Religions have been a primary source of guidance and normativity for their followers for centuries. They emerged to cater for the needs of the communities of different eras and locales by providing systems of norms and rules on how to live a moral and spiritual life. These religious normative systems were very successful in fulfilling the needs of their communities; indeed, their systems of social organisation, and spiritual practice became established to the extent that they continue to be significant and authoritative for the overwhelming majority of the global population. Paradoxically, human history attests that religions have also been a source of division and discord between adherents of different faiths, resulting in some of the bloodiest wars and killings, and oppression based on doctrinal discriminations against the ‘other’.
In the wake of the number of human lives lost in the first and second world wars, the advent of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as international law for its plenipotentiaries was a hallmark in human history, whereby discriminatory treatment of individuals could be outlawed. Although intended as a legal measure to prevent the escalation of nation-wide discriminatory events to mass genocide, its implications extended to curbing the norms and laws of nation states founded directly upon religion. Moreover, it seemed to challenge many long-standing and entrenched practices and beliefs of all the major world religions. Traditionally institutionalised hierarchies and patriarchies of the varied theologies and religious systems were apparently contravening human rights. Thus the conflict and antagonism was born between human rights and religion, and debates ensued within religious seminaries and religious departments in universities regarding the compatibility of individual religions and human rights.
To explore this further, Al-Mahdi Institute is hosting a workshop on ‘Religion and Human Rights: Compatibility, Conflict, and Resolution’ bringing together human rights specialists and scholars from different world religions with expertise on issues relating to the intersection between human rights and religion. The workshop will take place August 27-29, 2014 at the Al-Mahdi Institute, in Birmingham, UK.
Plenary sessions will include papers from;
Prof. Esther Reed (University of Exeter)
Prof. Abdulaziz Sachedina (University of Virginia)
Dr Asher Moaz (Tel Aviv University)
Prof. Seyed M. Ghari Fatimi (Al-Mahdi Institute)
Abstracts for papers on any aspect of the relationship between human rights and religion are invited from both emerging and established scholars in the field. A limited number of travel grants are available for scholars attending the workshop from within the E.U. Those wishing to present a paper at the workshop should submit an abstract of 300 words to Dr Hashim Bata (hashimATalmahdi.edu) before Sunday the 22nd of June.