Rafed English

The Limit of Human Rights in the West

Adopted from the book : "Freedom; The Unstated Facts and Points" by : "Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi"

You know that in the recent period an issue called the (Universal) Declaration of Human Rights was brought up.

At the outset, this declaration was signed by the representatives of 46 states. Then, later on, other countries joined them by signing the same, and as a result, the declaration became a “universal” declaration. In this declaration, rights for man have been enumerated such as the freedom of expression, 22 freedom on the choice of residence, 23 freedom on the choice of occupation, 24 freedom on the choice of religion, 25 freedom on the choice of spouse, 26 and others.

Concerning this declaration, there were discussions raised by legal experts who were familiar with the philosophy of law (Muslim legal experts in particular). Among these discussions are the following: What is the philosophical foundation of the subjects you are discussing as the rights of human beings, regarding them as absolute and believing that no one should limit them? What arguments are there in their favor?

Is there a specific bound and limit, or not? Are these rights absolutely above the law, and that no law is authorized to set limit on these rights? Is there not any law permitted to determine the limit of the freedom of expression? Is there not any law permitted to impose limit on the freedom to choose one’s spouse? Is there any law allowed to state that you have no right to choose your residence beyond the established limit? Is there any law permitted to determine the specific bound of these rights?

When we say that such and such a subject is a natural right and natural need of man, does it mean that this right has no limit and bound? If there is a limit, who is the one determining its limit and bound. The truth of the matter is that as far as I know, most of the authors of the declaration themselves and those who have interpreted it have avoided giving succinct answers to these questions.

Finally, what is meant by saying that freedom is above the law? Are there freedoms, which no law has ever been authorized to impose limitation? Are we not supposed to ask, “What is the end point of this freedom”? Does freedom of expression mean that anybody can say whatever he wants to say?! We can observe that no country has ever granted such permission. In fact, every country is of the opinion that freedom of expression has limit and boundary. For example, insulting the personality of individuals is unacceptable in all parts of the globe.


22. Article 19 (Freedom of opinion and information). [Trans.]

23. Article 13 (Right to freedom of movement and residence in one’s own country and to leave and return at will). [Trans.]

24. Article 23 (Right to work and fair pay for work). [Trans.]

25. Article 18 (Freedom of belief and religion). [Trans.]

26. Article 16 (Right to marriage and protection of family). [Trans.]

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