We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more Ḥaqq - Oxford Islamic Studies Online
Select Translation What is This? Selections include: The Koran Interpreted, a translation by A.J. Arberry, first published 1955; The Qur'an, translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, published 2004; or side-by-side comparison view
Chapter: verse lookup What is This? Select one or both translations, then enter a chapter and verse number in the boxes, and click "Go."
:
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Look It Up What is This? Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Next Result

Ḥaqq

By:
Fareeha Khan
Source:
The [Oxford] Encyclopedia of Islam and Law What is This? An English-language legal reference for scholars of Islamic studies and Western engaged readers presenting the history and development of Islamic Law.

Ḥaqq

According to Islamic legal jurists, the purpose of the Sharīʿah is to help human beings realize their servitude to God. This servitude entails the upholding of certain rights and responsibilities, or ḥuqūq (sing. ḥaqq), a ḥaqq being a right one holds over others, or a responsibility others owe to one. All the rulings of Islamic sacred law can be said to encompass the rights of God (ḥuqūq Allāh), since the human being is required to fulfill all his responsibilities according to the divine will. However, Muslim jurists have differentiated between the rights of man (ḥuqūq al-ʿibād) and the rights of God as a way of delineating what we might call today private and public law.

Muslim jurists did not consider corporate entities, like the state or “the people,” and instead were concerned with the rights of individuals, with God also being one whose rights needed to be upheld. In fact, for the jurists, the very purpose of the caliph or imam was to uphold the rights of God, and to adjudicate when necessary in cases of dispute concerning the rights of man. The medieval scholar and social historian Ibn Khaldūn reflects this view here:

"Political laws consider only worldly interests. On the other hand, the intention the Lawgiver [i.e., God] has concerning mankind is their welfare in the other world. Therefore, it is necessary, as required by religious law, to cause the mass to act in accordance with the religious laws in all their affairs touching both this world and the next world. The authority to do so was possessed by the representatives of the religious law, the prophets; then by those who took their place, the caliphs (Ibn Khaldūn, p. 155)."

This view explains why in Islamic law, what might be considered crimes against the state today are considered violations of the rights of God. The rights of God are said to include not just matters of ritual and worship, but also the interests of family and the social order. Actions such as fornication, theft, and the drinking of intoxicants (actions that go against the fundamental objectives of the Sharīʿah of preserving lineage, property, and intellect [see MAQASID AL-SHARIAH]) are classified as violations of the rights of God. Homicide, however, is counted as an offense against human parties, and so even when a case of murder warrants the death penalty, the punishment can only be ordered by the court if the legal proceedings are initiated by the victim’s family. The latter example shows that the rights of God do not cover all aspects of life in the view of the jurists. “They are absolute, but not all-encompassing, which is to say that they are absolute only in the areas of human life where they hold sway. Accordingly, the authority of the ruler is absolute only within its proper domain” (Weiss, p. 182).

By this reasoning, it can be argued that the rights of man–rights of God dichotomy was a way for the jurists to limit the authority of the state, and to encourage the view among subjects that the ruler’s main role was to uphold the Sharīʿah as dictated by the jurists. More recently, legal thinkers have argued that the rights of God construct was only a “term of art” used by jurists to create space for a type of naturalistic legal reasoning, devoid of any reference to the Qurʾān and sunnah. This latter argument however assumes a univocal understanding of the primary texts, and thereby calls into question the possibility of multiple legitimate legal methodologies grounded in the legal vision dictated by the Qurʾān and teachings of the Prophet.

Bibliography

  • Emon, Anver. “Huquq Allah  and  Huquq al-ʾIbad: A Legal Heuristic for a Natural Rights Regime.” Islamic Law and Society 13, no. 3 (2006): 325–391. www.law.utoronto.ca/documents/emon/HuquqAllah_ILS.pdf.
  • Ibn Khaldun. The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History. Translated by Franz Rosenthal, edited by N. J. Dawood. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967.
  • Weiss, Bernard. The Spirit of Islamic Law. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1998.
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Look It Up What is This? Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Next Result
Oxford University Press

© 2019. All Rights Reserved. Cookie Policy | Privacy Policy | Legal Notice