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Gender activism and the Islamic revival.

Maumoon, Dunya (1996) Gender activism and the Islamic revival. MPhil thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

The thesis, based on research into written works, aims to de-essentialise the terms 'feminism' and 'fundamentalism'. Drawing on the growing anthropological evidence of a 'feminist' type activism within an Islamic framework, I analyse this global phenomena of Gender Activism. I explore the important intersections between gender activism and the Islamic revival. In order to give focus to the study and to highlight the specifics at the national level, I include case studies of gender activism in the context of increasing Islamism in present day Egypt and Iran. The Islamic revival has meant that the issue of gender has re-emerged as an area of conflict between, on the one hand. Western countries endorsing international human rights norms and, on the other hand, Muslim countries drawing on pre-modem Shari 'a Laws. The globalisation of Islam in the last two decades has resulted in the world-wide promotion of a particular model of the 'Ideal Islamic Woman'. This model, winch reflects the dominant discourse within Islamism, emphasises the inferiority and natural domesticity of women. I look at how gender activists fight this restrictive monolithic image of women put forward by Islamists as being part of 'true Islam'. Muslim women are reclaiming their history and religion for themselves. They have reinterpreted the Qur'an and Sunna in radically new ways and have drawn upon the egalitarian propositions evident within them. Their work shows how during the spread of Islam in its first centuries restrictive interpretations were built into the Shar 'iah by male jurists. This has resulted in an association of orthodox Islam with 'patriarchy'. Today, Islamists in Egypt and Iran attempt to restore legal discriminations against women based on pre-modem Shari 'a Law. Gender activists are fighting such legislation unfavourable to women in the areas of marriage and divorce using religiously-based arguments. Islamist women themselves are actively involved in this battle against the dominant model of the 'Ideal Islamic Woman'. The feminism of Islamist women provides a valuable warning against the persistence of Orientalist attitudes. It leads us to question the definition and very nature of religion and 'feminism'.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anthropology, Cultural, Islamic Studies, Gender Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Anthropology
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2456

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