Religion and Human Rights; Compatibility, Conflict and Resolution

Religions have been a primary source of guidance and normativity for their followers for centuries. They emerged to cater for the needs of the communities of different eras and locales by providing systems of norms and rules on how to live a moral and spiritual life. These religious normative systems were very successful in fulfilling the needs of their communities; indeed, their systems of social organisation, and spiritual practice became established to the extent that they continue to be significant and authoritative for the overwhelming majority of the global population. Paradoxically, human history attests that religions have also been a source of division and discord between adherents of different faiths, resulting in some of the bloodiest wars and killings, and oppression based on doctrinal discriminations against the ‘other’.

In the wake of the number of human lives lost in the first and second world wars, the advent of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as international law for its plenipotentiaries was a hallmark in human history, whereby discriminatory treatment of individuals could be outlawed. Although intended as a legal measure to prevent the escalation of nation-wide discriminatory events to mass genocide, its implications extended to curbing the norms and laws of nation states founded directly upon religion. Thus the conflict and antagonism was born between human rights and religion, and debates ensued within religious seminaries and religious departments in universities regarding the compatibility of individual religions and human rights.

To explore this further, Al-Mahdi Institute hosted an inaugural workshop as part of a series of events on Socio-political issues and Religion called, ‘Religion and Human Rights’ bringing together human rights specialists and scholars from different world religions with expertise on human rights. Scholars such as, Ayatullah Muhaqiq Damad, Professor Abdul Aziz Sachedina, Sheikh Arif Abdulhussein, Kishan Manocha, Anicee Van England, David van Dusen, Susannah Cornwall and many spoke of different issues related to this.

PresenterTitle of PaperView Abstract
Professor AyatollahMohaghegh Damad
Shahid Beheshti University
Religion and Human Rights between Theo-centralism and Human CentralismClick here
Ranbir Singh
HHR, the organisation for Hindu Human Rights
Have Religions been the basis for Human Rights or impeded them?Click here
Joseph Luis Ilaquet
University of Loyola Andalucia
Religious duties and Human Rights a meeting point?Click here
Anicee Van England
SOAS, University of London
International Law, International Human Rights and ReligionClick here
Daniele Bolazzi
Kings College London
Defining Religious Diversity: the Beurocratization of Religious identity in EgyptClick here
Jose Ferrer Sanchez
Granada University
Dialogue and Meditation for the right to Religious freedomClick here
Ahmed Shaheed
University of Essex
Combining Sharia with human Rights Obligations: Defending new forms in the constitutional and Penal reforms in the MaldivesClick here
Dennis U Ashara
University of Ibadan
Peace building in Nigeria: Evaluating the influence of Tolerance and Peace education in a Heterogeneous societyClick here
Islam Uddin
Middlesex University
The Muslim wife in Britain: In pursuit of Divorce in a Multicultural society, in light of Human RightsClick here
Maria Dimova Cookson
Durham University
Why is Religion at the heart of Modern liberty? Benjamin Constant on Religious experience, the power of the clergy and the ‘vivid love of individual independence’Click here
Mark Juergensmeyer
University of California, Santa Barbara
Hindu and Buddhist challenges to Human Rights in South and Southeast AsiaClick here
Kishan Manocha
Barrister and Chair, International Association for Religious Freedom
British Chapter  Principles and processes that facilitate the realisation of the freedom to believe in the individual lives of Baha’isClick here
Giovanni Patriarca
Italian Cultural Institution in Nuremberg, Bavaria-Germany
Back to essentials: Rediscovering Human Nature. An Existential and Spiritual dialogueClick here
Susannah Cornwall
University of Exeter
Bodily Rights and Gifts: Intersex, Religion and Human RightsClick here
David Van Dusen
University of Leuven
A Crime against Human Nature: Revisiting Immanuel Kant’s argument against Religiously closed ConstitutionsClick here
Syed S.M Ghari Fatemi
Al-Mahdi Institute
Moralists-Realists divides on Modern state and Human Rights: An Islamic virtue – mystical observationClick here
Abdul Aziz Sachedina
University of Virginia
Can Islam become a legitimating source for the cultural legitimacy of the UDHR?Click here
Callum Miller
Oxford University
Whence Human Rights? Some moral evidence for TheismClick here
Shaykh Arif Abdulhussain
Al-Mahdi Institute
The relationship between Religion and human Rights in light of ExistantialismClick here