Is the fact that the majority of the population in the Middle East belongs to Islam actually the reason why human rights in Muslim-majority countries appear to be so difficult to work out and enforce? Are Islam and human rights not basically compatible? Historically it cannot be disputed that the thought of human rights first took shape in the European and Western context. Over the course of several centuries, it became widely accepted, and finally the thought of human rights also became a political reality as they were implemented in democratic states and constitutions. However, it would be a wrong conslusion, as for instance has been emphasized by Heiner Bielefeldt, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, to say that the ability to implement human rights, in particular thoughts about freedom and the equality of all people, is a one-sided affair and can only occur in the Western-Christian context. As far as Heiner Bielefeldt is concerned, this historic development, however, justifies neither the assertion that it had to happen as it did, nor does it justify Western representatives’ taking sole occupation of considerations relating to human rights thinking. Viewed from this perspective, human rights cannot boast a “Western” origin or a “Christian” character in a way that they would be incompatible with notions justified by Islam. Having that said, one is still to a large degree able to recognize a desolate situation in matters relating to human rights in Muslim-majority countries. But conflicts between Islam and human rights do not arise automatically out of the religious affiliation of a majority of the people. They certainly do stand out in those places where for political decision-making authorities Sharia law ranks higher than human rights and the granting of human rights is made dependent upon a traditional interpretation of the Sharia. Apart from the societal advocacy of human rights, there is the question as to the framework within which theological assessments of human rights questions occur. The following article aims at pointing to three discernable positions about human rights in the context of Islamic theologians, the a) the inclusive position, b) the pragmatic position, and c) the progressive position.
It is difficult to give an unambiguous answer for the question presented in the title. J.B. Glubb considered himself to be a friend of Arabs and the Arab issue. At the same time he was a loyal officer of the British Army. He did not see any contradiction in this. J.B. Glubb began his work in the Transjordan Emirate in 1931. In the beginning he commanded the border guard made of Bedouins and since 1939 the whole army of Transjordan, namely the Arab Legion. During World War II he considerably developed these armed forces. In 1946 Transjordan gained independence. Despite this J.B. Glubb maintained his command over the Arab Army until 1956. In 1948 he commanded the army during the conflict with Israel that was coming into being. During his military service he attempted to care about the interests of the House of Hashimites. Basically, he associated the Arab issue with the interests of this house. He believed that it was possible to permanently combine Arab interests viewed in that perspective with the influence of the British in the Middle East. Such reasoning turned out to be an absolute misconception. The officer was becoming more and more hated by a large part of Arabs. For many he was a symbol of being enslaved by the British. His reasoning of the Arab issue was becoming an anachronism. Eventually, he became a nuisance also for the Hashimites. Therefore, in march 1956 young king Husayn took the command from him and removed him from Jordan. Despite such ending of his military and political career one must admit that he was one of more interesting figures of the late British Empire.