IRRC No. 215

Islam and international humanitarian law

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Contemporary political analyses and studies concerning Islam often bear the mark of ethical values and judgements that obtain in the cultural context of the authors.In this respect, two main tendencies can be discerned. The first, which we might call “Western-centred”, is to be found in the works of specialists in Oriental or Islamic studies who have been trained in the West and are thence impregnated with its culture. When analysing Islam, they judge it on the basis of the moral or political norms pertaining in the West. The second, which could be characterised as “apologetic”, generally finds its reflection in the writings of Moslem thinkers who, reacting against the first school's attacks on Islam, try to glorify it and, in particular, set out to identify in Islam all the cultural notions and inventions of the modern world, in other words, the Western world. According to this second school, Islam is, for example, the inventor and disseminator of democratic government, socialism, the separation of powers, human rights and humanitarian law.

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