Feminist Perspectives on Islamic Sacred Texts

The British Library, 96 Euston Rd, London NW1 2DB

How do feminist scholars make space for multiple visions of gender equality in Islam?

Feminist engagement with Islamic sacred texts is rich and diverse. But how do feminist scholars make space for multiple visions of gender equality in Islam? And how does their work filter into communities and mainstream religious spaces? Renowned academics amina wadudZiba Mir-Hosseini and Suhraiya Jivraj come together to discuss for International Women’s Day. Chaired by Latifa Akay of the Inclusive Mosque Initiative.

Amina Wadud is Professor Emeritus of Islamic Studies and Visiting Scholar at the Starr King School for the Ministry. Her first book, Qur’an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman’s Perspective – almost a quarter of a century old and translated into a dozen languages – is a classic in Islamic feminism. Her second book, Inside the Gender Jihad, takes her theological work from theory to policy reform and human rights. She is on the International Advisory Group for www.musawah.org (a global reform movement) and part of the Arcus Foundation Islam Advisory Group. Amina is currently doing research on Sexual Diversity and Human dignity in Islamic Primary sources with the Duke Islamic Studies Center. Since an historic mixed gender Friday Prayer in 2005, she is best known as the ‘Lady Imam’.

Suhraiya Jivraj is a Senior Lecturer in Kent Law School and the Director of the Centre for Sexuality, Race & Gender Justice. Her work draws on critical race and religion theories and feminist/queer of colour de-colonial perspectives to explore contemporary socio-legal problematics in the fields of law and religion, equalities, anti-discrimination and human rights law, gender and sexuality and Islamic family law. Suhraiya is also coordinator and principle investigator of the Decolonizing Sexualities Network which brings together a transnational network of scholars and civil society activists working across issues of race, religion, sexuality and gender. In 2016 the project produced a publication of academic and creative/fiction pieces co-edited by Suhraiya entitled: Decolonizing Sexualities: Transnational Perspectives, Critical Interventions.

Ziba Mir-Hosseini is a legal anthropologist, specializing in Islamic law, gender and Islamic feminism, and a founding member of the Musawah Global Movement for Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family. Currently she is Professorial Research Associate at the Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Law at SOAS. She has published books on Islamic family law in Iran and Morocco, Iranian clerical discourses on gender, Islamic reformist thinkers, and most recently the co-edited Gender and Equality in Muslim Family Law and Men in Charge? Rethinking Authority in Muslim Legal Tradition. She co-directed two award-winning feature-length documentary films on Iran: Divorce Iranian Style (1998) and Runaway (2001). She received the American Academy of Religion’s 2015 Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion.

Along with being Director of Education at Maslaha Latifa Akay is also a trustee at the Inclusive Mosque Initiative. Her work focuses on gender and racial justice and possibilities to apply and centre decolonial pedagogy and feminist of colour theory and scholarship in every day education, religious and community settings and public discourse. Latifa studied critical religious theory and Islamic feminist scholarship in an LLM in Human Rights at SOAS. She has run and supported projects that work to democratise this kind of religious scholarship and filter it through to grassroots at both Maslaha and Inclusive Mosque Initiative. Latifa is a frequent media commentator and formerly worked as a journalist in Istanbul.

Maslaha takes a multi-layered and creative approach to tackling the conditions that create long-standing inequalities for Muslim communities, and challenges systems of inequality.

The Inclusive Mosque Initiative is dedicated to creating places of worship for marginalised communities, spiritual practice and the promotion of inclusive Islamic principles.

This is a British Library Event in partnership with Maslaha and the Inclusive Mosque Initiative.

See the British Library website to purchase tickets.