First lecture of the year was from visiting Muslim lecturer Zara Faris.  Her subject was what defines women’s rights.  I’m delighted to have the open lecture season starting up again.

Faris listed several sources for rights: nature, man/woman/humanity, god.  She proceded through them.

Humanity has a natural right to life, liberty and happiness.  This conflicts with the struggle to survive in nature.  It’s a free market out there, nonsense on stilts!

Human happiness determines rights, the argument from utilitarianism.  There is a problem if freedom and happiness derives from systemic injustice.  Will future rights prove to be paradise postponed?  Rights supported from a position of strength supports those in power and enforces hierarchy.  The majority rules and the right of association prevents integration.  The right to freedom is deprived from prisoners who need to be constrained.  The rights to minorities are an act of good faith.

Rights rise out of what people deserve.  Every human being is entrusted with a body by a creator.  Our rights are ensured by mutual duty, the responsibility to think of others.  Revelation is determined by human beings, spoken, and recited by both male and female voices.  Feminist methodology presupposes a conclusion.  Islam seeks a god without gender or bias.

I confess that I’m disappointed.  The first lecture of the year proved to be about apologetics, a field of study I have no patience for.  The argument for rights from the transcendent becomes particularist rather than inclusive.  The imposition of one transcendent interpretation, Islam, becomes itself majoritarian and enforced.  I resile from the argument.  It acts out of a position of strength rather than mutual respect, allowing oneself to be one voice heard in a community of voices.  I continue to seek a broader foundation.

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