A Brief Introduction: Believing Women in Islam
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You may be a Muslim, curious that Islam has been so widely vilified in the West. You may be a college student wishing to broaden your understanding of Islam. A Brief Introduction, Believing Women in Islam is written for you. It argues that Islam originated largely as a response to traditional gender inequality and injustice inappropriately layed at the door of its holy book, the Qur'an.
A Brief Introduction came about because David Raeburn Finn read and relished Professor Asma Barlas powerful and scholarly Believing Women In Islam (Revised, U of Texas Press, 2019). He noted that her book wasn't easy for undergraduates and forbiddingly difficult for many with less education. She'd already had the same thought. She agreed that a simpler, brief summary of her book might appeal to a wider audience.
Essentially, a central conflict in Islam is that a patriarchal male elite claims exclusive right to interpret the Qur'an's meaning. That elite interprets passages of the Qur'an to enshrine male superiority in intelligence, in family hierarchy, in law, in maritial intimacy, in divorce. Barlas' arguments are summarised to reveal the perversities of historical processes grounding the claim to this allegedly exclusively patriarchal interpretation. Her compelling arguments are put simply to show that rereading the Qur'an for equality is both possible and supported by the Word itself.
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Excerpt - A Brief Introduction: Believing Women in Islam
A Core Dispute
Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, informs us of who we are, what God expects of us, and how we may meet those expectations. It advises us of imperfections that bar our salvation. Islam is home both to those who, on the one hand, read its sacred text, the Qur’an, as teaching sexual inequality and the oppression of women, and those who, on the other, understand its teachings to be liberating for women.
The former view supports patriarchy in Islamic societies based on a conservative reading of the Qur’an. We’ll be more precise about patriarchy in Islam in due course, but by way of example, patriarchy makes the foundational claim that women are defective. Thus, a famous ancient Islamic scholar claim that God spoke thus of Eve: “Were it not for … Eve the women of this world would not menstruate, and they would be intelligent and, when pregnant, give birth easily” (Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari [b.838, d.923], The Commentary on the Qur’an, 280-281). If anyone mistakenly thinks that such claims have disappeared from the face of the earth, consider the following comments from a contemporary Saudi Arabian imam, scholar, and (at the time) religious advisor to the king:
The Prophet Muhammad said about women: “I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you.” And, Islam … has shown that the twisted nature of women stems from their very creation. This is how God wanted woman to be … Therefore, the husband should not make her do anything that is contrary to her nature and to the way she was created by God … he should turn a blind eye to her mistakes, he should tolerate her slips and errors, and put up with all the silly ignorant things she might say, because this constitutes part of the nature of her creation. (Saleh Al-
Fawsan, Memri TV, clip no.1,483, June 11, 2007).