Islam and the Challenge of Human Rights

Islam and the Challenge of Human Rights

Islam and the Challenge of Human Rights

Islam and the Challenge of Human Rights

Synopsis

In 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the International Declaration of Human Rights, a document designed to hold both individuals and nations accountable for their treatment of fellow human beings-regardless of religious or cultural affiliations. Since then, debates surrounding the reach and scope of the Declaration have been lively and wide-ranging, with the compatibility of Islam and human rights emerging as a particularly thorny issue of international concern. The question has been addressed by Muslim rulers, conservatives, and extremists, as well as Western analysts and policymakers, all of whom have commonly agreed that Islamic theology and human rights cannot coexist. In this book, Abdulaziz Sachedina rejects this informal consensus, arguing instead for the essential compatibility of Islam and human rights. His work is grounded in a rigorous comparative approach; he not only measures Islam against the yardstick of human rights, but also measures human rights against the theological principles of Islam. He offers a balanced and incisive critique of Western experts who have ignored or underplayed the importance of religion to the development of human rights, arguing that any theory of universal rights necessarily emerges out of particular cultural contexts. At the same time, he re-examines the juridical and theological traditions that form the basis of conservative Muslim objections to human rights, arguing that Islam, like any culture, is open to development and change. Finally, and most importantly, Sachedina articulates a fresh position that argues for a correspondence between Islam and secular notions of human rights. Grounding his work in Islamic history and thought, he reminds us that while both traditions are rigorous and rich with meaning, neither can lay claim to a comprehensive vision of human rights. He never loses sight of the crucial practical consequences of his theory: what's needed is not a comprehensive system of doctrine, but a set of moral principles that are capable-whether sacred or secular--of protecting human beings from abuse and mistreatment

Excerpt

David Little, Harvard Divinity School

The human rights revolution, prompted by the devastating effects of fascism and inaugurated by the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after World War II, represented, then and now, a challenge not only to the international political and legal order but also to many philosophical and theological assumptions. The idea, clearly espoused in the declaration, that “all peoples and all nations” and “every individual and every organ of society” would be held morally and legally accountable to a set of “fundamental rights and freedoms,” “without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion [or] national or social origin,” bore radical implications. Just as governments might no longer treat their citizens in any way they saw fit, so, according to a subsequent covenant, any pronouncement in the name of one or another religion, philosophy, or ideology that “constitutes incitement” to acts of discrimination or violence, understood as violations of said rights and freedoms, “shall be prohibited by law.”

As such, the subject of human rights has been the source of continuing disagreement and debate among religious and nonreligious advocates of one kind or another. One reason is because the fundamental rights and freedoms enumerated in the Universal Declaration and its progeny constrain action on grounds that need not depend for their authority on “comprehensive doctrines,” religious or otherwise. A comprehensive doctrine is a religious or philosophical system encompassing major aspects of human aspiration and . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.