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The Maqasid Approach: Rethinking Political Rights in Modern Society PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Louay Safi   
Aug 07, 2006 at 07:00 PM

The question of political rights under Islam is the subject of intense debate in Muslim societies and beyond. Groups calling for reasserting Islam in public life have long insisted that the key to embracing Islamic values in the political sphere is to declare shar’ah as the official law of the land. At the heart of the debate lies the question of how the application of shari’ah affects non-Muslims and women, and how such application relates, in general, to the efforts of democratization and ensuring the accountability of public officials and law makers to the public.

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Human Rights and Cultural Reform PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Louay Safi   
Mar 18, 1999 at 02:00 PM

The notion of human rights represents a set of abstract values whose concretization is considered essential for ensuring a life of dignity. The process through which the abstract rights are given a concrete expression is far from being simple of straightforward. At issue is the impact of the historical and moral specificities of a particular culture on the way through which human rights are perceived and interpreted. This paper examines the literature addressing the question of human rights in the Middle East and points out discrepancies in analysis and presentation. The paper proposes an alternative approach to studying human rights across cultures that could help researchers overcome the distortions produced by the faulty approach currently favored by leading Middle East specialists.

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Human Rights and Islamic Legal Reform PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Louay Safi   
Aug 11, 1998 at 08:00 PM

Is Islam compatible with human rights?  This question has been in recent years the focus of attention of numerous human rights scholars, who have produced varying answers and advanced conflicting views.  Any one who undertakes to study the literature generated in the process of answering the above question soon realizes that his or her task is exceedingly complex.  For one finds that the foremost critics of traditional shari`a (Islamic law) are united with its ardent advocates in denying any relationship between Islam and human rights.  One also finds that the proponents of a conception of human rights rooted in Islamic worldview stand condemned by both modernist and traditionalist scholars: by the former because of their association with Islam, and by the latter because of their advocacy of human rights.  In the midst of the contradiction and confusion that riddle the discourse on Islam and human rights, clarity and understanding are sacrificed.

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Islamic Law and Society PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Louay Safi   
Sep 08, 1990 at 06:57 AM

Shari‘ah (Islamic law) has been the dominant moral and legal code of Muslim societies for the greater part of their history. During the early centuries of Islam, Shari’ah facilitated the social growth and development of the Muslims, growth that culminated in the establishment of a vast empire and an outstanding civilization. By the close of the fifth century of Islam, however, Shari’ah began to lose its role as the guiding force that inspired Muslim creativity and ingenuity and that nurtured the growing spirit of the Muslim community (Ummah). Consequently, the Ummah entered a period of stagnation that gradually gave way to intellectual decline and social decadence. Regrettably, this painful trend continues to be more or less ‘part of the individual consciousness and collective experience of Muslims.

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Blaming Islam


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