Essay question: ’As an ideology, Islamism (political Islam) is incompatible with universal human rights.’ Discuss.
Issues you might address include:
Ann Elizabeth Mayer’s Islam and Human Rights: Tradition and Politics, 4th ed, (Boulder: Colorado, 2007).
Human rights abuses committed by ostensibly Islamic regimes in Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia
The treatise on Human Rights in Islam by Abul A’la Maududi, a leading Islamist ideologue
The critique of human rights in Hizb ut-tahrir’s The American Campaign to Suppress Islam (1996)
The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, adopted by member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (5 August 1990)
Osama bin-Laden’s boast after the September 11 attacks that ‘[t]hose awesome symbolic towers that speak of liberty, human rights, and humanity have been destroyed.’
The careers of human rights advocates in the Islamic world such as Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Anwar Ibrahim and Shirin Ebadi.
1. The effectiveness of the argument: 40%.
Make sure that your argument is sustained throughout the essay. You should make a case in your essay, rather than simply telling a story. Keep your essay focused on the proposition. ‘Discuss’ means discuss the validity of the proposition, not a series of tangential observations. Look carefully at the precise words of the proposition or question (which is to be the title of the essay), and make sure that your entire essay is a response to it. At the very least, your essay should have a clear statement in the opening paragraphs along the lines of: ‘This essay argues that…’ followed by an assertion that relates clearly to the proposition, and that is substantiated in the rest of the essay.
At all costs, avoid digressions from the topic. Imagine, as you are writing, that you are trying to convince an extremely sceptical reader of your viewpoint. Try to show an awareness of possible contrary arguments, particularly in the opening.
An essay without a clear argument is extremely unlikely to get above a P.
2. Paragraphing: 10%
Make sure that each paragraph addresses a specific idea. Usually, this idea will be clearly set out in the opening sentence (the topic sentence).
3. Structure: 10%
The structure should be logical. Try to arrange the elements of your argument into categories and subcategories.
4. Research: 40%
Research should include primary sources (eg in newspaper databases such as Factiva) and a minimum of 7 academic sources (refereed articles and scholarly books).
Each of the following propositions can be answered in many ways. There is no prescribed, ‘correct’ answer.
The list of suggested issues that follows each proposition is intended as a starting point for your research and to give you a sense of the possibilities of the topic. It is not intended as a structure or as a comprehensive guide for your response. Do NOT use the topics as subheadings