Human rights and Islam : contesting universal truth claims?
Building on Berger and Luckmann’s social constructivism, this dissertation investigates human rights and Islam as two opposing meaning systems that both claim universal validity in their ability to define morality. By comparing the world perceptions that emanate from human rights and Islam as institutional entities, it finds that both of these universal truth claims are historical products, which both use similar methods of legitimation to authorize their truth claims. Implicitly, this constructivist approach challenges the universality that both human rights and Islam claim, and it poses the provocative question, whether human rights should be seen as a ‘religion of modernity’ that is essentially rooted in ‘faith’ or ‘belief’ in human dignity and not in rationality. It equally finds that Islam, as a mythological system, seems to be at odds with human rights in many underlying anthropological and cosmological fashions, but that their agreement on the existence of a universal moral code establishes strong possibilities for compatibility, why any claim of human rights and Islam as inevitably at odds with each other should be dismissed altogether. Keywords: Human rights; Islam; universality; religion; relativism; social constructivism; history; modernity; cosmology; mythology; enlightenment