Islam and Human Rights: Tradition and Politics by Ann Elizabeth MayerRights Gone Wrong
An in depth critical examination of how Muslim nations have tried to subvert the language of human rights making resultant laws subservient to the vagaries of Sharia. Mayer examines controversial documents such as the UIDHR (Universal Islamic Declarations of Human Rights), Egypts al Azhar Draft Constitution, The Cairo Declaration, Saudi Basic Law and constitutions from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq and illustrates how they apply to the treatment of woman and minorities in Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Syria and Sudan.
The main approach is to co-opt the language of human rights but then corrupt it. The countries Mayer examines often adopt the general form of the UNs UDHR, but the clauses are often modified making them subject to Sharia thereby diluting them.
A second tactic is to say one thing in English for international consumption, but have a completely different connotation in Arabic. The English version of the UIHDR is explicit in stating that each right is subject to the law, but the authoritative Arabic version clarifies - law translates to Sharia or religious law, as opposed to qanun (legislation). The Egyptian constitution passed yesterday makes this clear in English as well: Article 2: The principles of Islamic law are the chief source of legislation, but further clauses merely refer to the law.
A third technique is to simply omit a group as deserving of rights, for example mentioning equality of men, but not women, or leaving out sexual orientation. Or, as in the Cairo Declaration, stating that all human beings are equal in terms of basic human dignity w/o regard to race, color, language or sex, which Mayer argues that dignity is not equivalent having rights, and that being equal does not in itself protect one from abuse, all individuals being equally denied a right. Saudi Basic Law omits any discussion of rights at all!
Last, we find a cases where Muslims or Muslim men can be privileged. Article 1(b) of the Cairo Declaration says: persons most loved by God are those who are most useful to the rest of his subject and no one has superiority over another except on the basis of (Muslim) piety and good deeds - so that an individual who prays 5 times a day has greater value under the law. Another problem relates to the rules of inheritance - men and are entitled to ½ and women are entitled to ¼ of the estate. The position of women is eroded further as Islam allows multiple wives (not husbands) and the wives ¼ share to be split evenly between each wife.
Its not all bad news. The fact that some Muslim jurists use the UHDR formulations as a template is encouraging, as is the effort to retroactively claim that the Quran anticipated and implemented modern human rights. An obvious route to promote human rights in practice would be to show that such rights are not incompatible with the Sunna of Mohammed and his Companions. On the other hand you one can also find push-back against the UNs UDHR as un-Islamic. Mayer cites the current Ayatollah Khameini, who said in 1984 when he was Irans President: When we want to find out what is right and what is wrong, we do not go to the United Nations; we go to the Holy Koran. For us the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is nothing but a collection of mumbo-jumbo by disciples of Satan.
Mayer also notes that generally there seems to be push back against forced or arranged marriage as the UIHDR requires the consent of both parties, though both Iran and Saudi Arabia have lowered the age of marriage to an unacceptably low 9 years, to the detriment of their ability to become independent and to receive an education, not to mention failing to protect the rights of children.
The legal and political landscape of the Middle East are currently in flux. Nevertheless the analysis presented is invaluable in assessing the implications of proposed and actual legislation.
Perspicacious readers will probably note that the title of this book is a misnomer. That is, it has been selected for purely practical reasons despite its not being very informative. The reference to "Islam" in the book title is potentially misleading, since I repudiate the commonly held view that Islam by itself determines the attitudes one finds in the Muslim world on human rights issues. In fact, I see Islam as only one factor in the reception of human rights in the Middle East. The reason why this book focuses on Islamic responses to international human rights principles is that my own research interests happen to center on the role of Islamic law in contemporary Middle Eastern societies. A central thesis of this book is that one should not speak of "Islam" and human rights as if Islam were a monolith or as if there existed one settled Islamic human rights philosophy that caused all Muslims to look at rights in a particular way. The precepts of Islam, like those of Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and other major religions possessed of long and complex traditions, are susceptible of interpretations that can and do create conflicts between religious doctrine and human rights norms or that reconcile the two.
By Ann Elizabeth Mayer. Boulder, Colo. Most users should sign in with their email address. If you originally registered with a username please use that to sign in. To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above.
Ann E. Mayer has taught law courses on subjects comprising law and policy in international business, globalization and human rights , introductions to U. She earned a B. Mayer has written widely on issues of Islamic law in contemporary legal systems, comparative law, international law , and the problems of integrating international human rights law in domestic legal systems. A major portion of her scholarship concerns human rights issues in contemporary North Africa and the Middle East. She has published extensively in law reviews and in scholarly journals and books concerned with comparative and international law and politics in contemporary Middle East and North Africa. Her interest in international human rights law encompasses the emergence of new ideas of corporate responsibility under international human rights law and problems concerning the transferral of former state obligations to private actors.
An assessment of recent Islamic human-rights schemes that dilute or Islam and Human Rights: Tradition and Politics. Front Cover. Ann Elizabeth Mayer.
you had me at meow book
Islam and Human Rights is a probing examination of how the Islamic tradition has been exploited for political ends by regimes and institutions seeking to legitimize policies inimical to human rights. - Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving….
This article examines the recent trend proposing that Islam and Islamic culture mandate a distinctive approach to human rights. It offers critical assessments of selected civil and political rights in two recent products of this trend: 1 the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, issued by the Organization of the Islamic Conference and endorsed by Iran and Saudi Arabia; and 2 the rights provisions in the Saudi Arabian Basic Law promulgated in These legislative initiatives will be examined in conjunction with constructs of an Islamic culture necessarily at odds with international human rights norms. These constructs have been put forward not only by Westerners influenced by Orientalist stereotypes or attracted to a cultural relativist approach to rights questions, but also by spokespersons for Muslim countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia have been in the forefront of the campaign to persuade international opinion that Islam mandates a distinctive approach to rights issues.
Boulder, CO: Westview Press, Jadaliyya J : What made you write this book? Also deserving of scrutiny are current efforts in the UN human rights system to expand international human rights law to protect people regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation. These have been met with fierce opposition by MENA states, which in this, as in some other areas, have managed to forge opportunistic alliances with non-Muslim countries like China and Russia in efforts to stifle plans to strengthen human rights. In consequence, Islamic grounds for challenging human rights are now being combined with others that can appeal to non-OIC members.