Women’s and Gender Studies

Posted: October 17th, 2013





Women’s and Gender Studies

Question 1

a)      According to Badran, when did the phenomenon of “Islamic Feminism” emerge?

According to Badran, the phenomenon of Islamic Feminism emerged in the 1990s.

b)     In her view, what are the broad goals of Islamic Feminism?

The broad goals of Islamic Feminism are to be treated the same way as men, which is similar to equal treatment of all humankind, as written in the Quran.

–          How do these goals confirm the worldview of Islam’s earliest authorities?

These goals confirm the worldview of Islam’s earliest authorities as patriarchs who ruled to their own advantage. This reflects Islam and Patriarchy as different, since Islam advocates for equal treatment of humankind.

–          Upon what mythic sources are these goals based? (Be as precise as you can be)

These goals are based on equal treatment of all humanity, as stipulated in the Quran.

c)      Badran notes that Islamic Feminism can be “controversial and unsettling.” Which two parties are most threatened by Islamic Feminism?

There are two parties that are most threatened by Islamic Feminism. The first is men who do not want to lose the privileges they get because of patriarchy and women who do not want to loose the protection gained from patriarchy. The second party is of people who use the view of Islam as giving women subordinate roles, as a tool for politics.

d)     According to Badran, from which ideological discourses and geographical locations was Islamic Feminism born?

Islamic Feminism was born during a movement in the 19th century by the Salafi School. Later in the 20th century, feminists from Middle East fought for more rights for women who were still living in patriarchal societies.

e)      Where does it flourish? And why do you think this is the case?

They influenced Pan-Arab movements. I think that this is the case because of the similarities in their ideologies, which the movements could relate to.

f)       Where has Islamic feminism had practical effect?  (Can this be said of the UAE?)

Islamic feminism has had a practical effect in three areas. The first one is Iran where Muslim women and some men associated with the Zanan paper, fought for women’s rights, which had been ignored, explaining their reason as the Qur’an. The second is in South Africa, immediately after apartheid, where men and women fought for gender justice. They particularly focused on rights of women to the mosque and communal area. They wanted equal access as men. The third area was in North America where women in communities of converts and immigrants, experienced contradictions from immigrants on the issue of human equality. The immigrants imposed the patriarchal rule on them.

g)      What is different between new Islamic feminists and those of the time of NaziraZayn al-Din (fl. 1920s)?

The difference between Islamic feminists of the time of NaziraZain Al-Din and the new Islamic feminists is that those of NaziraZain Al-Din time were not well educated and hence this limited them in interpreting the Quran. The new feminists have produced analysis of the Quran on issues of gender.

h)     Badran (Egyptian) mentions: Asma Barlas, Riffat Hassan, Amina Wadud, Ziba Mir-Hosseini, QudsiyyaMirza and ‘Aziza al-Hibri.  Do a little bit of research into their ideas.  What general overlaps and contrasts do you find?

Asma Barlas, Riffat Hassan, Amina Wadud, Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Qudsiyya Mirza and ‘Aziza al-Hibri all agree on the equality of all human beings. They all fight the equal treatment of every person. However, Asma Barlas refuses to be labeled an Islamic feminist, unless it is fighting for the justice of all beings.

i)        How specifically do these Islamic feminists explain Qur’an 4:34, a verse that seems explicitly to attribute power to men above women? (Do not rely solely on Badran here, she confuses rather than clarifies this point!  I include a more thorough investigation by Mohamed Mahmoud [Content Area]). 

Mohamed Mahmoud explains this about Qur’an 4:34. Men should supervise their women and have control over them. Men are given a socio-economic role, while women are expected to be faithful and righteous even in their husbands’ absence. When a woman disobeys the man or refuses to fall the norm, she is disciplined by her husband through beating and avoiding her in bed. Finally, when the woman returns to the right ways or the state of obedience, the husband should stop disciplining her.

j)       To what degree do you agree with the findings/principles of the Islamic feminist movement as this is described by Badran?

I agree with the principles of the Islamic feminist movement in as far as seeking equality and fair treatment to all individuals despite their gender.

Question 2

a)      Women… always play an active part that goes beyond the dichotomy of victimization/acceptance, a dichotomy that flattens out a complex and ambiguous agency in which women accept, accommodate, ignore, resist, or protest – sometimes all at the same time” (p. 534). 

What do you think Macleod means by this observation?  (Read up on Gramsci’s concept of “Hegemony,” and the problems with his “False consciousness” model, pp. 543 ff)

Macleod means that women have also contributed to gender inequality by accepting their subordinate roles in the society. They have not stood a firm ground in defining their place in the community, such that they either agree or refuse to be victimized. Gramsci’s concept of Hegemony suggests that the difference in power relations is not forced on to the victims but rather they comply with it. The dominant class manipulates the subordinate class into acting in a way that would favor the dominant class. The problem with his “false consciousness” is it suggests that the dominant class has manipulated the subordinate class such that they think they are acting on their own consciousness. Research however, shows people consent to subordination consciously or from political activity, which means, actively supporting it, passively accepting it or hidden resistance.

b)     What range of meanings does Macleod locate within the traditional Egyptian practice of wearing hijab? (539-40)

Macleod gives two meanings for the traditional Egyptian practice of wearing the hijab. The first is that of the protest of women to come from their traditional identity and status in the society. The second meaning is the acceptance by women as that they are supposed to stay in the house and their homes.

c)      Why is it incorrect to describe these women as “adopting traditional dress” (545)?

It is incorrect to describe these women as “adopting traditional dress” because they have placed different reasons from the traditional ones of wearing the hijab. A woman chooses whether to wear the hijab and the time to wear it. Different women also have different reasons of wearing the hijab.

d)     Why would these women (541-3), who are educated, dedicated to working, and relatively successful symbols of modernization, return to a traditional symbol like the veil?” (544)What range of ideas is included in Macleod’s answer to this question?  (key answer begins: 551)

Macleod gives several reasons for veiling. They wear the veil to show their identity and role in the society. A woman gives the reason of wearing the veil as a symbol that one is a wife and a mother. The second reason is that the veil acts as a compensation for the working of a woman, when she should be carrying out her duties as a woman and mother at home.

e)      In what ways does wearing the hijab represent a woman’s desire to “accommodate” her tradition, and in what ways does it represent her desire to express “resistance”?

Hijab represents the desire of a woman to accommodate the traditions, when worn by women because it represents their identities as mother and wives. On the other hand, it represents resistance, because it is a woman’s choice to wear the hijab and the time to wear it.

f)       What dangers are inherent in these women’s choice to adopt the veil? (556)

The danger of these women’s choice to adopt the veil is that it might result to unequal treatment of women or gender in equality. This is because the choice of clothing for a woman might become a man or society’s decision.



Work Cited

Badran, Margot. “Islamic Feminism Revisited.” Web. 9 June 2012.  

Macleod, Arlene, E. Hegemonic Relations and Gender Resistance: The New Veiling as Accommodating Protest in Cairo. Chicago Journals (2008). Web. 9 June 2012. 1992


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