In This Review

Islam And Human Rights: Tradition And Politics

Islam And Human Rights: Tradition And Politics
By Ann Elizabeth Mayer
258 pp, Westview Press, 1991

As the issue of democratization in the Arab world comes up for debate, many will be asking how Islam fits with the notion of individual rights. Mayer argues that traditional Islam provides a variety of perspectives on the issue of human rights. There is no one correct interpretation. One strand of contemporary Muslim discourse has tried to capture the debate by arguing that there is a distinctive Islamic canon of human rights that diverges from international norms. Mayer disagrees, arguing that there is no such consensus among Muslims and that most such attempts to codify a distinctive Islamic version of individual rights are merely a mask by those with power to preserve it by arguing in favor of cultural distinctiveness. The cases in the book draw from experience with Islamic law in Pakistan, Iran and Sudan, among others. A serious, scholarly book with a strongly developed point of view.