Author(s)Saeed, Professor Abdullah
KeywordsIslam, Islamic law, shari`ah, sharia, human rights, universal human rights, ethical-moral values, gender equality, freedom of religion, culture of human rights, context in Islamic law
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AbstractIn the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, issues of human rights have drawn an increasing amount of international attention. Some people view traditional understandings of Islamic law, particularly in areas such as gender rights and freedom of religion, as contradicting values accepted by many today as universal human rights. In response to this view, Abdullah Saeed examines the ideas of human dignity and the importance of context in understanding Islamic law as it relates to the creation of a culture of human rights from a Muslim perspective. This paper, presented in 2005 at the international symposium Cultivating Wisdom, Harvesting Peace at Griffith University, Brisbane, argues that it is necessary to recognize and highlight the fact that many human rights, which are seen today as universal, may well be supported by the foundation texts of Islam. Saeed explores the importance of contextualizing Islamic laws in order to understand their intended meaning; the need to reinterpret traditional understandings which appear to conflict with today’s human rights; and the interpretative and practical possibilities found in foundational texts and the tradition of Islamic thought which can be drawn on to formulate a philosophy of human rights in the modern period.