Islam, women, and gender justice

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Islam, women, and gender justice

  1. 1. Islam, Women, and Gender Justice
  2. 2. Argument The Quran and basic principles of Islam support gender justice But the patriarchal societies have diminished gender justice So, have to look carefully at teachings of Islam and authorities to discern authentic vs. inauthentic teachings
  3. 3. Justice Justice is a central concept in Islam  includes retaliation  But higher ideal is benevolence and forgiveness  includes concern for weaker members of society Yet the idea of justice can change with new social situations  How? What does this say about religious truth?
  4. 4. Authority Quran  divine and immutable  Normative teachings more important than contextual teachings  Doesn’t anticipate all circumstances; as social setting changes, people confront new dilemmas  NOTE: fundamentalists do not agree with the author
  5. 5. Authority, cont. Ahadith  Some spurious  Divine or human? Analogy (qiyas)  Human reasoning process Scholarly consensus (ijma)  Whose consensus counts? Ijtihad: solving problems without guidance of Quran and ahadith
  6. 6. Shari’ah Based on: 1. Quran (divinely inspired) 2. Ahadith or sunna (divine or human? Forgeries?) 3. Analogy (qiyas) 4. Consensus (ijma) 3 and 4 (and perhaps 2) are human; therefore they can change However, the Ulama present it as divine and immutable (122) So, change is difficult
  7. 7. Quranic teachings on women Full support for sexual equality (124) in several verses Distinguish between “is” (historical setting) and “ought” (ideal, eternal principle)  orthodox don’t accept this distinction, treat all the same (not historical) Rights of wife equal to her husband’s  can demand a divorce Women can inherit property (half of what the son inherits) Some Quranic teachings are concessions to context  Example: polygamy  limitation on how performed (widows and orphans only, to protect them, only 4, must treat justly)  tension: Quran suggests it is difficult to fulfill the command to treat them all justly
  8. 8. Questions What rights should women have, in Engineer’s reading of Islam? Why does Islam suppress women’s rights, according to his reading? How can one discern between the “is” and the “ought” in sacred teachings? What are the dangers in emphasizing the historical context of sacred teachings?
  9. 9. Questions, cont. Why, as he claims, do those orthodox Muslims most resist change in teachings on women, when they accept change in other teachings (like money, property) (p. 123)? How significant is it that Islam improved women’s situation in the 7th and 8th centuries? Is that still meaningful today? Is it proper to distinguish spirit and letter in Quranic interpretation?
  10. 10. Questions, cont. Why, as he claims, do those orthodox Muslims most resist change in teachings on women, when they accept change in other teachings (like money, property) (p. 123)? How significant is it that Islam improved women’s situation in the 7th and 8th centuries? Is that still meaningful today? Is it proper to distinguish spirit and letter in Quranic interpretation?
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