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Muslims as Pioneers of Human Rights Philosophy

". . . According to the Islamic or at least the Shiah jurisprudence, if it is proved that equity demands that in a certain case the law should have a particular form, that very form will be the legal form irrespective of any other argument to the contrary, for according to the basic teachings of Islam the law must, in no case, infringe natural justice and basic rights. The Muslim scholars, by expounding the principle of equity, laid the foundation of the philosophy of rights, though following some unhappy historical events they could not continue the good work started by them. It was the Muslims who, for the first time, paid attention to the question of human rights and the principle of equity, and set them forth as original and self-existing principles unaffected by any contractual law. The Muslims were the pioneers in the field of the inherent natural rights.

"But it was so destined that they could not continue their work and ultimately, after eight centuries, it was further developed by European intellectuals and philosophers, who appropriated the credit for it. . . ."

--Ayatollah Murtaza Mutahhari. "Woman in Islam," Woman and Her Rights (

Note: for classic reference to "equity" see Letter 53 of Imam Ali


Woman and Her Rights (some Chapter excerpts below)
"Modern Life and Islam"
"Another aspect of Islam which makes it compatible with the requirements of the time is the conformity of its teachings to reason. Islam has proclaimed that its laws are based on considerations of higher interest" (Part III).
"Woman in Qur'an"
"EQUALITY OR SIMILARITY . . . the point worth considering is whether on the basis of human dignity they [men and women] both should have equal rights without any discrimination, or should have the same rights irrespective of their different roles in life. No doubt, human dignity being common to them, they both should have equal rights. But how about the similarity of their rights?"