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Margot Badran is an historian & a specialist of gender studies, with a focus on the Middle East & the Islamic world. She did her MA from Harvard University.

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Presentation on theme: "Margot Badran is an historian & a specialist of gender studies, with a focus on the Middle East & the Islamic world. She did her MA from Harvard University."— Presentation transcript:


2 Margot Badran is an historian & a specialist of gender studies, with a focus on the Middle East & the Islamic world. She did her MA from Harvard University & DPhil from Oxford University. She acquired a diploma in Arabic and Islam from Al Azhar University, Cairo. A Senior Fellow at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, Badran is currently a visiting fellow at ISIM (Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World) in Leiden, The Netherlands.


4 It is a movement for social, cultural, political and economic equality of men and women. It is a campaign against gender inequalities and it strives for equal rights for women. Feminism can be also defined as the right to enough information available to every single woman so that she can make a choice to live a life which is not discriminatory and which works within the principles of social, cultural, political and economic equality and independence...

5 It was coined in France, in the 1880s by Hubertine Auclert who published La Citoyenne. The newspaper was a forceful and unrelenting advocate for women's enfranchisement, demanding changes to the Napoleonic Code that relegated women to a vastly inferior status. The newspaper demanded that women be given the right to run for public office, claiming that the unfair laws would never have been passed had the views of female legislators been heard..Napoleonic Code

6 Feminism is the radical notion that women are people, so it is a movement of equality between women and men regardless of nationality, age or religion. As Badran says, “ Feminism is a plant that only grows in its own soil.” For example, in our country or any other Muslim country, we find some feminists who use the Qur’an and the Hadith in order to clarify the evidence that God imposes the equality between men and women. This so-called Islamic feminism.

7 The term Islamic feminism began to be visible in the 1990s in various global locations: - Iran, by the scholars Asfaneh Najmabadeh and Ziba Mir Hosseini explained the rise and use of the term Islamic Feminism in Iran by woman writing in the Tehran woman’s journal Zanan. - Saudi Arabia, by the scholar Mai Yamani who used the term in her book Feminism and Islam. - Turkey, by the sholars Yesim Arat and Feride Acar, they used the term Islamic Feminism in their articles In the 1990s to describe a new feminist paradigm They detected emerging in Turkey. - South Africa, by the activist Shamima Shaikh who Employed the term in her speeches in 1990s.

8 Islamic feminists are looking into the basic texts of Islam in context of real life situations for concrete ideas. Islamic feminists are using Islamic categories like the notion of ijtihad. The tools can be different like linguistic methodology or historiosizing. But the frame should be within Islam, not foreign. Islamic feminism is speaking for justice to women as Islam stands for. It’s a tool to remind people what Islam is for women. The term Islamic feminism is an idea of awareness preaching that men and women have equal rights based on re-reading the Quran, re-examining the religious texts and telling people to practice it. Some people, who do this for the sake of women, don’t call themselves Islamic feminists. Some have stereotypical notions about feminism and others believe that we need a term to develop a discourse and fight the cause. It’s a rethinking process anyway.

9 Islamic feminism circulates globally with great speed, Islamic feminism is spreading infinitely faster and globally via the Internet and the Satellite. It has a vibrant presence in cyberspace reverberating in what Fatima Mernissi colourfully calls the "digital Islamic galaxy." The new Islamic feminist paradigm began to surface a decade and a half ago simultaneously in old Muslim societies in parts of Africa and Asia and in newer communities in Europe and North America. For example, in Iran, immediately post-Khomeini, Muslim women, along with some male clerics, associated with the then new paper Zanan, as Muslims and citizens of an Islamic Republic called, in the name of Islam, for the practice of women's rights they found being infringed upon or rolled back, grounding their arguments in their readings of the Qur'an as the virtual constitution of the republic.

10 When secular feminism first emerged in several Muslim communities early in the 20th century, it articulated women’s rights and gender equality in a composite discourse interweaving of nationalist, Islamic modernist, and humanitarian arguments, and later drew upon human rights and democracy arguments. Islamic feminism, which appeared in the late 20th century, grounded the idea of gender equality and gender justice in the Qur’an and other religious sources. Secular feminisms erupted on the scene as nation-based social movements in Muslim contexts whereas Islamic feminism surfaced in the form of a discourse in the global arena. It was not long before secular feminists accessed Islamic feminist arguments to strengthen their long-fought and exceedingly frustrating campaigns to reform Muslim personal status codes and in making demands in other areas when Islam was given as a pretext for withholding rights

11 For example, women activists in Morocco mobilized a combination of Islamic and secular feminism in pushing for the reform of the Muslim Family Law or Mudawwana. They did this with great success as we witnessed in the 2004 revision, replacing the patriarchal model of the family with an egalitarian model.

12 Different techniques are being used. Towheed is the central principle of Islam; it says none should be equaled to the God. But some men say you should obey me and should not obey this and that. This is against towheed. Islamic feminism wants to go back to Quran, not to the jurisprudence created by different people. According to Islam, only the Quran is divine, Shariah is not divine. Here, you go back to history, understand it and come back to the present. There are linguistic analysis and contextual analysis. For doing ijtihad, you have to understand Quranic Arabic, modern Arabic and the context of revelation. Islamic feminism understands many hadiths are taken out of context; some hadiths are weak and shaky. So people and scholars are re-reading and re- analyzing them. They are called women-hating hadiths by Islamic feminists.

13 The new gender- sensitive, or what can be called feminist hermeneutics renders compelling confirmation of gender equality in the Qur'an that was lost sight of as male interpreters constructed a corpus of tafsir promoting a doctrine of male superiority reflecting the mindset of the prevailing patriarchal cultures. There is a movement underway in Qur’anic scholarship to engage in a new interpretation of the Qur’an. Throughout Islam’s history, interpretation of the Qur’an has been traditionally the duty and responsibility of men. The problems with this are obvious. By not letting women have a say in interpretation, a major perspective is being silenced. Amina Wadud, in her book Qur’an and Women: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman’s Perspective, makes a strong case for this new reading and provides some decent interpretation herself..

14 Some people are unaware of the importance and value Islam places upon women. Women who do not know this reality, as well as all people with insufficient knowledge of the Qur'an, try to protect their rights by working within their worldview, which follows the logic of unbelief. Social conditions around the world make this reality very obvious. For example, many women continue to be exposed to ill-treatment, violence, and unemployment, and need to be taken care of after their husbands have either divorced or abandoned them, or have died. The equality between men and women is also seen in the fact that Allah gives them equal rights in this world... We made everything on Earth adornment for it so that We could test them to see whose actions are the best. (Surat al-Kahf: 7) Every soul will taste death. We test you with both good and evil as a trial. And you will be returned to Us. (Surat al- Anbiya': 35)

15 *Feminist hermeneutics has taken three approaches: 1- revisiting ayaat of the Qur'an to correct false stories in common circulation, such as the accounts of creation and of events in the Garden of Eden that have shored up claims of male superiority; 2- citing ayaat that unequivocally enunciate the equality of women and men; 3- deconstructing ayaat attentive to male and female difference that have been commonly interpreted in ways that justify male domination.

16 ” قل كل متربصٌ فتربصوا فستعلمون من أصحاب الصراط السوَي و من اهتدى “


18 There always have been, and will be, competing interpretations of Islam’s sacred texts. The power of any interpretation depends, not on its correctness, but on the social and political forces supporting its claims to authenticity. Fully aware of this, feminist voices and scholarship in Islam are challenging, on their own terms and from within the same tradition, those who use religion to justify patriarchy. The women in Musawah and many of the reformists in the Iranian Green Movement insist that the Shari‘a is an ideal embodying the justice of Islam, that justice today must include equality, and that consequently patriarchal interpretations of the Shari‘a are completely unacceptable..



21 “I wish someone would have told me that, just because I'm a girl, I don't have to get married.” ~Marlo Thomas... “Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, "She doesn't have what it takes." They will say, "Women don't have what it takes." ~Clare Boothe Luce...

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