This is an extract of an interview with Dr. Abdullahi A. An-Naim performed by FUNCI for the research on “Islam and constitutionalism, an open dialogue”, whose first results were published in book form with the same name, and presented through a colloquium at the Living library of Al-Andalus in Cordoba on the 22nd October 2015. The purpose of this interview and research is the elaboration of a mithaq, مِيثَاق, or a minimal agreement for the creation of democratic and inclusive constitutions ensuring that fundamental Human Rights are respected without renouncing their Islamic tradition:
-F: …. Then, to sum up, would it be possible to reach consensus on the process from an Islamic perspective, or a set of processes that we may consider essential? In other words, are there fundamental processes that can be defined, which come from our tradition, as Muslims?
N: I believe it can be done, as long as we accept that it is not drawn up beforehand, that we need to develop and understand that some of us will have a different view about the same principles. It must be the product of a process of consensus. However, the conclusion that I would like to arrive here is that if we follow a few basic principles of dialogue and respect for difference and dignity, these principles should not be confined to Muslims because it is not about being Muslim, but human being.
Being Muslim is a decision taken by some human beings. Also, being Catholic or Protestant is a decision taken by some humans being. However, we all share our humanity, no matter what we do with it. What I mean is that you can have a debate among Muslims, but also among people in general, not only with Muslims, and that’s where I think we can reach an agreement on national reasons concerning why these principles are important: respect for differences, respect for human dignity, etc. If this is done, it would indicate that we support human rights as Muslims, we have come to this conviction from our beliefs as Muslims, but that is our choice. Others may reach that same conviction from their religious or philosophical beliefs and all would reach what I call an “overlapping consensus”. This term means to reach an understanding and a commitment to Human Rights from several points of views and different systems of beliefs. We all share this common ground, but we need to share our reasons for reaching this common commitment.
By Islamic Culture Foundation · On February 18, 2016.