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Pineapples in Paradise: Why Islam Does Not Necessarily Support Human Rights and Why That Is a Good Thing

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Liberal Muslims answer in the affirmative to the question of whether Islam supports human rights. This article argues that such an approach to human rights falls into the same fallacy that causes more conservative Muslims to reject human rights. Just as pineapples are not mentioned in the Qur’an, human rights are also not specifically mentioned because neither concept existed in 7th century Arabia. As a result, it does make sense to debate whether there are pineapples in paradise or whether Islam supports human rights. Islam cannot support or reject human rights because human religious knowledge on the topic is necessarily incomplete. Liberal Muslims should make this argument and then present practical reasons why human rights are right for Muslim societies. Such a move will bring the debate about human rights back to the temporal realm and away from a theological debate which can never be won.

Affiliations: 1: University of Virginia School of LawCharlottesville, vaUSA


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