Journal Article

In Search of <i>al-Insān</i>: Sufism, Islamic Law, and Gender

Sa‘diyya Shaikh

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 77, issue 4, pages 781-822
Published in print December 2009 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online November 2009 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI:
In Search of al-Insān: Sufism, Islamic Law, and Gender

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This paper suggests that Sufism offers contemporary Islamic feminists valuable resources to creatively rethink dominant understandings of gender within Islamic law. Foregrounding the integral relationship between Sufism and jurisprudence, I critically explore some of the gendered ontological assumptions informing traditional approaches to law and ethics. I envision how feminist approaches to the law might be enriched through engaging with particular Sufi readings of human nature and purpose. An approach to the law that is nurtured in the soil of Islamic spirituality, I argue, offers more than simple gender equality. It fosters a more holistic vision of community, one that facilitates the process of human spiritual refinement—a refinement to which gender equality is absolutely intrinsic.

Journal Article.  15992 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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