Theorists and practitioners commonly assume that the concept of human rights is secular and that it normally takes priority over other values. These assumptions are controversial for those who approach human rights from the perspective of religious beliefs. This article examines the arguments both of those who claim that religious beliefs must interpret human rights in their own terms and those who claim priority for the international (secular) legal understanding of the concept. It compares Western and Islamic approaches to religion, secularism, and human rights, and reaches two conclusions: 1) at the philosophical level, there may be no decisive argument for according priority to secularism or religion; 2) the politics of this debate may be more important in practice than questions of religious philosophy.


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pp. 375-400
Launched on MUSE
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