How do you describe the area of your proposed research?
The essay shall seek to examine the conceptual meaning of ‘human rights’ under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights vis-à-vis the conceptual understanding of ‘human rights’ from the Islamic perspective which led to the articulation of the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights and the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights.
Corollary to this, this essay shall exhaustively discuss the various approaches utilized by the scholars and the experts in the field on the manner by which they sought to reconcile the pluralism in the diverse and conflicting views from and among the Muslim perspectives and from that of the U.N. perspective as enunciated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Finally this essay shall recommend a better approach in reconciling the divergent views in the concept of human rights.
What are the research questions you will answer in the essay?
1. What is the concept of human rights under the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
2. What is the Islamic concept of human rights as articulated in the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights and the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights?
3. How similar/different are the views on the concept of human rights based on the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights with that of the Muslims as embodied in the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights and the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights?
4. What approaches were used by the scholars and experts to explain or reconcile this differences/pluralism in the divergence of views?
5. Whether or not it is possible to reconcile and unify the divergent views. Corollary to this, whether or not reconciling the differences is necessary.
What are the main themes in your proposed research?
1. The concept of human rights in the Islamic religion and the concept of human rights based on the UDHR.
2. The relationship between Islamic view of human rights and the UDHR.
3. The main area of conflicts between the Sharia’h and the universal human rights.
4. The different approaches to explain and reconcile the differences in views between the Islamic human rights and the universal human rights.
5. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights serves as the most important standard international instrument that contain values and standards that are deemed morally binding to the members of the U.N. but also the international community of nations.
What are the main arguments to be discussed in your research?
1. The human rights paradigm for Islam is different from that in the UDHR in terms of its normative origin. In Islam, human rights are based on the Qu’ran and the sharia’h (religion) or while those of the UDHR are based on freedom and the belief that human rights are granted upon birth.
2. The Islamic views of human rights differ from the UDHR approach that has left a mark on the modern world, including Muslim States.
3. Cultural relativism and universalism as approaches cannot be employed, neither is pragmatism. The sharia’h should be allowed to evolve and reform. In the meantime, respect and tolerance should be accorded to differences in beliefs.
Give the complete references of 10 articles/chapters to be used in your research with a couple of sentences about each explaining why they are relevant to your project.
1. Susan Waltz ‘Universal Human Rights: Contribution of Muslim States’ (2004) 26 Human Rights Quarterly 799-844.
This article provides the foundation and historical basis of human rights in the essay. It discusses the basic concept of human rights and the social and political milieu the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was drafted and entered into force. It also explains how the Muslim states representatives participated in the drafting and deliberation of the international instrument.
2. Ann Elizabeth Mayer, ‘Islam and Human Rights: Tradition and Politics’, (2007), 4th ed.
This book has many chapters relevant to my topic. Chapter 9 for example provides an assessment of Islamic human rights laws and provides an analysis of the impact of Sharia’h law.
3. Robert Carle, ‘Revealing and Concealing: Islamist Discourse on Human Rights’, (2005), Human Rights Review.
This article explained in detail the provisions of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights as well as the Sharia’h law and the provisions of the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights. It identified the provisions which are in conflict with those of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.
4. Mohamed Berween, ‘The Fundamental Human Rights: An Islamic Perspective’, (2002), 6 (1) The International Journal of Human Rights.
This article simply demonstrates the concept of Islam in human rights and summarizes the basic human rights in Islam.
5. Heiner Bielefeldt, ‘”Western” versus “Islamic” Human Rights Conceptions?: A Critique of Cultural Essentialism in the Discussion on Human Rights’, (2000), 28 (1) Political Theory.
This article makes a deep critical analysis of cultural essentialism which is advocated as justification to the contradictions in the conceptual understanding of human rights as that due to the primacy of one culture from another. This article also explains in detail the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights and the Sharia’h and the conflicting with the provisions of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.
6. Ann Elizabeth Mayer, ‘Universal Versus Islamic Human Rights: A Clash of Cultures or a Clash with a Construct?’, (1994), 15 Michigan Journal of International Law, 307.
This article discusses the fundamentalist and traditional Islamic views on human rights including a detailed informative explanation of the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights. It also discusses the debate between cultural relativism and universalism as approaches in understanding the concept of human rights.
7. Alhassan Zakaria, “Human Rights in Islam: A Pluralistic Approach.” (2007).
This article explains women’s equality, the differences between Muslims and non-Muslims as well as a detailed explanation of apostasy. This is the latest literature on the matter relative to the reforms that have been evolving within the Muslim states relative to the law.
8. Ruud Peters, ‘Islamic Law and Human Rights: a Contribution to an Ongoing Debate’, (1999), 10 (1) Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations.
This article discusses the equality and freedom in religion based on Islamic law. It discusses the equality between man and woman especially in marriage, between a Muslim and a non-Muslim and between free persons and slaves as restricted by legal capacity. It gives a background on the classical Islam and its perception of human rights.
9. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (1948) and The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, (1990).
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the main topic and standard in this essay. It recited the different provisions of this international instrument and enumerates the various human rights. On the other hand, the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights contains the human rights under Islamic law and religion entered into by the Muslim states.
10. Mohamed-Cherif Ferjani, ‘Islam and Politics: The Terms of the Debate’, (2005), 16 (1) History and Anthropology.
This article illustrates the role of Islamic doctrines among Muslim nations and whether they are religious countries or not. It also discussing the evolution of Islam and the absurdity of rejecting absolute cultural relativism and embracing the ‘pseudo-universalism.’
Are there any questions or issues you need clarifying with me before you begin your research?
Actually This first time that I wrote an organized proposal as this. So, I hope to complete all sections correctly.
My feedback on your proposal:
The area of research was modified. Instead of examining the differences in opinions among the various Muslim states/Muslims on human rights, the researcher decided to discuss the differences in the conceptual understanding of human rights under the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights vis-à-vis the Islamic perspectives. Consequently, the researcher will explain the different approaches to reconcile these differences and to propose a recommendation on the manner of unifying the differences. The original idea in the research proposal was modified because the examination of the differences in positions of the various Muslim states do not have much direct relevance on the international instrument, the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.
The research questions were modified to follow a logical and analytical flow of thought by first examining the concept of human right as under the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights and the Islamic views of human rights, logically followed by the instruments entered into by the Muslim states, i.e. Universal Islamic Declaration of Human rights and the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights. From this, a comparative study is made as to the differences in normative origin.
The main themes and main arguments were made more analytical and concise to give a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Moreover, one of the references was taken out only in this proposal and was substituted by the Paper of “Alhassan Zakaria, “Human Rights in Islam: A Pluralistic Approach” (2007),” considering that this appears to be the latest essay/research paper on the subject matter of Islamic reforms. However, the reference deleted in this Proposal, “Heiner Bielefeldt, ‘Muslim Voices in the Human Rights Debate’, (1995), 17 (4) Human Rights Quarterly” was still utilized in the analysis of this essay.