Does Human Rights Need God?

By Elizabeth M. Bucar; Barbra Barnett | Go to book overview

9
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict of Rights:
Is God the Only Problem?

SARI NUSSEIBEH

Perhaps there is no place on earth more in need of an answer to the question “Does human rights need God?” than Palestine-Israel (“Palest-El”), a land in which Muslim and Jewish blood spills daily in the name of the same almighty, loving, and vengeful God. But this land and its struggles yield no easy answers, only more questions. In this essay I highlight the complexity and difficulty of talking about God and human rights in Palest-El, and how conflicting edicts and laws form a complex puzzle that challenges human reason. The questions I raise involve the idea of sacred space and spiritual claims of exclusive authority to safeguard locations imbued with religious significance. These questions are not limited to land rights, however, but touch on the most fundamental questions of religious authority, including the role of human reason in interpreting and applying divine messages and edicts and the ability of human creativity to transcend seemingly insurmountable conflicts and construct meaningful and enduring solutions.


Children of Abraham

Islam looks upon itself as the spiritual inheritor of the Abrahamic message. Indeed, the Qur’an clearly states that Abraham was the first Muslim — something which may come as a surprise to those who associate the birth of Islam with Muhammad. But this Abrahamic association is not a reference to the genealogical line, which links Ishmael to the Arabs (the term “Arab” in any case has in the scholarship tradition a much wider application). It is a reference, rather, to the monotheistic message purportedly carried by Abraham. More specifically, it is also a reference to the meaning of Islam as a religion that epitomizes the submission or surrender of the human will to God. The idea

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