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Islam and the Challenge of Human Rights$
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Abdulaziz Sachedina

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195388428

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195388428.001.0001

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The Clash of Universalisms

The Clash of Universalisms

Religious and Secular in Human Rights

(p.3) 1 The Clash of Universalisms
Islam and the Challenge of Human Rights

Abdulaziz Sachedina (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter lays the groundwork for assessing traditionalist Muslim scholarship on human rights to date. It undertakes to argue that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights cannot be dismissed outright as a product of Western secular thought with deep roots in Enlightenment thought. Nor can one entertain the charge of a Eurocentric bias of the document as valid because liberal views about human individuality, dignity, and agency are compatible with Islamic revelation as developed in Muslim philosophical theology and juridical methodology to understand human personhood. Thus far Muslim studies of the Declaration have concentrated on investigating the compatibility or the lack of it from the point of view of the Shari'a—the Sacred Law of Islam—without engaging the juridical system's theological‐ethical foundations. Given the declaration's intellectual anchoring in the historically specific secular and Christian experience of the drafters, academically such an investigation about the Shari'a's compatibility with the declaration is unproductive for understanding the origins of the universal underpinnings of both the Islamic tradition and the secular international document. To get to the root of Muslim traditionalists' arguments against the antireligion bias of the declaration, this chapter endeavors to undertake a critical analysis of Muslim theological resources to propose a fresh understanding of Muslim theology to support universal human rights that envisions the derivation of human rights on the basis of the principle of the inherency and inalienability of the rights that accrue to all humans as humans.

Keywords:   Shari'a, rationalist‐naturalist theology, traditionalism, universalism, scriptural argument, democratic governance, religious exclusivism, secular‐religious alliance

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