Islam, Human Rights and Interfaith Relations: Some Contemporary Egyptian Perspectives

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Abstract

This paper explores current discussions and debates on Islam, human rights and interfaith relations in Egypt through an analysis of the public statements and writings of various religious scholars and spiritual teachers and the textbooks used to teach Islam in public secondary schools. It is well known that Islamist perspectives have become mainstream in Egypt, a largely devout and socially conservative country that is also the source of most of the major Islamic trends and political ideologies that have impacted the Muslim world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Nonetheless, there is a broad tendency in government-issued textbooks on Islam and in
the population at large to equate Islam with democracy and human rights, despite the authoritarianism of the state and the contradictions between traditional interpretations of Islam and international human rights norms. The rhetoric of democracy and human rights is linked to the threat of terrorism, which is labeled un-Islamic. Among ordinary Egyptian Muslims, even
those who support Islamist politics, there seems to be a new concern to eradicate Islamic extremism and more openness to unconventional Muslim approaches. The most liberal example of this is an association that teaches the unity of all religions from a somewhat Sufi perspective, promotes interfaith dialogue, and advocates reinterpreting the Shari‘a to promote gender
equality and equal human rights for all Egyptians.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)691-716
Number of pages26
JournalPolitical Theology
Volume11
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2010

Keywords

  • Islam
  • Egypt
  • rights
  • interfaith

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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