Islam and Human Rights : Towards an Islamic Conception of Human Rights ?

May 2011 – May 2011

This MA (hovedfag) thesis, to be submitted to the Institute for Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (Bergen), examines how Muslim scholars have attempted over the last two decades to establish a dialogue between Islam and the Western discourse on human rights.

One of the most controversial points in the encounter between Islamic law and human rights is the particular status assigned to non-Muslims within Islam. This has repercussions for the principle of equality, the right to freedom of belief, and the right to protection from discrimination. And it goes to the core of the philosophical difficulties which arise for a legal framework that is ultimately based on divine authority.

The project attempts to determine what material rules concerning non-Muslims are proposed in Islamic human rights schemes. In particular, it aims to asses the extent to which these rules can be traced, on the one hand, back to traditional Islamic law, or, whether, on the other hand, they represent a new trend which draws on untraditional Islamic foundations. Special attention will be paid to the “Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam” (the probable precursor to the proposed Convention on Islamic Human Rights ), in view of assessing its relevance to the contemporary discourse on human rights within Islamic law.

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