Tag Archives: UDHR

The Cairo Declaration

There are many ways to differentiate between the two sides currently playing out the Clash of Civilisations which has been going on for 1400 years but which has taken on new and more insidious forms in recent times.

One very telling one is to compare the Western and Islamic attitudes to human rights, as represented by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights with its Islamic equivalent the 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam which was produced by the OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference since renamed the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation).

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I am sure that few Westerners would argue with the selection of rights presented in the UDHR. Nor would I. Most of them should apply in any society which calls itself civilised.

Nevertheless I have to admit to feeling more than a little queasy about them because I do not recognise specifically human rights as rights at all, but merely wishes disguised by impressive sounding words like “fundamental” and “inalienable”. It has always seemed to me that most religions consist of the suggestion that people could be a bit nicer to each other, wrapped up in mumbo jumbo to to hide its obviousness. So it is with the modern secular religion of human rights.

As far as I can see, all rights are conferred on humans by other humans whether formally as in legal rights or informally as in customary rights. The kind which philosophers claim are inherent in humans simply by dint of being human are, I’m sorry to say, only imaginary rights. That’s the trouble with letting philosophers get involved with things like this, they tend to confuse their concepts with actual things – it’s called reification.

But don’t take my word for it. Here is Jeremy Bentham letting rip about Human Rights’ not too distant ancestor Natural Rights:

Natural rights is simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible [in our modern terms “inalienable”] rights, rhetorical nonsense, — nonsense upon stilts.”

As an example, Article 26 states that everyone has the right to education. Well, no they don’t unless someone else – their parents, their tribe or the state – is prepared to provide it. Likewise with Article 24 which states that everyone has the right to paid holidays.

The idea that humans pop into the world with a list of entitlements which were only discovered 200 years ago after 200,000 years of going unnoticed is….well, see above.

There are problems with believing in things which do not exist. For one thing they can get out of hand. The number of stripes on a zebra are limited by reality. The number of stripes on a unicorn are limited only by the imagination of the believer in unicorns. Thus rapists can now avoid deportation because of their human right to a family life or because of their human right not to be subjected to human rights deficiencies in their homeland.

All that explains why I would feel more comfortable if it was called the Universal Declaration of Human Aspirations. That said, it was clearly written by people with their hearts in the right place. Three things we can say about it are that it is:

1) Universal in that it is intended to apply to every human being regardless of race, sex, religion etc.

2) Benign in its intentions.

3) Honest since (putting aside the well meaning self-deception about the nature of rights) there is no intent to deceive the reader with hidden or deceptive content.

Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam

Firstly, we notice that the title does not include the word “Universal”. That is quite accurate since in Islam different categories of humans qualify for markedly different rights. However it does use the phrase “in Islam” which implies that the conception of human rights presented here applies only within Islam, ie only to Muslims, with no implications for non-Muslims. We will see that this is not the case.

Secondly, Article 24, as shown in the picture above, is of crucial significance because it underlies the whole Declaration:

“All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah.”

We should bear this in mind when examining selected excerpts from the Declaration. The excerpts are in italics with my highlights in bold like this, followed by comments in standard text.

PREAMBLE

“Reaffirming the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah which Allah made as the best community….”

This comes from Koran 3:110:
“Ye are the best community sent forth unto mankind….”

The authors of the Declaration were too polite to include the matching verse regarding unbelievers (8:55):
“The vilest of moving creatures with Allah are those who disbelieve….”

“Believing that fundamental rights and freedoms according to Islam are an integral part of the Islamic religion and that no one shall have the right as a matter of principle to abolish them either in whole or in part or to violate or ignore them in as much as they are binding divine commands….”

This prepares us for the reality that the Cairo Declaration is more about proscriptions than rights. Note that this also applies to non-Muslims since the crucial section starts “no one shall have the right….” rather than “no Muslim shall have the right….”.

ARTICLE 1

“All human beings form one family whose members are united by their subordination to Allah….”

One thing the Cairo Declaration is not is universal. Rights for Muslims, non-Muslims, men and women are markedly different. The only universality in the Declaration is that which we find here in Article 1, that of universal subordination to Allah. That does not mean just Muslims but Hindus, Buddhists, Rastafarians, Atheists…and you too, Kafir. And it’s not optional.

“All men are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities,
without any discrimination on the basis of race, colour, language, belief, sex, religion, political affiliation, social status or other considerations.”

Did the authors of the Declaration think no one would notice these bare faced lies?

Islam was founded on discrimination based on religion….Muslim good, infidel bad. Being a non-Muslim in Medina around 630 AD was a very bad idea, as it still is in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt etc today.

The same goes for discrimination based on sex….unless “basic human dignity” is characterised by near total domination by father then husband, and lesser legal rights over property, marriage, divorce, children, her own body and testimony in court.

ARTICLE 5

“Men and women have the right to marriage, and no restrictions stemming from race, colour or nationality shall prevent them from exercising this right.”

That’s nice but where is “religion” in that list? Nowhere, because in Islamic law (effectively equivalent to Sharia) Muslim men are allowed to marry non-Muslim women whereas Muslim women are not allowed to marry non-Muslim men. Since the children in Muslim families have always automatically taken the religion of the father the Muslim population in any mixed society will always grow at the expense of the non-Muslim population.

ARTICLE 6

“Woman is equal to man in human dignity….”

See above.

ARTICLE 9

“The State shall ensure the availability of ways and means to acquire education and shall guarantee its diversity in the interest of the society so as to enable man to be acquainted with the religion of Islam.”

Sounds fine to start with doesn’t it, until it becomes clear what the point of the education is. And, of course, it is not just Muslims who are to become acquainted with Islam but “man”. Islam has always been a proselytising religion….by fair means (dawah) or foul (jihad).

ARTICLE 10

“Islam is the religion of true unspoiled nature. It is prohibited to exercise any form of pressure on man or to exploit his poverty or ignorance in order to force him to change his religion to another religion or to atheism.”

This of course means to change his Muslim religion to another religion or atheism.

ARTICLE 11

“Human beings are born free, and no one has the right to enslave, humiliate, oppress or exploit them, and there can be no subjugation but to Allah the Almighty.”

Human beings are of course not born free into Islam. They are immediately slaves of Allah. That’s how he refers to his followers throughout the Koran. The popular name “Abdul” means “slave of Allah”. All that is recognised in the phrase “no subjugation but to Allah the Almighty”. The problem comes when humans take on subjugating duties on his behalf. Just as an example, what is likely to happen when a Muslim decides to reject Allah?

Come to think of it, aren’t the authors of the Declaration accusing Mohammed of being a human rights abuser? He certainly enslaved the women and children of the Banu Qurayza tribe (after executing the men) and the protection racket he instituted, known as jizyah, was specifically intended to humiliate, oppress and exploit subjugated non-Muslims:

“Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.” (Koran 9:29)

ARTICLE 19

“All individuals are equal before the law, without distinction between the ruler and the ruled.”

But plenty of distinctions between Muslims and non-Muslims and between men and women.

“There shall be no crime or punishment except as provided for in the Shari’ah.”

This is interesting, and shows the predominance in the OIC of Saudi Arabia which really does adhere to Article 19. Only they and a few other countries do so. The majority of Muslim countries retained large parts of the European Colonists’ legal systems and yet they endorsed the Declaration. Can it be that all the 45 OIC signatory countries have a hankering for the old ways?

Article 22

“Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Shari’ah.”

In other words everyone is free to express any opinion as long as it does not criticise Allah, Mohammed or Islam. And remember the Sharia applies to you too.

“Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Shari’ah.”

But you see, jihad is good according to Sharia and freedom of conscience is wrong.

In any case, this is a toned down version of the Sharia based duty to “command the right and forbid the wrong” which goes a good deal further than mere advocating and warning. According to The Reliance of the Traveller, a handy guide to Islamic Law, sanctions against wrong-doing (which can be applied vigilante style) range from “explaining” to “force of arms”.

“Information is a vital necessity to society. It may not be exploited or misused in such a way as may violate sanctities and the dignity of Prophets, undermine moral and ethical Values or disintegrate, corrupt or harm society or weaken its faith.”

As with so many of the above articles this is not a right but a proscription. That’s Islam for you but, you know what, the same authoritarian mindset can be found in our own Western controllers of information today who shadow ban and close the accounts of offenders against prevailing left/liberal orthodoxies. Just change a few words….

“Information is a vital necessity to society. It may not be exploited or misused in such a way as may violate politically correct sanctities and the dignity of favoured identity groups, undermine globalist Values or disintegrate, corrupt or harm the Left’s cultural dominance or weaken the faith of the indoctrinated.”

ARTICLE 24

“All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Shari’ah.”

Here we come to the nub of the matter. Throughout the Declaration we routinely find curtailments of what Westerners would regard as rights, as though the UDHR has been laid on the Procrustean bed of Sharia and found to be too long, which means too generous, too fair, too free. What the Cairo Declaration presents is not Human Rights at all but Sharia Rights – miserable, hobbling facsimiles of the originals.

Bad enough for those primarily affected, Muslims, but non-Muslims should be aware that Sharia has a place for them too, and it’s not a good place. In Sharia there is only one true religion and it is entitled to dominate all the others, which in effect means Muslims dominating infidels. Saps in the West cannot imagine that this is the reality of Islam but if they dared to examine how non-Muslims are treated in Muslim majority countries around the world they would understand. As it is, with demographic changes in the West showing no sign of doing anything but accelerating, they will soon enough have the chance to experience it for themselves.

ARTICLE 25

“The Islamic Shari’ah is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification of any of the articles of this Declaration.”

Islamic Sharia is invoked throughout the Declaration so you would need to know what it consists of before you can understand what the Declaration means. No source for the Islamic Sharia is referenced in the Declaration so anyone accepting it is buying a pig in a poke.

It is extraordinarily difficult to get a straight answer to the question “Where can I find the Sharia?” from any imam. It appears to consist in a massive, scattered collection of fatwas and legal rulings. Fortunately there are a few manuals of Islamic Law which have been translated into English and give the enquiring infidel a key to the Declaration. They all have things to say about relations between Muslims and non-Muslims which give the lie to many claims made in the Declaration, for instance the statement in Article 1 that:

“All men are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities, without any discrimination on the basis of race, colour, language, belief, sex, religion…”

This is what the Hanafi manual of Islamic Law, the Hedaya (Book 9 p.140) has to say about discrimination against non-Muslims on the basis of religion:

“War must be carried on against the infidels, at all times, by some party of the Mussulmans. The sacred injunction concerning war is sufficiently observed when it is carried on by any one party or tribe of the Mussulmans; and it is then no longer of any force with respect to the rest. It is established as a divine ordinance, by the word of God, who has said, in the Koran ‘SLAY THE INFIDELS’; and also by a saying of the prophet, ‘war is permanently established until the day of judgment’.”

So how does the Cairo Declaration shape up on the 3 criteria above? It is:

1) Universal regarding the subordination of all humans to Allah but not so much for humans themselves.

2) Benign for Muslim males at least. Again not so much for anyone else.

3) Honest about the fact that that Islamic human rights equals Sharia but dishonest in kidding us about equal respect for non-Muslims and women, and dishonest in hiding from the reader what Sharia actually entails.

While Muslims routinely play Western human rights for all they are worth in that branch of jihad known as “lawfare”, the OIC have made it clear here what human rights we can expect when they are in a position to dictate them. We should be grateful to them at least for the warning.

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Examining Quilliam’s claims

Quilliam, the anti-extremist think tank, claims that Islam is compatible with religious freedom, equality, human rights and democracy. Many people, Muslim and non-Muslim, would be sceptical of that view, believing that the Islamic scriptures and tradition do not support it, or come anywhere near to supporting it.

Let us examine whether the Islamic texts, which Quilliam director Usama Hasan quotes, do actually support his claims or not.

This is an article written shortly after the Woolwich murder:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22640614

1. “The universal verses of the Koran (eg 49:13, “O humanity! We have created you from male and female and made you nations and tribes so that you may know each other: the most honoured of you with God are those most God-conscious: truly, God is Knowing, Wise”) promote full human equality and leave no place for slavery, misogyny, xenophobia or racism.”

Firstly, although the Koran does use the word “Ilah” meaning “deity” the word used in this verse is not “Ilah” but “Allah”. Why does Dr Hasan substitute the word “God”? Surely to give the impression of a religious universalism which is not there. “The most honoured of you with Allah are those most Allah-conscious” reads quite differently doesn’t it?

Secondly, the next verse says:

“The bedouins say, “We have believed.” Say, “You have not [yet] believed; but say [instead], ‘We have submitted,’ for faith has not yet entered your hearts. And if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not deprive you from your deeds of anything. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”

In other words the various tribes and nations are accepted, as long as they submit to the one true religion. Viewing verse 49:13 in its immediate textual context we find no “full human equality”, only equality between Muslims.

Lastly, the verse quoted is entirely silent on “slavery, misogyny, xenophobia and racism”. If Dr Hasan has other “universal verses” in mind he should bring them forward for inspection.

2. “However, other Koranic verses that may seem to accommodate slavery, discrimination against non-Muslims and women and even wife-beating (eg 4:34) were clearly specific for their time and always meant as temporary measures in a process of liberation.”

[Sura 4:34 Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.]

“Seem to accommodate”? “Clearly specific for their time”? “Temporary measures in a process of liberation”? No, Dr Hasan, none of that is clear. In fact, just the opposite. Mohammed insisted that all the teachings of the Koran are the eternal, unchangeable word of Allah, and that is how they have been taken by orthodox Muslims down the ages until today.

3. “The Koranic notion of Jihad is essentially about the sacred and physical-spiritual nature of life’s struggles, as summed up by “strive in God”, a verse revealed in the pacifist period of Islam before war was permitted.”

It is a pity Dr Hasan does not specify the relevant verse so we can inspect it in context. A search of the Koran reveals no such phrase as “strive in Allah”, only several instances of “strive hard in Allah’s way” which obviously has very different connotations. Try it for youself:

http://quod.lib.umich.edu/k/koran/

(As an aside, while you’re there, why not try typing in “unbelievers” to see what Allah plans for your future, and how his views on religious freedom and equality appear to differ from Dr Hasan’s.)

As it is we only have Dr Hasan’s word for it that Jihad is essentially about the sacred and physical-spiritual nature of life’s struggles. The vast majority of scholars have seen it simply as the spread of Islam by holy war. Just to take one example of many:

Ibn Taymiyyah, mediaeval theologian:
“Since lawful warfare is essentially Jihad and since its aim is that religion is entirely for Allah and the word of Allah is uppermost, therefore, according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought”.

4. “Socio-political Jihads are needed to achieve the goals of noble causes such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that may be seen as an extension of the themes of equality contained in the Prophet Muhammad’s farewell sermon.”

That is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by the way, which the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, representing 57 states, has been trying its best to emasculate for the last twenty years.

These are the themes of equality Dr Hasan must be referring to:

“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.”

But according to WikiIslam, usually a reliable source on Islamic matters, that section is fraudulent (about half way down the page):

http://wikiislam.net/wiki/List_of_Fabricated_Hadith#Muhammad.27s_Farewell_Sermon

And even if it were genuine, the last three sentences give the game away – equality in Islam is between Muslims only.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

This is a video in which Dr Hasan proposes that Islam can co-exist with secularism, democracy and religious pluralism (he gets into his stride after 7 minutes):



On secularism Dr Hasan quotes Ibn Khaldun, the mediaeval scholar, who made much of a story that Mohammed gave some farming advice to his followers. When the crop failed Mohammed admitted that perhaps they might know best in practical matters.
Hardly “Render unto Caesar…etc” but on the basis of this Dr Hasan sees Mohammed, the theocratic ruler till he died, sanctioning the splitting of religious and temporal power.

On religious pluralism he quotes the old favourite “There is no compulsion in religion”.
Is there not? We know that when he became powerful enough Mohammed certainly did compel neighbouring tribes and kingdoms to convert, that is to say “encouraged” them with offers they could not refuse. For instance here is Mohammed writing to King Jaifer of Oman and his brother Abd Al-Jalandi:

“…Embrace Islam. Allah has sent me as a Prophet to all His creatures in order that I may instil fear of Allah in the hearts of His disobedient creatures so that there may be left no excuse for those who deny Allah. If you two accept Islam, you will remain in command of your country; but if you refuse my Call, you’ve got to remember that all your possessions are perishable. My horsemen will appropriate your land, and my Prophethood will assume preponderance over your kingship.” (The Sealed Nectar: Biography of the Noble Prophet)

And here is Ibn Khaldun again, this time on religious pluralism:

“In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force”.

At the end of his talk Dr Hasan says “We have to allow people to adopt their own faith. We have to allow religious freedom, there is no other option…I believe in the validity of all major religions…I believe there are many paths to God.”

A very laudable tolerance on Dr Hasan’s part but this is absolutely not the view of Allah as expressed in many verses of the Koran, for instance:

Sura 48:28 “He it is Who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion. And Allah sufficeth as a Witness.”

Not only does Islamic tradition support this explicit supremacism but the authoritative manual of Shafi’i jurisprudence “The Reliance of the Traveller” actually declares it apostasy “to deny that Allah intended the Prophet’s message (Allah bless him and give him peace) to be the religion followed by the entire world.” (section o8.20)

Are Dr Hasan’s justifications not remarkably weak? Who will be convinced by them? Surely not the Muslims who chased him out of his own mosque with death threats for talking about evolution. Nor the Jihadis decamping for Syria, leaving behind the family members to tell us they never knew they were extreme. Nor those of us without a scholar’s knowledge but with eyes to read. But possibly those desperate to be reassured, like our political leaders intent on believing that the peaceful religion of Islam has been hijacked by extremists.

And yet, oddly enough, the very feebleness of Dr Hasan’s arguments could be taken as a sign of genuineness. They are hardly the clever double talk of Tariq Ramadan or the quick fire patter of Mehdi Hasan. Those of a charitable disposition could well believe that it is not Dr Hasan’s intention to lull non-Muslims while the hardliners strengthen their position in the country, even though that must surely be the likely effect of his efforts. He is certainly a brave and, apparently, a decent man. Could it be that he is sincere but clutching at straws in the hope that Islam can be induced to change into something it has never shown any inclination to be throughout its history?

If so, then hope must be the operative word here, rather than expectation or even belief. In the end are Dr Hasan’s entreaties not of a piece with his Quilliam partner Maajid Nawaz’s plea to the audience of an “Is Islam a religion of peace” debate, “Please vote for the motion, even if you don’t believe Islam is a religion of peace, in order to encourage it to become so”? (right at the end):