Declarations - Cairo
The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam
Adopted and Issued at the Nineteenth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in Cairo
on 5 August 1990.
The Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference,
Reaffirming the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah
which God made the best nation that has given mankind a universal and well-balanced
civilization in which harmony is established between this life and the
hereafter and knowledge is combined with faith; and the role that this
Ummah should play to guide a humanity confused by competing trends and
ideologies and to provide solutions to the chronic problems of this materialistic
Wishing to contribute to the efforts of mankind to assert human rights,
to protect man from exploitation and persecution, and to affirm his freedom
and right to a dignified life in accordance with the Islamic Shari’ah
Convinced that mankind which has reached an advanced stage in materialistic
science is still, and shall remain, in dire need of faith to support its
civilization and of a self-motivating force to guard its rights;
Believing that fundamental rights and universal freedoms in Islam are
an integral part of the Islamic religion and that no one as a matter of
principle has the right to suspend them in whole or in part or violate
or ignore them in as much as they are binding divine commandments, which
are contained in the Revealed Books of God and were sent through the last
of His Prophets to complete the preceding divine messages thereby making
their observance an act of worship and their neglect or violation an abominable
sin, and accordingly every person is individually responsible — and
the Ummah collectively responsible — for their safeguard.
Proceeding from the above-mentioned principles,
Declare the following:
- All human beings form one family whose members
are united by submission to God and descent from Adam. All men are
equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities,
without any discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, language, sex,
religious belief, political affiliation, social status or other considerations. True
faith is the guarantee for enhancing such dignity along the path to human
- All human beings are God’s subjects,
and the most loved by him are those who are most useful to the rest of
His subjects, and no one has superiority over another except on the basis
of piety and good deeds.
- Life is a God-given gift and the right to life
is guaranteed to every human being. It is the duty of individuals,
societies and states to protect this right from any violation, and it is
prohibited to take away life except for a Shari’ah-prescribed reason.
- It is forbidden to resort to such means as
may result in the genocidal annihilation of mankind.
- The preservation of human life throughout the
term of time willed by God is a duty prescribed by Shari’ah.
- Safety from bodily harm is a guaranteed right. It
is the duty of the state to safeguard it, and it is prohibited to breach
it without a Shari’ah-prescribed reason.
- In the event of the use of force and in case
of armed conflict, it is not permissible to kill non-belligerents such
as old men, women and children. The wounded and the sick shall have
the right to medical treatment; and prisoners of war shall have the right
to be fed, sheltered and clothed. It is prohibited to mutilate dead
bodies. It is a duty to exchange prisoners of war and to arrange
visits or reunions of the families separated by the circumstances of war.
- It is prohibited to fell trees, to damage crops
or livestock, and to destroy the enemy’s civilian buildings and installations
by shelling, blasting or any other means.
Every human being is entitled to inviolability and the protection of his
good name and honour during his life and after his death. The state
and society shall protect his remains and burial place.
- The family is the foundation of society, and
marriage is the basis of its formation. Men and women have the right
to marriage, and no restrictions stemming from race, colour or nationality
shall prevent them from enjoying this right.
- Society and the State shall remove all obstacles
to marriage and shall facilitate marital procedure. They shall ensure
family protection and welfare.
- Woman is equal to man in human dignity, and
has rights to enjoy as well as duties to perform; she has her own civil
entity and financial independence, and the right to retain her name and
- The husband is responsible for the support and welfare of the family.
- As of the moment of birth, every child has
rights due from the parents, society and the state to be accorded proper
nursing, education and material, hygienic and moral care. Both the
fetus and the mother must be protected and accorded special care.
- Parents and those in such like capacity have
the right to choose the type of education they desire for their children,
provided they take into consideration the interest and future of the children
in accordance with ethical values and the principles of the Shari’ah.
- Both parents are entitled to certain rights from their children,
and relatives are entitled to rights from their kin, in accordance
with the tenets of the Shari’ah.
Every human being has the right to enjoy his legal capacity in terms of
both obligation and commitment. Should this capacity be lost or impaired,
he shall be represented by his guardian.
- The quest for knowledge is an obligation, and
the provision of education is a duty for society and the State. The
State shall ensure the availability of ways and means to acquire education
and shall guarantee educational diversity in the interest of society so
as to enable man to be acquainted with the religion of Islam and the facts
of the Universe for the benefit of mankind.
- Every human being has the right to receive
both religious and worldly education from the various institutions of education
and guidance, including the family, the school, the university, the media,
etc., and in such an integrated and balanced manner as to develop his personality,
strengthen his faith in God and promote his respect for and defence of
both rights and obligations.
Islam is the religion of unspoiled nature. It is prohibited to exercise
any form of compulsion on man or to exploit his poverty or ignorance in
order to convert him to another religion or to atheism.
- Human beings are born free, and no one has
the right to enslave, humiliate, oppress or exploit them, and there can
be no subjugation but to God the Most-High.
- Colonialism of all types being one of the most
evil forms of enslavement is totally prohibited. Peoples suffering from
colonialism have the full right to freedom and self-determination. It
is the duty of all States and peoples to support the struggle of colonized peoples for the liquidation of all
forms of colonialism and occupation, and all States and peoples have the
right to preserve their independent identity and exercise control over
their wealth and natural resources.
Every man shall have the right, within the framework of Shari’ah,
to free movement and to select his place of residence whether inside or
outside his country and, if persecuted, is entitled to seek asylum in another
country. The country of refuge shall ensure his protection until
he reaches safety, unless asylum is motivated by an act which Shari’ah
regards as a crime.
Work is a right guaranteed by the State and Society for each person able
to work. Everyone shall be free to choose the work that suits him
best and which serves his interests and those of society. The employee
shall have the right to safety and security as well as to all other social
guarantees. He may neither be assigned work beyond his capacity nor
be subjected to compulsion or exploited or harmed in any way. He
shall be entitled — without any discrimination between males and
females — to fair wages for his work without delay, as well as to
the holidays, allowances and promotions which he deserves. For his
part, he shall be required to be dedicated and meticulous in his work. Should
workers and employers disagree on any matter, the State shall intervene
to settle the dispute and have the grievances redressed, the rights confirmed
and justice enforced without bias.
Everyone shall have the right to legitimate gains without monopolization,
deceit or harm to oneself or to others. Usury (riba) is absolutely
- Everyone shall have the right to own property
acquired in a legitimate way, and shall be entitled to the rights of ownership,
without prejudice to oneself, others or to
society in general. Expropriation is not permissible except for the
requirements of public interest and upon payment of immediate and fair
- Confiscation and seizure of property is prohibited
except for a necessity dictated by law.
Everyone shall have the right to enjoy the fruits of his scientific, literary,
artistic or technical production and the right to protect the moral and
material interests stemming therefrom, provided that such production is
not contrary to the principles of Shari’ah.
- Everyone shall have the right to live in a
clean environment, away from vice and moral corruption, an environment
that would foster his self-development; and it is incumbent upon the State
and society in general to afford that right.
- Everyone shall have the right to medical and
social care, and to all public amenities provided by society and the State
within the limits of their available resources.
- The State shall ensure the right of the individual
to a decent living which will enable him to meet all his requirements and
those of his dependents, including food, clothing, housing, education,
medical care and all other basic needs.
- Everyone shall have the right to live in security
for himself, his religion, his dependents, his honour and his property.
- Everyone shall have the right to privacy
in the conduct of his private affairs, in his home, among his family, with
regard to his property and his relationships. It is not permitted to spy
on him, to place him under surveillance or to besmirch his good name. The
State shall protect him from arbitrary interference.
- A private residence is inviolable in all cases. It willnot be& entered without
permission from its inhabitants or in any
unlawful manner, nor shall it be demolished or confiscated and its dwellers
- All individuals are equal before the law, without
distinction between the ruler and the ruled.
- The right to resort to justice is guaranteed
- Liability is in essence personal.
- There shall be no crime or punishment except
as provided for in the Shari’ah.
- A defendant is innocent until his guilt is
proven in a fair trial in which he shall be given all the guarantees of
It is not permitted without legitimate reason to arrest an individual,
or restrict his freedom, to exile or to punish him. It is not permitted
to subject him to physical or psychological torture or to any form of humiliation,
cruelty or indignity. Nor is it permitted to subject an individual
to medical or scientific experimentation without his consent or at the
risk of his health or of his life. Nor is it permitted to promulgate
emergency laws that would provide executive authority for such actions.
Taking hostages under any form or for any purpose is expressly forbidden.
- Everyone shall have the right to express his
opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles
of the Shari’ah.
- Everyone shall have the right to advocate what
is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and
evil according to the norms of Islamic Shari’ah.
- Information is a vital necessity to society. It
may not be exploited or misused in such a way as may violate sanctities
and the dignity of Prophets, undermine moral and ethical values or disintegrate,
corrupt or harm society or weaken its faith.
- It is not permitted to arouse nationalistic
or doctrinal hatred or to do anything that may be an incitement to any
form of racial discrimination.
- Authority is a trust; and abuse or malicious
exploitation thereof is absolutely prohibited, so that fundamental human
rights may be guaranteed.
- Everyone shall have the right to participate,
directly or indirectly in the administration of his country's public affairs. He
shall also have the right to assume public office in accordance with the
provisions of Shari'ah.
All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject
to the Islamic Shari'ah.
The Islamic Shari'ah is the only source of reference for the explanation
or clarification to any of the articles of this Declaration.
Cairo, 14 Muharram 1411H
5 August 1990