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Traditional Islamic Ethics: The Concept of Spiritual Virtue and its Implications for Contemporary Human Rights

Traditional Islamic Ethics: The Concept of Spiritual Virtue and its Implications for Contemporary Human Rights

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Title: Traditional Islamic Ethics: The Concept of Spiritual Virtue and its Implications for Contemporary Human Rights
Author: Jaffer, Irfaan
Abstract: This dissertation is made up of two main sections. The first section argues that the current social culture and legal structure of international human rights needs to be more flexible and inclusive if it truly aims to be universal in scope. This is because The Universal Declaration and its offshoots are still underpinned by secular-liberal principles and therefore, they are at odds with other cultural traditions. To this end, this section critically explores popular human rights histories and contemporary ethical theories that attempt to justify human rights. In doing so, it argues that the debate is still ongoing and therefore, the exclusion of any alternative visions is unjustified. Thus, the goal of the first section is to create a space of dialogue for one such alternative vision.
The second section of this dissertation constructs a theory of virtue ethics that has the ability to ground an Islamic vision of human rights. This is because virtue ethics addresses fundamental questions concerning human existence which ultimately determine the constitution of human rights. In order to answer these questions, this study operates within the framework of the school of Islamic Traditionalism and in doing so, it concludes that much of the friction between Islam and contemporary human rights is due to the fact that the latter emphasizes secular-liberal understandings of freedom, equality, and justice. In contrast, this study argues that an Islamic human rights model must be grounded in God and His revelation and moreover, that it must emphasize human duties, inward transformation, and societal balance. It also argues that an Islamic human rights society is one that is filled with reminders of the Divine presence and structured in a way that allows Muslims to achieve their primary purpose in life a virtuous Heart in this world and felicity in the hereafter. The second section concludes by offering some introductory remarks concerning contemporary human rights issues such as the implementation of Islamic law in general, pluralism, corporal punishment, and gender. In doing so, this study argues that there are spaces of convergence that create a minimal overlapping consensus between the two traditions. However, this study also argues that there are fundamental differences and that these differences should be welcomed by human rights theorists and advocates.
Subject: Philosophy of Religion
Keywords: Human Rights
Human Rights Theory
Human Rights History
Perennial Philosophy
Contemporary Islamic Thought
Progressive Islam
Traditional Islam
Virtue Ethics
Islamic Law
Imam Ali
Type: Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Rights: Author owns copyright, except where explicitly noted. Please contact the author directly with licensing requests.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/35466
Supervisor: Derayeh, Minoo
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Program: Humanities
Exam date: 2018-04-24
Publish on: 2018-11-21

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