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COMPARATIVE ETHICS, ISLAM, AND HUMAN RIGHTS: Internal Pluralism and the Possible Development of Tradition

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Dialogue with three major Muslim authors shows that Islam can take a positive stance toward human rights while also presenting differing interpretations of the meaning and scope of rights. Because of their subordination of norms reached through reason to those drawn from faith, as well as negative experiences of the impact of Western colonization of parts of the Muslim world, Abul A‘la Maududi and Sayyid Qutb place significant restrictions on rights of conscience. 'Abdolkarim Soroush's positive support for the role of reason in Islamic faith and his less-negative assessment of the West lead him to more vigorous support for the human rights agenda. This study raises the question of whether the humility needed in comparative ethics and the respect for others at the root of human rights are necessarily linked.

Keywords: 'Abdolkarim Soroush; Abul A‘la Maududi; Irene Oh; Islam; Sayyid Qutb; colonialism; dialogue; faith and reason; human rights; internal pluralism; virtue

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Theology, Boston College

Publication date: September 1, 2010


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