the main problem does not lie within Islam. The key point is that for various reasons, Islamic governments do not wish to offer or accept an interpretation of Islam that would be compatible with human rights and individual, social and democratic freedoms—freedoms in democracy. Thus, the culture that prevails in Islamic countries, including the political culture, demands a transformation, a metamorphosis. So that with open eyes, it can revisit social realities and offer laws based on the needs of the time that would be compatible with both the spirit of Islam and also fulfill the needs of people in that specific time period, offer answers for them.

The most important step that can be taken for a cultural transformation is education about Islamic principles in a correct manner for Muslims. True Islam has to be taught to Muslims. And they have to learn that one can be a Muslim and live better, that one can remain a Muslim and respect human rights and democracy and observe them. As a result of this education which must prevail among Muslims, religious governments will be forced to respect the rights of their people and to refrain from imposing individual thoughts in the name of religion.

Today we see that some Islamic governments or states have no tolerance for any degree of opposition to their points of view or about their performance. They call it an opposition to Islam and find a reason to suppress all forms of opposition. Such governments maintain that they are representatives of God on earth. And that their beliefs-- they actually seek to introduce their way of thinking as religion and as Islam. They guarantee that any level of opposition is quelled and suppressed completely, and that any criticism of government is equivalent to criticism of Islam.

This is a good justification, a good excuse rather, that they use to force freedom-seekers to remain silent and also to put fear in the hearts of Muslims. They are accused of losing their faith in their religion. People who oppose and object to the performances of their governments suddenly find themselves accused of various things. They are lost in this web of accusation, and in fear, they withdraw. This is how tyrannical regimes hide behind the sphere of Islam and continue the oppression of their people.

Islamic intellectuals must resort to every means available to them to touch the hearts of the Islamic masses, to represent true Islam and then seek to examine the performance of the government on the basis of true Islam. They must engage in political criticism and constructive criticism of the government so that they may have a wider audience. Political criticism of a government that claims it is representing Islam will be insufficient if it is not based on a true understanding of Islamic principles. It will fail to attract the Islamic masses. Muslims should be made aware that the key to heaven does not lie in the hands of Islamic governments. And every act of the government, even in the name of Islam, is not necessarily Islamic. If this happens we will bear witness to genuine Islamic movements, not terrorism.

This is a solution for the 1 billion Muslims on this planet, or one sixth of the people of this planet, people who seek to safeguard their religion but also feel that they deserve to live under better conditions. On the other hand, those who seek to resort to war as a means to attain their group interests will prioritize and underline certain weaknesses that have nothing to do with the religion of Islam but rather are misinterpretations of Islam, and as such they seek to theorize war.

They claim that Eastern civilization, particularly Islamic civilization, is essentially incompatible with Western civilization, and that this difference is inevitable. These groups seek to attribute the wrongful deeds and actions of a few individuals or a group of Muslims to Islam, so that they can prove more easily that Islamic civilization is incompatible with Western civilization.

Islam is not a religion of terror or violence. Rest assured that if someone is killed in the name of Islam, the name of Islam has been taken advantage of. Every wrongful act committed by an individual or a group cannot be recorded as that of an Islamic act—it should not be recorded under the name of Islam.

We, too, did not attribute the wrongful acts of certain individuals or groups in Bosnia-Herzegovina to Christianity, for Christ is the prophet of God and the messenger of peace. The defiance of numerous UN resolutions on the part of the Israeli government and the events that happen in the part of the world where Israel lies will not be attributed to Judaism for Moses was chosen by God and is a messenger of rights and justice. The wrongful deeds of human beings should be separated from the religion and civilization to which they belong.

Civilizations do not clash. More importantly, they have many commonalities. Let us talk about those commonalities, not their differences. Let us not justify war. No one will come up victorious from war. Thank you very much.