Chapter

Islam and the 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women

Muhammad Shahrour

in Liberal Islam

Published in print October 1998 | ISBN: 9780195116212
Published online November 2007 |
  Islam and the 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women

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Muhammad Shahrour (Syria, born 1938) attended primary and secondary school in Damascus. When he was nineteen, he went to Moscow to study engineering. Although not a Marxist, Shahrour was fascinated by Marxist theory and practice, which played a role in shaping his writing on Islamic themes. 1 Shahrour returned to Syria in 1964 but left again in 1968 to study for his master's and doctoral degrees in soil mechanics and foundation engineering at the University College, Dublin, Ireland. He became a faculty member at the University of Damascus on his return to Syria in 1972 and a partner in a successful civil engineering firm. His first book, Al-Kitab wa-l-Qur'an: qiraa muasira [The Book and the Qur'an: A Contemporary Reading], more than 800 pages long and nearly half a month's salary for an educated professional in Syria, became a best-seller throughout the Arab world following its publication in 1990. 2 Using modern linguistics and frequent metaphors and analogies drawn from engineering and the sciences, Shahrour argues that the Qur'an should be read and interpreted, not through the prism of centuries of jurisprudence, but as if the Prophet just died and informed us of this Book. 3 The essay translated here, originally prepared in response to written questions posed by the editor of a Kuwaiti newspaper, defends the right of Muslim women to participate in the Fourth United Nations Conference on Women, held at Beijing, China, in 1995. More self-contained than Shahrour's books, 4 it shows how he invokes and interprets Qur'anic texts to address contemporary social and religious themes.

Chapter.  2230 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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