By Khaled Abou El Fadl
In answer to the question: “Is there a distinctly Islamic view of human rights, and if so, is it compatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?” one must begin by making some important distinctions in this discourse, which relate to identifying something one can refer to as belonging to “Islam” or the Islamic tradition. When one talks about the human rights tradition in the West, one can identify the Catholic and Protestant progression in discourses on natural law, and the clear differences between the two approaches, which can be collectively referred to as Christian tradition. When one looks at the Islamic tradition, the situation is more complex.
The reason for this complexity is that some of these distinctions go beyond raising the issue of what is Islamic. For example, one important distinction is that between international human rights law that emerges from the processes, procedures, and dynamics of the collective system of the United Nations; and the concept of human rights.
DEFINING THE CONCEPT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
The United Nations has its specific mechanisms and processes, which have their own linguistic practice, normative practice, and criteria and system of reference. More importantly, when it comes to making commitments to human rights, the commitment is in the sense of positive law; in other words, a commitment is made through an agreement by nations through signing a convention or a treaty, which bounds them in a positive law fashion to implement certain rules of conduct. Human rights, however, is larger than the process that takes place in the U.N. It is larger than the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other positive law conventions and commitments that ensue from them.
Human rights is fundamentally a rather elusive, perhaps ill-defined, but nevertheless overriding normative concept, very much like the idea of natural law or the idea of the inalienable and inherent. In the other words human rights is a fundamental moral commitment.
In positive law, what creates the law is the agreement among groups of human beings reached through parliaments, international institutions or other fora. These agreements create the law and embody it in various forms of legislation including international treaties. In sum, within positive law or a procedural context, a group of people dictate that X is the law.
But what is inalienable and inherent is something that is above what people can or cannot agree to. It is, in other words, a right as a matter of right, and not legislation. Therefore, for instance, if one says, “People have the right to be free,” the question arises where does that right come from? The answer is that it comes from the very fact that people are human beings and that it is wrong for a human being to be enslaved by another. This means that no political process can ever justify slavery; that no majority, regardless of how large it is, can legislate that slavery is acceptable. In this sense, because human rights as a concept is larger than any process or procedure, it is a normative moral commitment. It is like an ideology. It is self-referential. Its justification is, “it is because it is.” And in that sense, it is very much like religion; like belief in God. It is like saying that, “I believe in God, not because one hundred people agree that God exists, but because I know it. I am sure of it. And if the whole population tells me, or the whole of Congress votes by a 100% majority that God does not exist, that is irrelevant to me.” Belief in human rights is of a similar nature.
However, because human rights is similar to religion in that way, it is possible for people to write up a treaty to commit themselves to respect human rights, but because they do not really believe in it morally, they end up by violating human rights all the time. This means that it is also possible that a nation may not sign any treaty to respect human rights, but because it morally believes in it, it respects human rights.
In short, when speaking about human rights, it would be a mistake to think that it is sufficient to discuss what takes place in the U.N or that by discussing this aspect, one has exhausted the topic of human rights. The topic of human rights philosophically is much larger than the legalities and the processes that take place within the administrative and political structure of the U.N.
IDENTIFYING A DISTINCTLY ISLAMIC VIEW OF HUMAN RIGHTS
When it comes then to identifying something that one can characterize as distinctly Islamic in regard to human rights, one must take into account that when Muslims engage the international process involving human rights, that other issues are also involved. These issues include concerns about world power and jostling for positions, the post cold war issues of competition, and the post cold war drive for hegemonic dominance. In short, what is taking place is very much a part of nationalistic politics, in many ways thoroughly secular politics often determined by factors of real politik and national interests, rather than by an interest to define what is real Islam. Therefore, in trying to identify principles and traditions that can be characterized as distinctly Islamic, it is important to account for the political factors and power related concerns that affect the behavior of Muslim countries.
Consequently, human rights related documents produced by Arab governments, such as the Cairo Declaration (1943), the Arab Charter (1994), the Casablanca Declaration (1999), and the Doha Declaration (2001) are motivated by a desire to engage the international political process far more than to define what is distinctively Islamic. Indeed, many of the provisions of these documents can be interpreted in terms of the issues of realpolitik and issues of involvement in a nationalistic global context more than in terms of concern over defining an Islamic tradition of human rights.
Even the fact that when Muslim nations sign conventions and treaties, they condition their commitment by saying that they are bound by these treaties only to the extent that Islamic law permits them does not provide any useful contribution in terms of elucidating a distinctly Islamic view of human rights. The reason is that these conditions are imposed out of concern for issues of realpolitik, power, dominance and hegemony, and in order to control the ability of others in determining the fate of Muslim states.
Therefore, before answering the question, is there a distinctively Islamic approach to the fundamental notion of the human being? one has to define the concept of human rights. Whether one defines it on the basis of natural rights, or what is natural to human beings; or on conceptions of the well-being of human beings or their dignity or protection of their rationality, there is a clear wrestling with the idea of what is necessary by natural reason to protect and preserve a human being.
THE NOTION OF THE SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE
On this basis, the answer to the question of is there an Islamic response to these questions or is there a distinctively Islamic approach to the fundamental notion of the human being would be yes, but not really. Fundamentally, all conceptions of human rights, as Michael Perry has written, comes back to the notion of the sanctity of human life. And it is this sanctity of human life that poses the most imperative question, namely what is necessary to preserve that life? From this follows that it is necessary to pay attention to the demands made by human beings. These demands, in turn, create duties towards human beings, which become recognized as rights. This is fundamentally the philosophical process that takes place—the realization of the sanctity of human life, and then the realization that the demands made pursuant to the sanctity are necessary, and that these demands give rise to duties, and these duties become the basis for a notion of a fundamental right.
In Islam, clearly there is the idea of the sanctity of human life. There is no question that human life is sanctified. And, indeed, at least in the interpretive communities -- and when I say interpretive communities, I mean the communities which interpreted and discoursed about Islam in a textual context, in the context of producing texts, and producing a common, normative language and a common system of symbolisms for discourse about what is Islamic versus what is not Islamic -- there is a recognition of the sanctity of human rights. There is also a recognition that the sanctity of human life creates demands that in turn create duties which become compelling rights.
TEXTUAL VERSUS CONTEXTUAL INTERPRETATIONS
It may be useful at this point to elaborate further on the issue of textual versus contextual interpretations in the Islamic context. The main texts in Islam are the Qur’an and the Sunnah. The Qur’an is often considered as the revealed word of God. The Sunnah, however, was seen as a text, but without a context. In other words, people believed that there was no creative process in formulating what counts as Sunnah. I however, believe that there was a creative process in forming what was to count as textually authoritative in Islam. The text of the Sunnah was developed through a creative process. This means that it was a matter of conscious choice what was to be included and counted as part of the Sunnah, and what was to the excluded and not counted as part of the Sunnah. For example, it is well known that Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, after the Inquisition, refused to narrate or accept any hadith by an individual who believed that the Qur’an was created, as opposed to uncreated. This was a subjective creative act. When one looks at the text of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal today, it looks objective and canonical. Yet there was a man behind these positions who chose what was to be part of the Sunnah.
Even more, in the reports that Muslims remembered (and this is a point I make in my book Speaking in God’s Name), what they said the Prophet said would not be written down for a couple of centuries. So, how does one remember what another human had said? One remembers creatively. In other words, there is a creative process subject to context, and in fact, a cumulative process, that goes into creating the authoritative hadith. Then there is a creative process subject to context that goes into recording the hadith. That is the creativity of the text.
Often one finds traditions in the text where what the text tells is not a single story, or a single narrative from the beginning to the end. What one finds in the text is often competing narratives that mirror different contexts at different times. Thus one finds reports that say “Dogs and women void prayer;” while another report says, “No, it’s not dogs and women; it’s women and Jews;” and yet another report says, “No, it was not dogs or women or Jews; the prayer is not voided at all.” All of these reports reflect different contexts that are shaping the text -- the text of the Sunnah.
Regarding the sanctity of life, there were creative communities that created texts that embodied the concepts of the sanctity of life. Why? First, it was easy to do so because the Qur’an says, “Whoever kills a person, it is as if he kills humanity,” and because the Qur’an keeps saying again and again, “Do not kill, and whoever kills, it is as if he kills humanity.” Therefore, a lot of Sunnah was created that affirmed the sanctity of life. However, there was also a context, and issues like war, gender and so forth, made the applications of the concept of sanctity of life complicated. For instance, one began hearing arguments such as, “Well, if you kill a non-Muslim who comes from lands which do not have a treaty with your nation, then you don’t get punished for it;” or, “The blood money of a woman is half of the blood money of a man;” or, “The blood money of a non-Muslim is half of the blood money of a Muslim.” The concept of the sanctity of life is still there, but the context is modifying it, playing with it, and creating layered text. So the context is coming in and making the text “bumpy” and full of wrinkles. Yet what is striking is that how often, despite the intrusion of the context, these interpretive communities of Islam affirm the sanctity of life.
For example, when it comes to an apostate, at such points in the text, they could have simply said, “Kill him.” Yet one finds, that the interpretive community in Islam, would say, “Yes, the text says ‘Kill him,’ but you cannot do that unless you give him three days and three nights and an opportunity to say the Shahada (“There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the Prophet of God”). If he says it, you can’t inquire any further, and then you’ve got to let him go. In other words, in a variety of situations, the interpretive communities affirmed the sanctity of life, but because they were human, there was give and take. The process was complicated. Because they were human, one does not find them affirming the sanctity of life in an absolute, unwavering, consistent way where no one would ever break the rules.
There was a complex interplay going on all the time. For example, one might start talking about things like, what happens to someone who is a heretic and is spreading a lot of poisonous ideas? In that situation, do we still respect the sanctity of life? What happens when the Crusaders come and massacre 7000 Muslims in Antioch? Do we feel the same and still affirm the sanctity of life?
It is very important that one understands this complex interplay going on, and recognize that throughout this complex interplay, the sanctity of life remains a constant theme. Normatively, now we have our own context, and our own context might allow us to preserve the sanctity of life more than in any other previous contexts.
So, if we keep in mind that the text was creatively formed, giving expression to a variety of contexts, then we do not expect from the text what we are not going to find. In other words, we do not deal with the text ahistorically and ask questions like, “Why doesn’t the text defend the right to this, and the right to that, and so on?” We understand that the text is really a tapestry that reflects various contexts and various orientations. When I open up books on Shariah, they all have different contexts and different times frames, and show people struggling with the essential issue of the sanctity of life. Now, I am struggling with it in the same way they are struggling with it, and I have a context of my own. And, I cannot deny that I am going to try to preserve the sanctity of life according to my context—and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, that is not just legitimate, but that is expected. That is part of the sociology of human existence—that all of us achieve things but within the limits of how far our consciousness and our hearts and minds have been able to absorb a particular time and a particular place. Within my context, I am going to try to preserve the sanctity of life.
We are not at a point, for instance, for me to say that we should reject the use of violence in all situations, like Gandhi, because in our context, there need to be wars of defense. There needs to be the ability for people to go to war when people are attacking them. Our context doesn’t allow me to become a Gandhian, but maybe someday, we can become Gandhians. And so comes the same idea I discuss elsewhere where the Qur’an sets the moral objective -- the moral trajectory -- and we try to realize it as much as we can within our particular contexts. It is moronic to judge the people of a different context and a different time and say, “Why didn’t they achieve what I achieve now?”
PROTECTING THE SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE
Is there a distinctively Islamic response to the question of what is necessary by natural reason to protect and preserve a human being?
Interestingly, it is exactly this type of question that produced the most intriguing conception in Islamic tradition of huquq Allah, literally, “the rights of God,” versus huquq al-‘ibad, “the rights of people,” and produced within the Islamic discourse the most intriguing statements, namely that the fulfillment of the rights of people takes priority over fulfillment of the rights of God. It is quite remarkable that such a position developed in the 12th century.
Let us not forget the fact when Thomas Aquinas was wrestling with issues of human dignity and said that the first principle of human law is to call for the good and forbid what is bad, that concept already existed in Islam in the injunction al-amr bi’l ma’ruf wa al-nahy ‘ann al-munkar—(“enjoining the good and forbidding the evil.”) Indeed, it is possible and even likely that since Thomas Aquinas was quite aware of several important aspects of the Islamic tradition in deducting his first principle of natural law, that he was influenced by the Islamic tradition.
Here, we are fundamentally talking about where it is possible for the human rights tradition and Islam to meet. Muslim jurists began by contemplating the laws that God decreed. They observed that some of these laws seem to protect things that belong to God, like the law of prayer or the law of fasting. Other laws seem to protect the rights of human beings, like “Thou shalt not kill;” “You can’t steal;” “You can’t cheat;” “If you enter into a contract, bring witnesses;” “Before you convict someone of a crime, presume them innocent;” or, “Before you convict someone of a crime, you have to bring witnesses.” They recognized that all of these laws did not protect God nor the rights of God, but rather, they protected the rights of human beings. Muslim jurists then went further in saying that in the universe, God has certain things that God protects, and certain things that God said human beings ought to protect. And then, Muslim jurists said that God is protecting His rights—God has certain rights such that He decreed certain laws in order to protect those rights. But there is evidence that God recognizes that human beings have their own set of rights, and that those rights must be protected for the sake of human beings, not for the sake of God. Muslim jurists also said that as far as the rights of God are concerned the only one that has a possessory power over those rights is God, while in regard to the rights of human beings, it is the human beings that have the possessory power.
So, God protects His own rights and human beings protect their own rights. Now, what if in terms of guarding and protecting these rights, God protects his rights in the Hereafter. In other words, for those who didn’t pray and those who didn’t fast, God will punish them in the Hereafter. But what do human beings do? Human beings take care of the rights of other human beings on this earth.
So what are these rights? Muslim jurists enumerated several rights: 1) right to life; 2) right to property; 3) a right to one’s reputation, ie., that no one slanders you; 4) right to lineage, ie. marriage, having children, and protecting the name of the family; and 5) right to intellect, ie., the right to stay sober, the right to develop one’s intellect, the right to read and learn, and the right to believe in whatever you want to believe. And so, they argued that a government should concern itself with protecting these rights. As an aside, Muslim jurists debated whether there are five rights or more.
So how does one deal with the issue of, for instance, the clash between the rights of God and the rights of people? The best example of this may be in the case that, for instance, someone steals something from you. By taking someone’s property, they stole something that is his or her right—the right to property. Muslim jurists argued that neither the state nor God can have the power to forgive the taking of one’s property. Only the person who was robbed has the power to forgive the taking of his property. Only this person has the power because he is the possessory of the right. Therefore, the state is obligated to bring back property that was stolen from a person. The state cannot say “We forgive it, it is okay.” And, God will not forgive the stealing of a person’s property on the Final Day unless that person forgives the stealing of his property. God’s forgiveness is dependent on the wronged person’s forgiveness because it involves a human right.
Similarly, if someone slanders another, the state cannot say, “Well, we do not care about the slander.” If someone took away or hurt or damages another’s reputation, God is not going to forgive that on the Final Day unless the wronged person forgives it, or unless the person who has done the wrong comes and begs forgiveness, or accepts punishment for it. With punishment, it is as if the right of the wronged person has been restored. In Islamic law, the person who has been wronged has the right to demand compensation, to demand punishment, or to forgive.
THE ORIGIN OF RIGHTS: TWO VIEWS
What is the basis of human beings having these rights? Where did these rights come from? For God’s rights, they came from God saying, “These are My rights.” But where did the rights of human beings come from? Here there were two very distinct views.
One view was that they come from God saying, “These are the rights of human beings.” Another view was, “No, it is not that God said these are the rights of human beings. Rather, it is the very act of creation that gave human beings these rights.” The believers in this view argued that by the very fact that God created human beings, on their creation, they immediately became endowed with these rights. So, theoretically, if someone else other than God created human beings, they would still have these same rights. Like the presumption of innocence, this school argued, “Do we need a law that says everyone is presumed to be innocent unless proven otherwise? Or do we assume it by philosophical positioning that everyone is innocent unless proven otherwise?”
Again, some said “No, God gave human beings these rights, and God could have given human beings other rights than these rights, or God could have not recognized these rights.” Others said, “No, this is like the nature of a falsity or truth,” or it is like one jurist said, “If I am walking and I heard a voice from the sky saying, ‘I am God and it is okay to lie,’ I would not lie. It would still be wrong to lie.” That is a very important distinction. Those rights become inherent and inalienable and the only question then becomes, how do we protect them?
POSITIVE LAW VERSUS THE RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE
By the 6th Islamic century (12 A.D.) the concepts of huquq Allah (the rights of God), and huquq al-‘ibad (the rights of people) were recognized, and even reached the point that the rights of people were given priority over the rights of God, and the idea that it is a duty to enjoin the good and forbid the evil was developed. However, there remained a very important question in dealing with these rights, namely is it positive law that defines the rights of the people, or whether the rights of the people define the law? In other words, there exists the conception of sanctity of human rights; the conception of demands and reciprocal obligations or duties; and the resulting conception of the rights of people. The remaining question is if these conceptions clash with the positive law as deduced from the text - as read and interpreted from the text – do they take priority over the text, or does the text take priority over the rights?
For example, people have a right to intellect. If one reads the text and it says that an apostate should be killed, this clashes with the philosophical awareness that people have a right to their intellect, which seems to mean that people have a right to not believe. So which one wins? Does the right win or does the text win?
There are some jurists, such as the Mu’tazili, that took the position that if there is such a clash, then that means either the text is not authentic, or that it has not been interpreted correctly because the text should never clash with a right that belongs to a human being. Other jurists, such as Ahl al-Hadith, disagreed, arguing that once the text says something, it is as if God has given these rights to human beings, so God can limit the extent to which they can exercise their rights.
So there is consistency in these competing positions. Those who believe that God gave rights to human beings also believe that God can set limits, such that God can punish apostasy, for instance, or that God can forbid the reading of heretical books. In contrast, those who thought that these rights are inherent and fundamental believe that the text can never take away these rights. Therefore, the law of apostasy must be wrong because it clashes with the right of intellect, or a law banning one from reading or learning whatever one wants must be wrong because it clashes with a fundamental right.
The former view is consistent with the Wahhabi view today. The Wahhabis do not recognize any inherent fundamental rights. The Wahhabis believe that all rights come from the text—that the text defines the rights a human being has, and that the text takes away the rights a human being has. Inconsistently, however, they also think that public interest, which is not based on a text can take away a right, even if given by a text.
In the case of Thomas Aquinas, he turned the concept of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil into a very active dynamic and evolving concept that was able to strike down various laws that obstructed the conception of the good and the conception of the evil. Thomas Aquinas argued that there is a first principle of good and bad - the first principle in nature - that one must do good and forbid evil. From there, Thomas Aquinas built a whole philosophical edifice based on the premise that one must command the good and forbid the evil. So, that begged the question, what is good and what is evil?
From there, Thomas Aquinas went on to define good and evil. And he said that the basis of all natural law is that one must command the good and forbid the evil. As noted earlier Islam has the same principle (al-amr bi’l ma’ruf wa al-nahy ‘ann al-munkar). Indeed, I think that Thomas Aquinas took the principle from Islam, and on the basis of this principle built this whole natural law theory. Unfortunately, Muslims did not do as much with that very important principle.
In the case of Islam, by the 4th -10th century, there was a growing reluctance among jurists to allow the conception of the sanctity of human life to strike down positive law, i.e., interpretations of the text, and by the 12th century, there were practically no voices that allowed the normative commitment to the sanctity of human life to have a sort of veto power over positive law.
Increasingly, as time went by in the Islamic era, there was a greater reliance on positive law and less reliance on inherent rights or philosophy of rights. So, for instance, one could say slavery is inconsistent with the protection of human rights. Umar ibn al-Khattab said people were born free and how could you enslave them? And Umar ibn al-Khattab could build a whole set of laws on that principle. But as time went by, Muslims became far more reluctant to recognize general principles like that and to deduce laws from them. Rather, what they increasingly did was that they would respect the positive law at the expense of general moral principles like people are born free.
What produced this dynamic? More and more conservatism as the Islamic civilization became exposed to more and more dangers and clashed more with enemies—leading people to become more conservative. It is not that conservatism existed from the 4th century onwards, rather the level of conservatism fluctuated. There were conservative periods and there were liberal periods. In liberal periods, there was an openness towards philosophy and notions of inherent rights, and in conservative periods, there was a conservatism that rejected these types of moral generalities.
RECONCILING CONCEPTIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS
So, what effectively happened is that a theoretical impasse developed. And, to this very day, people who have tried to work with Islamic conceptions of human rights - modern scholars - have not addressed this fundamental question. Rather, they have basically said that there is no contradiction between the Islamic tradition and notions of human rights, because in Islam there is the concept of maslaha (public good), or because in Islam, ijtihad (exercising your independent opinion) is possible. In other words, they have been looking for a sort of comforting, symbolic language that says we have, in the language, an idea that can solve the problem. But the fundamental problem remains, namely: can whatever is rationally deduced as necessary to maintain the sanctity of human life prevail and have a prior order over the textually-deduced law? Or is the opposite true—that the textually-deduced law basically trumps any conception of sanctity of life, and therefore one must simply stop with textual interpretation and can go no further?
That is a fundamental issue, and there is an extreme reluctance among modern scholars either to recognize it or to deal with it. And in fact, in my own sometimes interesting life experience, that attempt to deal with it quickly brings about accusations of zindiq, or mu’atazili or “secret Shi’i,” and all kinds of other forms of deviations.
Everyone who talks about Islamic law and human rights refers to the positive law first. The positive law says “Kill the apostate.” The positive law does not believe in the rights of women, or in protecting the rights of children, and so forth. Instead of saying, “There is a principle that overrides these positive laws, and we must rethink these positive laws, and creatively generate new positive laws that affirm the moral principle,” people say, “There is no problem between Islamic law and human rights because we have maslaha or we have ijtihad and we can use these to reconcile any problems.” But when it comes to down to it - talking about specific laws and if they are valid or not - nothing is done. Take for example, the law that a husband may not go to prison for striking his wife; or that a wife inherits half of what a man inherits; or that the testimony of a woman counts as half of the testimony of a man in certain circumstances; or that it is possible to execute someone who calls the Prophet names or insults the Prophet. Do these modern scholars use maslaha or ijtihad to uphold the principle of human rights? They do not, because they do not have a clear view or a clear understanding of the normative moral commitment that Islam makes. For example, you have the law that a woman inherits half of what a man inherits in many situations. A lot of people think that that is the normative commitment itself; that that is the moral commitment. Therefore, you have to protect that law regardless of the circumstances. I am saying, “No, that is the positive law; that’s not a moral commitment.” And that is the difference.
We must distinguish between what in the text is a moral commitment - like establish justice, or establish mercy - and what in the text is a positive law. Ijtihad and maslaha are simply mechanisms. People feel good knowing that they have the mechanisms, but they fail to have the courage to use the mechanisms. Very simply saying, “Maslaha and ijtihad” is not enough to clarify or elucidate the moral commitments of Islam. One does not start with the tools. One must start with the moral commitments.
HARVESTING THE SEEDS OF AN ISLAMIC VIEW OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Until this issue is dealt with and treated, theologically and philosophically, the answer to whether there is a distinctly Islamic view of human rights must be that there are only the seeds of an Islamic view of human rights.
In this context, there once was quite a lot of thinking about what are the normative commitments of Islam. What are the moral commitments of Islam? What are the basic ethics of Islam? People have stopped thinking about this, and they have become obsessed with positive law. For example, the people who created the whole theory about the rights of God and the rights of people and mixed rights—these were people who were thinking. That is a seed.
What do we need? We need someone to go back and to think of things like the rights of God versus the rights of people. However, these were grand ideas that did not develop into major intellectual traditions. For instance, like the natural law tradition — the natural law tradition went from the idea of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil to this huge edifice of theories upon theories of natural law— whether natural law is intuitively realized, whether it is rationally realized and so forth — endless theories. On the Islamic side, we have these concepts that were developed, but we stopped and we did not take them any further.
We have to go back and question what are the moral commitments of Islam. What is it that Islam wants to do with humanity?
We do not ask questions like that anymore. We all read the Quranic verse that God tells the Prophet, “You were sent as a mercy to human kind.” This is a seed. No one thinks about what are the full implications of the Prophet as a mercy to human kind? Can I sit down and think out all of the philosophical implications of this? That is how you nurture and harvest a seed, and whatever comes out of it is your harvest.
There are seeds that have been lying around in the ground since the 12th century that await to be brought to life. But how, when and if is in God’s domain, and remains in the realm of the ghayb (the unseen).
 Michael J. Perry. The Idea of Human Rights: Four Inquiries (Oxford: Oxford Press, 1998).
 When exactly the documentation of hadith occurred is a matter of considerable scholarly debate. Some believe it commenced immediately after the death of the Prophet. Others believe it did not commence until 100 to 200 years after the death of the Prophet.
 It is not clear which school was the first to develop the concept of the rights of God versus the rights of people, however, this concept was eventually adopted by all schools of jurisprudence.