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Issues of Human Rights before the Arrival of Islam

Human rights are the rights a person has simply because he or she is a human being. Human
rights are held by all persons equally, universally, and forever. Human rights are indivisible, you
cannot be denied a right because it is "less important" or "non-essential." John Esposito sees
Muhammad as a reformer who condemned practices of the pagan Arabs such as female
infanticide, exploitation of the poor, usury, murder, false contracts, and theft.
1. Female Infanticide
Female infanticide is the intentional killing of infant girls. In addition to the active methods
undertaken to eliminate baby girls soon after birth, neglect and discrimination leading to death
and sex-selective abortion are also means by which many female children die each year. In
seventh-century Arabia before Islamic culture took root, female infanticide was widely practiced.
This is attributed by scholars to the fact that women were deemed "property" within those
societies. Others have speculated that to prevent their daughters from a life of misery the mothers
would kill the child. With the arrival of Islamic rule the practice was made illegal.
2. Exploitation of Poor
Every exploitative relationship begins with an initial inequality that makes the taking advantage
possible. In exploitative relationship the rich get richer and the poor fall further
behind. Exploitation was done using somebodys labor, but in return giving an unfair
compensation, or taking unfair advantage of laborer.
3. Usury
It is the practice of making unethical or immoral monetary loans that unfairly enrich the lender.
Originally, usury meant interest of any kind. A loan may be considered usurious because of
excessive or abusive interest rates or other factors. Undoubtedly, usury is an unjust and
oppressive evil. It is against human nature and human dignity. It increases the riches of the
Understandably, the exploited poor begin to hate the rich. The pent-up hatred then finds an outlet
in the form of violence and bloody revolutions.
4. Murder
It is the killing of another person without justification or valid excuse, and it is especially the
unlawful killing of another person with malice afore thought. Murder was common and accepted.
Homicide is not forbidden, and Nuer do not think it wrong to kill a man in fair fight. On the

contrary, a man who slays another in combat is admired for his courage and skill." (EvansPritchard 1956: 195) This statement is true for most African tribes, for pre-modern Europeans,
for Indigenous Australians, and for Native Americans, according to ethnographic reports from all
over the world. ... Homicides rise to incredible numbers among headhunter cultures such as
the Papua. When a boy is born, the father has to kill a man. He needs a name for his child and
can receive it only by a man, he himself has murdered. When a man wants to marry, he must kill
a man. When a man dies, his family again has to kill a man. [46] The term assassin derives
from Hashshashin,[51] a militant Ismaili Shi`ite sect, active from the 8th to 14th centuries. This
mystic secret society killed members of the Abbasid, Fatimid, Seljuq and Crusader elite for
political and religious reasons.[52] The Thuggee cult that plagued India was devoted to Kali, the
goddess of death and destruction.[53][54]According to some estimates the Thuggees murdered
1 million people between 1740 and 1840.[55] The Aztecs believed that without regular offerings
of blood the sun god Huitzilopochtli would withdraw his support for them and destroy the world
as they knew it.[56] According to Ross Hassig, author of Aztec Warfare, "between 10,000 and
80,400 persons" were sacrificed in the 1487 re-consecration of the Great Pyramid of
5. False Contracts
6. Theft
In common usage, theft is the taking of another person's property without that person's
permission or consent with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of it.
7. Fornication
Fornication is generally consensual sexual intercourse between two people not married to each
other.[1][2] For many people, the term carries an overtone of moral or religious disapproval, but the
significance of sexual acts to which the term is applied varies between religions, societies and
cultures. It was common practice for ordinary couples to co-habit before marriage and for
cousins to marry one another".[12] and there was very little stigma around bastards at any social
8. Slavery
Slavery was widely practiced in pre-Islamic Arabia, as well as in the rest of the ancient and early
medieval world. The minority were white slaves of foreign extraction, likely brought in by Arab
caravaners (or the product of Bedouin captures) stretching back to biblical times.
Native Arab slaves had also existed, a prime example being Zayd ibn Harithah, later to become

Muhammad's adopted son. Arab slaves, however, usually obtained as captives, were generally
ransomed off amongst nomad tribes.[2] The slave population increased by the custom of child
abandonment (see also infanticide), and by the kidnapping, or, occasionally, the sale of small
children.[19] There is no conclusive evidence of the existence of enslavement for debt or the sale
of children by their families; the late and rare accounts of such occurrences show them to be
abnormal, Brunschvig states[2] (According to Brockopp, debt slavery was persistent. [20]) Free
persons could sell their offspring, or even themselves, into slavery. Enslavement was also
possible as a consequence of committing certain offenses against the law, as in the Roman
Empire.[19] Two classes of slave existed: a purchased slave, and a slave born in the master's home.
Over the latter the master had complete rights of ownership, though these slaves were unlikely to
be sold or disposed of by the master. Female slaves were at times forced into prostitution for the
benefit of their masters, in accordance with Near Eastern customs. The historical accounts of the
early years of Islam report that "slaves of non-Muslim masters ... suffered brutal
punishments. Sumayyah bint Khayyat is famous as the first martyr of Islam, having been killed
with a spear by Ab Jahl when she refused to give up her faith. Abu Bakr freed Bilal when his
master, Umayya ibn Khalaf, placed a heavy rock on his chest in an attempt to force his
9. War Crime
The laws of armed conflict prohibit attacks on civilians and the use of weapons that cause
unnecessary suffering or long-term environmental damage.[4] Other war crimes include taking
hostages, firing on localities that are undefended and without military significance, such as
hospitals or schools, inhuman treatment of prisoners, including biological experiments, and the
pillage or purposeless destruction of property
10. Low status of women
Women and girls are often raped by soldiers or forced into prostitution. For a long time, the
international community has failed to address the problem of sexual violence during armed
conflict.[7] However, sexual assaults, which often involve sexual mutilation, sexual humiliation,
and forced pregnancy, are quite common. Such crimes are motivated in part by the long-held
view that women are the "spoils" of war to which soldiers are entitled. Trafficking in women is a
form of sexual slavery in which women are transported across national borders and marketed for
prostitution. These so-called "comfort women" are another example of institutionalized sexual
violence against women during wartime. In addition, women are uniquely vulnerable to certain
types of human rights abuses -- in addition to the sexual abuse mentioned above, entrenched
discrimination against women is prevalent in many parts of the world and leads to various forms
of political and social oppression. This includes strict dress codes and harsh punishments for
sexual "transgressions," which impose severe limitations on women's basic liberties. In addition,
women in some regions (Africa , for example) suffer greater poverty than men and are denied
political influence, education, and job training.[19]

11. Torture
Rather than simply killing off whole populations, government forces may carry out programs of
torture. Torture can be either physical or psychological, and aims at the "humiliation or
annihilation of the dignity of the person."[10] Physical torture might include mutilation, beatings,
and electric shocks to lips, gums, and genitals.[11] In psychological torture, detainees are
sometimes deprived of food and water for long periods, kept standing upright for hours, deprived
of sleep, or tormented by high-level noise.