Islam Question: The idea of "Unalienable rights"

(Brandon) #1

Hi! So I had a Facebook friend posted a tweet making a quip about if someone was having a bad day to just picture Vice President Mike Pence swearing in two women to Congress using the Qur’ran (hah, funny right?), and I made the comment of saying that their dreams of thinking that would be shattered because Islam wouldn’t accept the concept of “Unalienable Rights” in the Declaration. Of course, opening my big mouth, I get this response from her:

“Interesting you respond with that…So is this inaccurate? The concept of inalienable rights was found in early Islamic law and jurisprudence, which denied a ruler “the right to take away from his subjects certain rights which inhere in his or her person as a human being.” Islamic rulers could not take away certain rights from their subjects on the basis that “they become rights by reason of the fact that they are given to a subject by a law and from a source which no ruler can question or alter.”[48] There is evidence that John Locke’s formulation of inalienable rights and conditional rulership, which were present in Islamic law centuries earlier, may have also been influenced by Islamic law, through his attendance of lectures given by Edward Pococke, a professor of Islamic studies.”

Obviously my first question is what would be the best way to respond (other than just don’t comment, which would probably be the best option since I don’t want to continue throwing mud at them), and would this be an idea of Western interpretation of Islam, or is my thought process going off on this?


(C Rhodes) #2

I would ask more questions because her premise does not seem to address the question of “Unalienable Rights.” Perhaps she did list references to Qur’an text, I can’t tell in her reply.

What her reply seems to indicate is a political incorrectness in your statement based upon thoughts from other Westerners who “may have been influenced by Islamic Law.” But that does nothing to clarify the Qur’an’s concept of unalienable rights.

I think I would encourage her to unpack her conclusions by providing actual references from the Qur’an. Perhaps she will have legitimate information that can be shared and promote greater understanding. But, allowing her to provide concrete structure for her conclusions may also be the best way for her to see a fallacy in her own reasoning.

(David Vermaak) #3

Hi @bcodom,

@cer7 probably has a better approach than me.

But if you’d like to answer back with some fire:

Unalienable rights: According to the declaration is based on the Christian God as the Creator and not Allah:

Reasoning for this being that the declaration says: “[A]ll men are created equal…[and] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

This cannot be Allah because he does not grant equal rights to life:

  1. He says to fight those who do believe in him- Qur’an 9:29—“Fight those who believe not in Allah”
  2. “Kill the idolaters wherever you find them, and capture them, and blockade them, and watch for them at every lookout…” (Quran 9:5).

So clearly life is only for those who believe in Allah, let alone equality.

Qur’an’s view of woman and that they are not equal:

Quran (4:11) - (Inheritance) “The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females”

They can’t be trusted:

Quran (2:282) - (Court testimony) “And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not found then a man and two women.”

And woman do not have the same freedom and liberty that men do:

Men can do with woman what they want sexually and when they want:

Quran (2:223) - “Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will…”

Also, the first example of inalienable rights would be traced back to the 10 Commandments, written about 15th Century BC, the Qu’ran originated in 6th Century AD, so about 2000 years separating them.



(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #4

Good day, Brandon (@bcodom). I agree with @cer7 about asking more questions. The person asserted that “the concept of inalienable rights was found in early Islamic law and jurisprudence” and that “there is evidence that John Locke’s formulation of inalienable rights and conditional rulership, which were present in Islamic law centuries earlier.”

This means that they have the burden of proof to show that they are correct. You could ask questions like, “where in Islamic law and jurisprudence can the concept of inalienable rights be found? Can you please show it to me?,” or “Can you please show me the evidence you are saying about John Locke’s formulation being present in Islamic law centuries earlier?” You can even ask for them to cite their sources. Please be reminded that we are not the only people who need to share our burden of proof.

(Brandon) #5

Thank you, everyone, for your insight! This mainly gave me a little more confirmation not only to unpack the responses that she provided, but that this may be a more Western thinking of Islam for her. This was my response to her this morning (I doubt she’ll respond as many of my generation just move on from social media post to post, lol):

"Hi Audrey! If I could, I would like to draw two conclusions from what you have responded to me about.

First, given I am not familiar with either quotes, Would you be willing to unpack this a little more for me? Are both quotes referencing text from the Qu’ran? Could you provide me with more info via links or references and such on what these are talking about? What I am concerned about is this is more of an idea of Islam from a Western perspective, which can be completely skewed from an Eastern perspective. If I am to take these quotes seriously, why in many predominately Islamic countries are women still oppressed and not having the same freedoms as men?

Second, which may be more of a philosophical thought, but given the quotes are talking about rulers not having the ability to take away rights, where does our inalienable rights come from in the eyes of Islam? Again, I ask if there is a reference from the Qu’ran that you may be referring to that I am not aware of, but please do share it so that I may gain a better understanding."

Thanks again, everyone, God’s blessings on your week! :slight_smile:

(Brandon) #6

Just for your curiostiy, here is her response:

"Why would you believe that a member of Congress would not be allowed to be sworn in on the book of their choice? Surely you’re familiar with the First Amendment. In fact, Congressman Keith Ellison used the Qur’an for his swearing in ceremony, although not without stirring up no small amount of controversy among bigoted pundits on the right.

If your objection is to the content of Islam the religion, you don’t have a leg to stand on. Surely there is nothing in the Qur’an more violent than Joshua’s conquests from the Old Testament, where he slaughtered men, women, and children of city after city in the name of the Lord, following the command “do not leave alive anything that breathes.” (Deu 20:16) Nowadays, we call that genocide.

If your only evidence is predominantly Muslim countries that don’t respect human rights, I submit to you Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, and a free democracy with reasonably fair elections. On the other end of the spectrum, I present to you Venezuela, an overwhelmingly Christian country led by a dictator who slaughters his political enemies to maintain power. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago, historically speaking, that different sects of Christianity were waging “convert or die” wars against each other, committing mass atrocities and bloodshed in the name of Jesus. And it was even more recently that a Christian group, millions strong, terrorized the American South.

Good men will use religion for good. Evil men will use religion for evil. The United States Constitution mandates that we look at the man, not the religion."

(Carson Weitnauer) #9

Hi Brandon,

I think the most important question to ask is this:

How can I build trust with my friend?

Once either participant in a conversation gets angry, you both lose.

The good news is, your friend is interested in the topic. The challenge is: how do you engage in a way that opens your friend up to consider other perspectives and search for truth with you?

A key to this is to be sincere and genuine in showing incredible respect. One way to get our hearts to that place is to spend time praying for our friends and asking God to help us see them as he sees them.

(C Rhodes) #10

Carson said the magic word. Prayer will need to be your guiding principle since she is apparently angry at anything appearing to be ‘right’ in the pendulum of politics. Even in her anger, she is getting closer to her true issue, which appears to be in the heated clash between left and right politics in this country. Which is viewed by many on both sides of the pendulum as an issue of religion.

I had a cousin who contacted me 4:30 am yesterday! 4:30 am!!! Wanting to discuss the atrocities she had witnessed in a PBS documentary. She was crying and kept saying “the white man did this and that.” All I could think was, “It’s 4:30 in the morning!” I begin to pray for myself because you know 4:30 am is not a time for a conversation about mid-term elections. I was angry and later said to her, I thought she had lost her mind!

While she raged the Lord spoke quietly to my heart. By the end of the conversation two and a half hours later, I had been given the opportunity to speak of the non-political, non-partisan, non-bias nature of GOD. I got a chance to speak to the real issue of our belief that the will of GOD is not being effective if we perceive something is unfair. I said things to her about the spirit of victimization and how unforgiveness traps.

It was by far the best conversation I had ever had with someone who held opposing political ideologies from my own! It was well worth the early morning intrusion. Be led by GOD, be encouraged. We are called for these moments in these days.

(Jimmy Sellers) #11

@bcodom, I believe that @CarsonWeitnauer is on track with his recommendations. The general goal for our community is to engagement with people who are skeptics and naysayers in such away as to get to the heart of the questioner and to be supportive of our fellow believers regardless of where there are in their walk with Jesus.
I don’t know your friend but I know from her comments that she has a negative bias towards religion and I am going to stick my neck out and say she has at best a shallow understanding of Christianity and ever a lesser understanding of Islam. This a good place for a disclaimer I am not expert in either but have and am studying both. Perhaps you might ask her to share with you what she believes about the world and our plight(s) individual and corporate. I think at some point in this type of conversation we need to know from where we are coming from.

(Richard Shumack) #12

Hi Brandon (and all),

I’m not an American and so can’t speak with authority about the U.S. constitution’s concept of inalienable rights, but I can say with certainty that Islam does not teach any similar concept. In Islam humans are not made in the image of God, they are mere slaves of God bound to obedience. Under Islamic law not everyone is equal.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that some great Muslim thinkers over the years didn’t explore the idea of human rights. But to say that the idea is somehow rooted in Islam seems baseless.

(Frankly, I’m not sure that our modern political contrual of human rights is rooted in the Bible either, bit that’s another story… )

In any case, your friend Audrey is not really presenting a measured, careful case comparing Islam and Christianity. It is simplistic and cherry picking. But others here are correct I think that it is driven by a range of non-rational factors.

It is an example of perhaps the greatest challenge of modern apologetics: how to discuss truth in a a world of bad and fallacious reasoning and angry polarizing dispositions.

As others have mentioned prayer and listening helps…if she know you love her you will get opportunity to speak.



(Brandon) #13

Thank you all for your comments and support! I haven’t had much of a chance to respond to her, and quite frankly after some prayer and thought I think I am going to leave the conversation as-is for a couple of reasons.

First, this friend of mine is more of an acquaintance. We were high school classmates that are Facebook friends, but never were really any closer as far as any relationship than that. It may be one of those where I could unfriend for obvious reasons, but I am a firm believer in what I can “Indirect Evangelization”, meaning if someone happens to come upon a post I make and think about it, great!

Unfortunately, this is the kind of person that uses the power of social media in a negative way. My wife and I know some people like that where engaging with them via social media is not effective. It becomes more of an attention-whoring situation than anything, and there have been times on social media I’ve had to learn to walk away from situations because we weren’t making any headway in a conversation.

It became more apparent to me after seeing a few other posts from her where even some of her closest friends were thinking she was going too far, and she was attacking them for even responding to her like that. So, as much as I want to engage her on this and not give up, I think I am going to retreat and let it go mainly because she’s going to keep running around and around on this. I still will continue to pray for her and ask God to find better opportunities to engage her as He sees me fit, but I think this is one of those situations that the conversation is not going to go anywhere.

Again, I appreciate all of you responses, and will at least take away a lot of learning experience from this.

God bless!

(David Vermaak) #14

Hi @bcodom,

Good for you for praying this through and following the Lords guidance on how far to pursue this.

In an effort to address her types of statements/questions (because they are common) and to have knowledge around them in order to address them, I’ve listed some of my thoughts below:

I think it’s important to remember where we’ve come from. Ravi has said “that to forget the past is to obliterate the future”.

When considering America’s past, admittedly the conversation around presidents and religion and their outright profession of faith, the ground is a bit shaky. But I think it’s fair to say that many of them came from Christian backgrounds -

There are other sources that substantiate this-

Lincoln referred to biblical principles, the Bible, God, and the need to do away with slavery as a result of Gods will for that to happen in his second inaugural speech-

If one had to say where has the decline of morality and ethics come from in the West, it would have to be agreed that it is its departure from the Bible if many of the moral & ethical laws were based on it.

Even a Muslim would agree with this as they hold a high regard for morals and ethics, at least intellectually, like many “Christians”, they can also live pretty thick in the world. So even if they don’t believe in all of the Bible, they would agree with many of its moral and ethical standards, because they believe in many of those themselves. So find ground for commonality with anyone that has questions of the Bible, it’s a good place to move from.

The statement of Joshua and his conquests, here’s an article I thought was a fairly good read:

Also, Deuteronomy 20:16 needs to be taken in context of all of chapters 20 & 21 of Deuteronomy. The overwhelming support of Gods mercy in these chapters far outweighs positioning Him or Joshua etc. as monsters, it’s the most gracious of warfare terms one can imagine.

The people of Canaan were wicked people who sacrificed babies, and God acted justly against such wickedness, often destroying them and nations like them Himself, with Joshua and the like having very little participation in their destruction, thus the God of the universe was attempting to maintain purely, is He not just to do so, they would say Allah is.

On the issue of human rights, by far the overwhelming amount of countries with issues in humanitarian issues are middle eastern and North African countries:

I think we can see God as a God of mercy many times over in the Old Testament, and this ultimate mercy and grace is shown when God the Son sacrificed himself in the form of Jesus Christ to reconcile man to Himself in such a way that mans evil could be dealt with once and for all, by accepting that Christ died on the Cross for His sin.

I would point someone like her to the person of Jesus Christ as Gods act of ultimate love and mercy and how he died for all people and nations. And how He, time after time, displays gentleness and grace to all.

Muslims battle with concept of Christ as God the Son because Allah is “so great” that they can’t think that a god would subject himself to being incarnated into a man, or even converse with a man (Muhammad received the word of the Qu’ran from the archangel Gabriel). If she’s Sufi she would be an exception, they are more into mysticism etc. and believe that Allah does speak directly to them, but this is not the general Muslim consensus.

So the concept of a god sacrificing himself is seen as weakness, IF seeing power or greatness in the context of the sword.

But when it’s seen through the lens of love, anyone who is almighty and all powerful restraining his power, that is a real display of power and greatness.

And when considering the full extent of all mans sins falling onto one man, that takes great strength and power.

Some of my thoughts to navigate some of these discussions.




This an example of Islamic ‘taqiyya’ or deception from your Fakebook friend. Islamic jurists use phrases with apparently universal reference, such as ‘human rights’ but they in fact restrict the universality, by means of mental reservation, to the Muslim ‘ummah’ (community). Rights are universal in islam as long as one is Muslim. Non-muslims have no rights except those which are specified for ‘dhimmis’, (second class citizens) and are contingent on the payment of the ‘jizya’, i.e. what amounts to protection money. Polytheists have no rights at all and cannot even pay jizya, but are slaughtered if they refuse to convert to Islam.
To see a modern version of this islamic conception of ‘human rights’ (i.e. Muslim rights) study the Declaration of Human Rights in the UN. There are in fact two versions of the Declaration: the truly universal one which includes all humans and the Cairo Declaration which is for Muslims. This is a little-publicized fact, but it is so. The Muslim jurists who put together the Cairo Declaration knew that to truly universalise human rights would be to destroy Islam, which is intrinsically intolerant of what it calls ‘kufr’, or failure to believe in Mohammed.
The fact is: Islamic law does not consider non-muslims to be worthy of rights because they are reprobate and thus not really human. Whatever casuistic Islamic law professors may claim, the Qur’an forbids equal treatment of Muslims and non-muslims. Islam has to be intolerant because otherwise it collapses.

(Joel Vaughn) #16

@bcodom Hi Brandon,
With regard to inalienable human rights, I’d recommend looking at Dennis Prager’s take on the 10 Commandments, especially the 1st of them. The exposition of British common law which was the outworking of natural law that the American Founders had in mind was not based closely on . I’ve read and heard various views that a lot of common law had roots in old Saxon traditions of local government brought to England. There may be a lot to that, but I don’t have the historical background. But I think Dennis Prager makes a good argument that Judaeo-Christian ethics have had a strong influence on our understanding of natural law, and there was at least some connection between ‘Creator-endowed’ and ‘inalienable’, which was important in terms of a Constitution forcing a government to recognize the rights, not creating the rights. The relationship of this concept to the history of slavery in America is too complicated (and sensitive) issue to get into, but it does have a lot to do with the relationship of the federal government to state government.

(Baalah ) #17

In my opinion, she would need to say if the “Kafir” is entitled to this unalienable rights under Islamic law.