The Right of People

Haghgh al-Nass (The Right of Mankind) or Islam and Human Rights is the collection of 14 articles that were written from 1998 to 2006. The author tries to find an interpretation of Islam that is compatible to the notion of human rights. He summarizes this interpretation in three key points:

First, the notion of human rights is one of the most important human discoveries/products in 20th century. The human right notion, in its new meaning and wide application, was not a serious concern in the past.

Second, although divine religions including Islam consider implicitly or explicitly many valuable points that are known as human rights in the modern period, but to be honest there are a lot of case of contradictions between traditional interpretation of religions (especially in the part of Shari’a or Jurisprudence) and International Declaration of Human Rights.

Thirdly, Islam is not equal to traditional or fundamental Islam. Liberal /progressive Islam or a teleological interpretation of Islam is compatible with the notion of human rights.

The right of Mankind is a critical analysis of traditional Islam in one hand, and inquiry to find a solution to the problem of Islam and human rights from a teleological view point to Islam on the other hand. It is the final statement of the book: There is no contradiction between believing in Allah and hereafter and following the teachings of Prophet Muhammad in their essence with the modern approach to human rights. It is possible to be a real Muslim and to defend human rights completely.

Kadivar based his research on these three points:

One, although the idea of human rights is just, moral and rational, but it is not immune of mistake and we can criticize and evaluate it like all other human thoughts.

Two, although the International Declaration of Human Rights was written by Westerners, but it is not exclusive to them. It is an intellectual product of historical human experience and common reason of mankind.

Three, religious interpretations are human understanding of divine teachings, and they are subject of criticism because of their human aspects. Different viewpoints of clergy and religious scholars, different sects/schools in one religion and their criticism to each other are the best signs of this human aspect of religions. Although Islam is pure submitting to Allah, but there is no humanistic interpretation of divine reality beyond the criticism.

The author chose a traditional term (Haghgh al-Nnass) to prove that this tradition has the capacity of modern interpretation. Haghgh al-Nnass is equal to human rights.

The book is organized in five sections. The first section of the book is primary issues on Islam and human rights. It contains three articles: first, from traditional Islam to teleological Islam; second, the principles of compatibility of Islam and modernity; and third, an introduction to the public and private debate in the Islamic culture.

The second section is the main section of the book: Islam and Human Rights. Imam Sajjad and the Rights of Mankind is the first article of this section. It is a critical analysis of Resalat al-Hoghugh (Treatise of Rights). “Human Rights and Religious Intellectuals” is the longest and most controversial part of the book.

There are six areas of contradiction between traditional Islam and International Human Rights Declaration: religious discrimination, gender discrimination, slavery, jurist/clergy discrimination in the public domain, freedom of religion and belief and punishment of apostasy, and the violent penal system. The author’s theory for the compatibility of Islam and human rights is the key point of this article.

This section contains “Questions and Answers about Human Rights and Religious Intellectuals” and “Human Rights, Laicism and Religion”.

Section Three is on “The Freedom of Belief, Religion and Politics”. The main article of this section is “The Freedom of Belief and Religion in Islam and Human Rights Documents”.  One of the important achievements of this research is that in the verses of the Qura’an there is no punishment for apostasy in this world.

“The Rights of Political Opposition in Religious Society” is the second article of this section. According to the authentic tradition of the Prophet and the manner of Imam Ali criticizing and advising of the ruler is one of the major public duty of Muslims.

The appendix of this section is “Religious Rights of Political Opposition (Jurisprudential Approach)” is the technical questions from Kadivar and analytical responses of his great teacher Ayatullah Montazeri.

The forth section of the book is “the Rights of Women”. The controversial view points of the author against any gender discrimination could be found in the first article of this section “Religious Intellectuals and the Rights of Women”. “The Rights of Women in the Other World” is the other critical analytic of this issue.

The last section of the book contains other issues in human rights. “The Problem of Slavery in Contemporary Islam” criticizes the view points of contemporary Muslim jurists on this issue. “The Rights of non-Moslems in Contemporary Islam” is another article of this section. The last article of the book is “Social Security in Islamic Thought”.

Three articles of this book had been published in English before:

“An Introduction to the Public and Private Debate in Islam,” Social Research, Vol.70, No.3, fall 2003, New School University, New York, U.S.A., pp. 659-680

“Freedom of Religion and Belief in Islam”, The New Voices of Islam: Reforming Politics and Modernity – A Reader, edited by Mehran Kamrava; I. B. Tauris, 2006; London; pp. 119-142

“Human Rights and Intellectual Islam”; New Directions in Islamic Thought: Exploring Reform and Muslim Tradition; edited by Kari Vogt, Lena Larsen & Christian Moe; I. B. Tauris; London; 2009; pp.47-74

The first article had been published in Germany:

“Vom historischen Islam zum sprituellen Islam”; Unterwegs zu einem anderen Islam, Texte iranisscher Denker; Ausgewahlt, Ubersetztund kommentiert von Katajun Amirpur; Herder; Freeiburg, 2009

The first article of the book will be published in English very soon: “From Traditional Islam to Islam as an end in itself”.


Mohsen Kadivar
The Right of People
 Islam & Human Rights

Kavir Publication, Tehran, 2008, 4thprinting 2009
439 pages

Haghgh ol-Nass
Eslam va Hoghoughe Bashar

ISBN 964-8161-82-8


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