Islam and Human Rights: Is Compatibility Achievable between the Sharia and Human Rights Law?

7 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2014

See all articles by Javaid Rehman

Javaid Rehman

Brunel University London - Brunel Law School

Date Written: January 2, 2014


The Sharia as well as human rights law form essential segments of regulatory behaviour for all Muslim societies: the role and influence of both remains substantial as well as uncontested. However, there is considerable debate surrounding the incompatibility of application between the Sharia on the one hand and human rights norms on the other. In engaging with the subject, the present paper examines the following issues: Can the application of the Sharia be compatible with human rights law or can Sharia-compliant States (or even Muslim majority States aspiring to follow the Sharia) ever find compatibility with evolving norms of international human rights. In engaging with this debate, this paper contends that Sharia and human rights are not incompatible to each other. It goes on to argue that in fact Sharia may compliment human rights norms so long as the operational spheres for both the Sharia and human rights law are determined and understood and an effort is made to retain both within their specific mandates spheres. This paper is divided into five substantive sections. After these introductory comments, section II examines those juristic views that advance the position of incompatibility between the Sharia and human rights law. In highlighting the views advanced by eminent scholars, Section III aims to discuss policies of reconciliation and rapprochement. Section IV, presents a number of personal reflections of the author on the subject, while section V, the conclusion ends with some final thoughts on the issue of operational sphere and compatibility of the Sharia with human rights law.

Keywords: Islam, Sharia, compatability, Human Rights

Suggested Citation

Rehman, Javaid, Islam and Human Rights: Is Compatibility Achievable between the Sharia and Human Rights Law? (January 2, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Javaid Rehman (Contact Author)

Brunel University London - Brunel Law School ( email )

Kingston Lane
Elliott Jaques Building
Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH
United kingdom

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