Human Rights and Contemporary Islamic Thought: An Analysis of John Rawls’ Political Conception

Document Type : Original Research Article


Research Associate, The Institute for the Humanities, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada


The article begins with an emphasis on the distinction between justice and human rights requirements. To clarify this distinction, two dominant positions on human rights, namely, humanitarianism (minimalist) and cosmopolitan egalitarianism (maximalist), are presented as unreasonable and unacceptable perspectives. To offer a more reasonable view, the article explores the ethical and political ideas that form the conception of human rights presented by John Rawls in his The Law of Peoples, which is more encompassing than what minimalists suggest and less extensive than maximalists argue for. Rawls’ political conception of human rights, the rights he considers as human rights, and the reasoning behind this conception are elucidated. Furthermore, the article scrutinizes contemporary Islamic thought and investigates the possibility of reaching an overlapping consensus on a political conception of human rights. The article proceeds to explain three essential ideas that necessitate Islamic support of human rights: the distinction between the law of God and human interpretation, the acceptance of religious diversity as a divine will, and the preeminent importance of justice in Quranic discourse.


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