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Islam and the Challenge of Human Rights$
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Abdulaziz Sachedina

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195388428

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195388428.001.0001

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Natural Law and Knowledge of Ethical Necessity

Natural Law and Knowledge of Ethical Necessity

(p.81) 3 Natural Law and Knowledge of Ethical Necessity
Islam and the Challenge of Human Rights

Abdulaziz Sachedina (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates Islamic theological resources to argue for an Islamic theory of natural law. Natural law is part of the rationalist‐naturalist Muslim theology upheld by some Sunni and Shī'ite theologians. The emphasis laid on the naturally endowed constitution of human beings serves as the logical entry for Muslim scholars to engage modern human rights discourse. Islamic political theology, with its goal of establishing a just public order, had laid the doctrinal groundwork for the Muslim community to work toward reaching a consensus about the need for peaceful and just relationships with other faith communities on the basis of common humanity endowed with natural constitution under divine guidance. The aim of this chapter is to demonstrate that, as in Catholic tradition, rights theory in Islam can be derived from the doctrine of the original nature (fitra) that God has conferred on all humanity equally and without any distinction between believer and nonbeliever. The fact of cultural and religious diversity regulated through the natural law in the Qur'an can serve as an irrevocable foundation of inalienable human rights.

Keywords:   human nature, moral epistemology, cultural diversity, political theology, common good, fiṭra, human moral agency, scriptural ethics

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