Posted by Zia Shah
Written by Zia H Shah MD
Declaration of Independence was a climax in the evolution of human rights over the centuries in Europe and America, in 1776 CE. It served as an inspiration to procure these rights for every American and now is the time to extend these to every living person on earth.
For my non-American Muslim readers, don’t think of Declaration of Independence as an alien document. It was written by Thomas Jefferson, who was more Muslim than Christian. He was a Unitarian rather than a Trinitarian and by his own claims a Deist. In another article I have examined his closeness to Islam as opposed to Christianity: President Thomas Jefferson: Was he a Monotheist? If Bill Clinton can be called the First Black President of America and the Newsweek this week has accused President Barack Obama of being the first gay President of USA, then it is perfectly reasonable to claim President Thomas Jefferson, as the First Muslim President of America. In a separate article, I have examined that we can trace the roots of the human rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, to Islam and its Holy Founder, the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him. With such a reading of the history, it is but natural that the opening paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, now be extended to each and every person, whether living on the planet earth or in due course of time to colonize the moon or some other planet:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (and women) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men (and Women), deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Whether these rights are given by the Creator or should be called as natural rights, arising from basic human nature, the fact remains that they not only belong to every American or European, but, to every Asian and African and every Jew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Sikh and follower of Shintoism, Confucianism, atheism, agnosticism or any other faith! Let us issue this citizenship to some 7 billion citizens, so they can partake from the bonanza of human rights as well. In a manner of speaking, let us claim that every human is an American and his or her life, property and honor are sacred and inviolable. Now let me share a picture and the transcript of the whole of the Declaration and claim it for the whole of humanity:
Here is the precise transcript:
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Despite the Declaration, it took decades or a century and more to secure these specific rights for the black slaves and the women. So, rights will not be procured for every citizen of the so called third world countries over night, but let the journey begin with the writing of this Op-Ed.
The Declaration included very specific accusations against the British King as to how he was usurping the natural or God given rights of the American colonists. Similar writings regarding the specific and demonstrable violations of humans everywhere by their governments or the international bodies, including the UN, need to become commonly read. By such scholarship, ground work will be laid for the final and complete emancipation of mankind, as humanity shows the light of the Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to UNO and other international bodies and governments.
Thirteen years after the Declaration of Independence came the Bill of Rights, which is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. These limitations serve to protect the natural rights of liberty and property. They guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government’s power in judicial and other proceedings, and reserve some powers to the states and the public. While originally the amendments applied only to the federal government, most of their provisions have since been held to apply to the states by way of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The amendments were introduced by James Madison to the 1st United States Congress as a series of legislative articles. They were adopted by the House of Representatives on August 21, 1789, formally proposed by joint resolution of Congress on September 25, 1789, and came into effect as Constitutional Amendments on December 15, 1791, through the process of ratification by three-fourths of the States. While twelve amendments were passed by Congress, only ten were originally passed by the states. Of the remaining two, one was adopted as the Twenty-seventh Amendment and the other technically remains pending before the states.
Originally, the Bill of Rights legally protected only land-owning white men, excluding African Americans and women.. However, these limitations were not explicit in the Bill of Right’s text. It took additional Constitutional Amendments and numerous Supreme Court cases to extend the same rights to all U.S. citizens.
The Bill of Rights plays a key role in American law and government, and remains a vital symbol of the freedoms and culture of the nation. One of the first fourteen copies of the Bill of Rights is on public display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C..
The First Amendment, in the Bill of Rights, ensured religious freedom of every American. Now the same can be bestowed on each and every person on the planet earth. It is time! Yes, indeed, humanity cannot wait any longer.
When the Declaration of Independence was signed it only served as a document for inspiration and battles and wars had to be fought, physical and legal, to ensure those rights. But, the course may be different this time around, more than two centuries later, in our age of information and constant blogging. Physical wars will not be necessary in the 21st century. Merely sharing of this information far and wide and penning additional articles, along these themes, will do the trick. George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, an influential German philosopher of the 19th century, said: “Once the world of ideas has been transformed, reality cannot hold out for long.” This profound observation may soon become true in favor of each and every person of our human family, with whom we share 99% of our genetic code.
This was a very influential picture or cartoon during the movement to abolish slavery in America, which very powerfully invoked our common humanity. Unfortunately, in many ways it still represents the suffering and plight of a significant portion of mankind to a significant degree, making it necessary to highlight that those living in the third world countries are also humans and brothers and sisters!