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Copyright as a Right Guaranteed in Islam

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World Book and Copyright Day is an occasion to celebrate the contribution of books and authors to our global culture and the connection between copyright and books.

The Right of Preservation in Islam

“It is He Who has made you (His) agents and inheritors of the earth. He has raised you in ranks, some above others, that He may try you in the gifts He has given you. This is because Your Lord is quick in punishment. Yet, He is indeed Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”  (Al-A`raf  7:165)

Book and Copyright Day

Islam established, within its enlightened Shari’ah, many human rights some fourteen centuries ago

Some nations and international organizations, call loudly to principles that seek to guarantee human rights. Islam established, within its enlightened Shari`ah (law and jurisprudence) many of these human rights some fourteen centuries ago. The rights enumerated by modern international organizations are characterized by deficiencies in conceptualization, flaws in formulation, and injustices in application.

They are subject to political agendas, economic pressure and culturally biased viewpoints. They carry the residues of colonialism and imperialism. Such rights are often enumerated and established not for the interests of all humans, rather, for the benefit of certain organizations and powerful special interest groups. This becomes more evident when, as we see all over the world, many of our fellow humans suffering from the worst atrocities, and yet, there is no organization to truly defend the poor and the weak. Glaring inequalities and abuse between nations and within nations are growing worse and worse even before our eyes, and the prescriptions for aid and development mire them deeper into misery as if they were meant to perpetuate their misery and servitude.

The Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Qur’an:

“And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah, and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? Men, women, and children, whose cry is: ‘Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from you one who will protect; and raise for us from you one who will help!'” (An-Nisaa’ 4:75)

It is important to point out here that enforcement of the laws about human rights in a Muslim society is linked inextricably with the sincere commitment to the implementation of Islamic laws and principles in letter and spirit.

The Preservation of Property

Private wealth and property are the basis of the economy and livelihood of the members of the society. Islam protects personal wealth and imposes very strict penalties against banditry, robbery, and thievery, and any violations against the sanctity of property. Cheating, embezzlement, monopoly, hoarding and many other harmful practices are also prohibited. This is done with the intention of ensuring protection to the wealth and personal assets of the individuals. Islamic law imposes the corporal punishment of cutting off the hand of the thief who steals the property of others, in according to strict requirements and due process of law. Allah, the Almighty, states in the Glorious Qur’an:

“Cut off (from the wrist joint) the (right) hand of the thief, male or female, as a recompense for that which they committed, a punishment by way of example from Allah. And Allah is Exalted in Power, Full of Wisdom.”  (Al-Ma’idah 5:38)

It must be noted that the process of amputating the hand of a thief is only implemented with strict conditions, which include the following: The stolen items or valuables must be in a preserved area whereby the thief gets into to the private area. If a thief steals an item that is left outside negligently or not cared for, there is no punishment by amputation. The thief in this case may be subjected to the penalty of snatching, wherein the authorities determine the appropriate penalty or “Ta`zeer.” The value of the stolen items must be above the range of the value set for stealing that obligates amputation of the hand. These physical punishments are not to be carried out unless there is irrefutable evidence (i.e. no doubt that the crime has been committed) and that it is punishable by Islamic law. Islamic jurisprudence, however, while expiating corporal punishment of a criminal for the crime he committed, will substitute it with another type of disciplinary punishment. Disciplinary punishment is usually less than the corporal punishment and is determined by the Muslim judge according to the type, level, category and severity of the crime and the criminal himself and his criminal record. Disciplinary punishment may be imprisonment, flogging in public, reprimanding him or imposing a fine for his crime. Other than thievery Islam has banned all types of transgression against private possessions, estate and land ownership. This is based on the verse in the Glorious Qur’an:

“And eat up not one another’s property unjustly (in any illegal way e.g. stealing, robbing, deceiving, etc.), nor give bribery to the rulers (judges before presenting your cases) that you may knowingly eat up a part of the property of others sinfully.”  (Al-Baqarah 2:188)

Therefore, the transgressor will be subjected to a tremendous and severe penalty on the Day of Requital. This is based on the following statement of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him): ”Whosoever unjustly takes any money or the wealth of another Muslim without a due right, Allah will meet such a person in a state of anger.” Another statement of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) reads: ”Whosoever usurps a hand span of land, Allah (the Almighty) will have this oppressor to be surrounded with seven earths (around his neck) on the Day of Requital.”

What do People do in This Day?

A range of activities to promote reading and the cultural aspects of books are held all over the world. Many of these emphasize international cooperation or friendships between countries. Events include: relay readings of books and plays; the distribution of bookmarks; the announcement of the winners of literary competitions; and actions to promote the understanding of laws on copyright and the protection of authors’ intellectual property. In some years, the Children’s and Young People’s Literature in the Service of Tolerance is awarded. This is a prize for novels, collections of short stories or picture books that promote tolerance, peace, mutual understanding and respect for other peoples and cultures. There are two categories: one for books aimed at children aged up to 12 years; and one for those aimed at young people aged 13 to 18 years.

Purpose of the Day

World Book and Copyright Day is an occasion to pay a worldwide tribute to books and authors and to encourage people to discover the pleasure of reading. It is hoped that this will lead to the renewed respect for those who have made irreplaceable contributions to social and cultural progress. In some years, the UNESCO Prize for Children’s and Young People’s Literature in the Service of Tolerance is awarded. It is also hoped that World Book and Copyright Day will increase people’s understanding of and adherence to copyright laws and other measures to protect intellectual copyright.

Symbols

Each year a poster is designed and distributed around the world. It features images designed to encourage people, particularly children, to read books and appreciate literature. There is also a logo for World Book and Copyright Day. It features a circle, representing the world, and two books, one of which is open.

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Source: www.islamiclife.com with slight modifications 

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