Towards a higher standard for international disability rights and social justice : an Islamic perspective on the universal right to social welfare for people with special challenges


University of British Columbia

Date Issued


Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy - PhD




Although people with disabilities (PWDs) experience significant marginalization and vulnerability, they are not receiving social income assistance in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) despite of their right under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Social welfare laws in the MENA should be reformed to include disability income assistance. These laws (that were inherited from the Western colonists) did not progress as much as their Western counterpart. This legal reform should consider the evolution of Western social welfare systems, which are based on liberal equality theories. This legal transplant of a liberal secular system into the MENA’s Islamic background requires testing the compatibility between liberal and Islamic moral values. In order to do this, first, I will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of these liberal theories in relation to the public policy to address the medical, economic and social needs of PWDs. Then, I will use my own amalgamation of these liberal ideas to form an Islamic version of this new liberal theory while showing their compatibility with my own Islamic perspective on liberty and equality (i.e. proposing a common ground between liberal and Islamic moral values). Next, I will use this common ground to explain Qurʼānic rules about Zakāh (Islamic social tax) with my own new interpretation that has a commitment to social justice and a consideration of both liberal and Islamic moral values. Finally, based on this new interpretation, I will offer a new model for social welfare systems in the MENA. Therefore, based on the above, entitlements to disability supports can be justified and delivered through the governmental implementation of Zakāh. This implementation is feasible as it can be designed and delivered in Islamic countries with similar or better results than in Western liberal countries. Such a system with specific reference to Qurʼānic teachings is both socially and politically preferable to the imposition of traditional Western approaches to rights and services. This proposal would lead to establishing a higher standard for international disability rights (more specifically, the universal human right to social welfare) and establishing a higher standard for social justice.

Date Available



Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada




Law, Faculty of