Islam emanates from the word ‘salaam’ meaning peace. The paper will examine some of the common misunderstandings regarding Islam today and the Islamophobia flowing from such misunderstandings in many parts of the world.
The starting point is thus to understand the fundamental teachings of Islam. In this regard it will be argued, with specific reference to the work of Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, that the true jihad is founded on the concepts or ideas of peace, tolerance and non-violence. Each of these three ideas will be briefly examined. Khan argues that all the teachings of Islam are based on the principle of peace.
In the context of human rights discourse, the paper will ask why we have so much human rights, but so few right humans (or humans who are right). Perhaps a greater emphasis needs to be placed on human duties rather than human rights.
What about human dignity? With specific reference to the 2006 cartoon controversy, the paper will argue that there needs to be limitations on the right to freedom of expression in secular societies so as not to encroach on the human dignity of people of faith, whatever faith that may be. This is crucial to the maintenance of peace in societies.
Inextricably related to the question of human dignity is the question of religious dignity. It will be argued that the right to religious dignity includes the right not to be victimised, intimidated or provoked on grounds of one’s religion or faith.
After some 300 years of the dominance of Western secularism and human reason, perhaps it is time for a return to the harmonization of faith and reason, to the harmonization of Revelation and reason. This call was made, in a project headed by Prof McLean, by the Catholic University in Washington in 2008. There is a need to have regard to faith-based values and the need for a human rights discourse founded on faith-based values.
The paper will also make reference to the important work and writings of a leading Turkish scholar, Fethullah Gulen, in respect of Islamic ideals, humanistic discourse and the dialogue of civilizations.
In the final analysis, if human rights are to serve to maintain world peace and human dignity it must be founded on a respect for religious values.