Relativism vs. Universalism Islam and the Human Rights Debate

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Omer Siddiqui

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Abstract

This paper addresses the issue of "universality" in the human rights
discourse by engaging in two basic tasks: linking the UNDHR to a
specific political evolution and juxtaposing this evolution with a difFerent
distinct Islamic tradition. The paper argues that, while the liberal tradition
maintains "rights" as a construct that has evolved to be considered
inalienable by virtue of an individual's humanity, the Islamic
tradition asserts its own values and guidelines on human behavior as an
outgrowth of an individual's duty to God and community. Yet, despite
basic differences, the Issue is not one of achieving u n i v h in the
discourse of rights, but rather in realizing that despite conceptual and
ideological differences, the social and political destinations that each
tradition arrives at are so consistent. that the conceptual differences are not
in and of themselves sources of divisiveness or compromise in the quest to
achieve universal standards.

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