Don’t Be a Literalist About Human Rights!

“Who says a scholar, mufassir of the Quran like Tabari knows more about what the Quran means and understands more of it than anyone else? Tabari is not God.”

This is really straightforward: do you believe that language has an inherent meaning that some are in a better or worse position to understand relative to others? If not, then that would mean that a non-English speaker has just as valid and accurate an understanding of Shakespeare as an English Shakespearean scholar at Oxford.

Or, as someone who doesn’t know the ABC’s of Hebrew, I have an equal understanding of the Hebrew Bible as the most senior rabbis in the world. When I look at the Hebrew characters, studying their shapes as only an illiterate person can, that evokes in me all kinds of emotions and thoughts, some of them quite spiritual: happiness, sadness, a little bit of confusion of course. BUT those are all valid and HOW DARE anyone tell me those emotions are not “learned” enough and that I don’t understand the Bible with equal depth as people who can actually read and understand Hebrew.

Same goes for the US Constitution or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Obviously, when it comes to human rights law, Barack Obama has one interpretation and Hillary Clinton has another and Saddam Hussein had a different interpretation and Kim Jong-un has yet another, and Robert Mugabe yet another, and so on. Who is to say which interpretation of the UN’s human rights conventions is the “correct” one? It’s all a matter of personal interpretation! And don’t let a closed-minded literalist tell you any different!


"Who says a scholar, mufassir of the Quran like Tabari knows more about what the Quran means and understands more of it…

Posted by Daniel Haqiqatjou on Tuesday, June 28, 2016

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