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Muslim World Journal of Human Rights

Editor-in-Chief: Kayaoglu, Turan

Ed. by Baderin, Mashood A. / Monshipouri, Mahmood / Welchman, Lynn

1 Issue per year

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR): 0.101
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP): 1.002

Sociology of Rights: "I Am Therefore I Have Rights": Human Rights in Islam between Universalistic and Communalistic Perspectives

Recep Senturk1

1Emory Islam and Human Rights Program,

Citation Information: Muslim World Journal of Human Rights. Volume 2, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1554-4419, DOI: 10.2202/1554-4419.1030, September 2005

Publication History

Published Online:

``I am therefore I have rights," argues this paper. Mere existence qualifies a human being for universal human rights. Yet human beings do not live in solitude; they are always embedded in a network of social relations which determines their rights and duties in its own terms. Consequently, the debate about the universality and relativism of human rights can be best understood by combining legal and sociological perspectives. Such an approach is used in this article to explore the tensions and contests around the universality of human rights in Islamic law. Whether all human beings or just citizens are qualified for the inviolability of human rights is a question which divided Muslim jurists into two schools: Universalistic School, emanating from Abu Hanifa, advocated for the universality of human rights, while Communalistic School, originating from Malik, Shafii and Ibn Hanbal, advocated for civil rights. Universalistic School was adopted by such great cosmopolitan empires as Umayyads, Abbasids, Mughals and Ottomans. It was also reformed by the Ottomans during the nineteenth century in the light of the new notions of universal human rights in Europe to purge remaining discriminatory practices against non-Muslim citizens and to justify constitutionalism and democracy. Yet the universalistic tradition in Islamic law has been forgotten as the chain of memory was broken after the collapse of Ottoman Empire. This article briefly unearths the forgotten universalistic approach in Islamic law to build upon it a modern universalistic human rights theory for which there is a pressing need at this age of globalization.

Keywords: human rights; Islam; culture; globalization

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