MUSLIMS AND GLOBAL JUSTICE – Book Sample
About the book – MUSLIMS AND GLOBAL JUSTICE
Over-the course of his distinguished career, legal scholar Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im has sought to reconcile his identity as a Muslim with his commitment to universal human rights.
In Muslims and Global Justice, he advances the theme of global justice from an Islamic perspective, critically examining the role that Muslims must play in the development of a pragmatic, rights-based framework for justice.
An-Na’im opens this collection of essays with a chapter on Islamic ambivalence toward political violence, showing how Muslims began grappling with this problem long before the 9/11 attacks. Other essays highlight the need to improve the cultural legitimacy of human rights in the Muslim world.
As An-Na’im argues, in order for a commitment to human rights to become truly universal, we must learn to accommodate a range of different reasons for belief in those rights.
In addition, the author contends, building an effective human rights framework for global justice requires that we move toward a people-centered approach to rights. Such an approach would value foremost empowering local actors as a way of negotiating the paradox of a human rights system that relies on self-regulation by the state.
Encompassing over two decades of An-Na’im’s work on these critical issues, Muslims and Global Justice provides a valuable theoretical approach to the challenge of realizing global justice in a world of profound religious and cultural difference.
Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University. He is the author of African Constitutionalism and the Role of Islam, and editor of Human Rights Under African Constitutions: Realizing the Promise for Ourselves, both available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.
Reimagining Global Justice
The title and themes of this book, Muslims and Global Justice, may be briely explained as follows, subject to further elaboration in this introduction and clarification in various chapters. By “global justice” I mean globally inclusive conceptions of justice to be realized by human beings for themselves, every- where, through their own self-determination.
Both conceptions of justice and the processes of their realization include the interaction of local and global actors and factors. his emphasis on the agency of the human subject in determining what justice means for her, and striving for realizing her own conception, leads me to focus on Muslims as believers seeking justice for themselves and other human beings, in solidarity and cooperation, rather than speaking of Islam as a religion.
I prefer to focus on believers to emphasize our responsibility and ability to change ourselves and transform our understanding and practice of our religious beliefs, instead of invoking abstract doctrines of re- ligion for which we may not feel personally responsible, or believe we can change. he question for me as a Muslim is how to airm my commitment to global justice and responsibility for its realization, without implying that Is- lam is the sole or exclusive determining factor in the lives of Muslims. Indeed, my understanding and practice of Islam are inluenced by my experiences as a global/local citizen and agent of social change at various levels.
To begin on a personal note that is integral to the coherence of this book, the basic purpose and meaning of my work have always been and continue to be the reconciliation of my being a Muslim with my commitment to peace- ful international relations and the protection of universal human rights. To be candid and clear on this point, these two aspects of my personal orientation are not equal sides of an equation, whereby I……..
From my perspective, being a Muslim is the core of my identity and life philosophy, and my commitment to peaceful relations and human rights is one of the consequences of that core. For me, as for other religious believers, I would expect, the relevance of international law and human rights is that each is a means to enable me to live in accordance with my religious beliefs, but neither can be a substitute for religion.
If I am faced with a stark choice between Islam and international law and human rights, I will opt for Islam without any hesitation or doubt whatsoever. From this perspective, I find it imperative for international law and human rights to be seen by religious believers as consistent with their religious beliefs, which is Islam in my case. his fundamental consistency is the basis of my own commitments and work, as presented in this book.
My purpose in gathering this edited collection of essays published during the last twenty years, from 1988 to 2007, is not only to make them more accessible to readers but also to highlight and advance their underlying theme of what I am calling “global justice.” While the pieces are organized in this volume in a combination of chronological order and thematic focus, I am also suggesting that these essays advance a theoretical approach to global justice from an Islamic perspective.
I am not, of course, implying that I started with this theme back in the mid-1980s or that I began deliberately to develop it along the way. When writing and publishing these essays, I was simply taking advantage of opportunities as they arose, often in response to an invitation to present a paper at a conference or contribute to a journal or an edited volume.
What I did have since my student days at the University of Khartoum, Sudan, in the late 1960s was the objective of seeking to reconcile my being a Muslim with my commitment to peaceful international relations and the protection of universal human rights.
As I explain in most essays in this volume, however, my ability to reconcile my religious beliefs and these commitments is entirely due to the personal guidance and Islamic reform methodology of my Ustadh (revered teacher) Mahmoud Mohamed Taha. Under his religious guidance and through his profound insights, I began my own “dialogue of Islam and human rights.” His exemplary life experience also inspired and enabled my personal commitment to this concept of “global justice.”
The position I am now trying to advance is founded in the belief that the right and ability of individual persons to strive, in solidarity with others, for achieving and sustaining their own conception of justice is integral to that end. he global dimension is to emphasize the need not only to “think glob- ally and act
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