Book “Islam and Human Rights’ by Sir Zafrulla Khan
Reviewed by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
Sir Zafrulla was a polymath and the first Foreign Minister of Pakistan and took office in 1947. He also served as President of the UN General Assembly in 1962–63 and President of International Court of Justice from 1970 to 1973.
I am presenting his book and only his book and not any of his other ideas or books as a blueprint for the 21st and 22nd century.
Why am I doing that? Because I believe that human rights and their supremacy is going to win over national and theological interests of every country, nation, religion, sect or group.
In Ukrainian Russian war I see that human conscience has spoken in favor of dignity and sacredness of human life even if the Western media’s double standards has not yet fully acknowledged it for the Middle Eastern Muslim lives before.
In the ‘Me Too’ movement I see the supremacy of not only women rights but also all human rights. Voice and rights of a single grieved woman can bring down the most powerful!
In the recent developments by religious communities of policies against sexual abuse and harassments we see honor of each and every human child.
If I am such a believer in human and women rights why am I bringing up Islam?
Because I am a theist and not an atheist. I am a devout believer in God of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, John the Baptist and Jesus, may peace be on them all.
In other words I believe in Personal God for personal life. Yet I know that Islamism, Political Islam, Political Judaism or Zionism and their counter parts in Christianity are source of many an unrest and confusion in this century and crusades in the previous centuries.
I believe that the paradigm for future will be theistic without their respective political paradigms and agenda.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs.
So, I am staking my position based on the literal word of God, the final scripture, the holy Quran, combined human conscience in the aftermath of the World War II in developing Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a man of one of the highest statures, Sir Zafrulla Khan in correlating the word of God and human understanding and achievement that came to be in 1948.
Please do not take it as a sectarian debate within Islam, as I am rising above such petty differences and presenting a theistic paradigm that is common to all Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam and will add articles at the bottom of this post and in the comment section to bring the people of these faiths closer.
The General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages. The UDHR is widely recognized as having inspired, and paved the way for, the adoption of more than seventy human rights treaties, applied today on a permanent basis at global and regional levels (all containing references to it in their preambles).is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (
My main suggestion to the open minded readers is to read on and in the words of Sir Francis Bacon, “Read not to contradict … but to weigh and consider.”
Zafrulla Khan served concurrently as leader of Pakistan’s delegation to the UN (1947–54). From 1954 to 1961 he served as a member of the International Court of Justice at The Hague. He again represented Pakistan at the UN in 1961–64 and served as president of the UN General Assembly in 1962–63. Returning to the International Court of Justice in 1964, he served as the court’s president from 1970 to 1973.
He played an important role in the development of the 30 Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He saw numerous parallels in the teachings of the holy Quran and these articles and wrote a book to demonstrate that to the world.
In his view Islam was about human rights and creating a compassionate and just society should be a constant goal of each Muslim.
In his booklet he discussed each Article in the light of various verses of the holy Quran.
He introduces the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the following words:
The Declaration of Human Rights does not, in the accepted juristic sense of the term, constitutes a “law”. It stands, nevertheless, as a shining milestone along the long, and often difficult and weary, path trodden by Man down the corridors of History, through centuries of suffering and tribulation, towards the goal of freedom, justice and equality. Man’s struggle for freedom, justice and equality has been waged in all ages and in many fields and theatres, with varying fortunes. Each of these battles, and the ground won in each, have, in turn, forwarded the cause of Man and have contributed towards the formulation and adoption of the Declaration, which is entitled to rank with the great historical documents and Charters directed towards the same objective.
He summarized the dark chapters of history and the hope for the future of humanity in the following words:
How is it that in the last half of the twentieth century, after having passed through the shattering and devastating experience of two world wars and in the shadow of a nuclear holocaust, despite all the effort that has so far been put forth to the contrary, man continues to be the victim of discrimination, intolerance and cruelty at the hands of his fellow man? One would have thought that man’s daily increasing knowledge of the working of the laws of nature and his growing mastery over the forces of nature, which has opened for every one of us the prospect of a richer, fuller and happier life, would have brought in their wake an era in which man could dispense with the weapons of greed, selfishness, exploitation and dominance which had so far been regarded, albeit utterly erroneously, as contributing towards the welfare and prosperity of those who were, from time to time, in a position to employ them. For, indeed, the truth is daily becoming more manifest, as experience in every field continues to furnish fresh confirmation, that the prosperity of all is promoted through mutual sharing and co-operation rather than through the exploitation and domination of some by others. It must be our constant endeavour to bring this home to all in every corner of the globe.
In correlating the Articles to the Islamic teachings he says:
In studying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from the Islamic point of view, we must remember that while Islam lays down broad values and standards which clearly endorse the spirit and purpose of the Declaration, it does not pronounce verbatim on all the specific provisions of the Declaration.
Regarding the Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its relation to Islam he writes:
The Preamble of the Declaration recalls in general terms the values and purposes which the Declaration is designed to secure and the methods through which they might be secured.
The preceding sections have drawn attention to some of these values as being part of those that Islam seeks to inculcate and establish. These and some others will be considered in somewhat greater detail with reference to the specific articles of the Declaration. So far as the Preamble is concerned it should be enough to point out that Islam lays the duty of constantly promulgating Islamic values upon every individual Muslim. The generic word for these values is ma‘roof, meaning that which is good, equitable, desirable.
To read the book online: Islam and Human Rights
About the author of the book from Encyclopedia Britannica:
“Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan was a Pakistani politician, diplomat, and international jurist, known particularly for his representation of Pakistan at the United Nations (UN).
The son of the leading attorney of his native city, Zafrulla Khan studied at Government College in Lahore and received his LL.B. from King’s College, London University, in 1914. He practiced law in Sialkot and Lahore, became a member of the Punjab Legislative Council in 1926, and was a delegate in 1930, 1931, and 1932 to the Round Table Conferences on Indian reforms in London. In 1931–32 he was president of the All-India Muslim League (later the Muslim League), and he sat on the British viceroy’s executive council as its Muslim member from 1935 to 1941. He led the Indian delegation to the League of Nations in 1939, and from 1941 to 1947 he served as a judge of the Federal Court of India.
Prior to the partition of India in 1947, Zafrulla Khan presented the Muslim League’s view of the future boundaries of Pakistan to Sir Cyril Radcliffe, the man designated to decide the boundaries between India and Pakistan. Upon the independence of Pakistan, Zafrulla Khan became the new country’s minister of foreign affairs and served concurrently as leader of Pakistan’s delegation to the UN (1947–54). From 1954 to 1961 he served as a member of the International Court of Justice at The Hague. He again represented Pakistan at the UN in 1961–64 and served as president of the UN General Assembly in 1962–63. Returning to the International Court of Justice in 1964, he served as the court’s president from 1970 to 1973.
He was knighted in 1935. He is the author of Islam: Its Meaning for Modern Man (1962) and wrote a translation of the Qur’an (1970).” [Encylopaedia Britannica]