Reading Rashid Al-Ghannushi’s Debate on Human Rights

  • Mohammad Dawood Sofi
Keywords: Rāshid al-Ghannūshi ̇̄, Islam, human rights, Magna Carta, apostasy, women’s rights


Human rights, a hotly debated issue in the 1970s Muslim world, engaged diverse groups like governments, political activists, civil society members, intellectuals, thinkers and even common people. Though not a novel development, the phenomenon represented renewed interest by individuals and groups regarding many issues, including democracy and secularism. Shaykh Rāshid al-Ghannūshi ̇̄ – the ‘most adroit and flexible’ Tunisian Islamic reformist leader and primary ideologue of Ḥizb al-Nahḍah – is a prominent voice who discussed widely the issue of human rights. In this regard, his famous book al-Ḥurri ̇̄yyāt al-‘Ᾱmah fi ̇̄ al-Dawlah al-Islāmiyyah represents a core strand of his thought.

In the contemporary era, Ghannūshi ̇̄, through his prolific writing and appealing intellectual discourse, especially on the issues of Islam–West relations, democracy, pluralism and human rights, engages the minds of intellectuals globally. Considering the global importance of this religio-political thinker, the current study, while exploring how the concept of human rights emerged in the West, will examine and explore objectively Ghannūshi ̇̄’s views on human rights. Moreover, this article will focus on understanding his vision about hotly debated issues such as apostasy, freedom in Islam and the West, and the rights of women.