HUMAN RIGHTS AND ISLAM
The form of dialogue about human rights reflects the content of human rights. The way in which we converse about a topic affects the way in which we understand it. With regard to Islam and human rights, an approach to dialogue that is committed to understanding, openness, and fairness establishes necessary conditions for articulating universal norms of human rights. Unfortunately, such conversations about Islam and human rights have often been compromised by misperceptions of Islam, historical circumstance, and political considerations. Awareness of the way in which we come to such conversations, however, is an important first step toward establishing ideal conditions for dialogue.
The approach to dialogue articulated by Gadamer adapts well to conversations among Islamic thinkers because they already share a familiarity with sacred scripture, religious jurisprudence, and other resources. The conversations among Maududi, Qutb, and Soroush, as well as other scholars of Islam, are facilitated by a shared familiarity with the larger history of Islam. Though they stand at different vantage points within a much greater tradition, the three identify themselves as Muslims living roughly within the same historical epoch. The conversations they have with each other through their scholarship are made within the context of