Islam and Human Rights

Tradition and Politics


Ann Elizabeth Mayer

Fifth Edition • July 31, 2012 • 320 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813344676 • $40.00 USD$52.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813345642 • $25.99 USD$28.99 CAN

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Islam and Human Rights is a probing examination of how the Islamic tradition has been exploited for political ends by regimes and institutions seeking to legitimize policies inimical to human rights. Ann Elizabeth Mayer critically appraises Islamic human rights schemes that dilute the human rights afforded by international law, comparing them with the complex Islamic legal heritage and international human rights law. Challenging stereotypes about a supposedly monolithic Islam inherently incompatible with human rights, Mayer dissects the political motives behind the selective deployment of elements of the Islamic tradition by conservative forces seeking to delegitimize demands for democracy and human rights.

The fifth edition provides an updated consideration of government policies on Islam and human rights activism and how they are affecting developments in several Middle Eastern countries, and features a new chapter on the resistance of human rights for sexual minorities by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Muslim states. The new edition also analyzes the other most recent and important issues of the region, including:

  • The burgeoning pressures in the Middle East for human rights leading up to the Arab Spring;
  • The ambitious campaign of the (OIC) to influence the UN human rights system by forging alliances with non-Muslim states hostile to human rights;
  • The concerted efforts by this cross-cultural alliance to subvert international human rights law under pretenses of supporting human rights;
  • The intensifying controversies over issues of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Middle East;
  • The Danish Cartoons controversy and the OIC project to co-opt international human rights law to criminalize “defamation of Islam” occurring in the West.

Ann Elizabeth Mayer is associate professor of legal studies and business ethics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a PhD in Middle Eastern History from the University of Michigan, a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and a Certificate in Islamic and Comparative Law from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. She has conducted research in countries ranging from Morocco to Pakistan and has published extensively on Islamic law in the contemporary Middle East and on international human rights law, especially women’s international human rights.

1. Assimilating Human Rights in the Middle East
2. Human Rights in International and Middle Eastern Systems: Sources and Contexts
3. Islamic Tradition and Muslim Reactions to Human Rights
4. Islamic Restrictions on Human Rights
5. Discrimination Against Women and Non-Muslims
6. Restrictions on the Rights and Freedoms of Women
7. Islamic Human Rights Schemes and Religious Minorities
8. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and Muslim States Resist Human Rights for Sexual Minorities
9. Freedom of Religion in Islamic Human Rights Schemes
10. An Assessment of Islamic Human Rights Schemes

Appendix A: Excerpts from the Iranian Constitution
Appendix B: The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam
Appendix C: 2009 Resolution on Combating defamation of religions
Glossary

Praise for prior editions:

“Highly recommended to all scholars and students of human rights in the Muslim world…Particularly useful for its incisive deconstructions of government-sponsored ‘alternative’ human rights frameworks, and the political calculations at their heart.” –Anthony Chase, Occidental College

“Essential reading for anyone seeking to understand and assess tensions between Islamic political thinking and the modern idea of human rights. For readers new to the question, a cogent new chapter o the politics of cultural relativism provides essential context and will quickly introduce them to surrounding controversy. Mayer doesn’t hesitate to explore the diversity of thinking within the Islamic tradition or flinch from questioning the motivations of governments that appeal to Islam to legitimate political repression…A brilliant work by a seasoned scholar.” –Susan Waltz, University of Michigan

“A ‘must read’ for anyone interested in the interplay between religion, politics, and individual rights in our turbulent times…Articulate and well reasoned work…A unique contribution to the field of women’s human rights and especially valuable for students and activists working toward improving the status of women in Muslim majority societies.” –Mahnaz Afkhami

“A brave and intelligent book.” –Middle Eastern Studies

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