Incompatibility Between Islam and Human Rights Essay

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Human rights are the activities, freedoms and conditions that all human are entitle to enjoy, and these rights include economic, political, cultural and social rights. Putting differently, human rights are inalienable, inherent, indivisible and interdependent, which cannot be taken away, must be respected, and which the governments are to put in places the instrument to regulate laws and policies for human rights protection. Similarly, international human rights are the set of rules that guide the conducts of state's behaviors. Globally, countries enter into treaties to guarantee certain rights and refrain from violating these rights within their jurisdictions. (IJRC, 2016). The historical facts of human rights started from the declaration of universal human right rights in 1948, and the expressions are referred as aggregate rights of humans. The UDHR ("Universal Declaration of Human Rights") (IJRC 2016 p 1) was ratified by 48 countries with some Muslim countries such as Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt. While member countries have implemented the principles of UDHR, some Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia and Syria have refused to sign the treaty because they believe that the basic principles of UDHR are incompatible with Islam.

The objective of this document is to explore the incompatibility between Islam and Human Rights.

Statement of Problem

The Islamic law has been identified as one of the multifaceted, complex and misunderstood law guiding the human conducts in the international systems. The Sharia law is complex because it is grossly over-generalized and understudied. Regretfully, the Islamic laws are often linked with a discriminatory and inhuman treatments having no respect for the human rights. The debate that remains unsolved is about whether Islamic law is compatible with the universal human right standards.

Incompatibility between Islam and Human Rights

The UDHR is recognized as the foundation of modern human right law because it does not focus on a particular racial, ethnic, political and religious world. While the UDHR principles have been accepted by non-Muslim countries, the UDHR has been contested in the Muslim countries. Moreover, Muslim states such as Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran have challenged the universality of human rights based on the argument that the Sharia law has already guaranteed human rights, thus, UDHR has no relevant. This argument contributes to the on-going debate about the universality of human rights.

The Sharia law and human right law are the essential segments used to regulate human behaviors in the Muslim countries and non-Muslim countries. However, there still a debate with regards to the compatibility between Islam and human rights. It is essential to realize that many Muslim states adopt the Sharia law as the guiding principles of human conducts. (Entelis, 1996). While both the Sharia law and UDHR have made provisions for a respect of human being, there is a still a fundamental clash between Islam and human rights. When people argue about the human rights, they are referring to the principles of the UDHR, and one of the guiding principles of the UDHR is Article 18 that provides the freedom of religion, conscience and thought. The Article 2 also states that everyone is entitled to freedoms and rights to language, political and religion.

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Despite the stated principles of the UDHR, Islam does not recognize the absolute equality between men and women. After the ratification of UDHR in 1948, Saudi Arabia abstained themselves from ratifying the Declaration claiming that it violated the Sharia law. Entails, (1996) argues that Muslim countries have voiced their objections by pointing out that the international community cannot hold them responsible for the human right principles. A fundamental incompatibility between Islam and human rights is the issue of women rights. Typically, there is an incompatibility between Islamic and international human rights with regards to the women status. Guardian (2008) presents a report revealing there is a conflict between the UK law and Sharia law revealing that Islamic legal code is incompatible with the English law with regards to the human rights legislation. The report reveals that many Lebanon women seek for the asylum in the UK to escape the Sharia law. (Shahid, 2016).

Ahmari-Moghaddam, (2012) contributes to the argument by pointing out that while the UDHR has been able to offer the human rights provisions without discrimination to the minority group, the Sharia law fails to provide the human rights provisions to the minority groups. It is revealed that Islam fails to offer religious equality to all people. While the religious pluralism is allowed under the Sharia law, in practice, non-Muslim minorities have not been able to achieve a full religious liberty. For example, non-Muslim minorities are encouraged to convert to Muslim, however, it is often challenging when Muslims intend to convert to other religions. A conversion from Islam to other religions is generally viewed as a revolt against God, and this action may encounter severe legal and social sanctions in many Muslim states. The concept apostasy is referred as renunciation or abandonment of Muslim religion to other religions. While the Islamic principle holds that there should be no compulsion in religious, nevertheless, the traditional Islamic law implements harsh punishment for apostasy between a life imprisonment for women and death penalty for men. In essence, the Sharia law views the action of apostasy as forbidden known as Haram. While the human right law affirms freedom of religion, however, the Sharia law forbids freedom of religion, and a change from Islam to other religions is highly restricted. Some Islamic states inflict a penalty of capital punishment for converting to other religions.

Rehman, (2014) uses the rejectionist theoretical approach to argue about the incompatibility of Islam with human rights. The author points out that "Sharia can never be compatible with the human rights law". (Rehman, (2014 p 5) The Court of Human Rights in Europe also points out that Sharia is incompatible with the human rights laws and principles of democracy. The Court affirms that it is difficult to respect human rights with a supporting regime. For example, the legal status of women under the Sharia law is incompatible with the legal status of women under the UDHR. Women have the same rights with men under the traditional UDHR. Under Sharia law, women rights are limited. Women do not have freedom of movement.….....

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Ahmari-Moghaddam, A. (2012). Towards International Islamic Human Rights: A comparative study of Islamic Law, Shari'ah, with universal human rights as defined in the International Bill of Human Rights. Graduate Department of Faculty of Law the University of Toronto.

Entelis, J. (1996). International Human Rights: Islam's Friend or Foe? Algeria as an Example of the Compatibility of International Human Rights Regarding Women's Equality and Islamic Law. Fordham International Law Journal. 20(4):1251-1305.

Hassan, R. (1999). Rights of Women Within Islamic Communities. Canadian Women Studies. 2(3):482-490.

Guardian (2008). Sharia law incompatible with human rights legislation, Lords say. The Guardian News.

IJRC (2016). Overview of Human Rights Framework. The International Justice Resource Center (IJRC).

Assadollahi, S. (2016). Islamic Sharia Law Vs Liberty, Equality and Democracy. The Mackenzie Institute.

Mawdudi, A. A. (2014). Human Rights in Islam. al Tawhid Journal, IV (3).

Quran (nd). The Holy Quran. Printed in Saudi Arabia.

Rahman, J. (2014). Islam and Human Rights: Is Compatibility Achievable between the Sharia and Human Rights Law? Brunel University London - Brunel Law School.

Shahada, A. (2016). Islamic Law and Human Rights. Oxford Handbook.

United Nation (2015). Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). United Nations Secretariat. New York.

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