Feminism and Islam


When Asra Nomani launched her campaign to enter through the mosque’s front door and pray in its main hall, she drew inspiration from the twentieth-century American feminist movement.  This tradition demands that women be given treatment and opportunity not just equivalent but the same as that offered men.

This falls in contrast to what many Muslims describe as the Islamic concept of equity, where men and women occupy separate spheres of equivalent value, recognizing and maximizing natural differences between the sexes.  For some Americans — Muslim and non-Muslim — this concept is uncomfortably reminiscent of the “separate but equal” doctrine once used to justify racial segregation.  Others insist this is a false comparison.

In this collection of original essays, American Muslim leaders and thinkers explore a range of perspectives on the meaning of Islamic feminism.

Contribute your own essay!

Leila Ahmed:  The Larger Picture

Victor S. Thomas Professor of Divinity, Harvard University
In viewing this film and considering the people and situations it presents, it is important that we are aware of the larger web of events and meanings that shape the discussion of women and Islam here in America.

Yvonne Haddad:  The Global Islamic Feminist Movement

Georgetown University professor of Islamic history and Christian-Muslim relations
While some have dismissed the term as an oxymoron, “Islamic Feminism” has become the identity of choice for some Muslim scholars and activists in the United States and overseas. By reconciling feminism with the religion, they have fashioned an alternative both to a secular liberal feminism and to a constraining dogmatic adherence to traditionalism.

Tayyibah Taylor:  Looking at the World As If Women Matter

Editor-in-Chief, Azizah Magazine
When it comes to the issue of women’s equality in a community this complex, one size really does not fit all and neither does one style. Expecting others to be where we are, spiritually, intellectually or socially, is second in folly and futility only to forcing our perspectives and beliefs on others.

Hadia Mubarak:  Real Indicators of Female Empowerment:
Women’s Space and Status in American Mosques

Georgetown University graduate student and former National President of the Muslim Students Association.
In nearly every mosque in America, precious time, energy and resources have been wasted on emotionally-charged debates over where women should pray, whether or not to erect a barrier between the men and women, and whether or not women can serve on mosque boards. The Prophet himself was unequivocal on these issues.

Kari Ansari:  The Real Feminist Leaders

Editor-in-Chief, America’s Muslim Family Magazine
The American Muslim faith community has many female leaders. These women do not seek notoriety or fame; instead they are integrating into society and changing the status quo at American mosques, persevering with faith in God and faith in the future of the American Muslim society as it matures and grows.

MORE ESSAYS COMING SOON — check back for updates.





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