Human Rights and the World's Major Religions

By William H. Brackney | Go to book overview

Introduction

The five-volume set Human Rights and the World’s Major Religions, covering the Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions, appeared in 2005. The authors included Peter Haas, William Brackney, Muddathir Abd Al-Rahim, Harold Coward, and Robert Florida—in all, a notable group of religion specialists. Each volume in the original series included a chronology, an overview of the religious tradition, thematic chapters covering the meaning and emergence of an understanding of human rights in that tradition, a biographical sketch section, primary sources illustrative of rights in the tradition, scholarly notes, an extensive bibliography, and an index. The set found widespread acceptance among students, scholars, practitioners, and libraries worldwide. In 2011, the original print was exhausted. Observing a continuing demand, Praeger/ABC-CLIO commissioned a one-volume, updated edition of the set, which is now available.

The influence of religion on the emergence of human rights is profound—arguably the most compelling category in any ethical inquiry. As Leonard Swidler has noted, “religion constitutes a discrete, grounded field of meaning with experience.”1 It encompasses everything important to human existence. Not surprisingly, religious texts were the first human expressions to articulate what would come to be called “human rights.” In each of the world’s major religions,2 there are texts that speak of the dignity and worth of human beings and their responsibilities toward each other as individuals and communities. Religion and human rights share the same discourse and concern, answering crucial existential questions

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