Article - Islam, Women and Equality

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19 Apr 2012
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Monday March 19th, 2012
Article: Islam, Women and Equality
Article: Islam, Women and Equality
Barlas, Asma (2003). Islam, Women, and Equality: Reading the Qur’an for Liberation (Talk)
Ithaca College, March 19, 2003.
Key Points from the Article:
- Muslims don’t always practice what the Qur’an teaches, it can be read more than one way.
- Doesn’t believe there is a fixed relationship between gender and reading
- Aim of her book is to recover the scriptural basis of sexual equality in Islam and provide evidence of
why Islam is not a patriarchy.
- The book addresses two main questions:
Does the Qur’an teach or condone sexual inequality or oppression? is the Qur’an a patriarchal,
sexist, misogynistic text?
Does the Qur’an permit and encourage liberation of women
- Grew up in Pakistan, 98 % of population is Muslim but most violate what Qur’an teaches
- She did not know Arabic, read Qur’an in English
- Argued that the sexism and misogyny that are associated with Islam arose from non-Qur’an sources
- After 9/11 Muslims were seen as the anti-Christ and anti-Semites.
- Question 1 detailed explanation:
Does the text represent god as father/ male or does god have a special relationship with males. Does it
privilege men over women in their biological capabilities or treat men as the self (normative) and
women as the other.
- Defines patriarchy in both a narrow (specific) and broad (universal) sense.
- Answers to question 1) The Qur’an does not recognize god as father or male, nor does it sacralize
fatherhood. It does recognize men are locus of authority.
- Men are not seen as head of households, men and women are each other’s guides, love and mutuality
is a basis of a marriage.
- Qur’an does not associate sex with gender, no specific division of labour
- Qur’an does distinguish humans based on moral praxis, between those who have faith and those who
do not.
- Principal of divine unity- god is one and god’s sovereignty is indivisible
God is just- don’t infridge upon others rights
God is beyond sex and gender
- Muslims have failed to read the Qur’an as an anti patriarchal text because it has to do with who has
read it, the context in which they read it.
---> Most of the religious knowledge came from historical knowledge and came in era’s of misogynistic
practices.
- Men tried to mis-read the text
- She argues that there is little understanding of Islam in the U.S and the West
- Ignorance is cultivated not accidental
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