Islam and Human Rights: Why do we care if something is incompatible?

Assalaamu’alaykum!

While Islamic law may seem generally compatible with human rights, the truth is there are some points that are definitely incompatible. Woman rights, for instance, “different but equal” is still “discrimination” under the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

However, what I want to convey is that us Muslims do NOT need to worry too much about this. We do NOT need to be apologists who feel the need to succumb to human rights standards to justify why Islam is good.

Think about it. The laws of Allah has to follow human rights made by humans? Astaghfirullah, for me that is an insult!

Human rights is a norm emerging from consensus. On the international law level, human rights law instruments are in conventions (signed by states), customary law (practiced by states), and soft law (followed by states). The same goes in the grass root under national laws. It was a two-way construction: bottom-up and top-bottom.

This social consensus was the same consensus that once said that racism was okay. The same one that says “hey we need absolute freedom!” And then says “maybe not so absolute afterall”. Is this improvement? Well, maybe but not necessarily. And even if it is improvement, it is only better as compared to what came before and according to what glasses you use to see it.

To a couple dating in the park, rain is a nightmare. To a farmer, rain could be a blessing. One thing that we can understand is that whatever consideration that this human rights movement has would entirely be for the dunya.

Of course, someone who believes in Allah and the akhira would naturally have different priorities!

Is it better because it has gained support and involvement from more people in the world? History has shown that more and more nations are involved internationally and communicating freely, so more people are involved in shaping the consensus.

More involvement is indeed good, especially to collect knowledge on what is the need of the greater people. But firstly, if we learned anything about politics and law, nope, its still big powers shaping norms so far and enforcement instruments e.g. the international criminal court keeps on picking on African countries.

Secondly, even if one argues the advent of developing countries (and even putting the “illuminati/big powers controling them from behind” argument aside), and therefore we have a better quality of consensus, that is still not enough. No matter how many viginitillions of humans gather their opinion (assuming everyone are professors and Ph.Ds and are in consensus), Allah is The Alknowing!

How arrogant can humans be?

I’m not saying that consensus is not important. After all, we need to be wise in applying the law in accordance with the need of the people. I’m not saying either that human rights are not important.

First and foremost, I am disgusted by the assumption that “if you do not agree with CEDAW, ICCPR, etc, then you are against humans and their rights as human beings!”. This is a Eurochauvinist mindset that is plaguing the brains of so many scholars, sadly among many who are not Europeans. The reality is that there is no universal human rights, except some very general ideas like “gender equality”. But, what about the details as to how such general idea is interpreted? For example, does “equal” mean “the same”? According to CEDAW Article 16, probably yes. But the fact that a large number of states made reservations towards this article. This in itself is evidence that such a norm is not universal.

Second and most importantly. What I’m saying is that we should get our priorities straight. Do not insult Allah by putting His Words subject to the test of something made up by puny humans. You cannot and do not need to satisfy everyone. And of all you need to satisfy, Allah comes first!

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