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Rights, duties and Justice

31 October 2021


A.T.M. Nurun Nabi :
Rights to justice, equality, safety, security and human dignity are among those rights deemed indispensible in Islam. These are supplemented by further rights such as social solidarity, the right to education and to own property, and freedom from slavery.
A State is known by the rights it maintains, says Professor Harold Laski. The state ought to guarantee to individuals the enjoyment of a certain number of basic human rights which are essential for a pure and fair life. Rights are, according to Hobbs, what we may expect from others and others from us, and all genuine rights are conditions of social welfare. The definition reminds us of 'live and let live' of Islamic concept of right.
Thus, the rights which any one may claim are partly those that are essential to every man in order to be a rational human being, and partly those which are necessary for the fulfillment of the functions to be expected from him.
1. Harold Laski said, Rights are those conditions of social life, without which no man can seek to be himself at his best.
2, Rights are reasonable claim to freedom in the exercise of certain conditions-Wilde. Rights are what we expect from others and others from us, and all genuine rights are conditions of social welfare.
However, rights are not unlimited. They are to be used by every citizen taking into account the rights of others. They are based on the use of  intelligence and good behaviour. None has the rights to spread evils in the society, and to harm others' rights. Accordingly sodomy, gay marriage, lesbian and pre-marriage intercourse are not human rights. They are rather serious offence to be handled harshly.
Rights and duties are correlated. Every right has a corresponding duty. Rights without duties are like men without shadows. They exist in fairy tale stories. However, every citizen of the country should be conscious of his duties to the state.
If he children, nevertheless, do not serve their parents, nor assist them in their old age, it implies upon the State to help the unfortunate parents to survive. In Verse No. 14 of the Sura Loqman, Allah says, "Be grateful to Me and to your both parents." The word gratefulness must be translated in action
In Verse No. 56 of Sura Araf, Allah says the Mercy of Allah is with those who do good to others. Again in Verse No. 128 of Sura Nahl it is stated that Allah is with those who guard against evils and do good to others.  The two verses remind that rights and duties are correlated.
Human rights are generally based on religion, justice, and customs and traditions, and therefore, they do not depend upon the mercy of the State. Political Philosopher Herbert Spencer  is of the opinion that the State guarantees only the security of the rights. The State does not create rights.
It has already been said that rights and duties are correlated. If anyone enjoys rights to life, it is the duties of others neither to obstruct it nor to cause harm to his life. The Prophet
Certainly every man has to do for the benefit of others. What a man should do may be studied from a Hadith  narrated in the Bukhari Sharif. When the Prophet Muhammad (Sm) returned from the Cave of the Mountain Hera, he was trembling. He told everything to his wife Khadiza.  She  consoled the Prophet and said, "Fear not.  You will be successful as you have championed the cause of humanity. Allah is with you.
The qualities a man should have, you have nourished. Those are:  1. To pay the kith and kin their due with proper respect; 2. to be the faithful custodian of the trust; 3. to  speak the truth; 4. to feed, clothe and shelter the orphan, the widow, the blind, the crippled and the distressed; 5. to resolve the unemployment problem; 6. to take proper care of the guests and strangers, 7. and  remain ready to help and assist the natural calamities affected people,
The Prophet Muhammad (Sm) in his tender age, in association with others, formed an organisation named Hilf ul Fazl  with the purpose of respecting  the principles of justice, and  collectively to intervene in conflicts to establish justice, to stand by the have-nots, calamities affected people and the foreigners in distress.
About the duties of man and woman, the Quran, Sura Baqarah, Verse No. 177 has defined as under.
It is not righteousness that you turn your eyes towards the east and the west, but righteousness is this that you should  believe in Allah and the Last day and the Angels and the Books and the prophets, and give away wealth out of love for Him to the near of  kin and the orphan, and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggar and for the emancipation of the captives and keep up prayer and pay the poor rate, and the performers of the promise when they make promise and the patient in distress.
It is true that justice is a concept of morality. Justice implies the establishment of a democratic political institution as well as ensures rule of law, freedom of expression and thought, speech and press and equal right to vote.
Among the different kinds of rights, economic right is the most important. 'Live and let live' is the basic objective of an individual. It is contrary to the theory of Herbert Spencer, who advocated for survival of the fittest and elimination of the unfit. On the other hand, Allah says in Verse No. 5 of Sura An Nisa that the properties which   Allah has given as means of livelihood must not be transferred to the weak in understanding, but maintain and clothe them and treat kindly.
Duties to the mankind bear extreme significance. Allah has tagged duty to Him with duty to the have-nots. He said that He does not grant Namaj of every person. He grants Namaj of him only who are humble to His greatness, feeds the hungry, clothes the bare-body, shelters the stranger-guest, and treats kindly with the poor. (Hadith No. 246, Hadith e Qudsi).
The word justice can be used to both abstract and figurative. In a society, where there is no justice, there is no right. Since every human being has right to live, what will happen to him if he is unable to work both physically and psychologically? Islam has given the solution. In that case, the state will maintain him. German Philosopher Karl Marx echoed the similar view.  But the capitalist class differs.
Herbert Spencer stressed on the survival of the fittest and elimination of the unfit. The Prophet Muhammad (Sm) said, workers are part of production. Hence they are entitled to the profit also. Every worker shall be given his wage before sweat is dried and the remuneration shall be reasonable. In this connection, the workers have also duty to work without creating chaos. For any problem in payment of salary and wage suddenly, call for strike should not be given. The owners must be given time to respect the contract.
An important question is, can an individual build own store for movable and immovable assets? It is a delicate question. The capitalist class advocates for private ownership of properties, while Karl Marx opposed it. He said, the State will control means of production and distribution.
On the other hand, according to Islam, those who are unable to take care of properties, the State will take back the assets from them, but will maintain and clothe them.
The intelligent and  the diligent people shall have properties under state  supervision.
Hazrat Omar (Ra) took back a date garden from Hazrat Belal (Ra), as he was neglecting the production. Again during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Sm), when he heard that a salt mine has been discovered in the land of a sahabi, he took back that piece of land, because mines shall remain under the state control.

(A.T.M. Nurun Nabi is a
senior journalist)

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