The paper will inform on “friendship as an ethical worldview in a Quran perspective,” through Ahmad Ibn Mistawayh a Muslim ethics. The paper will present different views that define friendship in God-human and human-human relationships. Quran has a fertile ground to discuss philosophy and ethics of friendship that remains uncultivated for many years in religious traditions. The perspective of friendship in the Quran helps to resolve conflicts, provide peace, reconcile, and make friendship beyond liberal peace. Literature of friendship dates back during the era of Cyrus the Great and writings of Gilgamesh.
Aristotle treats friendship as an essential to attain happiness. According to him, life was not worth living without friends. Muslim ethicists such as al-Adab al- Kabir refer to Indo-Persian prior to translating Aristotle’s works to Arabic. The Kalila wa Dinma mention the importance of friendship in moral life. Ibn Qaiyyim al- Jawzyya presents at least sixty different words in his book Gardens of Lovers to connote love and friendship. The author suggests that multiplicity of names in relation to love and friendship reflects to love and intimate relation as the essence of humanity. Abu Ali Ahmad Ibn Miskawayh is a Muslim philosophical ethicist that studies and writes concerning friendship using unique moral technique. He borrows from Aristotelian perspective of virtue ethics and friendship to expand the conceptual gaps left by Aristotle to address civic friendship.
According to Ibn Miskawayh , friendship is an ethical space superior to justice at a macro level. Human moral space depicts two categories of friendship that include justice-based and friendship-based virtue. Friendship-based virtues are superior to justice-based virtues. Miskawayh in the explanation of relationship between two cardinal virtues that include justice and benevolence state that benevolence is an excess of equality while justice is plain equality. Miskawayh defines relationship as a set of standards to implement justice, benevolence, and law. The Shari’a prescribes universal justice while it ignores benevolence. Quran instructs Muslim faithful to practice benevolence while it fails to specify endless particulars. Law is definite and specific in its prescription in Quran. Benevolence is a justice-plus virtue and does not have limits while Islamic law cannot access it, define its qualities, and codify its rules.
The moral foundations of human rights in the world of Muslims begin in 1970s in the rise of militant religiosity among the Muslim groups. The groups establish the Universal Declaration of Human Rights foundation that is compatible with Islam. The Declaration is an international document that implies hostility to divergent philosophical and religious ideas. The secular foundation of the Declaration deems epistemologically insufficient to account for the derivation of inherent human right. The Muslim theoreticians of right argue that the secular human right discourse totally dismisses the religious notion in accordance to language.
A common misconception is that the Muslim thinkers and traditionalists fail to support the need for universal human rights that will at best protect human dignity. Those that oppose the Declaration cite that the document is ethnocentric and imperialistic bearing in mind that the humans have their own rights. The language of human rights is modern with firm roots in secular liberalism to safeguard and promote the citizen’s right that demand the privatization of religion. . The privatization process enables the development of politics that are separate from religion. Islamic juridical and theological anthropology do not experience the secularization of the issue at the public domain.
One cannot separate human beings in terms of compartmentalized that separate the spiritual versus temporal. Secularism that undergird from the Declaration fail to translate and that leads to intense debate concerning relationship of the religion and the state. The autonomy of the individual has an independent moral standard that transcends the cultural and religious differences. An individual that claims the right without considering the bonds of reciprocity those are not similar to Islamic emphasis in relation to aspects of human existence.
Those that criticize the document as being prejudicial, politically hegemonic, and anti-religious reject the universal argument of secular morality. To provide an answer to those critics mane has to cast an eye to the philosophical or metaphysical concerns undergirding the international document to seek resonance in the Islamic philosophical theology.
A frank exchange of universal moral foundation of human rights provides a corrective to Muslim perceptions concerning a secularist bias on the Declaration. To engage Muslim scholars to rethink their anti-Declaration and the recognition of Islamic revelation and Declaration will protect individuals from oppressive regimes. Oppression at will helps in overall universality of the secular support to garner support for its implementation in the Muslim World. Universal human right lacks legitimacy and enforcement in the Islamic states.
If the moral and metaphysical foundations of human right remain unarticulated, individuals will easily dismissed as another strategy to dominate the Muslim community while looking down on the religious culture and value system. In the post-colonial age, Muslim have improved political consciousness to an extent they label Universal Declaration of Human Rights as culturally Eurocentric and imperialistic. The Declaration has bias towards the Muslim cultural values especially speaking on the individual right as well as family values of the Muslim society.
Foundationless Human Rights
The Human rights declaration emerges at the height of European colonialism after the end of two World Wars where humans harm each other in the pretext of religious claims of superiority and racial issues. Human rights evolution depicts soldiers involved in soul searching from the atrocities of the European colonialists. A historical backdrop in the 1940s lead to human rights debates and deliberations to indicate moral and the philosophical foundations that ultimately provide a language of international justice to all cultures around the world. The modern human right idiom emerged in a philosophical-theological vacuum with no language that could unite the poor together.
People that drafted the Declaration had in mind the traditional communities and their ability to live together in an overlapping consensus while avoiding conflict and destruction of human life and the environment. After the Second World War nations were looking for a common language and ways for people to stay away from indiscriminate violence and oppression that resembles anti-Semitism leading to the dark days of the Holocaust. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry are two studies that provide a dialogue between secularist and religious claimants of the universal norms that enable humans live in harmony with others. Both writings appear at the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration that raise intrigue concerning on the availability of a single moral foundation for humans right that spans many cultures.
With no universal morality that speaks from each individual in earth the Declaration lacks a moral enforcement in the community. To ensure Declaration will continually protect the unalienable right of an individual, the drafters designed a universal moral foundation of the Declaration. The Declaration could speak to people different cultures without denying them an opportunity of universalism through a reliable religious doctrine. The main strength of the Declaration was its power to protect human agency and protected the unjust conduct to those in power.
The writing of Universal Declaration of Human Right sensitively traces every stage of the process that captured the concern for poor, political powerless, and oppressed. Religious and humanitarian traditions established a vocabulary appropriated as Declaration and were in a position to respond to the charge of ethnocentrism. Negotiations took place to avoid inclining on a particular language. The language of Declaration investigated the presumption in the connection between universality and morality. The Enlightenment view of humanity came from natural rights philosophies that located human equality as virtue of own humanity.
The issue of relativism in the context of human right standards presents different cultures as the root of the problem. All the efforts to build consensus over common standards had difficulty in secularization of universal morality. Detaching universal morality was a foundational consideration to accommodate diverse cultures and national communities. For many years, the Muslim world used cultural relatively to justify lack of commitment that would promote liberty for both Muslim and non-Muslim citizens. Some of the philosophies that influenced conceptualization of inherent attributes of humanity included Enlightenment. Drafters of the Declaration look at the issue of protecting human rights from a particular cultural context and historical experience. Drafters responded to post Wars atrocities and the carnage inflicted on the victims.
Muslim countries secularly educate its citizens that had little or no human rights training in the foundational sources of the Islamic tradition to articulate universal impulse of Islamic comprehensive doctrines to enrich the debates. The exclusion of Muslim traditional representation in human right deliberation serves as a political decision as most Muslim countries have the dominance of Western authorities that had a negative perception. The Western powers derailed the secular and anti-tradition tone for the human rights deliberations.
In summary, it is possible to articulate a foundational theory of human rights through pluralistic attributes of Islam and its culture that tend to ignore both Muslim traditionalist and fundamentalist discourse. . Islamic tradition concerns itself with preservation of liberty against political authoritarianism to represent diverse cultures in earth. Plurality is crucial to preserve peaceful coexistence among people of diverse cultures and faiths under Muslim political classes. Separate jurisdictions for the temporal afford fundamental agreement on public values to address multi-faith and multi-cultural societies of the Islamic world. The jurisdictions regulated human relationships among people of different cultures and faiths.
Sachedina, A. (2007) The Clash of Universalisms: Religious and Secular in Human Rights, in The Hedgehog Review 9:3 Retrieved from http://www.consciencelaws.org/religion/religion099.aspx