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The Source Of Rights

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"The Source Of Rights" is an article written by Ayatullah Muhammad Taqi Misbah Yazdi, And published by Ahlul Bayt World Assembly. It is a philosophical discussion on the origin of rights; that it's source is the will of Allah.

The subject of our discussion is the origin of ‘rights’. Before entering into discussion of the subject matter it is essential to explain the meaning of right and its usage.

Right, justice and its synonyms are the most sacrosanct words, which enjoy highest sanctity and special elegance of meaning in all the human societies. One can hardly come across a person who would like to introduce himself as the supporter of falsehood and oppression and oppression and opposed to justice and the right. The most tyrant persons and governments proclaim to be true and just in order to deceive the people. They want to cover the ugliness of their aggressive tyrant deeds under the beautiful mantle of justice and truth. The affinity of these two meanings becomes clearer when justice is defined as dispensation of right to the rightful.

The search for truth and justice is considered as the mother of all social values. The precept of virtue of right and justice is an evident rational dictum. Inclination and ambition for these are considered as a part of man’s lofty temperament. So is the precept of vices of oppression and fallacy an evident rational dictum. Dislike for these is also a part of human nature.

Islamic culture also attaches significant importance to these terms. These have repeatedly been referred to in the Holy Qur'an and the sayings of the holy Prophet (S) and the members of his household, the Ahlul Bayt (A.S.) which indicates the importance of this matter in the system of Islamic values.

Let us however, impress upon the fact that the word right has various usages but all of these do not relate to our subject matter. For instance, the word right means permanent being, or the statement according to facts or a promise about something, which would certainly happen, etc.

Therefore, truth in relation to Almighty Allah (S.w.T.) also does not relate to our subject matter. If the search for justice and right is part of human nature it cannot be related to acquaintance and worship of Allah (S.w.T.) and the existence of one cannot be derived from the other. Some have tried to do so to arrive to such conclusions but they have only confused between its ethical meanings and philosophical conception.

The other point is that the limitations for usage of right in legal discussions is much narrower than its expanded use in ethical and religious discourses, discussions are held on the ‘rights’ of Allah (S.w.T.) over man and even the ‘rights’ of man over Allah (S.w.T.). But as far as the legal concept is concerned it exclusively relates to the relationship between man and man. On the other hand, the word ‘‘rights’’ is used in at least two different meanings as far as its usage by the lawyers is concerned. The one relates to reservations and privileges granted to individuals or groups of persons, which should be honored by others and should not be violated or encroached upon by any one.

The other meaning is the code of laws whose observance is obligatory. These may provide privileges for certain persons or prescribe obligations for others. These can also be laws describing conditions and qualifications, such as explaining the conditions for the correctness of agreements and contracts. The word ‘rights’ in the second sense is very much similar to the term ‘social laws’.

However, these two meanings are not entirely alienated to each other, because all legal laws are connected in one way or the other with the rights of individuals or the society. If it grants a right to somebody it necessitates an obligation for the opposite side. In case it provides obligations for all it would mean provision of reciprocal duties for all. As a result of this every one will have a reciprocal right on the other. As a matter of fact, such general laws are dissolved into minor laws each of which guarantee a special right or obligation.

To put this in one sentence, it can be said that ‘rights’ and duties are interrelated and the enactment of one necessitates the provision of the other.

Similarly, the enactment of laws such as those providing details and conditions for entering into agreements and contracts and similar other laws provide both ‘rights’ and duties accruing from such agreements and contracts.


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