Islam and humanitarian values

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    Islam can have different interpretations. This paper, however, brought out two main categories: Traditional and liberal. It was stated that the epistemological foundations of the two interpretations are widely different. Whereas one views religion as a set of rules and rituals, the other understands religion to be more fluid and in tune with the needs and demands of the time. Man's relationship to God is essentially different from his relationship to other men. The former is a vertical unequal Master-servant relationship whereas the latter is a horizontal relationship of equals. It is the latter that concerns human rights without the former being the basis for it. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an essentially state-centric document, fails to recognise the structural violations of human rights by the state. Any ideal set of human rights should transcend the boundaries, and go beyond the rigid format of the sovereign state. One of the most essential values in Islam is Justice. Freedom and other values all stem from it and therefore supporting them cannot and should not be done at the cost of justice. Human life, property and freedom of the individual are all safeguarded in the Quran and other such humanitarian values as debt remission are also encouraged. However, one should not fail to grasp the impact of social and political realities on Muslims. Their interpretation of their faith may well be subject to a set of historical developments that in their view transgress the bounds of justice. Moreover, Islamic rulers are like any other human being historical entities and by extension so are their interpretation of their religion. Bearing in mind the Machiavellian trait of politics and the complex web of international relations today, it would be folly to necessarily attribute the state of human rights in Islamic countries to Islam; that may well be a view divorced from the reality of Islam, a faith which is not inherently illiberal at all.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)139-149
    Number of pages11
    JournalRefugee Survey Quarterly
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2002

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