Article

Women in Islam

Marcia Hermansen and Barbara von Schlegell

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online December 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0092
Women in Islam

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The study of women in Islam has expanded rapidly in recent decades. Reviewing normative Islamic injunctions about gender roles often provides a framework for situating specific and particular practices within diverse regions and societies and at differing historical epochs. At the same time, increased academic attention has focused on what can be known about actual Muslim women. New texture and complexity in the field has been achieved, for example, in the case of historical studies through the examination of documents such as court records. In anthropological, sociological, and development-oriented studies, scholarship on gender increasingly exhibits greater cultural knowledge and lived field work experience on the part of researchers, many of whom are themselves Muslim women. During the colonial period, the depiction of Muslim women as confined and oppressed was used to support an imperialistic project of changing and controlling Muslim cultures. The persistence of such attitudes and rationales has subsequently been critiqued by a number of scholars. In addition, certain works on women and gender in Islam may reflect apologetic or reformist trends within contemporary Islamic thought, or analyze these trends from an academic perspective. The development of Western feminist activism inspired similar approaches and methods among Muslims. Theorizing gender as culturally constructed has also led to studies of many elements of Muslim contexts including masculinities, queer theory, and other dimensions of sex roles as represented and enacted in Islamic thought and societies. Postmodern and postcolonial theories have similarly generated critiques of how Muslim women have been represented in both popular and academic settings and have attempted to expose the power relations and ideological agendas driving and sustaining such constructions.

Article.  10146 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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