A Feminist Qur'an?

From the November 2015 Print Edition

Feminist Edges of the Qur’an
by aysha a. hidayatullah
oxford, 288 pages, $24.95

M odern developments in the study of the Qur’an began in Western academia in the mid-late twentieth century with scholars like ­Fazlur Rahman. Leading thinkers in this field such as Riffat ­Hassan, Azizah al-Hibri, Amina Wadud, and Asma ­Barlas have followed, offering feminist interpretations that I, and many others, find ­persuasive. Critiques of these interpretations have come from the right and the left: from ­conservative Muslim scholars who believe that feminism does not acknowledge the authority of established exegetical tradition and subverts gender roles that they consider intrinsic to Islam; and from feminist critics of Islamic ­tradition who consider reverence for the Qur’an as a source of egalitarian teaching to be misplaced. For them, the challenge this work poses to ­entrenched gender hierarchies in Muslim societies does not go far enough. Continue Reading »

On Dominant Minorities

From the January 2014 Print Edition

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has made a compelling case for the ­creative and culturally dynamic role that religious minorities can play, even in societies where the majority of people deeply oppose their religious inclinations, as was the case for much of the history of the Jewish ­people in Christian territories. As a Muslim, living as a minority in the West—in a culture often portrayed (by Muslims and non-Muslim Westerners alike) as locked in a fatal struggle with Islam—I found in the rabbi’s comments much cause for hope. Continue Reading »

Islam’s Origins

From the February 2013 Print Edition

In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire by Tom Holland Doubleday, 526 pages, $29.95 Islam is widely understood by both Western and Islamic scholars to have substantially engaged with the intellectual traditions of the late antique Near East’s . . . . Continue Reading »