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Human Rights

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The Oxford Dictionary of Islam What is This? Covers the religious, political, and social spheres of global Islam in the modern world

    Human Rights

    The Islamic legal tradition distinguishes between huquq Allah (the rights of God) and huquq al-insan (the rights of people). Some Muslim scholars have argued that huquq al-insan are akin to human rights or serve as the basis for developing a human rights discourse. In many Muslim countries, the independence struggle against European colonizers accentuated the importance of rights and democratic freedoms. After World War II, modern international formulations of human rights were produced, setting standards that became incorporated in public international law. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights ( 1948 ) provoked criticism from some Muslim countries, although only Saudi Arabia failed to support its passage. Muslims sometimes charged that international human rights had a Western bias that precluded their acceptance in Muslim milieus. Some Muslim countries argued that the West focused on civil and political rights and ignored economic, cultural, and social rights. Principles of the freedom of religion—notably the right to convert from Islam to another faith—and the full equality of persons regardless of sex or religion seemed to pose particular problems. The Organization of the Islamic Conference's charter affirmed its commitment to the UN Charter and to fundamental human rights. In 1990 , however, it issued the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, which diverged significantly from international human rights standards: absent were guarantees of freedom of religion, association, or the press, and assurances of equality and equal protection under the law. Muslim opinion remains divided on the relationship between international human rights principles and the Islamic legal heritage, and on the compatibility between the two.

    See also Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam

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