Rafed English

The Measure of Rights - Individual and Universal

So far we have seen that the essence of jihad is defense. There is now just one issue that remains, which is whether, in our view, tawhid pertains to the universal rights of humanity, or to the personal rights of an individual, or at the most, to the rights of a nation. What we have to do is look at the criteria for personal rights, universal rights of humanity and see what they are. In some things human beings are all the same, while in some other, they are different. Human beings differ in so many ways that even two persons cannot be found who, in every detail, are exactly the same. The same as two individuals having the same physical characteristics do not exist, it is also true that no two persons do have the same spiritual characteristics.

It is the interest which relates to the common demands and needs of all human beings that are the universal rights. Freedom means the absence of obstacles to the flowering of the natural potentials of the individual, and it relates to all of humanity. Freedom for me has exactly the same value as it has for you. It has the same value for you as it has for others. Between you and I, however, there exist many differences, and these pertain to the "personality," because they are personal differences. The same as color and the physique differ in human beings, their personalities also differ. I may like clothes of a certain color, while you like those of a different color. I may like to live in one town, while you prefer another one. I may arrange and decorate my home in one way, while you choose a different way. I may select one subject for study, while you select another. These are all personal issues, for which, no one can be bothered. Thus no one has the right to compel someone to marry a particular person, for marriage is a personal issue and in choosing a marriage partner, everyone has his own taste to suit. Islam says that no one must be compelled in choosing his or her partner because this choice is one's personal right. The Europeans who say that no one must be bothered for the sake of tawhid or faith, say so because they think that these two concepts are amongst the personal concerns of the individual, are issues of the personality, individual matters of taste. To them, religion is something which brings entertainment to all human beings.

In their view, it is like art; one person likes Hafiz, another likes Sa'adi, another likes Maulavi, another likes Khayam, another Ferdowsi 6 and no one must bother the one who likes Sa'adi saying: "Why do you like Sa'adi? I like Hafiz. You also have to like Hafiz." To them religion is just this. One person chooses Islam, while another chooses Christianity, another chooses Zoroastrianism, while yet another, is least bothered about all of them. No one must be troubled. Religion in the view of these Europeans is not related to the core of life, to the path of human life. This is their basic supposition, and between their line of thought and ours, there exists a world of difference. Religions like their own religions must be as they say, but to us, religion means the "siratul-mustaqim," the "straight path" of humanity and being indifferent to religion means being indifferent to the straight path, to the real path of progress, of humanity. We say that tawhid is the pillar of well-being, prosperity and happiness of mankind, and is not merely the personal concern of the individual or the sole concern of this or that group. Accordingly, the truth lies with those who believe tawhid to be pertaining to the rights of humanity. If, at the same time, we say that war for the imposition of tawhid is not permissible, it is not because tawhid pertains to those affairs which must not be defended and not to humanity's general rights, but because the very nature of tawhid does not allow it to be imposed, as the Quran confirms: "la ikraha fid-din."
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6. All notable Muslim poets.

Adapted from the book: "Jihad; The Holy War of Islam and Its Legitimacy in the Quran" by: "Ayatullah Morteza Mutahhari"

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