The Middle Eastern and North African System

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Director

Geoffrey Bedford Strickland, J.D., J.C.L., serves as Rome Office Director for Priests for Life/Gospel of Life Ministries and as Director of the Middle East and North Africa Region for the International Center for Law, Life, Faith and Family. In his role as Rome Office Director and International Associate, he provides research and analysis of canonical and international legal themes pertaining to life and family issues. As a Regional Director for the International Center for Law, Life, Faith and Family he provides analysis upon themes related to the rights of life and religious freedom, particularly with regard to the Persecution of Christians in the region. He formerly served as an internal legal analyst for the Pontifical Council for the Family, where his work focused upon areas pertaining to the family, dignity of human life, demographics, and gender ideologies. He continues to serve as an external collaborator to the Roman Curia for translation and interpretation of Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and Arabic.

System Overview

I. Introduction

Modern human rights systems within the Middle East and North Africa, such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League of States, are increasingly important to understand, yet are very complex. Examining these systems calls for a nuanced approach, particularly for those unfamiliar with the great historical, religious, and cultural diversity of the region. This overview seeks to highlight a few basic historical and theoretical aspects relevant to these systems, particularly in regard to Islam, in order to better understand the present day situation in this predominately Muslim region. To this end, the overview will be divided into the following sections. Part I will consider the importance of Islam and collaboration with Muslims as evidenced by recent papal statements and conciliar documents. Then aspects of the relationships of faith to reason and faith to law in Islamic tradition will be examined. Part II will then consider the ongoing evolution of human rights systems within the region, particularly the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the League of Arab States. Part III will highlight recent positions taken by these aforementioned organizations with respect to life and family issues in the international arena. Finally, a brief conclusion will be offered.

  1. The Importance of Islam and Collaboration with Muslims Today

Our relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance,” according to Pope Francis.[1] His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI likewise indicated: “Christians and Muslims, we must face together the many challenges of our time. There is no room for apathy and disengagement, and even less for partiality and sectarianism. We must not yield to fear or pessimism. Rather, we must cultivate optimism and hope.[2]  St. John Paul II in a similar way said that: “In today’s world where God is tragically forgotten, Christians and Muslims are called in one spirit of love to defend and always promote human dignity, moral values and freedom. The common pilgrimage to eternity must be expressed in prayer, fasting and charity, but also in joint efforts for peace and justice, for human advancement and the protection of the environment.”[3]

The teaching of these popes echoes the call of the Second Vatican Council: “Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and … to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.”[4] Before proceeding further, it is helpful to briefly touch upon the relationships of faith to reason and of faith to law in Islamic tradition.

  1. Faith and Reason

Scholars note that the Islamic notion of rationality resides, before all and principally, in the Quran’s central message of the oneness of God.[5] This idea of God’s absolute oneness is at the essence of reason and thus stands in contrast with the irrationality of those who do not adhere to a belief in this same unicity of God.[6] The interplay between the ideas of rational and irrational is thus situated within the Quranic context of God’s comprehensive unity on the one hand and with the disassociation of this unity by the nonbeliever on the other.[7] Thus one could argue that the Quran does not yield a dogmatically orientated theology that one would find dominant in the Christian worldview, with a focus instead upon the practical stemming from the central dogma that God is one with an omnipotent and comprehensive will.[8] This fundamental conception of God reverberates throughout the Islamic worldview into every aspect of life and thinking.[9]

  1. Faith and Law

It has been said that jurisprudence took on a great importance in the intellectual and cultural framework of Islam, due in part to a de-emphasis in Hellenistic forms of inquiry, which led to an emphasis upon a comprehensive set of religious legal structures and developments.[10] The key idea seems to be that these structures and regulations were indeed comprehensive, with the totality of life being governed by religious law. A conception such as this is in contrast with the understanding and practice of many nations today that apply various forms of the doctrine of the separation of Church and State.

Law in a Western Christian connotation has several different levels of meaning.  Particularly in a Thomistic understanding of law that can be viewed as Divine, Eternal, Natural, and Human, a distinction is seen tracing even back to the words of Christ (render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s[11]) that delineates spheres of activity: political/civil versus ecclesiastical/spiritual.[12] What can be understood as a type of dual competence of legal activity in a Western view could not be equated with an Islamic view as such. Shari’ah[13] can be considered both more and less than “law” in the Western sense of the term.[14]

Setting the Shari’ah in historical context, it is reported that Muhammad received his first revelation in 610.[15] In the years following Muhammad’s death Muslims controlled the Arabian Peninsula and had expelled the Byzantines from Egypt and Syria, among other conquests.[16] Within less than a century Islam became the dominant religious, political, and military force in the Middle East and North Africa.[17] By 750, Muslim forces bordered the Franks in present-day France, the Byzantine Empire in present-day Armenia, and Hindustan in the Indian subcontinent.[18] The rapid growth of Islamic empire required an effective legal system to govern its expansive population.[19] Though the Quran provided Muslims with numerous rules regarding ethical personal conduct, it has been understood to be relatively silent on the role of government as such.[20]

Scholars note that Islam’s initial development was largely preoccupied with eschatological themes, without the well-defined structure of a regulative legal system properly speaking. [21] It is reported that it was not until a few years after Muhammad’s arrival and stable presence in Medina that he began to integrate legal elements as such into the already present religious themes.[22]

As the Quran is the most sacred teaching in Islam, Islamic legal theory proceeded from it accordingly.[23] The caliphs that succeeded Muhammad continued to find justification and doctrinal basis in the Quran and in the historical narratives (Hadith) related to the Prophet.[24] However, Arab tribal values and practices were also a substantial basis of the beginnings of Islamic law as this was the historical and cultural nascent environment of Islam.[25] Consensus and communal action, along with differing understandings of legal reasoning, were all integral elements that contributed to a “bottom up”[26] notion of legal administration that characterized the Islamic legal tradition.[27]

With the passing of time Islam as a whole gradually saw the historical body of laws and traditions become so dense that the need for legal experts arose.[28] The technical expertise of these figures (faqih) seemed to grow incrementally over time as the body of knowledge which they were responsible for grew, akin in a somewhat analogous way to the historical growth and development of the case law judges were responsible for in common law jurisdictions in the West through the years.

Along with the growth and expansion of Islam the role of the legal experts as figures of dynamism in the historical development of Islamic law grew also. As Islam spread geographically conquering and subjugating societies, economical and political power was augmented as well. Due to the tribal and intellectual “bottom up” basis which Islamic law enjoyed from its very beginnings, the legal experts were often used by the ruling political classes in all their forms to legitimize their actions, and accordingly, the figure of the legal expert came to be a great intermediary of Islamic society.[29]

This historical development of the Islamic legal system brought about a plurality of internal positions and schools (madhāhib) of thought.[30] Adding to the dynamism of legal thought within Islam is the fact that the Islamic juridical scene underwent a substantial alternation with the concurrent rise of the reality of the modern nation state along with the political decline of the Islamic ruling­­­­ entity as such. This is seen in the developments of the 20th century regarding the fall of the Ottoman Empire and geographical distinctions and divisions that followed.[31] These developments opened the door for new efforts of colonization, which meant the superimposition of foreign legal concepts and understandings that were not easily integrated into the native juridical cultures.[32]

II. The Ongoing Evolution of Systems in the Middle East and North Africa

One challenge facing the development of human rights systems in the region is the lack of a supreme juridical-religious authority giving guidance to help navigate the very quickly developing international human rights landscape.[33] This absence is currently felt in particular regarding the need to rapidly provide authoritative answers valid for the whole of the Muslim world in the face of the ethical challenges posed in international forums.[34]

Today it is common to find in the constitutions of Muslim states an article specifying that the Shari’a forms one of the sources or the main source of legislation.[35] The majority of these countries, however, are governed by legal systems inspired by Western legal ideas.[36] As the systems may vary, so may the positions taken on the new ethical and legal challenges. Increasing emphasis is thus being placed upon Pan Muslim congresses, conferences, and organizations to formulate positions and rationale that are as representative of the vast community of the faithful as possible when new problems arise.[37]

  1. Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

Important among these aforementioned groups is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) (formerly Organization of the Islamic Conference until 2011).[38] The OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations, having a membership of 57 states spread over four continents.[39] The Organization was established in 1969 and presents itself as the collective voice of the Muslim world.[40] The Organization has consultative and cooperative relations with the UN and other inter-governmental organizations to protect interests of Muslims and to work for the settlement of conflicts and disputes involving Member States.[41]

The present Charter of the Organization was adopted in March 2008.[42] The Organization is composed of the following main bodies:

  • The Islamic Summit, composed of Kings and Heads of State and Government of         Member States, is the supreme authority of the Organization.
  • The Council of Foreign Ministers, considers the means for the implementation of         the general policy of the Organization.
  • The General Secretariat, which is the executive organ of the Organization,       which includes a Department Of Family Affairs.[43]

Another important body in the OIC is the Independent Permanent Commission of Human Rights, which seeks to promote the civil, political, social and economic rights in conformity with Islamic values.[44] Key Human rights documents include the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam and the Covenant on the Rights of the Child in Islam.[45]

  1. Arab League of States

The Arab League was formed in Cairo, Egypt in 1945 to promote unity and cooperation among Arab states.[46] Arab states sought to protect their interests after the breakdown of colonial rule in the Middle East.[47] There are 22 current members.[48] Each league member has one vote, and decisions are binding only among those states that accept them. Arab League headquarters is located in Cairo.[49]  The 6 major bodies of the league are:

  • The Council, the supreme body of the organization, composed of the    representatives of the member states;
  • The Permanent Commissions, including the Political Committee;
  • The General-Secretariat, comprising the Secretary-General, assistants, and     officials;
  • The Common Defense Council;
  • The Social and Economic Council;
  • The Specialized Arab Organizations.[50]

The goals of these bodies include encouraging close cooperation of the member states in political, security, economic, communications, cultural, social, and financial matters.[51] Key documents include the Arab Charter on Human Rights, which entered into force in 2008.[52]

III. Examples of Positions Declared on Relevant Issues

Regarding the Right to Life, Article Six of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Islam reads:

The child shall have the right to life from when he is a fetus in his/her mother’s womb or in the case of his/her mother’s death; abortion should be prohibited except under necessity warranted by the interests of the mother, the fetus, or both of them...[53]

In representing the OIC at the Beijing World Conference On Women, then Secretary General Dr. Hamid Algabid stated:

If we proceed to know the truth of life, we find it a holy one, stemming from an overall principle that he who kills one person is similar to the one who kills all people; and if any one saves a life, it would be as if he saves the life of all people. Hence, the prohibition and total incrimination of the aggression committed against the fetus’s right to life, through abortion…[54]

There are also nuanced positions regarding Contraception[55] and Euthanasia[56] within greater Islamic tradition as well.

Regarding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, the OIC Secretary-General Iyad Madani in noting “a number of issues that go beyond the normal scope of human rights and clash with Islamic teachings,” said that:

One of the main issues related to the gender equality debate is the very definition of the term gender. While OIC countries prefer to use the notion of equality between men and women, Western countries push for the term ‘gender,’ which goes beyond the normal definition of man and woman into the direction of how one perceives him or herself rather than his or her actual physical appearance.”

The OIC States are consistent in their opposition to the consideration of controversial notions like “sexual orientation and gender identity” and “are seriously concerned at the attempt to introduce in the United Nations concepts that have no legal foundation in any international human rights instrument.”[57] The “issue of sexual orientation is unacceptable to the OIC.”[58]

Regarding Marriage and the Family, the OIC Charter states that the Organization seeks to:

To promote and to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms including the rights of women, children, youth, elderly and people with special needs as well as the preservation of Islamic family values;

To emphasize, protect and promote the role of the family as the natural and fundamental unit of society. [59]

The Arab Charter on Human Rights, adopted by the League of Arab States, states similarly:

The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society; it is based on marriage between a man and a woman. Men and women of marrying age have the right to marry and to found a family according to the rules and conditions of marriage.

The State and society shall ensure the protection of the family, the strengthening of family ties, the protection of its members and the prohibition of all forms of violence or abuse in the relations among its members, and particularly against women and children. They shall also ensure the necessary protection and care for mothers, children, older persons and persons with special needs and shall provide adolescents and young persons with the best opportunities for physical and mental development.[60]

The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights states:

The family is the foundation of society, and marriage is the basis of making a family. Men and women have the right to marriage, and no restrictions stemming from race, color or nationality shall prevent them from exercising this right.

The society and the State shall remove all obstacles to marriage and facilitate it, and shall protect the family and safeguard its welfare.[61]

IV. Conclusion

The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Centre for Interreligious Dialogue of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization held a colloquium in 2012 regarding “Catholic and Muslim Cooperation in Promoting Justice in the Contemporary World.”[62]  Among important points taken from that meeting were the following:

The belief we share in the One God who created all things gives each of us a holistic understanding of justice. The various spheres of its application are interrelated: personal, communitarian, social, political, economic, cultural and judicial.

Justice as a virtue based on human dignity requires the right exercise of reason and the illumination of God. Recognition of, and respect for, freedom of conscience, inter alia, are conditions of justice in our societies.

The dynamic nature of the concept of justice allows it to be adapted to meet the    new challenges of the contemporary world.

The demand that, for the sake of the promotion of justice in today’s world, Muslims and Christians continue to deepen their understanding of one another through ongoing dialogue and cooperation.[63]

This overview has sought to introduce some aspects of the very complex nature of the human rights systems in the Middle East and North Africa. Part I, in highlighting the necessity of considering foundational theoretical elements, considered the importance of collaboration with Muslims and thus Muslim majority countries and their human rights systems from the Christian perspective. Relevant aspects of the relationships of faith to reason and faith to law in Islamic tradition were thus also briefly considered. Part II examined the ongoing evolution of relevant human rights systems and the efforts toward forming a unified voice in the region, particularly as seen in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the League of Arab States. Part III then highlighted positions taken by these aforementioned organizations with respect to life and family issues. It is hoped that through prayerful dialogue and collaborative efforts, beginning with mutual study and reflection, that the “historic reconciliation” between Islamic and Christian Groups, as recently discussed by Pope Francis and the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, H.E. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, may indeed take place and foster greater justice in the contemporary world through a renewal of law, life and family.[64]

Bibliography

Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium [Apostolic Exhortation on The Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World] (2013).

Pope Paul VI, Declaration On The Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions Nostra Aetate (1965).

An-Na’im, Abdullahi Ahmed, Globalization And Jurisprudence: An Islamic Law Perspective, 54 Emory L.J. 25 (2005).

Irshad Abdal-Haqq, Islamic Law: An Overview of its Origins and Elements, 7 J. Islamic L. & Culture 27 (2002).

Dariusch Atighetchi, Islamic Bioethics: Problems and Perspectives at 5 (Springer 2006).

Augustin Dupre la Tour and Hisham Nashabe, Questions de Bioethique au Regard de l’Islam et du Christianisme, at 8 (Dar el Machreq 2000).

Wael B. Hallaq, An Introduction to Islamic Law at 163 (Cambridge Univ. Press 2009).

Wael B. Hallaq, The Origins and Evolution of Islamic Law (Cambridge Univ. Press 2005).

John Hursh, The Role of Culture in the Creation of Islamic Law, 85 Ind. L.J. 1401 (2009).

Mohamed Mzoughi, Fede e Ragione nell’Islam: Bilancio Storico-Critico (Madeia 2004).

Mohamed Mzoughi, Histoire de la Philosophie Islamique (Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies 2011).

Abdulaziz Sachedina Dr USA, Islamic Biomedical Ethics: Principles and Application at 169 (Oxford Univ. Press 2009).

Harry Austryn Wolfson, The Philosophy of the Kalam (Harvard Univ. Press 1976)

Fact Sheet: System Overview

In the International Arena at large, as well as within particular geographical regions themselves, Christians and Muslims must face together the many challenges of our time, working in joint efforts for peace and justice.

Conceptual Philosophical, Theological, and Juridical underpinnings, both in terms of their historical development and present realities, are important to consider when approaching positions taken by entities in the Arab System, particularly the relationship of faith to reason and of faith to law.

Human Rights Systems, such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the League of Arab States, are evolving as an Islamic response to the growing need for answers to questions raised by new developments in the International human rights field.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation is the second largest intergovernmental organization after the UN and has a membership of 57 states over 4 continents, with key human rights documents including the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam and the Covenant on the Rights of the child in Islam.

The 22 member Arab League of States was formed in 1945 to promote unity and cooperation among Arab States, with a key document being the Arab Charter on Human Rights.

Regarding the Right to Life, the Convention of the Rights of the Child in Islam states “the child shall have the right to life from when he is a fetus in his/her mother’s womb…” (Art.6).

Regarding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation opposes consideration of these controversial notions and expresses concern at the attempt to introduce in the United Nations concepts that have no legal foundation in any international human rights instrument.

Regarding Marriage and the Family the Arab Charter of Human Rights asserts that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society; it is based on marriage between a man and a woman…”; while the Organization of Islamic Cooperation seeks “to emphasize, protect and promote the role of the family as the natural and fundamental unit of society;” while the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam states that “the family is the foundation of society, and marriage is the basis of making a family.”

Thus it is hoped that a historic reconciliation, as recently discussed by Pope Francis and the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, H.E. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, will indeed take place and foster greater justice in the contemporary world through a renewal of law, life and family.

Selected Links:

League of Arab States: http://www.lasportal.org

Organization of Islamic Cooperation: http://www.oic-oci.org

Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue: http://www.pcinterreligious.org

Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies: http://en.pisai.it/home.aspx

[1] Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium [Apostolic Exhortation on The Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World] 252, 253 (2013).

[2] Pope Benedict XVI, Meeting With Representatives of Some Muslim Communities (2005), http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2005/august/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_200508 20_meeting-muslims_en.html.

[3] John Paul II, General Audience of May 5, 1999 4, available at http://www.vatican.va/holy _father/john_paul_ii/audiences/1999/documents/hf_jp-ii_aud_05051999_en.html

[4] Pope Paul VI, Declaration On The Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions Nostra Aetate (1965),  3.

[5] See Generally Part II, Chapter 1 of Mohamed Mzoughi, Fede e Ragione nell’Islam: Bilancio Storico-Critico (Madeia 2004).

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] See for example, Robert R. Reilly, The Closing of the Muslim Mind (Isi Books 2011).

[11] Gospel of St. Mark 12:17.

[12] See St. Thomas Aquinas, ST I-II, Q.95, A.II.

[13] “There are two primary sources of Islamic law — the Quran (Koran) and the Sunnah (traditions of Muhammad ibn Abdullah, the last prophet of Islam). The Sunnah of Muhammad includes the things he said, i.e. his hadith, as well as the things he did or refrained from doing. These two elements, Quran and Sunnah, comprise what is known as the Shari’ah — the source from which all principles of Islamic law and life flow. Shari’ah, or more properly Al-Shari’ah, literally means the pathway, path to be followed, or clear way to be followed, and has come to mean the path upon which the believer has to tread.” See Irshad Abdal-Haqq, Islamic Law: An Overview of its Origins and Elements, 7 J. Islamic L. & Culture 27, 31-32 (2002).

[14] Prof. Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na`im describes the situation in this way: “To begin with a caveat, the term Islamic law is misleading in that Shari’ah, the normative system of Islam, is both more and less than ‘law’ in the modern sense of this term. It is more than law in that it encompasses doctrinal matters of belief and religious rituals, ethical and social norms of behavior, as well as strictly legal principles and rules. Shari’ah is also ‘less’ than law in the sense that it can be enforced only as positive law through the political will of the state, which would normally require statutory enactment or codification as well as practical arrangements for the administration of justice. When these two features are taken together, it becomes clear that the corpus of Shari’ah includes aspects that are supposed to be voluntarily observed by Muslims, individually and collectively, independent of state institutions, and other aspects which require state intervention to enact and enforce them in practice. In this light, I prefer to use the term Shari’ah, rather than Islamic law.” An-Na’im, Abdullahi Ahmed, Globalization And Jurisprudence: An Islamic Law Perspective, 54 Emory L.J. 25, 41-42 (2005).

[15] John Hursh, The Role of Culture in the Creation of Islamic Law, 85 Ind. L.J. 1401, 1403-1404 (2009).

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Wael B. Hallaq, The Origins and Evolution of Islamic Law at 195 (Cambridge Univ. Press 2005).

[22] Ibid 195 – 197.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Hallaq notes that Shari’a “lived and operated in a deeply moral community which it took as granted, for it is a truism that the Shari’a itself was constructed on the assumption that its audiences and consumers were, all along, moral communities and morally grounded individuals.” Wael B. Hallaq, An Introduction to Islamic Law at 163 (Cambridge Univ. Press 2009).

[26] “Islamic law did not emerge out of the machinery of the body-politic, but rather arose a private enterprise initiated and developed by pious men who embarked on the study and elaboration of law as a religious activity. Never could the Islamic ruling elite, the body politic, determine what the law was. This significant fact clearly means that, whereas in other legal cultures the body politic was the source of legal authority and power, in Islam this body was largely, if not totally, absent from the legal scene. The rise of doctrinal schools was the compensation, the alternative solution.” Hallaq, The Origins and Evolution of Islamic Law at 204.

[27] Ibid.

[28] See generally Chapter 3, Hallaq, The Origins and Evolution of Islamic Law.

[29] Ibid.

[30] The various Legal Schools are: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali, Jaafari. For more information, see Calder, Norman, Joseph A. Kéchichian, Farhat J. Ziadeh, Abdulaziz Sachedina, Jocelyn Hendrickson, Ann Elizabeth Mayer and Intisar A. Rabb. “Law”, in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World (last visited September 28, 2014), available at  http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t236/e0473.

[31] The Ottoman Empire existed between 1389 and 1922, and extended from Anatolia into South-East Europe, North Africa, Greater Syria, and the Hejaz. See Hallaq, An Introduction to Islamic Law, at 172, 180-182.

[32] Ibid, 167-168.

[33] Dariusch Atighetchi, Islamic Bioethics: Problems and Perspectives at 5 (Springer 2006).

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid, 10.

[36] Ibid, 10.

[37] Ibid, 13.

[38] See About the OIC, (last visited April 23, 2014) available at http://www.oic-oci.org.

[39] Members include: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Brunei-Darussalam, Burkina-Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Syrian Arab Republic (suspended), Tajikistan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. Ibid.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] See Organization of Islamic Cooperation, (last visited April 23, 2014) available at http://www.icnl.org/research/monitor/oic.html

[46] “Arab League” in The Islamic World: Past and Present. Ed. John L. Esposito. Oxford Islamic Studies Online. (last visited April 21, 2014) available at http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t243/e30

[47] Ibid.

[48] Current member states include Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Brunei-Darussalam, Burkina-Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau Guyana, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Syrian Arab Republic (suspended), Tajikistan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen. See http://www.lasportal.org.

[49] “Arab League” in The Islamic World: Past and Present.

[50] See Hasou, Tawfiq Y, “Arab League” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World. Ed. John L. Esposito. Oxford Islamic Studies Online. (last visited April 21, 2014) available at http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t236MIW/e0071.

[51] Ibid.

[52] The revised Arab Charter on Human Rights has been endorsed by a total of seventeen states: Algeria (2006), Bahrain (2006), Egypt (signed 2004, not yet ratified), Iraq (2012), Jordan (2004), Kuwait (2006), Lebanon (2011), Libya (2006), Morocco (signed 2004, not yet ratified), Palestine (2007), Qatar (2009), Saudi Arabia (2009), Sudan (signed 2005, not yet ratified), Syria (2007), Tunisia (signed 2004, not yet ratified), the United Arab Emirates (2008), and Yemen (2008).  See http:// www.icnl.org/research/monitor/las.html.

[53] Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Covenant on the Rights of the Child in Islam, June 2005, OIC/9-IGGE/HRI/2004/Rep.Final, available at http://www.oic-oci.org/english/convenion/ Rights%20of%20the%20Child%20In%20Islam%20E.pdf.

[54] Fourth World Conference on Women by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Statement of His Excellency Dr. Hamid Algabid OIC Secretary General At The World Conference On Women Beijing 4-15 September, 1995, available at http://www.un.org/esa/gopher-data/conf/fwcw/conf/una/9509 11155632.txt.

[55] Regarding Contraception, generally speaking, there seems to be an openness regarding the idea of limiting births as such in Islam, in that the idea of limiting births is not inherently contrary to the spirit of Islam.[55] Hisham Nashabe, during a series of conferences regarding Christian and Islamic positions on Bioethics, presented these rules regarding birth limitation that he considered fundamental within Islamic consideration: Withdrawal (al-‘azl) is authorized, taking into account that this was practiced during the epoch of the Prophet Muhamed and that this was not then prohibited; that the means of limiting births used is medically acceptable, in the sense that the method used does not harm the health of those who utilize it; the means used not contradict the dignity of moral customs; that the family be preserved, in that the limitation of births does not compromise the family structure or dissolve its generational lines; the use of means which completely render the man or women infertile are absolutely forbidden. See Augustin Dupre la Tour and Hisham Nashabe, Questions de Bioethique au Regard de l’Islam et du Christianisme, at 8 (Dar el Machreq 2000).

[56] Regarding Euthanasia, it is said that a “right to die” does not exist in Islam as “life is a divine trust and cannot be terminated by any form of active human intervention; and its term has been fixed by the unalterable divine decree.” This also rules out a “right” to be “assisted” in dying, whether through “passive” or “active” means. See Abdulaziz Sachedina Dr USA, Islamic Biomedical Ethics: Principles and Application at 169 (Oxford Univ. Press 2009).

[57]Zamir Akram, Ambassador and Permanent Representative Coordinator of the OIC Group on Human Rights and Humanitarian Issues, Letter to the President of the Human Rights Council Geneva, 14 February 2012, available at http://blog.unwatch.org/index.php/2012/02/17/letter-from-uns-islamic-group-to-unhrc-president-opposing-panel-on-violence-against-gays/#more-1760

[58] Ibid.

[59] See OIC Charter, Mar. 14, 2008, available at http://www.oicoci.org/oicv2/page/?p_id =53&p_ref=27&lan=en.

[60] See Susan M. Akram, Arab Charter on Human Rights 2004, 24 B.U. INT’L L.J. 147, 149–64 (2006).

[61] See World Conference on Human Rights, Apr. 19 – May 7, 1993, Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, U.N. Doc. A/CONF.157/PC/62/Add.18 (June 9, 1993).

[62]Vatican Radio News Agency, Catholic and Muslim Cooperation in Promoting Justice, (last visited April 23, 2014) available at http://en.radiovaticana.va/storico/2012/11/22/catholic_and_muslim_cooperation _in_promoting_justice/in2-641302

[63] Ibid.

[64] See Organization of Islamic Cooperation, In an Audience at the Vatican City H.E. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Discussed Issues of Mutual Concern with His Holiness Pope Francis, (last visited April 23, 2014) available at http://www.oic-oci.org/oicv2/topic/?t_id=8717&ref=3501&lan=en&x_key=pope

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