Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Islamic Rationalism and the Foundation of Human Rights

PLURALISM AND LAW: Proceedings of the 20th IVR Congress, Arend Soeteman, ed., Global Problems, Vol. 3, pp. 61-70, March 2005

Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 777026

11 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2005  

John Mikhail

Georgetown University Law Center

Abstract

The question I address is whether the rationalist tradition in Islamic jurisprudence has the conceptual resources to explicate and justify contemporary human rights discourse. A common theme of many commentaries on Islam and human rights is that there is something intrinsically "Western" about human rights, where "Western" is thought to exclude "Islamic." As a result, scholars are sometimes reluctant to apply human rights norms to Muslim societies. Some even suggest that those who evaluate Muslim societies on this basis are guilty of "moral chauvinism and ethnocentric bias." This paper questions the validity of any strong epistemological contrast between Western and Islamic jurisprudence in this respect by arguing that several principles lying at the foundation of Western accounts of human rights have important counterparts in Islamic rationalism. Far from being exclusively Western, the philosophical foundations of human rights appear to be shared by both Western and Islamic theories of law.

Keywords: Human rights, rationalism, nativism, empiricism, deontic logic, natural liberty, practical reason, Mutazilite, Abd' al-Jabbar, Hourani, Aquinas, Ockham, Suarez, Leibniz, Langdell

Suggested Citation

Mikhail, John, Islamic Rationalism and the Foundation of Human Rights. PLURALISM AND LAW: Proceedings of the 20th IVR Congress, Arend Soeteman, ed., Global Problems, Vol. 3, pp. 61-70, March 2005; Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 777026. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=777026

John Mikhail (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States
202-662-9392 (Phone)
202-662-9409 (Fax)

Paper statistics

Downloads
907
Rank
20,335
Abstract Views
4,011