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Introduction to how Islam views privacy

The notion of privacy differs in a multitude of cultures, societies, and religions. The notion of privacy also changes with time based on the events or situations that occur. This, in part, may explain why there is no all-comprehensive meaning for privacy. There is no clear-cut definition for privacy that allows people, judges, and scholars to properly identify and recognize the boundaries of privacy. That being said, there were several attempts in defining “privacy” more generally. An American judge, Louise Brandies, defined the “infringement” of privacy as an “interference with another person’s seclusion of himself, his family, or his property from the public,” and to a certain extent, Brandies described privacy well (Kamali 159).

In Islam, privacy takes on a bigger role in a Muslim’s life and is viewed as one of main Islamic ethical principles. Because the “principles of Islam” exalt the “religious conscience of every Muslim”, Islam gives respect and rights to one’s freedom, privacy, and ownership (Hayat 137). Islamic law acknowledges the privacy of a Muslim’s home and private life, and there are severe exhortations against meddling into the affairs of others. The Qur’an and several hadiths of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) define the right to privacy clearly and thematically. For instance, Islam strictly prohibits the inquiry into the private matters of others without their consent. If one happens to “come across private information,” then one should stop immediately from getting involved any further (Hayat 137).

With the increase in the instruments of modernity, such as electronic devises, global communication and other advancements in technology, a modern Muslim has to be even more cautious not to cross the boundaries of one’s privacy and to secure his own, as well. Most, if not all, of the concepts of privacy in Islam revolve around the central idea of “invasion” or “reaching out” through something that does not belong to the same person, whether it is intentional or unintentional, be it entering a home without the owner’s permission or even reading a small of piece of paper that doesn’t belong to that person. Even though these rights and rules are put forth to make Muslims better individuals, are the rules of privacy in Islam obsolete? In other words, do these rules have any exceptions? The answer would be yes; they do have exceptions only in particular situations such as the “testimony of witnesses” or when asking for a fatwa or legal opinion (Kamali 162).

 

Bibliography

Hayat, Muhammad Aslam. “Privacy and Islam: From the Quran to Data Protection in Pakistan.” Information & Communications Technology Law 16.2 (2007): 137-48. Print.

Kamali, Mohammad Hashim. The Right to Life, Security, Privacy and Ownership in Islam. Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society, 2008. Print.

أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله، وأشهد أن محمداً عبده ورسوله