Buried in the archive of human philosophical thoughts, are many untold histories of man in an intellect propelled quest for freedom in the course of his journey on earth.
No human being is not uninvolved in such desire that gave birth to many rights as we have today. Even the very creation of the first man on earth, and the subsequent creation of others, is not only the genesis of human rights but also an attestation to the man in dire need of freedom.
Having realize this too, human beings also set out institutions which are hallmarks of intelligent and later put together rights which we all enjoy today. Such rights include; right to life, right to dignity of person even when in prison, right to choose your own religion et cetera.
However, this paper will particularly centre on the right to dignity of person and right to religion, using the scenario of the saddening and disheartening ill-fated two sisters in Ilorin as a case study.
HUMAN RIGHTS TO DIGNITY AND RELIGION UNDER THE ENGLISH COMMON LAW:
Unassailable is the fact that Nigeria as a country is pluralistic in nature with over 250 ethnics group, thus was characterised by legal pluralism. We have the English common law, Islamic Law and the customary law, each of which provides for and protected the of Nigerian citizens.
The victims being Nigerians cannot be exception of these rights. The community reading of S34&38 of the CFRN (1999) as amended, which provide thus;
34. (1) Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly –(a) no person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment;(b) no person shall he held in slavery or servitude………..
38. (1) Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
It suffices to say that the in human acts of the victims family is not only barbarous and baseless but also constitute a wanton disregard for the provision of the the constitution which is the highest law of the land.
RIGHTS TO HUMAN DIGNITY AND HONOUR CUM RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF RELIGION UNDER SHARIA LAW:
The life, dignity and honour of an individual are uncompromisingly sacred in the sharia. In fact the entire concept of human rights fits naturally within the framework of human dignity. According to the holy Qur’an:Al-Isra’ 17:70
وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ وَحَمَلْنَٰهُمْ فِى ٱلْبَرِّ وَٱلْبَحْرِ وَرَزَقْنَٰهُم مِّنَ ٱلطَّيِّبَٰتِ وَفَضَّلْنَٰهُمْ عَلَىٰ كَثِيرٍ مِّمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا تَفْضِيلًا
And We have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference.
And in the protection of an individual’s honour and dignity, the Almighty Allah further declares in Al-Hujurat 49:11
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَىٰٓ أَن يَكُونُوا۟ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَآءٌ مِّن نِّسَآءٍ عَسَىٰٓ أَن يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُنَّۖ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوٓا۟ أَنفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا۟ بِٱلْأَلْقَٰبِۖ بِئْسَ ٱلِٱسْمُ ٱلْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ ٱلْإِيمَٰنِۚ وَمَن لَّمْ يَتُبْ فَأُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلظَّٰلِمُونَ
O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.
RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF RELIGION
There is in existence in Shari’ah, the right to freedom of conscience and thought to all and sundry. The Islamic position on this is that-
لَآ إِكْرَاهَ فِى ٱلدِّينِۖ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ ٱلرُّشْدُ مِنَ ٱلْغَىِّۚ فَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِٱلطَّٰغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِنۢ بِٱللَّهِ فَقَدِ ٱسْتَمْسَكَ بِٱلْعُرْوَةِ ٱلْوُثْقَىٰ لَا ٱنفِصَامَ لَهَاۗ وَٱللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing. Q2 v 256.
Enumerated above, is the regime of the victims right to dignity& honour and there right to freedom of religion and conscience both under Islamic law and the English common law. The position of both laws is clear on what rights and duties of every person is. This is because the ultimate goal of human rights is the enrichment of human life by making available avenues for both material and spiritual development. Often, the problem is not always the law itself but the correct application of the law by the people for whom it is made, as seen in the case of Baseeroh and Madinah. Therefore what remains is the championing of the course for the true and beneficial application of the principles of law by the arbitrators (the court, religious leaders and other concerned people) in the case of the two sisters. Else, the postulation of Prof. M.A. AJOMO in his inaugural lecture, which reads-“To deny human beings their rights is to prepare the stage for political and social unnrest- uprising civil revolt, hostility and even wars between nations and between groups within nation” will come to true. May peace reign in our dear state.
IBRAHEEM M. MUSTAPHA is a student of University of Ilorin, department of Common and Islamic law. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org
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