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APPROACHING ISLAM: Comparative Ethics through Human Rights

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A dialogical approach to understanding Islamic ethics rejects objectivist methods in favor of a conversational model in which participants accept each other as rational moral agents. Hans-Georg Gadamer asserts the importance of agreement upon a subject matter through conversation as a means to gaining insight into other persons and cultures, and Jürgen Habermas stresses the importance of fairness in dialogue. Using human rights as a subject matter for engaging in dialogue with Islamic scholars, Muslim perspectives on issues such as democracy, toleration, and freedom of conscience emerge. A capabilities approach to human rights, such as that developed by Martha Nussbaum, enables the coexistence of multiple religious ethical visions while insisting upon the need to protect and nurture essential human abilities.

Keywords: Abul A‘la Maududi; Gadamer; Habermas; Islam; Nussbaum; Sayyid Qutb; capabilities; comparative ethics; dialogue; feminist ethics; human rights

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Religious Studies DepartmentUniversity of MiamiPO Box 248264Coral Gables, FL 33124-4651305.284.3699, Email:

Publication date: 2008-09-01

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