Towards Human Rights as a Global Values System, 19th and 20th Centuries, pt. 2

I am continuing a series of blogs on human rights that I began in December: “Towards Human Rights.” The purpose of this blog series is to make the case for the implementation and acceptance of human rights as a global values system. It is based on my Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System?

 “…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

Towards Human Rights as a Global Values System, last in the series, part 26

 By Dr. Denise R. Ames

A History and Philosophy of Human Rights, The 19th and 20th Centuries                                                                                                                                                                                          The concept of human rights expanded in the 19th and 20th centuries. In Western Europe and North America, labor unions brought about laws granting workers the right to strike, establishing minimum work conditions and stopping or regulating child labor.

Abolitionists fought hard and succeeded in abolishing slavery and the slave trade. For

25.1 Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

instance, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery in the rebel states in 1862, and Brazil abolished slavery in 1889. The women’s rights movement struggled for many years to gain the right to vote (suffrage) for women. Success in gaining women’s suffrage came about at different dates in the 20th century, although New Zealand was the first nation to grant women the right to vote in 1893.

The U.S. passed the 19th amendment to its constitution which made it legal for women to vote in 1920, even though the territory of Wyoming granted suffrage to women years earlier in 1869. The newly created modern nation of Turkey granted women voting rights in 1926. France, a center of Enlightenment thinking in the 18th century, only granted women voting rights in 1944, although the government abolished slavery in 1794. The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Voting Rights for Women, as stated in Article 21, passed into international law in 1948.

Between World War I and World War II (1919-1939) the world community of nations

26.1 League of Nations

League of Nations

established a number of organizations to ensure peace and stability throughout the world. The most notable was the League of Nations in 1919, following the end of the devastating World War I. The League’s goals included disarmament, preventing future wars, and settling disputes between countries through negotiation and diplomacy. Part of its charter was an order to promote many of the rights which were later included into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Geneva Conventions consist of four treaties that came into being between 1864 and 26.2 Red Cross1949. It was in large part a direct result of efforts by the Red Cross. Although the four treaties are chiefly concerned with the treatment of the wounded, civilians shipwrecked and prisoners of war, it was at the forefront of the international community’s first attempt to define laws of war.

After the horrors of another even more deadly war, World War II (1939–1945), a renewed commitment to protect basic principles of human rights was generally accepted around the world. There was general recognition of the idea that the human rights practices of 2.2individual countries toward their own citizens are matters of international concern. The 1945 United Nations Charter included a commitment to respect human rights, but it was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that provided the basic statement of widely accepted international human rights standards.

About the Author:

Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.

1.5 bookPlease email info@global-awareness.org or visit www.global-awareness.org for more information.

For more information about the topic of human rights see Dr. Ames’ book Human Rights: Towards a Global Values System, $17.95, 225 pgs. Also available on Amazon.

 

 

 

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Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System! The 19th and 20th Centuries

I am continuing a series of blogs on human rights that I began in December: “Towards Human Rights.” The purpose of this blog series is to make the case for the implementation and acceptance of human rights as a global values system. It is based on my Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System?

“…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” …Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

 Towards Human Rights as a Global Values System, part 25

 By Dr. Denise R. Ames

A History and Philosophy of Human Rights, The 19th and 20th Centuries                                                                                                                                                                                            Many social and political movements spearheaded the drive for human rights in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1831, William Lloyd Garrison, an American abolitionist against

24.4 Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine

slavery, urged newspaper readers to join him in “the great cause of human rights.” It looks as though the term human rights probably came into use between Thomas Paine’s book The Rights of Man and Garrison’s newspaper article. In 1849, Henry David Thoreau wrote about human rights in his essay On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, which influenced later human rights and civil rights thinkers.

Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. The U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Davis, appointed by President Abraham Lincoln, wrote in 1867 that “in the protection of the law, human rights are secured; withdraw that protection and they are at the mercy of wicked rulers or the clamor of an excited people.”

The concept of human rights expanded in the 19th and 20th centuries. In Western Europe and North America, labor unions brought about laws granting workers the right to

25.1 Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

strike, establishing minimum work conditions and stopping or regulating child labor. Abolitionists fought hard and succeeded in abolishing slavery and the slave trade. For instance, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation abolished slavery in the rebel states in 1862, and Brazil abolished slavery in 1889. The women’s rights movement struggled for many years to gain the right to vote (suffrage) for women. Success in gaining women’s suffrage came about at different dates in the 20th century, although New Zealand was the first nation to grant women the right to vote in 1893.

The U.S. passed the 19th amendment to its constitution which made it legal for women to vote in 1920, even though the territory of Wyoming granted suffrage to women years earlier in 1869. The newly created modern nation of Turkey granted women voting

1.2 Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt

rights in 1926. France, a center of Enlightenment thinking in the 18th century, only granted women voting rights in 1944, although the government abolished slavery in 1794. The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Voting Rights for Women, as stated in Article 21, passed into international law in 1948.

About the Author:

Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.

1.5 bookPlease email info@global-awareness.org or visit www.global-awareness.org for more information.

For more information about the topic of human rights see Dr. Ames’ book Human Rights: Towards a Global Values System, $17.95, 225 pgs. Also available on Amazon.

 

 

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Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System! The Western Enlightenment, Part 2 

I am continuing a series of blogs on human rights that I began in December: “Towards Human Rights.” The purpose of this blog series is to make the case for the implementation and acceptance of human rights as a global values system. It is based on my Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System?

 “…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” …  Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

Towards Human Rights as a Global Values System, part 24

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

 A History and Philosophy of Human Rights, The Western Enlightenment, Part 2                                                                                                                                                                              For those of us living in the United States, John Locke is most noteworthy because he 3.1 Jeffersoninfluenced our founding fathers, especially our third president, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson agreed with John Locke’s ideas of natural rights and famously included them in The Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776.

The document declared the desire of some (not all) American colonists to be independent from Great Britain and to set up their own separate nation. In the declaration Jefferson stated his most famous words on the subject of individual rights—“We hold these truths24.1 Declaration of Indepdendence to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” He continued, “All men are … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” In the United States Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson differed from Locke in that he substituted “pursuit of happiness” in place of “property.”

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), an 18th century German philosopher, provided a foundation of moral reasoning for human rights that did not necessarily require that these rights

24.2 Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant

come from God. The central themes of his moral philosophy are important in contemporary human rights: the ideals of equality and the moral independence of rational human beings. Kant said that the best reason for human rights is because of the human ability to reason, and these principles of reason should be applied equally to all rational persons. For him, acting in pursuit of one’s own interests or desires is not right action; right action is acting in agreement with the principles that all rational individuals accept.

For Kant, the capacity to reason was the distinguishing characteristic of humanity and the basis for human dignity. Although difficult to understand, Kant’s philosophy is important in the historical development of human rights.

As we have seen so far, men have contributed to all the ideas about human rights! One notable [figure 13] Enlightenment philosopher who expanded upon the concept of individual rights was Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797). She wrote the Vindication of the

24.3 Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft

Rights of Women (1792), in which she argued that women are not naturally inferior to men but appear to be only because they lack education. She thought that society should treat both men and women as rational beings, and she imagined a social order founded on reason. She worked to extend political suffrage to women who had been denied political and civil rights.

Thomas Paine (1731–1809) was an important Enlightenment philosopher in the U.S. In his influential book Rights of Man (1791), he emphasized that laws alone cannot grant natural rights because this would legally mean that the government could take these rights away under certain circumstances.

24.4 Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine

Three important documents in the 17th and 18th centuries helped to establish the concept of human rights as they were put into law codes: England, The English Bill of  Rights (1689); the United States, the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Bill of Rights and the Constitution (1789); and France, Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (1789). These three documents provide a comparison of the agreement among many of the Enlightenment philosophers about the importance of basic natural rights.

About the Author:

Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.

1.5 bookPlease email info@global-awareness.org or visit www.global-awareness.org for more information.

For more information about the topic of human rights see Dr. Ames’ book Human Rights: Towards a Global Values System, $17.95, 225 pgs. Also available on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

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Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System! The Western Enlightenment, Part 1

I am continuing a series of blogs on human rights that I began in December: “Towards Human Rights.” The purpose of this blog series is to make the case for the implementation and acceptance of human rights as a global values system. It is based on my Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System?

 “…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” … Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

 Towards Human Rights as a Global Values System, part 23

 By Dr. Denise R. Ames

A History and Philosophy of Human Rights, The Western Enlightenment, Part 1                                                                                                                                                                              In Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, a philosophical movement called the Enlightenment started to question the power of the kings and queens. The21.4 Magna Carta Enlightenment philosophers suggested that there should be a “social contract” between the rulers and the ruled a concept of rights similar to today’s idea of human rights. Over the centuries, these ideas have taken hold and extended across the world.

During the Enlightenment era, ideals such as natural rights, morality, liberty, human dignity and equality provided a foundation for building a more equal political system. These ideals sparked shattering political disorder throughout the 18th century. For example, in France angry revolutionaries paraded King Louis IV and his unpopular wife Marie Antoinette through 23.1 Marie Antoinettethe streets to the guillotine for their public beheading. Revolutionaries overthrew or replaced some very powerful kings with leaders who protected and promoted these new ideals of freedom and liberty. New documents such as the United States’ Declaration of Independence and the French National Assembly’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen resulted from these struggles.

John Locke (1632–1704), one of the most famous Enlightenment philosophers, contributed to the concept of natural rights, the notion that people are naturally free and equal. His ideas were important in the development of the modern idea of rights. Locke’s central argument claimed that individuals possess natural rights, no matter if the state recognized these rights. Locke went on to say that natural rights flowed from natural law and natural laws came from God.

03h John LockeLocke said there are three natural rights – life, everyone is entitled to live; liberty, everyone is entitled to do anything they want to so long as it doesn’t conflict with the first right; and property, people are entitled to own all they create or gain so long as it doesn’t conflict with the first two rights. At the root of Locke’s ideas was that each of us must be free from threats to our life, liberty, and personal property. Locke thought the main purpose of government was to protect an individual’s basic natural rights.

Governments existed to serve the interests of the people, and not a king or ruling elite. He went so far as to say that if a ruler went against natural law and failed in his/her duty to protect the natural rights of his/her citizens—life, liberty, and property—then the people have the moral authority to take up arms against their government and create a new one.

About the Author:

Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.

1.5 bookPlease email info@global-awareness.org or visit www.global-awareness.org for more information.

For more information about the topic of human rights see Dr. Ames’ book Human Rights: Towards a Global Values System, $17.95, 225 pgs. Also available on Amazon.

 

 

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Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System! The Magna Carta                                                                    

I am continuing  a series of blogs on human rights that I began in December: “Towards Human Rights.” The purpose of this blog series is to make the case for the implementation and acceptance of human rights as a global values system. It is based on my Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System?

 “…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

 Towards Human Rights as a Global Values System, part 22

 By Dr. Denise R. Ames

A History and Philosophy of Human Rights, England in the Middle Ages: The Magna Carta                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Magna Carta is often cited as contributing to the development of human rights and the rule of constitutional law. It was an English charter first issued in 1215 and written 21.4 Magna Cartabecause of a disagreement about the rights of the king, the Catholic Church, and wealthy English landowners. In a bold move, the Magna Carta required the king to give up certain rights and abide by the law that would bind his actions.

It also protected certain rights of the people and enumerated what later came to be thought of as human rights. Among them was the right of the church to be free from governmental interference and the rights of all free citizens to own and inherit property and to be protected from excessive taxes. It established the right of widows who owned property to choose not to remarry, and established principles of due process and equality before the law. It also contained provisions forbidding bribery and official misconduct.

The Magna Carta influenced the development of English Common Law and many constitutional documents, such as the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. Common Law refers to the legal system developed through decisions of courts called case law, rather than through laws passed by legislatures or by executive action. Judges create and fine-tune common law over the years. The Magna Carta has become an important foundation for the freedom of the individual against arbitrary authority.

European Renaissance and Humanism

22.2 Renaissance humanism

Renaissance humanism

Humanism started in Europe during the Renaissance in the 14th century. Influenced by ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, humanism is an educational and philosophical outlook that emphasizes the personal worth of the individual and the central importance of human values, as opposed to only religious belief. There were and still are both Christian humanists and secular (non-religious) humanists. It began as an educational program called the humanities that were in keeping with Christian teachings. By the middle of the 16th century, humanism had won wide acceptance as a popular educational system.

The idea of humanism eventually developed into the belief of the dignity of humanity. For humanists, humans are unique in God’s creation and they have a special relationship to God. From its beginnings, the purpose of the humanist education program was to prepare students to participate in public life for the common good.

Out of educational humanism came a strain of humanism called civic humanism. The civic humanists emphasized political science and political action, while educational humanists emphasized grammar, rhetoric, and logic. According to civic humanists, citizens should be responsible for one another and should define themselves primarily in relation to their duties to their family and their government. This idea glorified participation in public affairs.

About the Author:

Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.

1.5 bookPlease email info@global-awareness.org or visit www.global-awareness.org for more information.

For more information about the topic of human rights see Dr. Ames’ book Human Rights: Towards a Global Values System, $17.95, 225 pgs. Also available on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

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Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System! Islam, Part 2

I am continuing  a series of blogs on human rights that I began in December: “Towards Human Rights.” The purpose of this blog series is to make the case for the implementation and acceptance of human rights as a global values system. It is based on my Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System?

 “…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

 Towards Human Rights as a Global Values System, part 21

 By Dr. Denise R. Ames

A History and Philosophy of Human Rights,   Islam, Part 2                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Early Islamic law promoted the concept of inalienable rights, which prohibited  a ruler 20.3 Five Pillarsfrom taking away certain rights from his subjects. Islamic judges also said the rule of law should be equal for all classes. No person was above the law, and the law did not allow discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, color, or kinship.

The law recognized two sets of human rights. In addition to the category of civil rights and political rights, Islamic law also recognized an additional category: social, economic and cultural rights, which was not recognized in the Western legal tradition until the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1966. The right of privacy, which the Western legal traditions did not recognize until modern times, was part of Islamic law since its beginning.

Early Islamic law introduced the concepts of welfare and pension as forms of charity or almsgiving, one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Islamic governments collected taxes which they used to provide income for the needy, including the poor, elderly, orphans, widows, and the disabled. Historians consider these to be one of the earliest welfare states. A

21.1 al-Ghazali

Al-Ghazali

famous Islamic jurist Al-Ghazali (1058-1111), said the government should store up food supplies for the needy in every region in case a disaster or famine occurred.

The institution of slavery has existed in past Islamic societies. But Islam has outlined five ways to free slaves, severely condemned those who enslave free people, and regulated the slave trade. Slaves, arguably, had more rights under Islam than Christianity, since an owner could not mistreat them and laws said slaves should be treated as equals. Owners freed many slaves after a certain period of time.

21.2 13th century slave market in Yemen

13th century slave market in Yemen

Women generally had more legal rights, such as the right to own property, under Islamic law than they did under Western laws until changes in the 19th and 20th centuries. Islamic law gave women legal status, which directly affected the areas important to women at the time: marriage, divorce, and inheritance. For example, under Islamic law the dowry, which for many years traditions had regarded as a brideprice paid to the father by the groom’s family, became a gift retained by the wife as part of her personal property.

Islamic law viewed marriage as a contract, in which the woman’s consent was necessary. Islamic societies gave women inheritance rights; this right of inheritance had previously been restricted to male relatives. In fact, Muhammad’s wife Khadijah was 15 years his senior and a wealthy

21.3 Khadijah

Khadijah in Arabic calligraphy

merchant in her own right. They had a monogamous marriage (one spouse at a time) until her death 25 years after their marriage. After this time, Muhammad took four wives, according to tradition. Apparently, Muhammad improved the lives of women legally and in the area of family life, marriage, education, and economic rights.

Most countries of the Middle East and North Africa today continue a dual system of secular (non-religious) and religious courts; the religious courts mainly regulate marriage and inheritance, while secular courts decide legal matters. At the time of this writing, Saudi Arabia and Iran keep religious courts for all aspects of jurisprudence.

About the Author:

Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.

1.5 bookPlease email info@global-awareness.org or visit www.global-awareness.org for more information.

For more information about the topic of human rights see Dr. Ames’ book Human Rights: Towards a Global Values System, $17.95, 225 pgs. Also available on Amazon.

 

http://global-awareness.org/books/humanrights.html

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Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System!

I am continuing a series of blogs on human rights that I began in December: “Towards Human Rights.” The purpose of this blog series is to make the case for the implementation and acceptance of human rights as a global values system. It is based on my Human Rights: Towards a Universal Values System?

 “…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” … Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

 Towards Human Rights as a Global Values System, part 20

 By Dr. Denise R. Ames

A History and Philosophy of Human Rights,   Islam, Part 1                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Islam is one of the three monotheistic religions, along with Christianity and Judaism that

20.1 the Quran

early text of the Qu’ran

trace their roots to the patriarch Abraham. The religion is based on the teachings found in the Qur’an (Koran), believed by followers to be the exact words of Allah (God) as revealed to the Arab prophet Muhammad (570-632 CE) through a messenger, the angel Gabriel. Muhammad did not write the Qur’an, but his companions reportedly wrote down his recitations while he was alive.

 

20.2 Gabriel to Muhammad

Angel Gabrielle instructing Muhammad to recite the Qu’ran

Qur’an, meaning recitation, is divided into 114 suras or chapters and contains 6,236 verses. The earlier suras are primarily concerned with ethical and spiritual topics, while the later suras mostly discuss social and moral issues important to the Muslim community. The Qur’an is more concerned with moral guidance than legal teachings, and believers look to it as the sourcebook of Islamic principles and values. A follower of Islam is a Muslim, meaning “one who submits” to God.

 

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world today with 1.3 billion followers and a growth rate of 1.84 percent per year. It is the second largest religion in the world, after Christianity. The Five Pillars of Islam found in the Qur’an represent the core practices that each member of the faith follows.

20.3 Five Pillars

The Five Pillars of Islam

  1. Faith, recited as “There is no God but Allah; Muhammad is His prophet.”
  2. Pray five times daily facing Mecca (a city in Saudi Arabia).
  3. Almsgiving, or giving to the poor.
  4. Fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.
  5. Pilgrimage to Mecca, if possible, once a lifetime. End]

The Qur’an, like many of the religious texts before it, does not directly address human rights. Rather, it calls attention to the fact that all rights come from God through the prophets. Therefore, human rights in Islam are clearly rights that God has granted; they are not necessarily rights granted by the government.

20.4 Constitution of Medina

Constitution of Medina

The Constitution of Medina, drafted by Muhammad in 622, was an early document that set out rights for Muhammad’s community. It was a formal agreement between Muhammad and the city of Medina, including Muslims, Jews, and those who practiced indigenous religions. Muhammad drew up the document to bring an end to the bitter fighting between tribes.

It spelled out a number of rights and responsibilities for the different religious communities of Medina in order to bring them within the fold of one community. One of the significant rights was that the community would protect freedom of religion, and Medina would serve as a sacred place, barring all violence and weapons.

In the field of human rights, early Islamic judges introduced a number of legal concepts before the 12th century that helped shape the field of human rights known today. These included charity, brotherhood, human self-respect, the dignity of labor; the notion of an ideal law; the condemnation of antisocial behavior, the presumption of innocence, fair contracts, freedom from usury (interest on loans), women’s rights, privacy, individual freedom, equality before the law, legal representation, supremacy of the law, independence of judges, tolerance, and democratic participation.

The life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state are sacred, whether a person is Muslim or not. Islam also protects honor, so in Islam, insulting others or making fun of them is prohibited.

About the Author:

Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.

1.5 bookPlease email info@global-awareness.org or visit www.global-awareness.org for more information.

For more information about the topic of human rights see Dr. Ames’ book Human Rights: Towards a Global Values System, $17.95, 225 pgs. Also available on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

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