Believing Women in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal by Asma Barlas

By Asma Barlas

This can be an unique and, from time to time, groundbreaking piece of scholarship. --John L. Esposito, collage Professor and Director of the guts for Muslim-Christian realizing, Georgetown college Does Islam demand the oppression of girls? Non-Muslims aspect to the subjugation of girls that happens in lots of Muslim nations, specially those who declare to be ''Islamic,'' whereas many Muslims learn the Qur'an in ways in which appear to justify sexual oppression, inequality, and patriarchy. Taking a unconditionally diverse view, Asma Barlas develops a believer's interpreting of the Qur'an that demonstrates the appreciably egalitarian and antipatriarchal nature of its teachings. starting with a historic research of non secular authority and information, Barlas exhibits how Muslims got here to learn inequality and patriarchy into the Qur'an to justify latest spiritual and social buildings and demonstrates that the patriarchal meanings ascribed to the Qur'an are a functionality of who has learn it, how, and in what contexts. She is going directly to reread the Qur'an's place on a number of concerns with the intention to argue that its teachings don't help patriarchy. on the contrary, Barlas convincingly asserts that the Qur'an affirms the full equality of the sexes, thereby delivering a chance to theorize radical sexual equality from in the framework of its teachings. This new view takes readers into the center of Islamic teachings on ladies, gender, and patriarchy, permitting them to comprehend Islam via its such a lot sacred scripture, instead of via Muslim cultural practices or Western media stereotypes.

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This may sound counterintuitive, given the example of Umm Salama I have just cited, and it certainly is an unstylish view to hold at a time when we are becoming ever more aware of the phallocratic nature of language and its role in constituting gendered subjectivities. However, the very fact that men’s exegesis influences women’s understanding of religion, as also the fact that language allows for its own contestation, testifies to the autonomy of meanings and language from sex/gender. Moreover, the Qur’ān also assumes that a shared discourse of meaning and mutual care is not only possible but also necessary for the development of moral individualities and communities.

For Muslims, the Qur’ān is God’s Speech and not the work of human authors, and God is beyond sex/gender. (It could well be, of course, that men and women tend to interpret the Qur’ān’s message differently. ) When I say, therefore, that the Qur’ān is not a patriarchal text, I am not saying that it is not the work of men, since I hold that to be a priori true; what I am saying is that its teachings challenge the premises that sustain patriarchy in both its traditional and modern forms. Similarly, when I refer to the Qur’ān’s egalitarian ‘‘voice,’’ I am not referring to female voices in it that only I can hear as a woman.

Revelation, the Qur’ān emphasizes, is of a continuity and is also internally clear and self-consistent (:; in Ali, –). The Qur’ān’s internal coherence and consistency do not, however, preclude us from deriving multiple meanings from it, including ones that may not be appropriate. Thus, while noting its own polysemy, the Qur’ān also confirms that some meanings, thus some readings, are better than others. For instance, it praises ‘‘Those who listen To the Word And follow The best (meaning) in it’’ (:; in Ali, ), clearly indicating that we can derive more than one set of meanings from the Qur’ān, not all of which may be equally good.

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