Semester 2 Irish Centre for Human Rights School of Law Academic Year 2015-2016 Course Outline

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Islam and Human Rights

Semester 2

Irish Centre for Human Rights

School of Law

Academic Year 2015-2016
Course Outline


The course aims at providing students with knowledge of the relationship between Islam and human rights. It explores the relationship between cultural relativism and universalism claims taking Islam as an example. The course introduces students to relevant theories and methodological tools for developing a constructive dialogical attitude with regard to cultural claims. A brief introduction to basic notions of Islamic law is followed by a study and critical analysis of a series of apparent tensions between Islam and human rights: Islamic criminal justice system and traditional punishments, Islam and political violence, freedom of religion and treatment of minorities and women’s rights.






Dr. Ekaterina Yahyaoui Krivenko

Room 205




Term Two





Other meetings:


By appointment

10am to 1pm

Irish Centre for Human Rights

Overall Learning Outcomes

Upon the completion of the course students should be able to:

  • Find relevant applicable provisions of international instruments relevant to a particular debate on Islam and human rights;

  • Determine the most appropriate provision to use in a particular case;

  • Identify gaps and shortcomings of existing international instruments and Islamic discourses on human rights;

  • Propose possible ways for improvement either for human rights law or for Islamic discourses;

  • Present arguments in favour of the selected solution;

  • Demonstrate awareness of and sensitivity to larger social and political implications of their choices in relation to the aim of engaging in a constructive dialogue on Islam and human rights.


Each subject is introduced through a short lecture presentation. The students’ understanding of the subject is further developed through participatory discussions based on required readings. Active participation in discussions is essential to the successful acquisition of knowledge and analytical skills.

Students will be required to make a 10-15min presentation on one of the required readings. Prior to the presentation they shall distribute a 1-2 page summary. More details about the format of presentations will be provided during the first class.


LL.M. programmes, full-time and part-time.

Course Material

Required weekly readings form the basis for the course. These readings are either accessible on the internet or at the university library. These readings include relevant international instruments, case law as well as scholarly articles. Students are encouraged to supplement these required readings with some material mentioned under “additional readings”.

Essential Texts

Relevant international instruments, case-law and articles in international journals as indicated for each course (see below)

Supplementary Texts

International Law Journals, weekly readings (see below)


Presentation and participation in class discussions: 20%

Final essay: 80%

Cultural Relativism v Universalism of Human Rights: Navigating Through Approaches.

  • Understand the basic questions underlying cultural relativism debate

  • Main methodological approaches to cultural relativism – universalism tensions

  • Articulation of this tension with regard to “Islam and Human Rights” issue

Required readings
An-Na’im, A.A. “Islam and Human Rights” in J. Witte Jr. & M.C. Green (eds.) Religion and Human Rights: An Introduction, Oxford: OUP, 2011, pp. 56-70.

Abu Loghud, L. “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and Its Others” 104 (2002) American Anthropologist 783-790 Available free of charge at

Gunning, Isabelle R.Arrogant Perception, World-Travelling and Multicultural Feminism: The Case of Female Genital Surgeries” 23 (1991-1992) Columbia Human Rights Law Review 189-248

Schubert, Lara K. “Harmonizing Particularity of Religions and Universality of Human Rights: Critique of Traditional 'Top Down' Approach and Proposed Alternative” 4 (2009) Religion and Human Rights 25-40

Additional readings:

Afkhami M., “Cultural Relativism and Women's Human Rights” in K.D. Askin, D.M. Koenig (eds.) Women and International Human Rights Law, Vol. II, Ardsley: Transnational Publishers, 2000, pp. 479-486

Albertson Fineman M.,”Equality Across Legal Cultures: The Role for International Human Rights” 27 (2004) Thomas Jefferson Law Review 1-13

An-Na’im, Abdullahi Ahmed (et al., eds.), Human Rights and Religious Values: An Uneasy Relationship? Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi, 1994

An-Na’im, Abdullahi Ahmed, Towards an Islamic Reformation: Civil Liberties, Human Rights and International Law, Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1990

Brems, E., Human Rights: Universality and Diversity, The Hage: Martinus Nijhoff, 2001

Cerna, C. ‘Universality of Human Rights and Cultural Diversity: Implementation of Human Rights in Different Socio-Cultural Contexts’, 16 Human Rights Quarterly 740 (1994)

Chase, Anthony, “Liberal Islam and 'Islam and Human Rights': A Sceptic's View” 1 (2006) Religion and Human Rights 145-163

Donnely, J. “Cultural Relativism and Universal Human Rights” 6 (1984) Human Rights Quarterly 400-419 Available free of charge at

Emon, A.M., Ellis, M.S. and Glahn B. (eds.) Islamic Law and International Human Rights: Searching for Common Ground? Oxford: OUP, 2012

Frick, M.-L., Muller, A.Th. (eds.) Islam and International Law: Engaging Self-Centrism from a Plurality of Perspectives, Leiden, Boston: Brill, Martinus Nijhoff Publisher, 2013

Guichon, Audrey, “Some Arguments on the Universality of Human Rights in Islam” in J. Rehman, S. Breau (eds.) Religion, Human Rights and International Law: An Examination of Islamic State Practices, Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2007, 167-194

Mayer, A.E., Islam and Human Rights: Traditions and Politics, 3d ed., Boulder: Westview, 1999

___________________, “Universal Versus Islamic Human Rights: a Clash of Cultures or a Clash With a Construct?” 15 (1994) Michigan Journal of International Law 307-404

Morgan-Foster, J., “Third Generation Rights: What Islamic Law Can Teach the International Human Rights Movement” 8 (2005) Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal 67-116

O’Sullivan, D., “Is the Declaration of Human Rights Universal?” 4 (2000) International Journal of Human Rights 25-53

Senturk, Recep, “Sociology of Rights: "I Am Therefore I Have Rights": Human Rights in Islam between Universalistic and Communalistic Perspectives” 2 (2005) Muslim World Journal of Human Rights Article 11
Basic Notions of Islamic Law and Place of Islamic Law in Modern Muslim States

  • Sources of Islamic Law

  • Islamic Law as a methodology

  • Modern States and Islamic Law

Required readings
Hallaq, W.B. An Introduction to Islamic Law, Cambridge: CUP, 2009 (chapters 1, 2 and 3)

Hallaq, W.B. “'Muslim Rage' and Islamic Law” 54 (2002-2003) Hastings Law Journal 1705-1719

Additional readings

Abou El Fadl K., Speaking in God's Name: Islamic Law, Authority, and Women, Oxford: Oneworld, 2001, pp. 170-177

_____________, “A Distinctly Islamic View of Human Rights: Does It Exist and Is It Compatible With the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” in: S.T. Hunter, H. Malik (eds.) Islam and Human Rights: Advancing a U.S.-Muslim Dialogue, Washington D.C.: The CSIS Press, 2005, pp. 27-42

_____________, (with J. Waldron, J.L. Esposito, N. Feldman and others), Islam and the Challenge of Democracy, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004

Hallaq, W.B. “'Muslim Rage' and Islamic Law” 54 (2002-2003) Hastings Law Journal 1705-1719

_________, “Was the Gate of Ijtihad closed?” 16 (1984) International Journal of Middle East Studies 3-41

_________, A History of Islamic Legal Theories: An Introduction to Sunni Usul Al-Fiqh. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997

_________, “Can the Shari'a be Restored?” dans Y.Y. Haddad, B. Freyer Strowasser (éd.) Islamic Law and the Challenges of Modernity, Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, 2004, pp. 21-53

Holmes Katz, M., “The 'Corruption of Times' and the Mutability of Shari'a” 28 (2006) Cardozo Law Review 171-185

Lombardi, Clark B., Brown, Nathan J. “Do Constitutions Requiring Adherence to Shari'a Threaten Human Rights? How Egypt's Constitutional Court Reconciles Islamic Law with the Liberal Rule of Law” 21 (2006) American University International Law Review 379-435

Makdisi, J., “The Islamic Origins of the Common Law” 77 (1999) North Carolina Law Review 1635-

Masud, M.K., Messick B., Powers D.S. (eds.) Islamic Legal Interpretation: Muftis and their Fatwas. Cambridge, London: Harvard University Press, 1996

Quraishi, Asifa, “Interpreting the Qur'an and the Constitution: Similarities in the Use of Text, Tradition, and the Reason in Islamic and American Jurisprudence” 28 (2006) Cardozo Law Review 67-121

Sherif, Adel Omar, Boyle, Kevin (eds.), Human Rights and Democracy: the Role of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 1996
Model Islamic Constitution adopted by the Islamic Council of Europe:

Selected periodicals dedicated to Islamic law and culture:

Arab Studies Quarterly

Berkeley Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Law

Contemporary Islam

Der Islam

Islamic Law and Society

Journal of Islamic Law

Muslim World Journal of Human Rights

The Journal of Islamic Law and Culture

Yearbook of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law

Freedom of Religion and Treatment of Minorities
Islamic Criminal Law
Islam and Political Violence
Required readings

Saeed A., “Pre-Modern Islamic Legal Restrictions on Freedom of Religion, with Particular Reference to Apostasy and Its Punishment” in A.M. Emon et al. (eds) Islamic Law and International Human Rights: Searching for Common Ground? Oxford: OUP, 2012, pp. 226-246

Weiss B. “Punishment, Retribution and Justice in Islamic Theology and Jurisprudence in R. M. Andrews, ed., Perspectives on punishment: an interdisciplinary exploration, New York : Peter Lang Pub., 1997, pp. 21-32

Abou El Fadl, Khaled, The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from Extrimists, New York, HarperCollins, 2005, chapter eleven.

Additional readings

An-Naim, A.A. “Religious Minorities under Islamic Law and the Limits of Cultural Relativism” 9 (1987) Human Rights Quarterly 1-19

An-Naim, A.A., “Islamic Foundations of Religious Human Rights” in J. D. van der Vyver, J. Witte Jr. (eds.) Religious Human Rights in Global Perspective, Vol. II: Religious Perspectives, The Hage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1996, pp. 337-360

Arzt, D., “The Treatment of Religious Dissidents Under Classical and Contemporary Islamic Law” in J. D. van der Vyver, J. Witte Jr. (eds.) Religious Human Rights in Global Perspective, Vol. II: Religious Perspectives, The Hage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1996, pp. 387-454

Berween M., “Non-Muslims in the Islamic State: Majority Rule and Minority Rights” 10 (2006) International Journal of Human Rights 91-102

O’Syllivan D. ”Egyptian Cases of Blasphemy and Apostasy Against Islam: Takfir al-Muslim. Prohibition against Attacking those Accused” 7 (2003) International Journal of Human Rights 97-137

Saeed A., Saeed H., Freedom of Religion, Apostasy and Islam, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004

Senturk, R. “Minority Rights in Islam: From Djimmi to Citizen” in S.T. Hunter, H. Malik (eds.), Islam and Human Rights: Advancing a U.S.-Muslim Dialogue, 2005, 67-98.

Bassiouni M. C. “Sources of Islamic Law and the Protection of Human Rights in the Islamic Criminal Justice System” in Bassouni (ed.) The Islamic Criminal Justice System, 1982, 3-53.

Holscher L.M., Mahmood R., “Borrowing from the Shariah: The Potential Uses of Procedural Islamic Law in the West” in Delbert Rounds, ed., International Criminal Justice: Issues in a Global Perspective, Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1999, pp. 82-96

NNamani Ogbu O., “Punishments in Islamic Criminal Law as Antithetical to Human Dignity: The Nigerian Experience » 9 (2005) International Journal of Human Rights 165-182

Peters, Rudolph, Crime and Punishment in Islamic Law: Theory and Practice from the Sixteenth to the Twenty-first Century, CUP: 2005

Siddiqi F., “A Comparative View of the Islamic Law of Sariqa (Theft) and the American Law of Theft with Reference to the State of Maryland”, 2 (1997) Journal of Islamic Law 179-208
Islam and Women’s Rights

  • Status of Women in Islam and Exercise of Rights in the Public Sphere

  • Women and Islamic Family Law (including the issue of polygamy)

  • Dress Codes for Women

Required readings

Abou El Fadl K. Speaking in God's Name: Islamic Law, Authority, and Women, Oxford: Oneworld, 2001 (parts to be determined)

Yahyaoui Krivenko, Ekaterina, “Islamic View of Women’s Rights: An International Lawyer’s Perspective” 2 Journal of East Asia and International Law (2009), pp. 103-128

European Court of Human Rights, Leyla Sahin v. Turkey, 44774/98, judgement (merits), 10 November 2005

European Court of Human Rights, Dahlab v. Switzerland, 42393/98, decision, 15 February 2001

European Court of Human Rights, SAS v France, 43835/11, judgment, 1 July 2014

Additional readings

Abou El Fadl K. Speaking in God's Name: Islamic Law, Authority, and Women, Oxford: Oneworld, 2001

Afkhami, Mahnaz, “Cultural Relativism and Women's Human Rights” in K.D. Askin, D.M. Koenig (eds.) Women and International Human Rights Law, Vol. II, Ardsley: Transnational Publishers, 2000, pp. 479-486

Albertson Fineman, Martha, “Equality Across Legal Cultures: The Role for International Human Rights”, 27 Thomas Jefferson Law Review (2004) pp. 1-13

Ammons, Linda L. “What’s God Got to Do With It? Church and State Collaboration in the Subordination of Women and Domestic Violence”, 51 Rutgers Law Review (1999), pp. 1207-1288

Bailey, Martha, Kaufman, Amy. Polygamy in the Monogamous World: Multicultural Challenges for Western Law and Policy, Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Publishers, 2010

Bakht N., “Family Arbitration Using Sharia Law: Examining Ontario's Arbitration Act and its Impact on Women” 1 (2004) Muslim World Journal of Human Rights, article 7, 24 pages

Balz, Killian, “The Secular Reconstruction of Islamic Law: Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court and the 'Battle over the Veil' in State-Run Schools”, in B. Dupret et. al. (eds.) Legal Pluralism in the Arab World, The Hague: Kluwer Law, 1999, pp. 229-243

Barlas A. “Believing Women” in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur’an, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002

Cook, Rebecca J., Kelly, Lisa M. Polygyny and Canada’s Obligations under International Human Rights Law. Ottawa: Department of Justice of Canada, 2006, available at:

Cowan, Sharon “The Headscarf Controversy: A Response to Jill Marshall”, 14 Res Publica (2008), pp. 192-201

Esposito J.L. Women in Muslim Family Law, Syracuse University Press, 1982 (2nd ed., with N. J. DeLong-Bas, 2001)

Fadel M. “Reinterpreting the Guardian's Role in the Islamic Contract of Marriage: The Case of the Maliki School” 3 (1998) Journal of Islamic Law 1-23

Glander A., Inheritence in Islam: Women's Inheritance in Sana'a (Republic of Yemen). Law, Religion, Reality. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1998

Halperin-Kaddari, Ruth, “Women, Religion and Multiculturalism in Israel” 5 UCLA J. Int'l L. & Foreign Aff. (2000-2001), pp. 339-

Holtmaat, Rikki, Towards Different Law and Public Policy: The Significance of Article 5a CEDAW for the Elimination of Structural Discrimination, Den Haag: Reed Business Information, 2004, available at

Kelly, Lisa M. “Bringing International Human Rights Law Home: An Evaluation of Canada’s Family Law Treatment of Polygamy” 65 U.T.Fac.L.Rev. (2007), pp. 1-25

Marshall, Jill, “Women's Right to Autonomy and Identity in European Human Rights Law: Manifesting One's Religion”, 14 Res Publica (2008), pp. 177-192

Mashhour A., “Islamic Law and Gender Equality – Could There be a Common Ground? A Study of Divorce and Polygamy in Sharia Law and Contemporary Legislation in Tunisia and Egypt” 27 (2005) Human Rights Quarterly 562-596

Mayer, Ann Elizabeth, “Cultural Particularism as a Bar to Women’s Rights: Reflections on the Middle Eastern Experience”, Women Living under Muslim Laws, Dossier 16, 1996, available at

Mernissi F., The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women's Rights in Islam, New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1991

Musawah for Equality in the Family, CEDAW and Muslim Family Laws: In Search of Common Ground, (2011)

Strowasser B., “Gender Issues and Contemporary Quran Interpretations” in Y. Yazbeck Haddad, J. L. Esposito (eds.), Islam, Gender and Social Change, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 30-44

Siddiqui M., “Law and Desire for Social Control: An Insight into the Hanafi Concept of Kafa'a with Reference to the Fatwa 'Alamgiri” in M. Yamani (ed.), Feminism and Islam: Legal and Literary Perspectives, New York: New York University Press, 1996, pp. 49-68

Sullivan, Donna J. “Gender Equality and Religious Freedom: Toward a Framework for Conflict Resolution”, 24 New York University Journal of International Law and Politics (1991-1992) pp. 795-856

Vakulenko, Anastasia, “Gender Equality as an Essential French Value: The Case of Mme M”, 9 Oxford Human Rights Law Review (2009), pp. 143-150

Yahyaoui Krivenko, Ekaterina, Women, Islam and International Law Within the Context of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Hague, Boston, London: Brill, Martinus Nijhof, 2009

Yahyaoui Krivenko, Ekaterina, “Muslim Women’s Claims to Refugee Status Within the Context of Child Custody Upon Divorce Under Islamic Law” 22 International Journal of Refugee Law (2010), pp. 48-71

Yahyaoui Krivenko, Ekaterina “Islamic Veil and Its Discontents: How Do They Undermine Gender Equality” 7 Religion and Human Rights (2012), pp. 11-29.

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