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School of Law

Human rights and Islamic law

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Full Year

This course critically explores the different theoretical perspectives to the relationship between Human Rights and Islamic law and also examines the practices of some relevant Muslim States in that regard. 

Initially, we will examine relevant theoretical and conceptual issues relating to the nature of both human rights and Islamic law respectively. This will include a critical analysis of the theoretical foundations of human rights, its sources, contents and enforcement methods in relation to the nature, sources and methods of Islamic law, and its current role, application and influence in Muslim States. We will also examine whether or not there is a concept of human rights in Islamic law and explore the areas of common grounds and the areas of conceptual differences between the two systems. 

Following this, we will undertake a critical study of some “Islamic” human rights instruments and, over the course, critically analyse, in relation to Islamic law, specific and topical issues such as:

  • the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion;
  • right to freedom of opinion and expression; 
  • rights of minority groups;
  • women’s rights; 
  • children’s rights; 
  • prohibition of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments and punishments; 
  • right to fair trial and due process;
  • human rights enforcement; 
  • and case studies of the human rights practices of some selected Muslim States.

We will then round up with a desideratum of possible domestic, regional and universal mechanisms through which the enforcement of international human rights can be realistically achieved in the Muslim world, especially in Muslim States that apply Islamic law.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

By the end of this course, students should be familiar with a range of English-language scholarship on the subject of human rights and Islamic law, have a clear understanding of the debates surrounding the relationship between human rights and Islamic law, and, consequently, should be able to:

  • Critically analyse the relationship between human rights and Islamic law, and evaluate the human rights policies and practices of modern Muslim States within that analysis;
  • carry out independent research on the subject;
  • undertake meaningful written and oral analysis and debate on how to realise human rights within the Islamic ethos of Muslim States.

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: 60% unseen examination and 40% coursework (one essay of 4,000 words)