Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought — Human Rights

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought is the first reference to Islamic political thought from the birth of Islam to today. Comprehensive, authoritative, and accessible, the Encyclopedia provides much-needed context for understanding contemporary politics in the Islamic world and beyond. In this exclusive excerpt, David Mednicoff, Director of Middle Eastern Studies and Assistant Professor of Public Policy at University of Massachusetts Amherst, illustrates the present-day political human rights issues pertaining to Islam.

Human Rights

As a contemporary political issue related to Islam, human rights is often invoked as an international legal yardstick to which some states with Muslim majorities, particularly in the Middle East, are seen, particularly by Westerners, to fall short. Related to this, some Muslims and their governments argue that aspects of contemporary human rights law reflect a Western neoimperialist political slant. Tensions along these lines usually center on political liberties, religious freedom, and women’s rights. Looking mostly at real or alleged shortfalls in Middle Eastern governments’ enforcement of contemporary rights law, however, obscures both the fact that perceived violations may have little to do with Islam per se and the historical importance of Islam’s role in bringing varied issues of equality and justice to the fore of many premodern societies. Given Islam’s strong foundational and doctrinal strains of social and economic justice, religion has been and can be linked with providing greater equality or addressing severe poverty in Muslim-majority societies.
Early Muslim texts and legal scholars did not use the modern Western political term ”human rights‘ (יּuq╖q al- insăn), nor did they envision current core concepts of human rights, which generally are specific privileges that individuals enjoy in relation to nation- states in which they are citizens or residents. In classical Islam, individual rights came about as the duty of a divinely sanctioned ruler of a transnational community of Muslims, and of protected non-Muslims, to realize God’s will through justice, fairness, and enhanced economic equality.

View the rest of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought excerpt here: Human Rights


  1. A very timely and much needed book indeed! Once again, PUP leads the march away from ignorance and toward knowledge.

  2. best infomation about Islamic political thought in this site.