The core of the human rights paradigm is that all human beings by virtue of simply being human are bearers of inalienable rights. The intrinsic dignity of the human person, moreover, is the guarantee of the universality of the international human rights standard. Human dignity also includes human solidarity, as evidenced in international law by the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ratified in 1966. This paper argues from a comparative perspective, therefore, that human rights discourse is reinforced by the central tenets of both Islam and Christianity in two areas, its universality and its application to the economic sphere.


“A Muslim and Christian Orientation to Human Rights: Human Dignity and Solidarity,” Indiana International and Comparative Review 24, 4 (2014): 899-920.




This is a chapter I contributed to a book that just came out, Maqasid al-Shari'a and Contemporary Muslim Reformist Thought: An Examination, edited by Adis Duderija. My piece is entitled, "Yusuf al-Qaradawi's Purposive Fiqh: Promoting or Demoting the Future Role of the Ulama?" The best (extended) abstract I can offer you are the two first paragraphs:

"This chapter is about a high-profile Muslim scholar who rather late in his career has turned to the now popular legal methodology of "the sharï'a's higher objectives," or maqasid al-sharï'a. Though I delve into some of the details of his legal theory, I am also interested in probing what is behind this strategy. A media figure of global proportions, Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi has consistently seen himself as a leader of mainstream Sunni Islam with the God-given mission to lead it on the "middle" path (read "moderate," or wasatï), away from the ultra-conservatives, whether the literalists or Salafis on one side, or the liberal Muslims enamoured with Western values on the other. Yet Muslims cannot find this middle path and stay on it, Qaradawi holds, without strengthening the authority of Islam's legal experts, the ulama.

This essay argues that, besides his gradual intellectual attraction to this "purposive" methodology, Qaradawi's use of it in the 1990s and 2000s dovetailed nicely with his political posturing as an ϊlim of international standing both within the Muslim community and beyond it. Further, I contend that his adoption of this approach to legal theory did not in the least affect his long-held views expressed in his fatwas and other writings. So in light of the evident stirrings of change and even turmoil within Islamic legal circles today, I ask one important question in my last section: isn't this focus on the higher purposes of God's law more likely to undermine the authority of the traditional ulama class in the long run, and especially in a twenty-first century marked by a radically democratized public sphere?"

This is a short paper I delivered at the annual meeting of the Society of Vineyard Scholars (part of the Association of Vineyard Churches), held in Columbus, Ohio, in April 2014.

Herein I examine some of theologian Stanley Hauerwas' views in light of a wider discussion about the relationship between the Church and the Kingdom of God. Though I find much to sympathize with his positions, I conclude that, surprisingly perhaps, he ends up with a position similar to Calvin's "Two Kingdoms" theology. The Kingdom of God seems to merge with the Church and the kingdoms of human society seem depraved beyond any possible redemption.

Yale law professor Steven Carter addresses some of my concerns in an article he wrote on Hauerwas. For Carter, who published a book on war the same year as did Hauerwas (2011), Hauerwas' pacifism distorts the reality of violence in the liberal democratic state. Furthermore, his critique undercuts any meaningful role for social justice activism.

As I argued in my blog about Pope Francis, the new pope's discourse about Jesus and the Kingdom of God offers a more biblical view of the work of God's Spirit on the world. The notion of human rights, anathema to Hauerwas, connects organically to both creation and redemption in Christian theology, and it opens the way for Christians and people of all faiths (and no faith) to come together in a brave fight for human dignity wherever people are oppressed and beaten down.


From the Brill journal Worldviews, Global Religions, Culture and Ecology (Vol. 16, 2012), the Authors' Preface, and my article, "Intra-Muslim Debates on Ecology: Is Shari'a Still Relevant?"


This is the paper I presented at the Journal of Law and Religion conference in September 2012 at the Hamline University Law School in St. Paul, Minnesota, "Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi: Standard Bearer of the 'New Purposive Fiqh.'"

See also the blog in Current Islam, "Emerging Voices in Islamic Jurisprudence."

Since about 2002, I have been fascinated with the space in which law and theology meet in Islamic thinking. My 2004 article in the Brill journal Islamic Law and Society ("A Turn in the Epistemology and Hermeneutics of Twentieth Century Usul al-Fiqh," ILS 11, 2, pp. 1-50) argues that in the many centuries of debates over the relative role of reason and revelation in discovering God's law for humankind, a trend can be seen in the last century. A hereunto rather marginal school of thought, which emphasized a methodology focused on the "Objectives of Shari'a" (Maqasid al-Shari'a) gradually became prominent. This trend continues in this century with scores of books written on this "Purposive Method" (al-manhaj al-maqasidi).

Other signs of this can be seen in the founding of the London-based Al-Maqasid Research Centre in the Philosophy of Islamic Law in 2005 and in the theme chosen by the last international conference in Cairo before the January 2011 Revolution. It was jointly sponsored by the Al-Azhar University and the Egyptian Ministry of Religious Affairs (lit. Awqaf, or "religious endowments") and its theme was "The Objectives of Shari'a and Contemporary Issues: Research and Realities."

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