Islamic Feminism

The next Inside Islam radio show will air Thursday, April 8th and will focus on Islamic feminism.  While many might consider Islam and feminism to be contradictory, there is a clear global movement that began in the 1990’s in which Muslim women are using Islamic discourse to argue for their rights, gender equality, and social justice.

Islamic feminists seek to transform patriarchal readings of the faith that they argue go against the real message of the Qur’an where there is a clear emphasis on gender equality based on the concept of human beings.  According to Margot Badran, Islamic feminism calls for more gender-sensitive re-readings of verses that are not present in the male interpretations.

Verses that are cited that highlight gender equality include verse 13 in chapter 49:

Oh humankind. We have crated you from a single pair of a male and a female and made you into tribes and nations that you may know each other. The most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Surely, Allah is Knowing, Aware.

Here Allah, God, is addressing men and women together and sets up a clear standard for honor and righteousness that is applicable to both.  Another example is verse 71 in chapter 9:

The believers, male and female, are protectors of one another. They enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.

In this verse, the responsibility of protection is put on both women and men. Moreover, religious practices are demanded equally of both.

This movement has produced numerous groups worldwide like Musawah, The Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality, and Sisters in Islam. The next Inside Islam radio show will explore this movement and the changes that it is producing.

Have you heard of Islamic Feminism? Do you think that Islam and feminism are compatible? Is religion, in general, compatible with feminism? Please share your questions and comments below and they may appear on the air on the next Inside Islam show.

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