Amanda Skofstad | February 4, 2019
In his newest research, Daniel Philpott, professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, examines conditions in 47 Muslim-majority countries and considers a question at the center of intense public debate: Is Islam hostile to religious freedom?
Philpott finds that the Muslim world, considered in the aggregate, is largely lacking in religious freedom, but when looked at up close, contains important islands of religious freedom as well as the potential for expanding religious freedom.
He begins “Religious Freedom in Islam: The Fate of a Universal Human Right in the Muslim World Today” by acknowledging a tension latent in his study.
“Should a Westerner of a different religious tradition query whether another religion is hospitable to freedom?” Philpott asks. “Religious freedom is a Western principle, some will say, and to pose it to Islam is to impose it on Islam.”
Philpott argues that religious freedom is a matter of intrinsic justice, and can act as a “force multiplier” to deliver a number of social goods to Muslim countries, including democracy, economic development, the advancement of women and the reduction of terrorism and war. He grounds his study in the premise that religious freedom is a universal principle, rooted in human dignity, which is critical to peace between western countries and the Muslim world — as well as within the Muslim world.
Understanding how these dynamics play out, and how they might be studied, means engaging with two prevailing philosophies, according to Philpott.
Read more here.