Human Rights in Early & Medieval Islam: The Case of al-Ṭabarī's madhhab jarīrī.
A seminar with professor Ulrika Mårtensson, NTNU.
This seminar will be streamed live on Zoom. Access to the Zoom stream requires registration. Please register here.
In the presentation I will show that a concept of ‘universal human rights’ can be seen in early and medieval interpretations of the Qur'anic sura 4 (al-Nisa', 'Women'), verse 1. The main case is the interpretation by Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari (d. 310/923), and I will analyse his concept of 'human rights' with reference to three issues: his legal methodology (al-madhhab al-jariri); and theories of natural law and social contract. As for concrete legal matters, I will argue tentatively that his concept of 'human rights' concerned peasants' property rigths, as part of more general notions of 'the common good' (maslaha). Finally, I will show that his 'human rights'-exegesis of Q. 4:1 was shared by later exegetes of various legal-theological schools, and draw out what this could imply for our conceptualisation of Islamic jurisprudence and law.
Ulrika Mårtensson is professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at NTNU, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. She holds a PhD in the history of religions from Uppsala University.