This article is taken from Imam Shirazi's famous book

 The New Order

for the World of

Faith, Freedom, Welfare and Peace

Freedom in Islam

The Limits of Freedom.. 1

Texts about Freedom.. 2

Freedom for other Religions. 2

There is no compulsion in confessions. 3

A Comprehensive Freedom.. 3

Choosing the ruler by general election. 3

The Phrase of Monotheism: The Symbol of Freedom.. 3

One Hundred Examples of Islamic Freedoms. 4

Restriction of the Human Being through Man Made Laws. 7

The Precedence and Distinction of Islam.. 7

1 - There is no requirement of a particular nationality for the ruler 7

2 - The people have the right to elect their leader 7

3 - The necessity of taking part in elections. 8

4 - The rights of women and children to vote. 8

5 - Monitoring the rulers. 8

6 - The right to remove the ruler 9

7 -  'And their affairs are conducted by mutual consultation' 9

8 - The criteria of Faith and Competency. 11

9 - Equality of Opportunity. 11

10 - The Rule of Law.. 11

11 - Maintaining Human Rights. 12

12 - Freedom of Belief and Religious Practices. 12

13 - The Inviolability of Abodes. 13

14 - No Spying upon Individuals. 13

15 - The Right to Political Asylum.. 13

16 - Political freedom.. 14

17 - The Right of Association and Organisation. 14

18 - Women's freedom.. 14

19 - Freedom to Elect the Supreme Leader of the State. 17

20 - Electing the Authority for Taqlid and Judges. 17

Conclusion. 17

The discussion of freedom in Islam is a very long one requiring many volumes dealing with the different freedoms conferred by Islam. It will become clear to the reader that the freedom provided for by Islam is one hundred per cent so, whereas the freedom provided for in the so called free world is ten per cent or less than that.

The Limits of Freedom

Islam has given to mankind freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and freedom of action but within a correct and reasonable framework, (i.e. whereby one does not harm others or oneself), so that certain foods and drinks, which are very harmful, are not permissible because of the harm they cause to oneself.  Likewise slander and assault and the like are not permissible because of the harm they cause to others. In the same way, the overuse of natural resources is not allowed because it causes harm to forthcoming generations.

The Emissary of Allah (Peace be upon him) limited every thought, word and deed through the concept of non-harming when he said:

'There should be no harming or accepting harm in Islam.'  in the case of Samra:

'Samra Ibn Jondab had a date palm within the confines of a garden of one of the Ansaar whose house was in the middle of the garden.  Samra used to pass by the house on the way to his palm without asking permission. So the Ansaari told him to ask permission when he came but Samra refused. When this happened, the Ansaari went and complained to the Emissary of Allah who said to Samra: "If you wish to enter then seek permission" But he refused.  Then the Emissary of Allah bargained with him to reach an agreeable price but he refused to sell.  So he said (peace be upon him):"You will have for it a date palm in heaven" but he still refused. So the Emissary of Allah said to the Ansari: "Go and uproot it and throw it to him because there should be no harm or accepting harm."

In another rendition related by Zararah from Abu Ja'far the Emissary of Allah said to the Ansaari "you are a man harmed and there should be no harm upon a believer" Then he gave his command so it was uprooted and thrown to him and the Emissary of Allah said to him: "go and plant it wherever you wish".

Texts about Freedom

The discussion of freedom in the Qur'an, and in the traditions, and in Islamic jurisprudence occurs very frequently.

Allah states in the Qur'an:

' . . then (Oh Muhammad) remind, for you are one to remind, you are not their overlord.' [1]

' . . . and you are not one to overawe them by force.' [2]

' . . . and releases them from the burdens and the yokes that were upon them.' [3]

 'There is no compulsion in religion, truth stands out clearly from error.' [4]

' . . . to you your religion and to me mine.' [5]

In a tradition related from Imam Amir-ol-Mo'meneen Ali Ibn Abi Talib:

'Do not be a slave to another when Allah has made you free.'

In a well known line of poetry of Imam Hussein at Karbala:

'Oh that I may not be killed but as a free man, even though I see death as a thing repulsive.'

Imam Hussein also said to Hurr Ibn Yazid al-Riyahiyy:

'Your mother did not err when she named you Hurr (free) for you are free in this world and felicitous in the next.'

Islam would expect the one who does not believe in the absolute freedom in the hereafter to be free in this world.

Imam Hussein also said to those who came to fight him:

'If you do not have a religion and don't fear the next life then at least be free in this life.'

Ali Ibn Abi Talib used to say: “People are all free except one who, consciously, has admitted to being a slave -male or female- or he who has been proven to be a slave, whether as a youngster or an adult.'

(In a judgement)  Imam Ali peace be upon him ruled that: 'people are all free except he who, as an adult, has admitted to being someone else's slave or proven to be so.'

Freedom for other Religions

In traditions frequently related we see that Islam adopts for every people of religion that which they themselves follow, thereby confirming their freedom in their religion.  For example Imam Sadiq was asked about rulings' (concerning everyday issues) and he replied, "what every people of religion permit is permissible".  In another tradition Imam Redha said: ‘adopt for them what they themselves adopt.'  Related from Imam al-Sadiq (Peace be upon him) that he said: 'Whatever people profess as a matter of religion will become obligatory as a law upon them.'

Hence we see that Islam does not raise objections that the Magian or similar marries his mother or sister because that is permissible in his religion, even though his religion is in reality false. This because Islam does not seek compulsion, because of the well-known principle 'compulsion does not last', but rather seeks to give freedom to every individual in the matter of acting according to his beliefs. Islam would rather confront him with a logical discussion. Hence we see in the Qur'an the words:

 ‘Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fine preaching and argue with them in the ways that are the best.' [6]

It is related in many traditions that 'the Magians inherit according to their creed, and that every people have their own marriage customs.'

Al-Koleini related, "A man insulted a Magian in front of Imam al-Sadiq who rebuked him.  The man said 'but he marries his mother and sister' so al-Sadiq said 'that is the way of marriage in their religion.'"  In another incident a man cursed a Magian in the presence of al-Sadiq (Peace be upon him) who scolded him and forbade him.  The man then said 'he has married his mother' so al-Sadiq said 'did you not know that that is the way of marriage in their religion?'  Al-Sadiq says in another tradition: 'It is not right or proper that a Muslim slanders a Jew or a Christian or a Magian in matters where he has no knowledge.'  He also said 'The easiest thing to happen in this case is that he will be a liar.'  In another tradition from Al-Sadiq is that he said to one of his followers: ‘what has the object of your slander done?  He is the son of the bad woman (whore).  So Al-Sadiq gave him a hard stare so the man said he is a Magian who has married his sister.  Imam Sadiq said; ‘Is that not the way of marriage in their religion?'

There is no compulsion in confessions

We also see that in Islamic law the ruler has no right to compel anyone to confess or even to speak.

Ibn Shahr Ashoob has related in Al-Manaqib: 'that 'Omeir Ibn Wai'l Al-Thaqafi was ordered by Handhala Ibn Abi Sufyan to make a claim against 'Ali (Peace be upon him) of eighty measures of gold deposited with the Emissary of Allah who subsequently migrated from Mecca and that 'Ali was his agent, and that if 'Ali asked for the evidence of witnesses then the Quraysh would bear witness against him.  So he came and made a claim against 'Ali who assayed all the deposits and saw the names of their owners upon them and found no trace of what 'Omeir had mentioned.  So 'Ali counselled him at length but he said 'there are those who will testify to this namely Abu Jahl, 'Akrama, 'Aqabah Ibn Abi Mo'it, Abu Sufyan and Handhala.'  'Ali said 'this is a ploy which will backfire on whoever planned it.'  Then he ordered the witnesses to sit in the Ka'bah and said to 'Omeir: 'tell me now when was it that you deposited your sum with the Emissary of Allah, what time of day was it?'  He said 'the midmorning and he took it in his hand and gave it to his servant.'  Then 'Ali summoned Abu Jahl and asked him the same question.  He said: ‘I don't have to say that.'  Then he summoned Abu Sufyan and asked him and he said: ‘he ('Umeir) paid it at sunset and he (the Prophet) took it from him and put it in his sleeve.  Then he summoned Handhala and asked him about that and he said: ‘it was when the sun reached its zenith and he (the Prophet) kept it in his hand until he left. Then 'Ali summoned 'Aqaba and asked him. He said: ‘he received it in his hand and put it immediately in his house and this was in the afternoon.' Then he summoned 'Akrama and asked him. He said:' It was at dawn, he took it and put it at once in Fatima's house.'  Then 'Ali turned to 'Omeir and said: ‘I see your face has yellowed and your condition has changed.'  'Omeir said;' I will tell the truth, I did not have a deposit with the Emissary of Allah but they forced me to say so.'


We can see from this story that when he asked Abu Jahl about the particulars and Abu Jahl said: ‘I don't have to say that', Imam 'Ali (Peace be upon him) did not coerce him at all to say anything.

A Comprehensive Freedom

Freedom then in its various forms is a general thing for all people including disbelievers. This includes: intellectual freedom i.e. the freedom to research and discuss scientific and religious studies, economic freedom i.e. the freedom to make economic gains in various ways, and religious freedom i.e. tolerance towards other religions.

Choosing the ruler by general election

Among these freedoms is political freedom, which deals with the relationship between the leader and the citizens.  The leader must be chosen by the Islamic community from those people who posses the correct Islamic criteria in that he must be knowledgeable, of suitable age, and just etc.  Many traditions related to choosing the ruler have been mentioned in the book 'Government in Islam' by the same author as well as in other Islamic books. We will limit ourselves here to one tradition only related by Salim Ibn Qays Al-Hilali in his book about Amir-ol-Mo'meneen that he said:' It is imperative in Allah's rule and the rule of Islam that the believers do not lift a finger after the death of their Imam before choosing for themselves a virtuous, knowledgeable, pious Imam who knows how to make judgement and knows the traditions of the Prophet.  He will manage their sustenance, uphold the Hajj pilgrimage and the congregational prayers and their community and manage their charity.'

The Phrase of Monotheism: The Symbol of Freedom

Whoever contemplates the words 'there is no god but Allah (The God)' which are mentioned in the Qur'an and the traditions thousands of times and are repeated by Muslims in their daily prayers and at other times, will find in them the symbol and essence of freedom.  The Persian king Khosrau was considered to be a god from a family line of gods who had the power of life and death. The Roman Caesar also was considered a god and to oppose him was to oppose the orders of god. Christians have mentioned in their holy books: ‘give to Caesar what is Caesar's and give to God what is God's.' So religion is for God and worldly life is for Caesar. The priesthood in Europe and elsewhere used to consider themselves the mediators between God and the people and claimed that the keys to heaven were in their hands so they could admit whoever they wished or expel whoever they wished and put them in hellfire.

The same situation occurred amongst the Buddhists of India and China and others, and the people of Israel said to Moses: ‘Make for us a god like the gods they have.' [7]

Even stones were considered to be gods amongst the Arabs and others. In this way, false traditions and fables gained power and influence over humanity. We find today in India, China and Japan, millions of idols and we find in the communist countries many human idols in the form of Lenin and Marx and the like.

Before the dawn of Islam, humanity, as it is today, was suffering in many countries under a thousand and one fetters, conditions, and servitudes. But when the great Prophet (Peace be upon him) announced his motto 'there is no god but Allah (The God)', he let loose a revolution upon all those fetters and announced that there was no master but one namely The God Allah The Almighty The Exalted. No one was to be obeyed but He alone and it is for the individual to establish a direct connection between himself and Allah. As for the Prophets and the Imams (Peace be upon them), they are the ambassadors of revelation who convey the orders of Allah Almighty to humanity.

We find in a book by a western author translated in to Arabic under the title of 'The Heritage of Persia' that the King of the ancient Iranians was considered to be the closest creature to God and when he was addressed by his subjects they would not mention his name but rather say 'you, the God.' Likewise the Magian religion used to attribute to the King that kind of holiness, his orders were revered and his lineage was above the rest of humanity and his ruling was considered the ruling of God.

We can find this phenomenon among most of the rulers before Islam, where the king used to be referred to as 'Lord'. When Khosrau sent two persons to the Emissary of Allah (blessings and Peace be upon him) to kill him and bring his blessed head to Khosrau, the Emissary of Allah found that they shaved their beards and twisted their moustaches.  So he (blessings and Peace be upon him) said: 'who ordered you to do this?'  They said: ‘Our Lord', meaning Khosrau.  The Emissary of Allah said: 'but my Lord has ordered me to leave my beard and crop my moustache.'  Then he said to them: ‘my Lord has killed your lord.'

We can see in this tradition and others how the king was referred to as 'Lord'. Indeed we find in the Qur'an that the Jews and the Christians used to take their prophets to be sons of God or sometimes partners of God and used to say the same thing about their priests and monks.

Allah Almighty has said:

‘The Jews said 'Ozeir is the son of God. The Christians said the Messiah is the son of God. That is but their own speech from their own mouths imitating those disbelievers of old. The curse of Allah be upon them; how they are deluded away from the truth. They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords beside Allah, and they take as their lord the Messiah son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but one God; there is no god but He praise be to him (far is He from) the partners they associate with him.  They seek to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths but Allah will not allow but that His light be perfected, even though the unbelievers may detest it. It is He that has sent His messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to cause it to prevail over all religion even though the Pagans may detest it.' [8]

One Hundred Examples of Islam Freedoms

In Islam there is one god only and there are no fetters or oppressions. Freedoms are fully available. For illustration we mention a number of them here:

1.      Freedom of worship in any place, whether prayer, fasting, purification, remembrance of Allah, reading of the Qur'an, or supplication to Allah. As for prayer, there is absolute freedom as the Prophet said: 'The Earth has been made a place of worship for me of purifying earth.'

2.      Freedom of selling.

3.      Freedom of buying [9] .

4.      Freedom of loan security.

5.      Freedom of surety.

6.      The freedom to make any new contract not prohibited by Islamic jurisdiction.

7.      Freedom of bail.

8.      Freedom of arbitration/settlement.

9.      Freedom of insurance.

10.  Freedom of forming a partnership.

11.  Freedom of investment (Mudahrabah) [10] .

12.  Freedom of farming investment [11] .

13.  Freedom of irrigation investment [12] .

14.  Freedom to procure the land (for any kind of development) [13] .

15.  Freedom to procure anything permissible [14] .

16.  Freedom to make a deposit (of any kind) for safekeeping.

17.  Freedom of borrowing.

18.  Freedom of letting.

19.  Freedom to make a power of attorney.

20.  Freedom to make an endowment, benevolent / trust fund.

21.  Freedom to give alms to charity.

22.  Freedom to make a gift.

23.  Freedom to make a conditional or unconditional donation.

24.  Freedom of abode.

25.  Freedom of time-limited abode.

26.  Freedom of racing.

27.  Freedom of archery.

28.  Freedom to make a will.

29.  Freedom for men and women to marry either long term or temporarily.

30.  Freedom to divorce.

31.  Freedom to exercise Khol'a [15] divorce.

32.  Freedom of breast-feeding.

33.  Freedom to travel.

34.  Freedom to settle in a place.

35.  The freedom to open a shop.

36.  Freedom of admission (of guilt).

37.  Freedom to give prizes etc. to the winner of a competition.

38.  Freedom to publishing.

39.  Freedom in the amount of dowry and other particulars of marriage.

40.  The freedom to practise any desired vocation.

41.  Freedom to pursue useful knowledge with the result of becoming a doctor, engineer, lawyer, or political or economic expert or otherwise or to become a religious scholar or lecturer or writer etc.

42.  Freedom of responsibility/promise

43.  Freedom of oath.

44.  Freedom of vows.

45.  Freedom to partake of permitted food in any way desired.

46.  Freedom to revive the barren land [16] .

47.  Freedom to exercise the right of pre-emption.

48.  Freedom of inheritance in that the legacy belongs to the inheritor according to the rules explained by the Emissary of Allah (according to Islamic law).  For the prophet said: 'Whoever dies leaving a family with no guardian then it is my responsibility and whoever dies leaving wealth behind then it belongs to the heir'.  (This is in contrast to the man-made laws, which can make up to ninety per cent of the legacy to go to the government, as is well known).

49.  Freedom to consult any legal judge [17] .

50.  Freedom to testify (in front of a particular judge) and seek the testimony of others.

51.  Freedom to demand blood money, or punishment or to forgive.

52.  Freedom to practise agriculture.

53.  Freedom to manufacture.

54.  Freedom of construction.

55.  Freedom for a person to be without nationality or identity or other officialities that are commonplace now.

56.  Freedom to publish a newspaper.

57.  Freedom to publish a magazine.

58.  Freedom to own a radio broadcasting station.

59.  Freedom to own a television broadcasting station.

60.  Freedom of action.

61.  Freedom to express an opinion.

62.  Freedom of meeting/gathering.

63.  Freedom to form a trade union.

64.  Freedom to form associations.

65.  Freedom to form organisations.

66.  Freedom to form a political party.

67.  Freedom to elect [18] .

68.  Freedom of governorship

69.  Freedom of guardianship / (religious) leadership.

70.  Freedom to make or accept envoy or representation

71.  Freedom to choose any occupation in the civil service.

72.  Freedom from being monitored by the government using spying or phone tapping equipment or by a secret police.

73.  Freedom to give birth to any number of children.

74.  Freedom regarding the number of wives; a man can have up to the limit of four on a permanent basis or more on a temporary basis. 

75.  Freedom of beliefs. Allah Almighty has said: 'There is no compulsion in religion.'

76.  Freedom of type of food and drink consumed and clothes worn etc.

77.  Freedom to come and go from one's house at any time of day or night.

78.  Freedom to build mosques.

79.  Freedom to build schools.

80.  Freedom to build religious centres.

81.  Freedom to build hospitals.

82.  Freedom to build clinics.

83.  Freedom to build publishing houses.

84.  Freedom to build cultural establishments.

85.  Freedom to build hostels and hotels.

86.  Freedom to build maternity units.

87.  Freedom to build old peoples houses.

88.  Freedom to set up banks.

89.  Freedom to join a students' union.

90.  Freedom for a person to leave any institution or position of employment.

91.  Freedom to furnish a house or shop in any way.

92.  Freedom to select any type of vehicle required.

93.  Freedom of (any deal or contract) interaction with others.

94.  Freedom to make or accept a loan.

95.  Freedom to grant the custody of any endowment or entailed estate to anyone.

96.  Freedom for anyone to choose a name for himself or for a place associated with him.

97.  Freedom to set up poultry farms.

98.  Freedom to follow the rulings of any competent religious authority desired.

99.  Freedom to choose any lecturer/preacher desired.

100.   Freedom to record any contract with any religious scholar.

Restriction of the Human Being through Man Made Laws

In contrast to these freedoms, we can see the oppression of the man made laws in the countries of the so-called free world, or in Islamic countries or in the rest of the third world - as for the communist countries, there is not even a trace of freedom there.  As we mentioned, the freedom's existent in the 'free' world only amount to one tenth or less of the freedoms conferred by Islam.  There is no freedom there of renting or building or manufacturing or farming or trade or obtaining free goods. And a person has no freedom where he is fettered by a passport and an identity and a nationality and where he is restricted from coming and going by visas. Likewise customs and excise, taxes, restrictions on burials of the dead, restrictions regarding recording of property and marriage as well as the freedoms suppressed through the spying network. There is also no freedom to open shops without special licences allowed through what is called the law or no freedom to set up work places without special restrictions and so on.

The Precedence and Distinction of Islam

The freedoms and human rights currently existent within man-made law are less than the freedoms existent in Islam.  This as well as the fact that they are derived from Islam because there was no trace of these freedoms in the western or non-western world before Islam, as anyone who studies history will realise. It is possible to compare between Islam and man-made law to demonstrate the precedence and distinction of Islam.

1 - There is no requirement of a particular nationality for the ruler

In general man-made law specifies that the head of state and his parents should possess the nationality of that state whereas this condition is essentially wrong and is not mentioned in Islamic law.  It is essentially wrong because the important point is capability and not colour or language or nationality, let alone considering the nationality of the parents. Islam has made the criterion piety as well as the other conditions, which are confirmed, in Islamic law like knowledge etc. Allah Almighty has said: ‘We have created you from a male and a female and we have made you into peoples and tribes so that you may know one another. The most noble amongst you in the sight of Allah is the most pious amongst you.' [19]

It is clear that this is the correct and rational criterion, hence we find that the leaders of Islam are of many nationalities and languages and religious scholars might be Iraqi or Iranian or of another nationality. The leaders of the Islamic state used to be of differing nationalities  - Arabic, Persian or Kurdish and others. By this it is not meant that the leaders and kings who ruled the Islamic lands were all on the right path but that Islam does not make it a condition for the ruler to have a particular nationality. Hence, Muslims only wanted their leaders to be just and to act according to the orders of Allah. Islam in fact does not recognise artificial geographical borders, psychological barriers, or racial differences but rather Muslims are one community and all are part of one brotherhood. Allah The Exalted has said: ‘Verily the believers are one brotherhood.' [20]   He The Sublime has also said: 'This is your community - one community and I am your Lord therefore serve me.' [21]

On this basis a poet said:

Every land wherein is Islam is to me a homeland,

And wherever the name of Allah is mentioned you will find me

2 - The people have the right to elect their leader

In man-made law we find a specification of the right of the people to elect the ruler or president of the state.  This is what Islam has stipulated previously by confirming the election of the ruler as we have mentioned in detail in Islamic books. However this 'election' in man-made law contrasts with the "bay'at" or homage in the Islamic constitution.  The difference between the two words is obvious. 'Election' carries the meaning of agreement to the presidency of the ruler whereas "bay'at" carries the meaning of a person selling himself to Allah Almighty while agreeing to the leadership of the ruler together with making a covenant with him to aid him in the pursuit of truth and to strive in the way of Allah, and to keep him from falsehood.

The Noble Qur'an says: 'Those who pay homage to you pay homage to Allah; the hand of Allah is above their hands. Whosoever breaks his word does it against himself and whosoever fulfils his covenant with Allah will be given a great reward.' [22]

and again: '. . . when the believing women come to you to take the oath of fealty to you, that they will not associate in worship anything other than Allah. . . ' [23]

3 - The necessity of taking part in elections

We find in modern law a stipulation that the citizen should take part in presidential elections etc. Islam has anticipated this and we find in the prophetic traditions: 'Whosoever dies without knowing the Imam of his time has died a death in ignorance.'  Also related from the Prophet (Peace be upon him): 'Whoever dies without having taken the oath of homage (to the Imam) has died a death in ignorance.'

It is clear that modern law does not specify any of the extremely important conditions of presidency like the condition of justice while we find that to be a very important criterion present in Islamic law. The Imam (pbuh) has said:

'Whoever amongst the scholars guards himself against evil, protects his religion, counters his base desires, and obeys the commands of his Lord, then the general public should follow his example in religious matters (taqleed).

These conditions are mentioned in this tradition perhaps because the function of the limbs and members of the body is either positive or negative and here there are four sections - 1.  Protecting himself from harm which is an action of negation; 2. Preserving his religion which is a positive internal function of the heart; 3. Countering his base desires which is a negative function of the heart; and 4.  Obeying the command of his Lord, which is a positive action.

4 - The rights of women and children to vote

In many countries of the world even today there are stipulations, which disenfranchise women from taking part in general elections. It has already been mentioned that Islam has given women the right of fealty in the aforementioned Qur'anic verse. We also find that the guardians of children can also take part in lieu of their children because the ruler deals with their affairs too. So for example the father who has four children will have five votes, one for himself and four in the name of his children if he so wished. This right is not available to fathers under present laws. Since Islam requires that the wealth of children should not be approached except with what is better as Allah has said: ' . . . and do not approach the wealth of an orphan except with what is better until he reaches his maturity.' [24] , then it is not appropriate that the ruler of a state which deals with all matters related to children should be elected without recognising the interests of children in the best possible way.  This cannot happen until the children also have a right to vote which right is given to the father as their guardian.

5 - Monitoring the rulers

We find in man-made law the right to call the rulers and officials to account for their actions.  The people then have the right to announce opposing views in speech or writing. We find in Islam the situation is better than this for the people have the right to call the ruler to account as a part of faith which merits reward. This is called 'enjoining the good and forbidding the evil.'

Allah has said: 'You are the best of peoples evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong.' [25] , and He has said in another verse: " . . . and take mutual counsel together." [26]

In a tradition we have: "Is religion anything other than advice?  It was asked "for whom?"  The Emissary of Allah (peace be upon him) said:  For(the sake of) Allah, His Messenger and the Imams of the Muslims."  And the advice means "To enjoin good and forbid evil" and to give advice and constructive criticism for the sake of Allah, His Messenger and the infallible Imams.

It is clear that  "enjoining good and forbidding evil" and advice are wider and deeper than calling officials to account, since this issue (monitoring) is not a mere questioning but it is a duty that one is accountable for towards Allah, the nation and the future generations. 

Allah Almighty states in the holy Qur'an:  " When some of them said: "Why do ye preach to a people whom Allah will destroy or visit with a terrible punishment?"  Said the preachers: "To discharge our duty to your Lord, and perchance they may fear Him."" [27]

Allah Almighty states in another verse:  " . . . they did not forbid the wrong they were doing.  Evil it was that they did." [28]

In addition we find that Islam believes that the one who enjoins good and forbids evil must also do good and abstain from evil or face blame and punishment.  We read in the Qur'an: "Oh ye who have faith why do you say that which you do not do?  It is indeed greatly repugnant in the sight of Allah that you say that which you do not do." [29]  

Imam 'Ali (peace be upon him) has said: 'The curse of Allah be upon those who enjoin good and abstain from it, and who forbid evil but commit it.'

It is clear that the one who gives an order he does not himself follow it has taken the religion lightly.

6 - The right to remove the ruler

In many of the world's laws we find that the people have the right to bring down a ruler or a government. Islam has preceded man-made law in this area making it a religious duty whereby if the ruler does not act according to Islamic law or becomes incompetent then his overthrow and removal becomes mandatory.  There is a famous tradition which is mentioned by Al-Hilli in the Mu'tabar: 'There should be no obedience to a creature in disobedience of the creator.'

In a letter from the Emissary of Allah to the people of Bahrain when he appointed Al-'Ala' Ibn Al-Hadrami as governor over them, according to some chronicles he, peace be upon him, wrote: 'I make Allah Almighty my witness that whoever I appoint as governor over the affairs - great or small - of Muslims shall not be obeyed if he does not act in a just manner and he shall be deposed from governance and those Muslims supporting him shall no longer be Muslims.

7 -  'And their affairs are conducted by mutual consultation'

Islam made mutual consultation (shura) part of its political process when democracy was not to be found in any part of the world, whereby Allah has said: 'They conduct their affairs by mutual consultation' [30]

As long as the Prophet or the impeccable Imam were present no one had the right of opposition as he was appointed by Allah. Similarly no one has the right to oppose any of the Islamic laws such as prayer and fasting and the like.  In the age of the absence of the Prophet or Imam - like the age we live in now - government is to be by the group leadership of religious scholarly authorities elected by Muslims. We have mentioned in a number of our books that the just and learned jurists are the highest authority in the Islamic world as elected by the people. For instance, if there were ten elected scholarly authorities for taqlid (following of religious rulings) according to saying of the Imam: 'consult (in matters) the narrators of our traditions', or the saying of the Prophet: have 'Allah have mercy upon my successors', then these ten would form the leadership of the Islamic community in the affairs of taqlid. Each disciple would resort to his own scholarly authority regarding prayer, fasting and Hajj pilgrimage etc. But in the general affairs of the Muslim community the highest authority in the state formed from the scholarly authorities should consult one another as well as consulting the community at large.

Imam 'Ali made it a right for Muslims to consult him by giving him their opinion in concord with Allah's words: " . . . and consult them in affairs (of moment).  Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah." [31]

If then the opinions of the learned authorities differed there being a majority view and a minority view, then the majority view should be followed. If however there was no outright majority and minority the two sides being equal, for example if out of ten authorities five opinions decided on war and five on peace then the matter would be settled by ballot which is to be used for every problematic decision as is clear in many traditions. Thenceforth it is imperative that the majority be followed, in cases where a majority and minority occur, and no one in high authority or in the community should neglect to follow the majority, for the consultation process is not merely for entertainment after which each party follows its own course, for that would be akin to dictatorship.

One of the most important reasons for the rout of Muslims this century has been the despotism of the rulers. They either come to power through inheritance, through military coups or on the back of popular revolutions and thereafter rule despotically, forming dictatorial governments, slaughtering opponents or imprisoning and torturing them and confiscating their wealth all of which can be witnessed in the Islamic world.

In contrast we can see the success of Islam previously when it relied upon the consultative process where even the Prophet despite his lofty station used to consult and take the opinions of his followers in well-known stories.

Consultation is one of the criteria of a righteous ruler where he consults in every matter. From history comes the story that one Muslim ruler summoned the scholars of his time and requested that they supplicate to Allah for the defeat of an enemy. But when his army was routed he began to rebuke them saying 'you are not righteous and if not then Allah would not have rejected your supplications.'  One of them said: ‘The fault lies not with us alone but also with you.'  The ruler then was astonished and said: ‘How so.'  The scholar said: ‘Because the prophet said "Enjoin good and forbid evil lest Allah cause the worst amongst you to be in power over you then when the best of you supplicate they will not be answered.  ‘You have spread corruption and injustice and we have been lax in giving our opinion so this defeat is the anger of Allah upon us all.'

During the Islamic conquest of Persia, the general of the Persian army requested a meeting with the Muslim general to negotiate an amnesty. After the Persian had made his speech the Muslim said:' Wait until I consult the troops.' At this the Persian was astonished and said 'Are you not the commander of the army?' To which he replied ‘Yes.' The Persian said 'But we never put one who consults in command. ‘The Muslim replied 'For this reason we will always defeat you for we never appoint a commander who does not consult.'

There are a great many historical examples of the consultations of the Muslims which if collected would make a hefty book. Let us compare the previous story with the story of world Zionism. The Jewish commander Moshe Dayan in his memoirs of the 1967 war said that he was amazed at the Arab armies because some units would fight powerfully down to the last man whereas other units in the same army would surrender without firing a shot. He did not know the reason for this until one commander surrendered along with all his soldiers and weapons. Dayan asked him if he had consulted the opinion of his officers and men before he had surrendered. The Arab said with pride 'We never consult our subordinates'. Dayan said to him then ' For this reason we will always defeat you.' Dayan goes on to say that Israeli officers however high in rank eat with their men and live as one of them and attend religious lessons along side them. Thereafter they are in constant consultation and mutual understanding with them which is a reason for their advancement.

In this Imam Ali said: 'Let not others precede you in practising the teachings of the Qur'an.'  The meaning here is not the practices of prayer, fasting and pilgrimage but rather the systems and laws of Islam which promote the advancement of Muslims in all areas of life.  These include political system, purity, consultation, free elections and freedom.  Muslims have abandoned these entirely except in a few extraordinary cases, whereas non-Muslims have adopted them and gained an advantage over Muslims.

If a difference of opinion occurred between the authorities and the community then it would be for the community to conform to the way of Allah by following the just authority as in the Qur'anic verse: "Oh those of you that have faith, obey Allah and the messenger and those of you charged with authority.  If you differ in anything then refer it to Allah and His messenger if you believe in Allah and the last day: That is best and most suitable for final determination." [32]

It is fortunate that the divine laws, while not clear in some details, are clear to everyone in principle so that if the authorities were to deviate from the Islamic way then the community should reform them, or bring them down and stand in their way.  In a tradition related from the Emissary of Allah he said:

'Islam is current (in every aspect) so adhere to Islam where it goes.  But where the Qur'an and authority diverge then do not deviate from the book. There will be some in authority over you who will lead you astray and will give judgements for themselves that they do not give for you and if you obey them they will lead you astray and if you disobey them they will kill you.'  So they said to him 'what should we do Oh Emissary of Allah?'  He said: ‘Do as the companions of Jesus did; they were cut (by swords and saws) and were carried on wood (crucified).  For death in obedience of Allah is better than life in disobedience of Allah.'

In many traditions: 'Whosoever dies in the course of being wronged is a martyr, and whoever dies in the course of the truth is a martyr but better than this is to proclaim the truth before tyrant leader.'

We can see that Abu Dharr Al-Ghafary and Hajar Ibn 'Adey and other great companions of the Prophet and the companions of 'Ali, Hassan and Hussein were killed in the course of the truth and from their steadfast stance they were able to move the government closer and closer to Islam.

8 - The criteria of Faith and Competency

Islam has preceded all systems in the matter of non-discrimination and distinction between people. The suitability for government and attaining the highest positions of state comes from capability and qualifications together with being chosen by the majority of the community.  Therefore there is no distinction between people except through merit and it is not important that the elected leader be of any particular colour or characteristic. Islam also refutes discrimination between people on the grounds of wealth or poverty, as is the case in capitalist or feudal societies. In Islam the rich do not have any special power or influence or possess greater opportunities by virtue of them being rich and wealthy and indeed Allah Almighty states in the Qur'an: ' . . . so that (the wealth) does not merely revolve amongst the rich amongst you . . . ' [33]   

The Islamic meaning of Capitalism as mentioned in the Qur'an: ' . . . you shall have your capital sums: deal not unjustly and you shall not be dealt with unjustly.' [34]   is correct.  The Western form of Capitalism however is not correct in Islam.

Islam also refutes hereditary distinctions in that the fact that a certain person is the son or relative of a ruler does not make it appropriate that he be a ruler himself. Rather the important thing is for free elections to be held as we have mentioned in the book 'Government in Islam.'  This principle appears clearly in the Qur'an in the story of Abraham: "Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain commands which he fulfilled.  He said: "I will make you an Imam (leader) to the people."  Abraham said: "And of my offspring?  He answered: "My promise does not include the evildoers." [35]  

Here Abraham requests the imamship for his offspring.  Allah answers him by alerting him to the fact that imamship only occurs by suitability and that the wrongdoer whoever he is not suitable for imamhood whether this imamhood be from Allah through prophethood and mandate or through deputisation by them.

Scholars have mentioned in their books of fundamentals in both their branches - fundamentals of belief and fundamentals of jurisprudence - the details of this Qur'anic verse just as we have mentioned them in 'The Book of Fundamentals.'

Islam also rejects class distinctions like the nobility and those of 'blue blood' in the Qur'an: "The most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most pious amongst you." [36]

All these matters are considered to be amongst those things taken for granted in Islam. Language, nationality, colour of skin, clan, and place of abode do not cause distinctions between one person and another in the matter of government. Nor do these matters cause a distinction in the matter of being a reference for taqlid or for being a judge or a commander or in giving testimony or in leading congregational prayers.

9 - Equality of Opportunity

International law states the principle of equal opportunity for all people as one of the elements of general freedom. The meaning of this element is that every person who possesses the capability has the right to attain the highest positions of state without the interference of patronage or nepotism. Islam preceded in this and Muslims implemented it practically so we find in the Muslims who reached positions of government or knowledge or wealth or power many different nationalities and colours and languages. It is related from the Emissary of Allah that he said: 'Whoever is charged with something of the affairs of the people and appoints someone else over them out of love or nepotism knowing that there is among the people someone more fitting for the position then let there be prepared for him a place in the fire.'

10 - The Rule of Law

Amongst that which guarantees freedom in the constitutions of the world today is the rule of law in the relationship between the government and the people and the people and the government. The law is the ruler not power or wealth or tribal affiliation. It is clear that the source of the Islamic constitution is the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of the prophet and the traditions found from the impeccable Imams. In all of this we find the necessity of the rule of law:

In the Qur'an: " . . . and those who do not rule by what Allah has revealed, they are the unbelievers." [37]  

In another verse: " . . . they are the corrupt ones." [38]  

And another: " . . . they are the wrongdoers." [39]  

In a well documented tradition from the prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) that he said: ‘I leave behind for you two things - the book of Allah and the people of my household [40] .  As long as you hold firmly to these two you will never go astray after me.'  This shows that the household is complementary to the book and therefore, their word must be upheld like the Qur'an as a law by Muslims and must not be violated.

As for the Sunnah of the prophet, there are well-documented traditions about the necessitate of adopting it. In one such tradition the prophet said: ‘May Allah have mercy upon my successors.' He was asked: ‘And who are they Oh messenger of Allah?' He said: ‘Those who come after me and transmit my traditions and my Sunnah.'

The rule of law then is incumbent upon all the community. Even the prophet despite his greatness was subject to the law. In the Qur'anic verse: "And had we not given you strength you would nearly have inclined to them somewhat.  Then we should have made you taste double the punishment in life and double in death." [41]

11 - Maintaining Human Rights

Islam preceded man-made laws in making it incumbent upon the state to uphold vital rights for every human being. These rights being the right to life, the right of personal freedom, the right to hold personal property and so on.

In relation to the first right Allah Almighty has said: " . . .whoever slays a person - unless it be for murder or spreading corruption in the land - it would be as if he had slain the people as a whole." [42]  

And in a tradition: ‘Whoever assists in the killing of a Muslim even by one word he will come on the day of judgement and written between his eyes will be the words "Despair of Allah's mercy".'

Islam has also set down the law of reparations even in the case of a touch with the palm of the hand.

As for the right to personal freedom - the right for the human being to be assured of his freedom so that he will not be imprisoned or detained or have his stay in a certain place limited - this is clear to every one. Well-documented traditions are to be found in this matter. The principle that 'people have dominion over their wealth and their selves.' has become famous.

As for the right to own personal property, so that a person is assured of his property and that it will not be confiscated; and of his employment so that it will not be taken from him because of his opposition to the state, the proof of this is in the words of Allah: " . . . you shall have your capital sums.  Deal not unjustly and you will not be dealt with unjustly." [43]

Islam has stipulated four mandatory duties over wealth.  These are the Khums, Zakat, Jizyah, and Kharraj. The remainder of the wealth of the people belongs to them. We have mentioned the details of these in our books on economic matters. [44]

We find the use of imprisonment very rare in Islam. If Islam took full control then for each one hundred persons imprisoned under worldly law only one would be imprisoned under Islam. Life imprisonment is only applicable in three cases according to what 'Ali has related: ‘Only three are to abide in prison for ever - he who abducts and detains someone until killed by a third party, the woman apostate until she repents, and the thief after having had his hand and foot cut on two previous occasions. [45] '

In a well recorded tradition from the prophet: ‘The blood, property and honour of a Muslim is sacred for another Muslim.' The specification of Muslim here is because the speech was addressed to Muslims and because the Muslim is the element that Islam concerns itself with primarily because he is the follower of the truth. But it is clear that the blood, wealth and honour of a non-Muslim living in a Muslim country known as a dhimmi is also sacred so that we find in the traditions that the prophet said:' Whoever hurts a dhimmi has hurt me.'

12 - Freedom of Belief and Religious Practices

The law of the Democratic state nowadays stipulates freedom in religious belief and in practice of religious rites. Islam has precedence in this in the Qur'an, and the life of the prophet and the Imams.

Allah states in the Qur'an: "There shall be no compulsion in religion, truth stands out clearly from error." [46]  

He also says: " . . . to you your religion and to me mine." [47]  

And again: " . . . so (Oh Muhammad) remind for you are a reminder.  You are not their overlord." [48]

And once more: "And you are not one to overawe them by force." [49]  

Allah Almighty also says: " . . . and I am commanded to judge justly between you.  Allah is our Lord and your Lord.  For us (is the responsibility for) our deeds and for you for your deeds.  There is no contention between you and us.  Allah will bring us together and to Him is the final goal." [50]    

The prophet never forced anyone to change his beliefs, nor did the Imam and Commander of the Faithful 'Ali do that.  Everyone knows that the prophet took over a number of nations which were polytheistic, or Jewish, Zoroastrian or Christian but he did not force them to change their religion. This we have detailed in certain Islamic books. Rather the country itself entered Islam once it had seen the correctness of Islam's beliefs and the fineness of its laws.

13 - The Inviolability of Abodes

In the laws of the world today one can find a stipulation on the inviolability of houses where it is not permissible to enter them and search them without the permission of their occupants except in an emergency situation. Islam preceded these laws in making this so and we find in the Qur'an: "You who believe, do not enter houses that are not yours until you have asked permission and greeted those within: that is best for you, so that you may take heed.  If you find no one in them, enter not until permission has been given to you.  And if you are asked to go back, then go back.  That makes for greater purity for yourselves and Allah knows well all that you do." [51]

The story of 'Omar and his spying during the night and his entering a person's house by the wall is famous. He found in a house a group of people drinking wine so he scaled the wall and entered the house and reproached them for their deed. So they said to him: ‘If we have committed a single error then you have committed three. You erred when you spied and Allah says: "Do not spy." [52]   You erred when you climbed into the house for Allah says: " . . . and approach the houses by their doors." [53]   And you erred when you did not give a greeting as Allah says: " . . . until you ask permission and greet their occupants." [54]  

14 - No Spying upon Individuals

In the Democratic world the law stipulates the privacy of the affairs of the individual which he wishes to keep private. These include correspondences and telephone conversations, and the houses and places that people gather together with their friends and acquaintances. Islam has precedence in this also.  It related from al-Imam al-Sadiq that he said: ‘If any man spies upon a group of people in their house in order to see their nakedness (if they) then put out his eyes or wound him, there shall be no claim for compensation upon them.'

It is related from Ja'far al-Sadiq from his father from the prophet in the tradition of prohibition that: " . . . the prophet prohibited spying on one's neighbour's house saying "whoever looks towards the nakedness of his Muslim brother or that of other than his wife deliberately, Allah will class him with the hypocrites who used to seek out the nakedness of people and he will not leave this world until he is exposed for what he is unless he repents"."

15 - The Right to Political Asylum

We also find in man-made law the right to political asylum.  Islam has precedence in this also. Allah has said in the Qur'an: "If one amongst the Pagans asks you for asylum then grant it to him so that he may hear the word of Allah.  Then escort him to a secure place.  That is because they are men without knowledge." [55]

Beyond this there appears in traditions a prohibition against killing certain animals:'. . . for it has sought asylum in your house and any bird which seeks asylum in your house should be granted asylum'

In Islam defending the asylum seeker against any form of wrong or oppression he faces is mandatory even if he is a disbeliever. For preventing and remedying wrongs is incumbent upon the Muslim as is confirmed in the traditions: ‘Whoever calls to the Muslims for help and they do not answer him then they are not Muslims.' And in a tradition from Jesus (Peace be upon him):'The one who neglects to treat a wounded person is akin to  the one who caused the injury in the first place.'

16 - Political freedom

In a section of the world today we can see the evidence of political freedom by way of expressing an opinion through the media or publishing newspapers and books or setting up television and radio stations etc. Islam preceded man-made law in this freedom also for it has stipulated 'enjoining the good' and 'forbidding the bad', 'guiding the ignorant' and 'alerting the heedless' and 'advising the Muslim leaders' and the fact that the human being is free except in those matters which are forbidden, and that the person has dominion over his wealth and his own self.  Political freedom is obviously a part of these aforementioned matters. This includes the right of the individual to express rightful opposition having the right to oppose the state by demonstration and strikes and the like if he thinks this to be appropriate. But not to oppose a lawful state to seek position or status or other unlawful aims. The state should meet with this opposition with all possible accommodation and subtlety.

In a tradition it is said that during the time of Imam 'Ali  there once occurred a strike and another time a demonstration of opposition. The Imam did no more than to send al-Imam al-Hassan to counsel them because they were in the wrong.  When they refused to accept this counsel then the Imam recited the Qur'anic verse: "If anyone contends with the messenger even after guidance has been plainly conveyed to him and follows a path unbecoming to men of faith, We shall leave him to the path he has chosen and land him in Hell - and that is an evil fate." [56]   And he (the Imam) left it at that.

It is obvious that the strikers and demonstrators against the (infallible) Imam were in the wrong and that the Imam was in the right for had not the Prophet said:' 'Ali is with the truth and the truth is with 'Ali.' and ' 'Ali is with the Qur'an and the Qur'an is with 'Ali.'  Except that the Imam did no more than to remind them of the command of Allah and when he saw them neglecting His rule deliberately he did not harm them but rather clarified their fate in the hereafter.

17 - The Right of Association and Organisation

The right to free association and gathering and the right to form groups, organisations and political parties is all guaranteed in Islam, which preceded man-made law in this area.  The Prophet had made the Muhajiroun and the Ansaar into two groups and it is apparent from many traditions that whenever one of the groups exerted pressure upon him he would resort to the other group. In a tradition that the Messenger of Allah said in a well-known story: ‘If the people pass through a valley and the Ansaar pass through a valley then I would follow the path of the Ansaar and leave the path of the people.'  In another tradition at the time of the death of the Prophet when there was a great clamour around him and some of them said: ‘The man is being delirious' and there was a disagreement amongst them the Prophet said: ‘Take your leave of me for it is not fitting to quarrel in front of a Prophet.'

'When they had left he ordered some people to seek the Ansaar which they did and when they came he (the Prophet) spoke with them in counsel.

It appears in another tradition that two parties of the Ansaar were engaged in an archery competition so the Prophet said: ‘I am with the party that Ibn Al-Adra' is with.

Traditions make it clear that the Muhajiroun and the Ansaar existed as two parties until the time of Amir-ol-Mo'mineen (Peace be upon him) who gave Qarda who was one of the companions of the prophet charge of the banner of the Ansaar on the day of the battle of Siffin.

This is the requirement of the famous principle amongst jurists derived from Qur'anic verses and traditions: "People have dominion over their wealth and themselves" which is encompassed by the Qur'anic verse: "Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: they are the ones to attain felicity." [57]

And also the Qur'anic verse: "if a contingent from every expedition remained behind, they could devote themselves to studies in religion, and admonish the people when they return to them, that thus they (may learn) to guard themselves (against evil)." [58]                   

 18 - Women's freedom

The fact that women are free in economic, political, social, educational and other affairs is clear. Allah Almighty has said in the Qur'an: " . . . they have rights similar to those rights against them according to what is equitable." [59]  

In another verse: " . . . and answered them: "Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: ye are members, one of another  . . ." [60]    

And in another verse: "For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise, for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward.  It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, to have any option about their decision: if anyone disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path." [61]

There are many other Qur'anic verses and traditions, which point to the equality of men and women in all matters with the exception of: "Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means.  Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard." [62]   And other such rulings of special significance for women.  Other than these particular rulings men and women are equal in every domain.

Women used to attend the Prophet's mosque during congregational prayers as well as attending his speeches. It is clear from various traditions that the Prophet ordered certain women to lead other women in prayer for example in the tradition that he ordered Omm Warqah to lead the women in prayer.

In fact it is clear from the book 'Kamil Al-Ziyarah' that there were certain mosques, which used to be usually frequented by women only during the time of Imam Amir Al-Mu'mineen.  Malik ibn Damrah Al-'Anbary related: ‘Amir ol-Mu'mineen asked me whether I go to pray in the mosque adjacent to my house I replied: 'Oh Amir ol-Mu'mineen that is a mosque where women pray . . . ' The prophet is quoted as saying: ‘If your wife asks permission to go to the mosque then she should not be refused.'

It is commonly held amongst jurists that the husband has two rights over his wife: the right regarding exiting from the house whereby it is not permissible for her to leave the house without his permission, and the conjugal right which if he wishes that then it is incumbent upon her to submit herself to his wishes. As for cooking, sewing and the suckling of children, the man has no right whatsoever over her.

During the time of the Prophet women used to practice many kinds of political and cultural work and we have already mentioned that the Prophet used to take the oath of allegiance from women. In the Qur'anic verse: "O Prophet!  When believing women come to thee to take the oath of fealty to thee, that they will not associate in worship any other thing whatever with Allah, that they will not steal, that they will not commit adultery, that they will not kill their children, that they will not utter slander, intentionally forging falsehood, and that they will not disobey thee in any just matter; then do thou receive their fealty, and pray to Allah for the forgiveness: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." [63]

Hence the Prophet used to accept the oath of allegiance from women and he would fill a vessel with water and place his hands in it then withdraw them and order the women to put their hands in it as a sign of allegiance. It is related, through the chain of the Imams, that 'Ali had said: ‘The Emissary of Allah did not use to shake hands with women and when he wanted to cement the oath of allegiance with them he would bring a vessel of water in which he would dip his hands and afterwards would say to the women dip your hands in the water and I will have taken the oath from you.'  For the Prophet did not neglect even this matter.

In the same way the women gave their oath to 'Ali at 'Ghadir Khom'

The Prophet also instituted a brotherhood between the men who were his companions and in the same way instituted a sisterhood between the women as is mentioned in the histories.

The Prophet used to have women companions even in time of war when they would undertake to administer treatment to the wounded. He also used to have women companions during his travels to the Hajj pilgrimage.

It is clear from many traditions that both men and women used to take part in the Prophet's gatherings and women used to ask him questions and indeed in the same meetings would ask him to give them in wedlock.

Muhammad Ibn Muslim relates that Abu Ja'far (Peace be upon him) said: ‘A woman came to the Emissary of Allah and said: ‘Give me away in marriage.' He said: ‘Who is to marry this woman? ‘A man stood up and said: ‘I am Oh Messenger of Allah so marry me to her.' So the Prophet said: ‘What will you give her (as dowry)?'The man said: ‘I do not have anything to give. ‘The Prophet said: ‘No' (refusing to let him marry her). But the woman repeated her request and the Prophet asked again but only the same man got up. The woman repeated her request again so the Prophet asked the man: ‘Do you know well anything of the Qur'an? 'The man replied that he did so the Prophet said: ‘I have married you to her so teach her what you know of the Qur'an.'

In the tradition of Sahl al-Sa'edy it is said that a woman came to the Prophet and said:

'Oh Messenger of Allah I give myself to you.

The Prophet said: 'I do not have desire for women'

The woman said: ‘Then marry me to whom you will of your companions.'

A man stood up and said: 'Oh Emissary of Allah marry me to her.'

The Prophet said: ‘Have you anything to give her?'

The man said: ‘I have nothing but the clothes that I am wearing.'

The Prophet said: ‘if you give her that you will have nothing to wear.  Do you know anything of the Qur'an?'

The man said: 'Yes, such and such a chapter.'

So the Prophet said: ‘Then marry her on the basis of what you know of the Qur'an.'

In another rendition, the Prophet said to him: ‘Do you know the Qur'an?'

The man said: ‘Yes a chapter.'  So he said: ‘Then teach her twenty verses.'

It is clear from a body of traditions that marriage in Islam was a simple matter.  It did not consist of anything more than the man presenting himself to the woman and vice versa and the question of the dowry was secondary.

'Ali relates that a man came to the Messenger of Allah and said: ‘I wish to marry this woman.'  He said: ‘And what will you give her?'  He said: ‘I do not have anything.'  The Prophet noticed a ring on his hand and asked: ‘Does this belong to you?'  The man said: 'Yes.'  The Prophet said: ‘Then marry her with the ring as dowry.'

Related from Sufyan from Abu Al-Hasan: 'Men used to marry women at the time of the Prophet with the dowry of a Qur'anic verse or a Dirham or a handful of wheat.'  There are other traditions on the same subject all of which should be returned to by Muslims if they seek happiness and a better way.

It is also apparent from traditions that women used to ask topical questions of the Prophet and the Caliphs after him at the men's gatherings. They used to make speeches and comment upon the speeches of the Prophet and the Caliphs.

Sheikh Al-Tabarsi relates in his book Majma' Al-Bayan that the Prophet accepted the oath of allegiance (bay'at) from some women while he was standing upon the rock Al-Safa while below him was one of his companions and Hind the daughter of 'Ataba. Hind was fully veiled and incognito amongst the women for fear that she would be recognised by the Prophet. The Prophet said: ‘I accept your allegiance on condition that you do not associate any partners with Allah.'

So Hind said: ‘you want from us an oath that we did not see you take today from the men.'  (This because he has that day sworn them to Islam and Jihad only.)

The Prophet continued: ‘And you do not steal.'

Hind said: ‘Abu Sufyan is a miserly fellow, and I have a few objects of his and I don't know if they are lawful for me or not.'

Abu Sufyan said: ‘Whatever you have of mine from the past is lawful for you.'

The Prophet laughed and recognised her and said: ‘you are Hind daughter of 'Ataba.'

She said: ‘Yes, So forgive what has passed, and may Allah forgive you.'

The Prophet continued: ‘And you do not commit adultery.'

Hind said; ‘Does the free woman commit adultery?'  One of the companions smiled because of what had taken place between them in the Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic time).

The Prophet said: ‘And you do not kill your children.'

Hind said: ‘We raised them when they were young and you have killed them when they grew up.'  (Her son Handhala the son of Abu Sufyan was killed by 'Ali at Badr.)  The Prophet smiled and 'Omar laughed.

When the Prophet said: ‘And you don't make false accusations.'  Hind said: ‘Slander is an ugly thing and you have enjoined upon us integrity and the finest of morals.'

And when he said: ‘And you do not disobey me.'  Hind said: ‘We are not sitting here as we are and secretly we intend to disobey you.'

19 - Freedom to Elect the Supreme Leader of the State

The freedom to elect the supreme leader of the state is a freedom in which Islam preceded man-made law.

Salem Ibn Qays Al-Hilali relates of 'Ali that he said: ‘It is incumbent in the government of Allah and Islam that (the Muslims) after the death or killing of their leader whether he was guided or astray do not do anything until they have chosen for themselves a virtuous, learned, and pious Imam who knows judgement and the traditions of the Prophet, and will collect taxes and charity and will institute the Hajj pilgrimage for them.'

We have mentioned a body of traditions on this subject in the book 'Government in Islam' [64] and other books.

20 - Electing the Authority for Taqlid and Judges

The electing of the authority for taqlid and judges and leaders of congregational prayers is in the hands of the Islamic community as one of their freedoms.

Ahmad Abu Al-Fadl Al-Kinasi has related: ‘al-Imam al-Sadiq said to me: ‘I have heard something about you.'  I said: ‘What is that.'  He said: ‘I have heard that you have established a judge in Al-Kinasa.'  I said: ‘Yes, A man who has a certain amount of intellect whom we meet with and speak and discuss.'  He said: ‘There is nothing wrong in that.'

In a tradition about taqlid: 'Whoever amongst the scholars guards himself against evil (temptation), protects his religion, does not follow his base desires, and obeys the commands of his Lord, then the general public should follow his example in religious matters (taqleed)'.

In another tradition: ‘Seek a man amongst you who transmits our traditions and has studied the forbidden and permissible things then adopt him as a ruler for I have made him a ruler over you.'

In fact Islam gives the freedom for the Mufti and the judge to answer religious questions according to his knowledge.

Related by Mu'adh Ibn Muslim Al-Nahwi that al-Imam al-Sadiq said: ‘I have heard that you sit in the great mosque dispensing edicts to the people.'  I said: 'Yes and I wanted to ask you about that.  I sit in the great mosque and a man comes and asks me about something which if I know he is one of your opponents; I answer his enquiry according to the teachings of their camp.  And if I know he is one of your admirers and devotees, I answer his enquiry according to your teachings.  And if I do not know him and of his affiliations, I quote a number of individuals and include your teachings in between.  The Imam said to me:  do so as I do the same.'

We have mentioned in some of our books the freedom to appeal against judicial judgements, as this is indicated by the practice of the Emissary of Allah peace be upon him.  The Emissary of Allah peace be upon him bought a camel from an Arab Bedouin but the Bedouin denied he had received the payment.  They sought judgement from of the companions, and then they sought the judgement of a second companion and then that of Ali for the third time, which proves the practice of 'appeal' as known today.


As we have seen, Islam preceded man-made law in the aforementioned matters and in other matters besides.  In its teachings on freedom Islam does not neglect to make clear matters of minor or major importance in terms of definition, or implementation of those freedoms.  Islam preceded all man-made freedom laws, whether those devised in political science, man made constitutions or the declaration of human rights.  There are three aspects of difference:

1-     Islam has preceded all of man-made law in giving these freedoms, making them clear and setting down the consequences for those who went against them.

2-     Islamic freedom is greater and wider even than the freedoms existent in what is known as the 'free world' where they do not equate to even one tenth of the Islamic freedoms. (As we mentioned earlier.)

3-     Islam accords with man made constitutions in many matters but differs from them in other matters.

In the matters with which Islam is in accord, it is clear that the Islamic expression of them - whether that be in the Qur'an or in the sunna - is more precise, deeper and profound and more in concord with the desired meaning than the prevailing expressions used in our time which were laid down by a group of scholars, jurists, and legalists after effort and inquiry, as well as adoption from Islam.  It is well known that Islamic laws were transmitted to Western countries by the scholars of Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain) as well as the translation of Islamic books (amongst them 'The Laws of Islam' of Al-Hilli, and others.)

In the matters where Islam differs from man made laws, we always can see that the Islamic view is more fitting and more appropriate for both the individual and society.  For example, the body of man made laws legalises adultery, homosexuality, alcohol, gambling, and using drugs such as heroin while it is clear that all of this is extremely harmful. Even Western intellectuals raise their voices in favour of stopping these things. We can see that some Western countries legalise and some prohibit. Sometimes the same country at time prohibits and at other times legalises as in the case of USA, which prohibited alcohol for a long time then legalised it because of great pressure from corrupted Capitalism.

There is no cure for the world if it wants to reclaim its nobility, its freedom and its humanity except by a return to the freedoms laid out in Islam according to the methods mentioned in the Qur'an and the sunna.


For more articles on Freedom in Islam click here.

[1] The Qur'an: The Overwhelming Event (88): 21-22.

[2] The Qur'an: Q (50): 45.

[3] The Qur'an: The Heights (7): 157.

[4] The Qur'an: The Heifer (2): 256.

[5] The Qur'an: The unbelievers (109): 6.

[6] The Qur'an: The Bee (16): 125.

[7] The Qur'an: The Heights (7): 138.

[8] The Qur'an: Repentance (9): 30-33.

[9] E.g. no VAT or any other form of taxation on goods.

[10] Mudahrabah is a business scheme where one party contributes the capital and the other labour/expertise, and the profit/loss of the venture is divided between them according to a previously agreed ratio.

[11] This scheme is similar to that above with difference that one party provides the farmland and the other workforce.  Similarly the profit/loss of the venture is divided between them according to a previously agreed ratio.

[12] This scheme is similar to that above with difference that one party provides the farm and the other agrees to irrigate it. The profit/loss of the venture is divided between them according to a previously agreed ratio.

[13] . . . without the need for any permission from any authority.

[14] . . . e.g. fishing, mining, etc. without the need for any permission from any authority.

[15] This kind of divorce is initiated by the woman in exchange for waiving some of her rights.

[16] Without the need for any permission to do so from any authority or for any payment in exchange for the use/possession of that land.

[17] For example to have his case dealt with a particular judge rather than other judges.

[18] There is no age limit for individuals to vote or take part in any election, i.e. children have the right to take part in elections too.

[19] The Qur'an: The Private Apartments (49): 13.

[20] The Qur'an: The Private Apartments (49): 10.

[21] The Qur'an: The Prophets (21): 92.

[22] The Qur'an: The Victory (48): 10.

[23] The Qur'an: The Tested (60): 12.

[24] The Qur'an: The Night Journey (17): 34.

[25] The Qur'an: The family of 'Emraan (3): 110.

[26] The Qur'an: Divorce (65): 6.

[27] The Qur'an: The Heights (7): 164.

[28] The Qur'an: The Table Spread (5): 79.

[29] The Qur'an: The Array (61): 2-3.

[30] The Qur'an: Consultation (42): 38.

[31] The Qur'an: The family of 'Emraan (3): 159.

[32] The Qur'an: Women (4): 59.

[33] The Qur'an: Banishment (59): 7.

[34] The Qur'an: The Heifer (2): 279.

[35] The Qur'an: The Heifer (2): 124.

[36] The Qur'an: Private Apartments (49): 13.

[37] The Qur'an: The Table Spread (5): 44.

[38] The Qur'an: The Table Spread (5): 47.

[39] The Qur'an: The Table Spread (5): 45.

[40] "The people of the prophet's household" is reference to the Prophet's daughter, Fatimah al-Zahraa, Ali (the first imam after the prophet), their sons Hassan (2nd imam) and Hussain (3rd imam), as well as nine imams decedents from al-Hussain peace be upon him.

[41] The Qur'an: The Night Journey (17): 74-75.

[42] The Qur'an: The Table Spread (5): 32.

[43] The Qur'an: The Heifer (2): 279.

[44] See al-Fiqh series, vols.  29-32, "Zakat", and al-Fiqh series, vol 33, "Khums" by the author.

[45] Any sentence of the Islamic penal system may only be applied if all the pre-requisite criteria are met.  In the case of a thief, for example, the hand of the thief may only be cut if, and only if, some 50 criteria are met.  These criteria include such factors as social, economical, political conditions.  If the entire 50 or so requirements are met, given the circumstantial condition of the event, the punishment may be carried out.  If the thief in question commits another such offence and all the 50 or so conditions still prevail, this time one of his feet may be cut.  If the individual commits a third such offence, with all the criteria still prevailing, he'll be jailed.

[46] The Qur'an: The Heifer (2): 256.

[47] The Qur'an: The Unbelievers (109): 6.

[48] The Qur'an: The Overwhelming Event (88): 21-22.

[49] The Qur'an: Qaf (50): 45.

[50] The Qur'an: Consultation (44): 15.

[51] The Qur'an: The Light (24): 27-28.

[52] The Qur'an: the Private Apartments (49): 12.

[53] The Qur'an: The Heifer (2): 189.

[54] The Qur'an: The Light (24): 27.

[55] The Qur'an: Repentance (9): 6.

[56] The Qur'an: Women (4): 115.

[57] The Qur'an: The Family of 'Emraan (3): 104.

[58] The Qur'an: Repentance (9): 122.

[59] The Qur'an: The Heifer (2): 228.

[60] The Qur'an: The Family of 'Emraan (3): 195.

[61] The Qur'an: The Coalitions (33): 35-36.

[62] The Qur'an: Women (4): 34.

[63] The Qur'an: The Tested (woman) (60): 12

[64] M. Shirazi, al-Fiqh series, vol. 99.


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