islam and human rights

Human Rights has always been central to the understanding and practice of Islam. However, as language and meaning changes over time a constant effort is needed to reinterpret tradition in today’s language. In this section, a variety of resources can be found that present Islam through a framework of Human Rights, and that present Human Rights through a framework of Islam.

Please note: these books, videos and resources do not necessarily reflect the opinion and position of members of the Muslim Collective. They are intended for exploration of ideas and not as position statements.


Islam and Human Rights in Practice : Perspectives Across the Ummah (Shahram Akbarzadeh)

Questions over the compatibility of Islam and Human Rights have become a key area of debate in the perceived tensions between 'Islam and the West'. In many ways, discussion over the stance of Islam in relation to such factors as gender rights, religious freedom, social and political freedoms, and other related issues represents a microcosm of the broader experience of how Muslim and 'Western' communities interact and relate. This volume seeks to engage with the various debates surrounding Islam and Human Rights, in particular, challenging assumptions of a 'standard' or 'essential' Muslim perspective on Human Rights. Through a survey of the experiences of Muslim communities across the globe (the ummah), this volume highlights the dynamic way Muslims understand and incorporate Human Rights into their personal, social and political experiences. From conceptual discussions on the issues of gender rights and religious freedom, to examining Muslim communities from South East Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, leading global experts bring forth key insights into the way in which Muslim communities live and experience Human Rights. The potential for deeper engagement with this issue is critical, as it opens possibilities for more profound understanding and tolerance.

ORientalism (Edward Said)

(not quite 'human rights', but provides a very important component to understand the construct of 'human rights' from non-Western perspective)

More than three decades after its first publication, Edward Said's groundbreaking critique of the West's historical, cultural, and political perceptions of the East has become a modern classic. In this wide-ranging, intellectually vigorous study, Said traces the origins of "orientalism" to the centuries-long period during which Europe dominated the Middle and Near East and, from its position of power, defined "the orient" simply as "other than" the occident. This entrenched view continues to dominate western ideas and, because it does not allow the East to represent itself, prevents true understanding. Essential, and still eye-opening, Orientalism remains one of the most important books written about our divided world.

Contemporary Issues in Islam

This book discusses key issues in Islam today including Shari'a, jihad, politics, gender and interfaith relations. This book deals with certain "hot button" contemporary issues in Islam that are often the focus of public scrutiny, including the Shari'a, jihad, the caliphate, women's status, and interfaith relations. Notably, it places the discussion of these topics within a longer historical framework in order to reveal their multiple interpretations and contested applications over time. Most public - and occasionally academic - discourses in the West present the Islamic tradition as unchanging and therefore unable to respond to the modern world. Such an ahistorical approach can foster the belief that Muslim majority and Western societies are destined to clash. This book reveals instead the diversity and transformations within Islamic thought over time. Focusing on this internal diversity permits us to appreciate the scriptural and intellectual resources available within the Islamic tradition for responding to the challenges of modernity, even as this tradition interrogates and shapes modernity itself. It identifies seven key "controversial" issues that frequently emerge concerning Islam in public discussions, academic and non academic. It offers a historically contextualised discussion of these key issues and concepts in the context of modernity and relations with the West. It challenges the "clash of civilisations" thesis by identifying shared, universal values that are retrievable from a deeper, historicised investigation of the Islamic past and its connection with the present. It interrogates the premise that secularisation must precede a successful transition to modernity and that Western style modernity is the only paradigm available.


The relationship between Islam and human rights forms an important aspect of contemporary international human rights debates. Current international events have made the topic more relevant than ever in international law. Islam has been from its inception very concerned about the importance of human rights. There are many examples in which Islam promotes rights.

Amina Wadud: "Islam, Feminism and Human Rights"

For more on this event, visit: For more on the Berkley Center, visit: September 28, 2009 | Can one ground universal human rights in the Islamic tradition? How do secular notions of human rights-- and those derived from other religious traditions--compare with Islamic perspectives?

"The more human beings are able to explore and establish principles of justice, uphold of human dignity and resistance to oppression -- so to freedom and liberty -- the more they come to the divine objectives. This puts human rights and democracy at the very core of what it is to be a proponent of Shari'a", explains Khaled Abou El Fadl, one of the world's leading authorities on Islamic law and Islam, and a prominent scholar in the field of human rights, as well as the Omar and Azmaeralda Alfi Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law, USA.


progressive islam


gender and sexuality

islamic philosophy

quran and hadith

democracy, shariah and pluralism