Both Confucian and Islamic traditions stand in fraught and internally contested relationships with democracy and human rights. It can easily appear that the two traditions are in analogous positions with respect to the values associated with modernity, but a central contention of this essay is that Islam and Confucianism are not analogous in this way. Positions taken by advocates of the traditions are often similar, but the reasoning used to justify these positions differs in crucial ways. Whether one approaches these questions from an intra-traditional, cross-traditional, or multi-traditional perspective, the essay shows that there is great value in getting clear on the ways in which one’s textual “canon” may constrain one. In the end, we will see that while there are creative Islamic approaches to taking human rights seriously, the looser constraints under which Confucians operate today may make things easier for Confucian advocates of human rights and democracy.