Does the philosophy and practice of Islam stand in the way of realizing human rights? In this book Ann Elizabeth Mayer offers a critical assessment of recent human rights schemes proposed by Muslim conservatives as alternatives to the International Bill of Human Rights. She argues that these schemes possess no direct antecedents in the premodern Islamic tradition but are legal hybrids of Islamic and international principles.
Dr. Mayer contrasts the position of Muslim conservatives with that of Muslims who endorse international human rights standards as fully compatible with Islam and offers evidence that the provisions of Islamic human rights schemes tend to dilute and nullify rights guaranteed by international law. In addition, she evaluates the political significance of Islamic rights schemes by examining the actual patterns of rights deprivations in Muslim countries and the policies of governments that have pursued Islamization campaigns. Dr. Mayer persuasively demonstrates that it is not Islamic tradition that discourages respect for human rights but the selective interpretation and application of Islamic law and tradition by Muslim groups who are threatened by the demand for democratic freedoms throughout the Muslim world.
Ann Elizabeth Mayer is associate professor of legal studies at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern history, a Juris Doctor, and a certificate in Islamic and comparative law from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She is a member of the Bar of the State of Pennsylvania. Her numerous publications have focused on Islamic law in contemporary societies, problems of jurisprudence, law and social structure, comparative law, Islamic banking and taxation, and human rights issues.