The first legal opponent
The opinion that Islam has nothing in common with human rights became the mainstream view on a global scale. This topic has appeared on the surface in the light of recent events in the Arab world, but the situation is much wider than that. It is about the masses of people being convinced that Islam does not provide individual freedom almost in any field.
Unfortunately, many people are talking about the matter with confidence but being absolutely unfamiliar with the words of the Almighty God which the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) brought to humanity. Yet Revelation provides all the necessary information in this regard.
Let's try to focus on a few verses of Quran. To begin with, what is the story of man’s creation? Having created a man (the viceroy of God on earth, according to the Quran), "We said to the angels, «Prostrate to Adam,» and they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was of the jinn and departed from the command of his Lord" (Quran, 18:50). What does the Greatest Allah do in this regard, wishing to set the beginning for existence of the human race? Does He execute the disobedient one? Not by a long sight. He merely says: “Descend from Paradise”, and then Allah allows the first ever opponent to be engaged in dialog with Him. The devil asked for reprieve until the day when people resurrect, having decided thus to take a pretty peculiar revenge on those who became the best and most loved creatures of Allah by leading individuals astray (“I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left”) in order to make most of them ungrateful.
The situation described in Quran is unique not only because Allah decided to get acquainted with the offer of the entity unwilling to fulfill the order of the Highest. But God accepted the request of the disobedient one:
"Indeed, you are of those reprieved" (Quran, 7:13–18)!
Hence, the most important Islamic principle of the denial of compulsion in religion has been established since the creation of the world by Allah (Quran, 2:256). Based on this, it can be asserted with full justification that there is a human rights factor in Islam, in terms of a person making a decision to listen and fulfill the will of Allah or to follow the Devil, deviating from the path of the Light.
"The truth is from your Lord, so whoever wills - let him believe; and whoever wills - let him disbelieve" (Quran, 18:29).
At the same time, however, the Creator informs in advance what awaits those listening to Him and those denying the signs, in the next life. But, again, there is no forceful conversion to religion in the core of Islam.
Furthermore, at the same initial stage of creation, Allah also established a kind of pluralism, manifested in the fact that man was created from clay, while angels had emerged from the light. And then came further polyphony, manifested in various directions.
Uniformity vs. multicolority and competition?
Emphasizing the absolute equality between people, regardless of their social or material level, the Quran states, that at the same time "of His signs is… the diversity of your languages and your colors" (Quran, 30:22).
In other words, Islam absolutely does not deprive its converts of their national identity and individuality.
But there’s something else. It is mandatory for people of different cultures and traditions to carry out their task of living together in a harmony, because
"We made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another" (Quran, 49:13).
That is tolerance, isn't it? And the most important nuance here is the availability of dialogue and discussion of any topic:
"Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best" (Quran, 16:125).
In this delicate and explicit way Quran highlights absolute absence of the ground for clashes or competition for the right to be considered more cultured or civilized.
On the other hand, and it might seem strange to someone, the Revelation promotes certain competition between people. But in what context? Quran says:
"So race to [all that is] good" (Quran, 2:148).
And since the “race” is mentioned, it implies a competitive spirit that can be present in relationships between people. It is directed, however, not towards creating a conflict environment, but aims to achieve a positive result in the future in terms of collecting good deeds.
Isn't it the best kind of competition in the world, when Allah’s creations compete between themselves with their thoughts, intentions and deeds on the path of fulfilling their faith?
Perhaps, someone will draw the parallel with modern days battle for the deputy mandates, when candidates are trying to win the votes by promising good deeds (for the district, groups or individuals).
But these promises often remain unfulfilled (due to various reasons), while implementation of good and righteous deeds in the Quranic context always remains in the sight of Allah!
Thus, aforesaid clearly indicates that Quran ensures the pluralistic canva of our earthly life. To the word, it can be viewed in multicolority, envisaged by Allah:
"And [He has subjected] whatever He multiplied for you on the earth of varying colors" (Quran, 16:13).
The sanctioned diversity is viewed even in wider context. The Almighty Allah warns:
"And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another" (Quran, 35:18), that is, each creation of the Lord is accountable only for itself.
And it’s been confirmed by the fact that Allah did not establish any uniformity for His creations neither in behavior, nor in way of thinking, intentions or appearance etc.
And why would the Holder of all the power in the Universe need it? Indeed, the creative approach of a thinking person who wants to follow properly the teachings of Allah on a rational-sensual basis is several orders of magnitude higher than mechanical and thoughtless practice of Islam.
Hence, this is where to begin with in search of the reasons for Allah granting His beloved creations by the richest palette of pluralistic colors. It is expression of the will of individual in earthly studio, so to say. “Then choose your own colour and paint it yourself” (remembering Mimino, the hero of a famous soviet comedy film). But at the end of the day the Greatest and Fairest Artist will evaluate your picture of life on His canvas.