An-Na'im Book Explores Islam and Human Rights

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By Rohit Chopra and April L. Bogle

A new book from the Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR) helps people within Islamic societies promote and protect human rights from an Islamic perspective.

Islam and Human Rights: Advocacy for Social Change in Local Contexts (Global Media Publications) is the outcome of the Islam and Human Rights Fellowship Program, a three-year project at Emory University School of Law funded by the Ford Foundation and housed within the CSLR.

Abdullahi An-Na'im, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law and a CSLR senior fellow, directed the project and contributed the book's foreword.

In the foreword, An Na'im addresses the process used in the project, which attempted to link scholarship to social transformation by placing what he calls "agents of change" in African and Islamic societies to secure the confidence and trust of communities. Their work focused on human rights and the rights of women.

"We can only tell how far we take an issue by trying hard and seeing how far that will actually be in practice," writes An-Na'im. "I am firmly convinced that there is never a final and irreversible outcome off any struggle or effort, that every defeat or setback can and should be a new beginning for the next attempt."

The project brought together 10 scholars and activists to explore the relationship between human rights and Islam. Their findings are collected in 10 articles divided into four categories: gender justice, sexuality, and health rights; civil and economic rights; commentary on Islam and human rights; and human rights education in an Islamic context . The articles cumulatively cover a wide range of disciplinary, theoretical, and advocacy issues and perspectives on engagements between Islam and human rights in diverse local contexts.

Muslim World Journal of Human Rights recently published a collection of the articles, and they can be viewed on-line.

Edited by Mashood Baderin, Mahmood Monshipouri, Lynn Welchman, and Shadi Mokhtari, the book contributes to the discourses of human rights theory, practice, and advocacy; Islamic law; Islamic studies; women’s rights, gender studies; and fieldwork methodology. It is a resource for scholars, rights activists and advocates, NGOs, policymakers, and anyone with an interest in issues of Islam and human rights.

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Islam and Human Rights Fellowship Program


The CSLR is home to world class scholars and forums on the religious foundations of law, politics, and society. It offers expertise on how the teachings and practices of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have shaped and continue to transform the fundamental ideas and institutions of our public and private lives. The scholarship of CSLR faculty provides the latest perspectives, while its conferences and public forums foster reasoned and robust public debate.

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