THE TRICKY ISSUE OF HUMAN RIGTHS AND LIBERTIES
Today we are seeing something which seems to be the first ever in history. An increasing number of independent and nearly equally prosperous nations on one continent, namely
This new and elite club of nations have some strict criteria for allowing in others as members. One of them is economic parity and the other, more importantly, is ‘shared values’ whose main pillar is the so-called ‘Human Rights’. It all began with a ‘Declaration of Human Rights’ by the United Nations (another Western pioneered idea) in 1948. It was not of course a suddenly discovered thing; it evolved from many parents and precedents, from the Roman concept of natural law to Christian and than Islamic values, to the elaborations of the philosophers of the Enlightenment, like Locke and Paine and the fathers of the American Independence movement. It became a burning and pressing issue after the horrors of the Second World War and since then has seen many improvements done to it.
Today’s standards of human rights in the European Union are so high and idealistic that they may no longer be seen realistic; they are too much on the side of the discrete individual and at the expense of the society. For example, in Britain introducing an identity document for each citizen has had so much opposition from so many that a lot of crime are got away with thanks to the ease the criminally-minded can easily pass as somebody else. A passport needs only a birth certificate which is obtainable from an office where no checks are done on the claimants. Basically anybody can walk in and get a birth certificate in anybody’s name, including the dead and buried. Then he can go on and certify it as his by making almost anybody, like a doctor or cleric or librarian or anybody posing as one, who also certifies also a photo of the applicant and lo and behold the passport arrives in due course. Until recently, driving licenses had no photos and anybody could pose as the owner, open a bank account or hire a house and then defraud as he wished and default on any obligations. Although the crime is soaring the resistance to identity documents remain.
But that is not all. Individual liberties are so vast that anybody can do almost anything to himself no matter how the rest of the society may be affected.
As almost everything in the Western mind, which is too analytical and tunnel-visioned items of concern are often taken in isolation from the rest of the reality frame enclosing it and deductions and judgments are made on a single line of progression to absurd lengths and conclusions. For example and as a very common issue let us take the personal liberties again. A person is regarded as not only an isolated entity with a mind and free will of his own independent from every other human, social and physical reality in whose frame and context he lives but also entitled to act any way he wants provided the letter of laws are not infringed. Additionally the laws themselves also suffer from the same too analytical and tunnel-visioned handicap, but that is for later.
Let us take the story of the 15 year old daughter of a headmaster (if I am not mistaken) of a school reported in the media some time ago. Certainly the girl is under-age and should be subject to parental permission in some choices she can make. She liked to go out in the evenings and do as she wanted, like meeting anybody and doing anything. The father, in his natural kindness and concern was worried and with god reason that she could (if not already had, I am not sure) be hooked on drugs or engage in casual and promiscuous sex as a result of which she could eventually pick up a serious venereal disease or end up pregnant or both, which eventualities would put a heavy burden on both herself and her parents for no good reason. Why should citizens, young or old, be suffered to risk such terrible outcomes for both themselves in the form of serious and sometimes even terminal illness, an unwanted offspring or necessarily dangerous abortion just because they or somebody else were free to indulge or allow anything to happen in the name of liberty? In the example under consideration the rightfully concerned father prevented the daughter from going out to the undeniably risky environment of indulgence and also very likely crime, the girl called the police and the father was arrested, accused of false imprisonment!
Similarly, people are free to drink themselves dead, provided they won’t drive while they are drunk. It does not matter the fact that drinking is impossible to limit, often goes overboard and gets the drinker into all sorts of criminal behavior from bloody brawls to sexual assault and from drink-driving to actually killing in a traffic accident. Obviously, in the too analytical and tunnel-visioned Western mind all such risks, however terrible and nauseating in silliness, are acceptable risks just because people want to indulge their lusts and vanities- for they have hallowed (I say hollow) liberties to enjoy! So let the bones be broken, flesh torn, lives extinguish, children rot ridden with drugs, women go about swallowing pills so that any man can possess them anywhere anytime, which pills have been shown to alter their hormone balances and cause serious illnesses later in life on top of other even more immediate risks coming from promiscuity- dozens of venereal plagues and more. People are taught to do what they want within the bound of a set of laws which is too reckless in risking their well-being in the first place. And very many other similar misguided humanist zeals and delusions.
This is where Muslims could not and shoud not Westernize. Why? Because we have our Divine Islamic Law. Its cardinal principle is: LA DHARARA FI’L ISLAM!, Which means “Harm in any form is not allowed in Islam”. Not only a muslim is not allowed to hurt anybody; he is not allowed to hurt himself! He is not allowed even to put himself into any risk unless some vital great good makes the risk acceptable. So a muslim cannot take dangerous substances, except in the way of medical treatment when possible benefits far outweighs possible harms; so he cannot just drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes or inhale cocain etc. Why?
Why because Islam, unlike the Western mind, insists on taking a holistic view of every reality. A person is not exclusively his own property and responsibility. This is simply and horribly untrue! He is only partially so; he also connects with, influences and is influenced by the rest of the society and other environment. Let’s take the simplest and lightest of examples. If one drinks just a few glasses of wine and loses some inhibitions as a result and behaves a bit provocatively towards a stranger who is not prepared for such liberties taken with him and knocks the drinker down and the latter’s friends converge on the attacker and in the melee all my windows are smashed I being just a neighbour and my child’s eye is ruined from flying glass…. Let’s stop. God knows what will lead to what more. Why this train of progressive and contagious harm? Why? Why? Why because people have no God! People are just their silly free themselves, free to act wrongly, harmfully, inflict the damage they inflict and only then not only themesleves but even far out total innocents pick the pieces. Will sentences handed down by courts or damages indemnified by insurance companies reverse the harms caused? Will the child get her eye back, for example?
The conclusion. Isn’t it obvious? The secular Western philosophy on human rights and liberties and the laws enshrining them are far from perfect and what is more this failure is not innocent. The secular Western view that each person is free to do what he or she wants with himself or herself with so little exceptions is patently too excessive, too risky and risky to innocent others as much as the user of the freedoms.
This sorry Western philosophy is because God is excluded from the picture (hence the term ‘secular’) and the individual is preferred to the social. In Islamic terms this secular or rather ‘de-religionized’ man is worshipping his lusty ego as his only god; his observance of even the too lenient secular laws is reluctant and confined to the basic minimal and as a result he is a walking and talking disaser waiting to happen. Why people complain about date-rape as if almost all non-married sexual unions aren’t as risky and harmful? Is consent the only remover of harm or is it at all a remover of harm? I am ashamed to think that people are so stupid as to need further explanation. So let the readers draw their own conclusions.
God should be in the picture. For God is not only a supernatural being or principle or source. He is also a depth-psychological centre of power and control no emotional and behaviourist education can do without. God represents the very best in man, I mean the very and dearest and noblest and most loving and caring and wisest best. How can we dispense with such a great spiritual power centre and cosmic axis of human moral excellence and character reference?
THE DECLINE OF THE WEST IS CERTAIN
With its misguided human rights and liberties policies, its loopholes-ridden laws and slow and expensively working judiciary, its wastefulness of resources and reckless tampering with nature… and its fast deteriorating personal character averages (thanks to the great shift of educational priority from character building to practical skills acquisition) the Western society is in a slow process of committing suicide. Crime rates are soaring (rapes, armed robberies, trading in drugs, humans and human organs) self-destructive tastes and habits spreading, social ties are losing their edifying and cementing moral and emotional context and degenerating into ideological and hedonistic cohesions. In the last category we find ideological groups, big or small, subvert and disrupt public order and economic activity almost at will and create chaos and often destruction at great expense to the national economy. Complex issues which could take years of research and thinking to elucidate and form policies upon are reduced by an ideological group to a single aspect and caricaturised into a single slogan for the sake of which their members are whipped up to kill or get killed. These groups often hate the West and are prepared to blow it up more then its external enemies which enemies the groups sometimes see in a romantic and approving light while if taken to live under their regimes they could not bear the ruthless totalitarianism and brutal discipline and privations they impose on their citizens (like North Korea for example).
All such self-flagellating and self-subversive features of this excessively prosperous, hedonistic and spiritually dehumanising features of the Western civilization are eating into its flesh and soul and the apparent stability may be due to the slowness of the decline so caused. But there is no justification for being complacent. Great powers with great civilizations of the past like
THE REASON WHY THE WESTERN CIVILIZATION IS COMMITTING A SLOW SUICIDE
Man is both a spiritual and animal being. It is the only animal to have an imagination which transcends not only himself but everything and therefore causes infinite forms and amounts of hopes which need fulfilment and worries which need consolation. “Man does not live by bread alone” is a great truism. It means no less than this: Just discrediting religious faith and ridiculing religious rites and rituals do not remove the fact that man is dead worried about his death and if he is to keep his sanity needs some faith to put death in a context of a bigger reality transcending death and making individual fulfilment possible no matter what. At least some men (and not a minority) feel like this and need its saving promises. In more secular terms the dawn of adulthood in almost each and every person is accompanied by a search for an ideal or set of ideals which religion and other ideologies attempt to provide. All religions and ideologies therefore make haste to claim and recruit these young hearts and employ them for life if possible in the realization of their social programs. The religions and ideologies may be good or bad to varying degrees but simply because they address the same human need, that of an ideal making life meaningful and worthwhile, they equally succeed in winning converts. It is no use singling out religion on the grounds that in its name great mischief was perpetrated in the past- it might have been. All secular ideologies are at least equally capable of being abused in the same way and are often did so. Nationalism, Socialism, Capitalism and even Democracy have had their great abusers.
So the Western youth find themselves in a world of extreme materialism and hedonism at an age when they need edifying and motivating spiritual values and convictions most, having been told from almost the nursery school level of education that only material realities and sensuous needs matter and that morality is merely a matter of social adaptation and responsibility. There is no shred of ground to base one’s moral convictions and motivations other than adaptation to the social norms for utilitarian (selfish) reasons. This teaching eventually proves counter-productive because the new citizen has already discovered to his delight that so long he can ensure secrecy there is no crime that he cannot deliciously get away with. And that is exactly what is happening all around us. There can be little doubt that if police is removed crime will simply explode and social order collapse within weeks if not days. Remove tax inspectors and who, especially if self employed, will pay taxes? Remove free press and elections and which prime minister will not become like a third world dictator? Which official will not accept bribes? You see, sexual shame which had always been part of all major civilizations has been recently largely removed from consciences. Now it is almost a free for all in everything provided seduction is successful or use of coercion has not been proven. What we mean is that morality needs both external enforcers and spiritual censure from inside to develop and survive. The less spiritual censure from inside the more external enforcement necessity.
The Western society is steadily shifting and drifting to this expensive and extremely insecure base. Because there is always as many victims of immoral acts as immorally acting each and every citizen frequently becomes a victim of another’s immorality and many come also to realize that they are acting immorally frequently not least because it looks a matter of survival and also getting even.
The sense of condemnation and helplessness must and do cover the citizen; what a daunting and desperate situation is to live in an environment where trusting anybody is nearly impossible and one must always be on his guard against being taken advantage of. One comes to realize, for example that politicians are lying almost routinely, the tradesmen may cheat if not closely supervised and the carer in the caring institution may abuse his or her charge if not supervised well. The Media seem to preach morality to everybody else while they offend at least as much the rest- for example paying for malicious information and thereby destroying reputations and even lives or bringing down perfectly feasible companies because they were too willing to get public attention and the profits proceeding thereof. They glamorise loose, luxurious and wasteful living by advertising artists of all sorts from film stars to cabaret celebrities while most possibly knowing full that all entertainment industries flourish hands in glove with organized crime of the most sordid and brutal kind. Because ‘sex sells’, because riches fascinate. Remember ‘sell’ is the key. Not public good!
Because all these realities are consciously or unconsciously registered by the citizen he or she lives a life of constant disappointment and depressing cynicism. So, when young, his or her energies can easily be channelled by others into rebellious and destructive activities for an outlet or failing that into self-destruction, like drug taking, reckless sexual activity and dabbling in or serious involvement in crime. A lot of youngsters grow up only to be permamently damaged by such activities having variously compromised And even ruined their health, got a criminal record and a degrading term in prison and worst of all an irreversibly corrupted morals. The adults, if they have escaped such ravages are doomed to a life of suspicion, loneliness and therefore depression- for neighbor cannot trust neigbour, family members separate too soon too permanently, relationships including sexual become fragile and children find less care from less well qualified adults. This general reduction in life’s emotional rewards can hardly be compensated by its sensual rewards- for man’s incurable imagination keeps telling him that he is missing something very great and fundamental to his existence although he cannot often put a finger on it. Explosion in the use of mind-altering medical as well as illegal drug use and legal poisons like alcohol and tobacco is the inevitable result with all other evils following from them.
All this is unhappiness and unhappiness is the only cause of suicide. The West is committing suicide but in the form of taking slow-acting poisons- but die it will.
3. THE PROBLEM OF CRIME
WHAT IS CRIME
From Islam’s point of view crime is the automatic and inevitable result of man losing his conscience and that conscience is no less and nothing other than man’s deep down (or highest heavenly) porous interface with the Divine. Man is made in the Divine image so that he could relate to God at a level or depth and comprehensiveness not possible for any other creature. Contacting or rather keeping in contact with the Divine is both his birthright and worthiest potential power. But for this potential to be realized and work for him man needs the most correct creed sanctioning the wisest and justest law. We believe that this occurs only in Islam. “There is no god but Allah” with ‘Allah’ understood as the Perfect Supreme Being is the key to a correct creed as Allah’s perfection can mean no less than His universal mercy, love, justice and providership of all needs. Hindu god Brahman cannot foot this bill. It is guilty of divinding people into four classes with the majority of mankind ending up as almost less than animals- and incurably so. Jewish Yahwah cannot also succeed- it is too partial to a small and often silly if greatly ambitious race. Even Christian God won’t do. He is incurably divided in itself, one part faring no better than an abject failure helplessly tortured by mere mortals and the dirtiest at that. Only God of Islam, namely Allah is beyond and above all failure and reproach, endowed with perfect knowledge and wisdom, kindest and noblest purpose and assets to see them work and invincible power to see them inexorably succeed.
His wisdom is so perfect that it translates into perfect justice when it comes to dealing with His human creatures. Although they are very differently endowed with abilities and opportunities their basic status is the same- equally weak yet all of them beloved and fully cared for servants. In the Sight of Allah race, colour, sex, nationality, wealth and power… count for nothing. All human beings are equal in principle. All deserve the same basic respect and entitled to the same basic rights like right to life and happiness- in principle. Mind you, in principle, means valid if ‘everything else is equal’. For example both A and B are entitled to freedom unless they commit a crime punishable by imprisonment. If A commits it then his equality is suspended for the duration of the prison term.
Obviously full equality in practice is when men all live equally innocently. Since this has never been the case we have never seen equality among the members of any society including today’s equality-boasting Western. Crime (or sin) disturbs a society fundamentally and equality is no more. The thief takes over an asset of his victim, the demagogue unjustly advances his interests by cheating his audience of their hopes, the sexual seducer in a traditional society suddenly zeroes the ‘market value’ of his victim and perhaps also puts many lives at risk, a wife-beater unjustly dominates his family and may get an unjust share of what is provided for all. Many fathers deprive their dependants of a decent living by drinking or gambling their or even the wife’s money away while an unscrupulous merchant or tradesman lives in undeserved luxury by skilfully robbing his customers. A policeman accepting a bribe to let off the hook a driver with a not roadworthy car disturbs the equality by financially penalizing the honest drivers and possibly also ruining the life of a road user thanks to the bad brakes of the vehicle. So, we see that whatever equalities laws and principles provide for the actual result results from people’s standard of moral and responsible behaviour. A lapse in that is called a crime in law and a sin in religion. Without a persistent and consistent fight against crime or sin men are doomed to remain unequal whatever the regime or material assets of their society.
CRIME IS A MANY-HEADED AND ARMED DRAGON
At the lower end we find something like a man who, if his next fellow isn’t looking, snaps up the fellow’s pen and walks away. At the highest end we find something like an American president sending his men to burgle the rival party’s offices and come back information capable of tilting the electoral balance in his way. A whole nation’s and perhaps the whole world’s future may be negatively affected by this high political crime, so it must be taken and was taken seriously. The basic damage was however that the incumbent president, by his criminal act, destroyed the equality he was supposed to keep. So, at the expense of repeating ourselves any desired or enshrined equality is destroyed by crime. Unfortunately men simply want to cheat and rob and a solution to this problem is the solution to all social evils.
To see what a vast challenge we are facing let us remind ourselves some of the more notorious and high-volume kinds of criminal activities.
The first must be the ‘corruption in high places’ as it is often called. This ranges from bribery to the methods used by national secret services, passing through embezzlement, political lies and cover-ups, ‘fall-guyings’ and methodical reputation ruining, jockeying for positions and election frauds like gerrymandering. All have been seen and continue to be seen in the supposedly very civilized Western countries. Almost all wars are made to be seen justified by disinformation and propaganda, both largely based on lies and exaggerations and all official crimes are, ideally speaking, so planned and manned that those who are the real head criminals get away with any responsibility for any failures or disasters ensuing while totally innocent lower-downs foot the bill in every sense. A good example is the Pearl Harbor disaster when the Japanese air force utterly destroyed the American Pacific navy anchored complacently at
In other words corruption in higher places is a gang affair; primarily only already corrupt or very seemingly corruptible types are appointed or promoted to high office and corruption is imposed by somehow making the new appointee share in the spoils, sometimes in imperceptible ways, like a generous gift given in utter privacy but somehow documented.
The secret services of any nation is a den of legalized criminals not because they are protecting national interests by clandestine means and sometimes illegal methods but because the powers given to the staff at these offices is so vaguely defined and so great that it is next to impossible to abuse it here and there and find eloquent excuses to get away any crime committed. Since it takes so much and great skills and abilities and so expensive training and investments to put agents in the field (e.g a ‘James Bond’, although rather fictional) the political masters often find it a tolerable price to pay to waive the culpabilities of their secret services.
In fact a lot crime need be go unpunished, as all high statesmen of today and yesterday, including kings and even prophets have realized. That is because crime may be so endemic and extensive that criminals may have to be contained by other criminals and this has always been the case in foreign relations. So we find ‘democratic’ states patronizing undemocratic and often corrupt states to use them against their rivals in the democratic camp.
Sure EU is a better place than areas housing totally independent states which can make any alliances with anybody against anybody or wage wars similarly or play with their currency or open or shut their borders as they wish. But it has a long way to go, if it is going that way at all, to become a union of nations based on morality more than on ‘national interest. So, within or without national contexts morality is not the norm but self-interest as tamed by legal threats and sanctions as well as rival powers. Each player finds others resorting to immoral acts albeit clandestinely or on false moral pretexts and feels that he must do the same to survive. Each interest group has to indulge any skilful tricksters among its membership simply because it cannot counter the rivals manoeuvres without him. Even the Prophet sws had to recognize and employ such things and persons lest his enemies, thanks to using them, could harm Islam and muslims. Wars usually are won more by trickery than bravery and the Prophet sws admitted as much when he said “Al harbu hud’atun”, i.e,. war is stratagem. Accordingly he could dissuade the Meccans from resisting his conquest of
As part of his diplomatic and military policies he sws also sent spies, organized disinformation as well as sending assassins to kill selected critical personalities in order to kill in the bud a war or at least cut a prospective war down to size so that Allah’s religion and true servants could survive it. Additionally, when some too valuable commanders of his lapsed on some moral matter he refused to remove them from command. Instead he compensated the damage and kept the invaluable staff whom however he reprimanded with enough ferocity to leave any courage in them to reoffend. One was the great Khalid b. Walid, the star general of the Prophet who misjudged and killed a declared muslim among a raided polytheist party and marrying the man’s wife which raised a lot of eyebrows as to the real motive of Khalid. He profusely apologized when faced by the messenger of Allah and wished to be dead from shame. It was always the Prophet’s policy to win people instead of wasting them and after severe reprimands and payment of adequate compensation to victims he often let of the hook his any offending companions. He was not like those worldly dictators jealous of others, haughtily vindictive and only too ready to punish and destroy any erring underlings. His mission was saving and he kept to it faithfully to the end forgiving even his worst and guiltiest enemies. He even attempted to prevent thieves and adulterers being punished in full; such was his kindness.
Which means truly or seemingly illegal and immoral acts and tactics are inseparable from any pursuit of otherwise legitimate interest and they are only salvaged by their proportionality to the danger being fought against and the moral virtue of the end aim. Since a nation has often to defend itself against unscrupulous rivals and enemies it has to resort to its own tricks employing its own tricksters who sometimes could not be found except among master criminals. It was thus that in the Second World War USA employed the Italian Mafia in its territory (especially New York and Chicago) to survey and subvert the defences of Sicily where the Allied landings had to take place. So suddenly that nastiest of criminal organizations became the heroic saviours of the allied cause!
The ages-old truth is that all high enough political ambitions can only be realized by occasional resort to criminal and immoral acts. The reason is that there existed no society where some level of crime and some calibre of criminals did not exist. Since crime and immorality like telling lies are about cutting corners in the social, economic and political competitions of the ambitious those who remain on the main roads can never overtake the corner cutters and tunnel diggers. While some are interested and talented in political climbing there are others who are more suitable for accumulating power by creating and leading criminal organizations like the mafia and the yakuza. Over time these leaders become criminal autocracts and may even create a dynasty for orderly succession to the ‘throne’. No government can entirely root out such organizations because each is penetrated by the other, have their spies and saboteurs, paymasters and paid collaborators. Therefore governments realize that the only sensible alternative is both fighting and cultivating the leaders of crime as necessary so that the problem is contained and exploited in areas of political expediency like burgling enemy’s or rival’s secrets or assassinating enemy’s or rivals aces. Such illegal acts almost never come to light let alone be prosecuted in courts. Courts themselves are part of the system and punish only the small fry or the fall guy. So the muslim should think ten times before getting involved or suing for a serious wrong committed on him by the establishment or a criminal organization. It is often safer to lick one’s wounds and keep his mouth shut. “Don’t get involved” is best.
All said, it is also true that not everybody occupying high office commits or condones crime. Some manage to keep out of all such and while some of these are eliminated by others on account of blocking their way some others are tolerated and even positively protected to help give a clean image to the establishment they work in. They also are necessary as reliable and loyal subordinates because even criminals need such subordinates.