Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Abbas J. Ali
Chapter 3: Individual rights and responsibilities, morality, relativism and self-interest
At heart, all five issues addressed in this chapter are questions of ethics. Unfortunately, most examinations of the position of Islam tend to adopt a perspective of legalities rather than ethics. Although one cannot deny the centrality of law to the evolution of Islamic institutions, the essential fact is that the Qur’an as presented by God is a book of guidance and this should never be overlooked. For this very particular reason, one must place the ethical dimension of Islam at center stage. That individuals have duties in Islam is unquestioned, and the application to the issue of individual rights and responsibilities, morality, relativism and self-interest is, at first blush, merely a matter of focus on such responsibilities in the context of commercial affairs. But on the more controversial question of individual rights in Islam, one finds that rights are inescapably the flip side of duties. Do individuals have rights? Although questions of relativity and self-interest are rarely addressed in discussions of Islam, these questions are a proper subset of the issue of morality and ethics forming a categorical umbrella over the issues of rights and responsibilities. In the end, it is appropriate and efficient to consider these five subjects together. To lay the groundwork for a clear understanding of these questions, one should first consider the metaphysical and ontological framework within which Islam considers all ethical questions, of which political and economic considerations are corollaries. In all things, the fundamental consideration of Islam is tawh"d.
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