Are Human Rights Compatible with Islam - an Analysis

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  • Topic: Islam, Muhammad, Human rights
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  • Published : February 6, 2011
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Are Human Rights Compatible with Islam - An Analysis

Since the turn of century, one of the most common topics of discussion in the West has been the religion of Islam. This may be attributed to a few factors – the increasing number of Muslim immigrants in Western countries like USA, Canada and France, the present geographic setting of most foreign military operations conducted by Western nations (predominantly carried out in Islamic countries), and of course, growing media attention towards Islamic terrorism and terrorist groups. September 11th was undisputedly the event that threw Islam into the spotlight, and paved the path for vicious criticism directed at the religion.

David Littman, is a British historian and human rights activist that has spoken out and criticized the religion in recent times. He famously alluded to Islam’s lack of human dignity in his article “Universal Human Rights and Human Rights in Islam,” in which he employs the uses of binary oppositions to distance “Western Judeo-Christian” people from “them” – a useful tactic considering his motive was to demonize Islamic notions on the topic. He also contributed many chapters to the book titled “The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: How Islamic Law Treats Non-Muslims,” in which Littman and his co-authors (one of whom is Daniel Pipes – a renowned Islamophobic) analyze the “myth” of tolerance under Islamic nations. But he is not alone in this – Several “human rights activists” and “experts” hiding behind the cloak of academia have commented on Islam’s oppressive nature and lack of human dignity. They have all too often judged the religion based on the history and sheer number of tyrannical regimes in the Middle East, or the number terrorists that sacrifice themselves “in the name of Islam.” Although Muslims have responded (and unfortunately sometimes reacted) to these claims and discussions, their defense normally gets crowded out by media attention and relevance people like Littman and Pipes receive. The unfortunate consequence of this – these advocates of Islamophobia gain prominence and credibility, resulting in their views becoming the views of the masses. The overarching result – Islam is viewed as a religion devoid of or incompatible with modern human rights. This essay will challenge that notion, and prove that human rights have and do exist under Islam. Through this essay I hope to convey or repair any misconceptions that exist about Islam’s inability to adapt to modern human rights, and hope to distance Islam from tyrannical and oppressive regimes that happen to be Muslim. By analyzing verses from the Quran (Islam’s Holy book), the Prophet Muhammad’s (Peace Be Upon Him) narrations and actions (compiled as the “Hadith”) and comparing it with certain parts of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, this essay will prove that Islam is and always has been compatible with modern human rights. The Quran is Islam’s sacred scripture, the book that Muslims believe to contain the words of God as revealed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The term Quran literally means “translation,” and it is written in Arabic, which is Islam’s sacred language. Although the Quran has been translated into several different languages, Muslims believe that the Quran’s true essence itself is “untranslatable” – its true meaning will get altered and lost in translation. The Quran is meant to be the ultimate guide for Muslims, as followers of the religion purport that revelation is the ultimate truth and that it is every Muslim’s obligation to follow the laws in the Quran. The Hadith is a record of sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) that was compiled and passed on by his companions. Belief in the Hadith is a vital part of Islamic faith, as it is used as a supplementary platform to understanding the Quran better, and in matters of jurisprudence. Along with the Quran, it forms the basis of the Islamic religion. The Quran’s verses along with the...
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