Why Rights of People (Huqooqul 'Ibaad) Are Not Listed Among the Pillars of Islam?

QIftikhar Ahmed wrote: The ruthless murder of two boys while fasting by Muslims is very distressing. While discussing this matter with my son, he asked "When Haqooq al Ibad and Hqooq Allah are very explicitly emphasized in Quran and Ahadith, why is it that Human rights [Haqooq ul Ibad] are not included as a pillar of Islam? We have always talked about five pillars."

That has left me speechless. Did we miss something somewhere? This incident and what else is happening in Karachi and other areas is probably a direct effect of that. So can anyone explain, why are the Haqooq ul Ibad not mentioned as a pillar of Islam?

ATo answer these questions, we will start with having a quick overview of Islam as a Deen to provide a proper perspective for the answer:

  1. Islam is a complete and cohesive system of life (Deen) designed by Allaah SWT with His perfect knowledge and absolute wisdom to ensure that Muslims individually excel in their attitude, actions and dealings to be the best a human being can be and collectively establish the best human society that is characterized by justice, fairness, peace, excellence, care, courtesy and dignity for all people. Acts of worship are only a small part of this system of life and they are designed to help in achieving the aforementioned excellence.
  2. The Islamic system is based on the premises that Allaah is the Creator, Sovereign, Master and Owner of human beings, in addition to the whole universe, and that human beings are His slaves who must please Him by submitting to Him in obedience with humility and by living according to the lifestyle system (Islam) provided by Him. If they do so, they will be rewarded, otherwise punished by the Master in the Hereafter.
  3. Islam considers human life as one unit where the whole unit must be in obedience to one Master, Allaah SWT. It does not allow a person’s life to be compartmentalized into private/public, spiritual/carnal, etc. All human actions are under the purview of Deen, nothing is outside His realm of governance. Islam divides human actions only in two categories: good and bad. Good actions are those which please the Lord, bad actions are those which displease Him. Collectively, as well, all of the sub-systems of the society must be in obedience to Allaah according to Islam. There is no concept of separation of church and state or sacred and secular. Similarly, there is no division of Huqooq (rights). It is Allaah’s Haqq (right) as the Creator, Owner and Master of the universe and everything in it that people obey Him in every aspect of their life and comply with all of His commands. This concept of One God as Master of every aspect of human life is called Towĥeed.
  4. Being a system, it is made up of parts that are well-integrated and work together to attain its objectives. Each part has it defined role, and if a part is not engaged according to its role, system malfunction occurs. On the whole, it is a delicately balanced system between different aspects of life in such a way that no aspect of human life is neglected, over-emphasized or underemphasized and that the objective of justice, optimal performance of individuals and society is attained and opportunities of excellence are utilized.
  5. To help people obey Allaah in all aspects of their life, Allaah SWT gave them some training programs that were to prepare them for comprehensive obedience and for attainment of aforementioned objectives of excellence for both individuals and societies. They were just like the daily routine parade of military personnel to train them in discipline and obedience. They were also called foundations or pillars because they provided support for the complete Deen just as the foundations and pillars provide support to a building.
  6. The Prophet’s life comprised the perfect model of excellence in individual practice of Islam, while the society of his companions under his leadership presented the best collective model of Islamic practice and excellence. Thus anyone who wants to follow Islam as it should be followed must conform to the personal model of the Prophet, and the collective model of his companions.
  7. Like every other prophet and messenger, after the departure of the Prophet and his companions, the next generation deviated somewhat from that model and the generation after them deviated a little more. This is what is described by the Prophet when he said. “The best era is my era, then the generation that follows, then the generation that follows them”. These deviations continued from generation to generation until our time. These deviations are not homogeneous throughout a generation or a society. Rather some people deviate in one direction, others in some other direction, so on and so forth. Most deviations happen in slight incremental forms/nuances/manners but they add up over time. Such deviations created Judaism and Christianity among the followers of Moosa and ‘Eesa (peace be upon them), who had preached the same Islam as described above.
  8. The deviations take the form of :
    1. Neglecting or abandoning one or more components of Deen,
    2. Over-emphasizing one or more components of Deen,
    3. Underemphasizing one or more components of Deen,
    4. Corrupting Islamic concepts under non-Islamic influences,
    5. Mixing up principles of Deen with rules of Sharee’ah,
    6. Insisting on only a certain set of rules of Sharee’ah, and/or
    7. Introducing new views and practices in Deen from other religions and societies.
  9. After the departure of the Prophet, the first major deviation that occurred was that the kings took over the realm of the Islamic world. In other words, practically for all intents and purposes, politics were taken out of the Deen or out of the obedience to Allaah SWT. Then, people started carving pieces out of the Deen of Islam until it was reduced only to religious rituals.
  10. Unfortunately, the current condition of the Muslims is such that despite their claim to be Muslims, they have abandoned almost all of the Deen, except foundations or pillars of Islam which too have been converted into rites and rituals instead of being the dynamic training programs towards excellence and the supporting structure for the whole Deen. Now Islam is considered to consist of only those rituals and the rules about them. The main body of Islam (the real building built on the foundations and around the pillars) has been abandoned. They think if they check mark those rituals, they do not have to worry about anything else, they can violate every moral and ethics out there in the world. They are like those soldiers who think that the only duty they have is to attend the few-minutes daily parade, and beyond that they have no responsibility, duty or accountability in the military. That is true for those who still try to practice their version of Islam. The majority of the so-called Muslims even do not believe in the Hereafter anymore. Their whole life is focused on this world; and that emphasis on this world’s self interest has made them criminal transgressors who will do anything for their self interest.

Now coming to your questions:

First of all, yes, we have missed many things along the way, to which the ten points of the preamble allude to.

Secondly, the division of Allaah’s Deen into rights of various parties is not done in the Qur-aan. From Allaah’s perspective, it is exclusively His right that His slaves obey all His commands, regardless of what those commands are about. Rights of Allaah are not limited to five pillars. In fact, His biggest right on us is that we strive with all our resources and might to establish His Deen and that we submit in full obedience to Allaah in all affairs of life. This is Towĥeed, the first pillar of Islam. Thus, Allaah, on the basis of His own rights on people, demands that people must fulfil their obligations to others and they must not violate anyone’s rights. Disobedience to any of Allaah’s commands is a violation of Allaah’s right and thus a sin (sins are violation of Allaah’s rights).

Thirdly, the Prophet used wordings to the effect of rights of Allaah, people and self only to explain to people the concept of balance, which people may lose under the influences of other religious philosophies. In addition, the concept of huqooqul-‘ibaad (rights of people) becomes relevant only when someone seeks forgiveness or expiation of his or her past sins. Allaah SWT readily forgives His own rights, but if a sin violated a right of any creation of Allaah, Allaah will not forgive it and will carry out full justice on the Day of Judgment unless forgiveness has been obtained from or a fair compensation has been paid to the person whose rights were violated.

Fourthly, we should remember that the pillars of Islam are not designated as such in the Qur-aan. Those types of terms were used for them in Ĥadeeth to explain their role in Deen. Their role has been described in the preamble above. It was also clarified that they are not the “Deen”, but only a part that has a structural and training role.

Fifthly, we should remember that the list of five pillars is the list of pillars, we should not expect the mention of the roof, the floors, the walls, the windows, the doors, etc. in the list of pillars. Similarly, in the list of ordained tools of training, an inclusion of any other command does not belong. That is why no commands such as those for drinking intoxicants, gambling, remembering Allaah day and night, striving in the way of Allaah to attain the objectives of Deen, etc. are included in that list because that was not the purpose of the list.

Lastly, the reason people are going crazy and barbaric in Pakistan (and other parts of the “Muslim world” for that matter) is not because the rights of people were not mentioned in the five pillars. That would not have made any difference whatsoever. The reason for their violent behaviour is the same reason why, for example, people do not pay Zakaah; or why they drink alcohol/intoxicants in Pakistan. And it is not only the rich and powerful who drink alcohol - even the poor are the same way. That is why every so often we hear news of people dying of drinking poisonous alcohol. If so many people are dying of such accidents, you can imagine how widespread the problem is. We can go on and on with more examples. The root causes are two:  Most people do not care about the Hereafter; and the so-called religious people have adopted convoluted notions of Deen, as explained in the preamble above.

Let us now see how our Deen deals with sanctity of human life and treatment of those who violate that sanctity; though people do not even care about what Allaah SWT says. And putting them in the list of pillars would not have helped a bit, nor do such commands belong in that list.

In the Deen of Allaah SWT, the sanctity of human life has been emphasized as follows:

…Anyone who killed a person, unless it be a court-ordered punishment for a murder or for spreading mischief in the land, should be looked upon as if he had slain the whole of humanity; and anyone who saved one life should be regarded as if he had saved the whole of humanity… Al-Maaidah 5:32

By mentioning both along with each other, twice in the Qur-aan, Allaah SWT has equated taking human life unjustly as grave a sin as committing Shirk.

In the most beautiful and wonderful  declaration for establishing justice on earth, the Prophet's sermon of his last Hajj, he declared a Muslim’s life more sacred than the combined sanctities of the three most sacred things in Islam – of the day of Ĥajj, in the sanctity of Ĥaram (Makkah), in the sacred month of Dzul-Ĥijjah.

Is there any religion or document in the world that grants such sanctity to human life?

In Soorah An-Nisaa, Allaah warned any Muslim who intentionally kills a Muslim of His dreadful punishment in the following stern style:

Whoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is hell wherein he shall abide forever, and Allaah will lay His wrath on him and curse him and prepare for him a dreadful punishment. An-Nisaa 4:93

Then, there are other verses which emphatically prohibit violations of rights in general (called baghy in the Qur-aan).

Allaah SWT is giving these commandments and warnings as His Haqq (Right) on His slaves, the most sacred of anyone’s rights in the universe.


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