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Islamic feminism: discursive mediations and practical limits

Grant number: 13/21650-3
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2014
Effective date (End): April 30, 2017
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History
Cooperation agreement: Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES)
Principal Investigator:Peter Robert Demant
Grantee:Valdecila Cruz Lima
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil

Abstract

This study looks at Islamic feminism, a political-religious movement that opposes the oppression and domination of the women's populations, present in Muslim countries and Muslim diaporas. In a broad sense of the term, Islamic feminism refers to a feminist-orientated activity associated with the reinterpretation of religious Islamic sources, using the Islamic concepts: ijtihad (free and rational interpretation of religious sources) and tafsir (comments on the Qur'an), with a view to reconsider women's position in Muslim society. The central hypothesis of the current study considers that Islamic feminism can be thought two fundamental perspectives, which are intrinsically linked: 1) the division into two main strands, religious activism on the one hand - self-defined as "jihad of gender", whose demands seem to superimpose Islam onto women's rights - and political activism on the other hand, defined in this case as a movement aimed at defending international Human rights by applying women's rights to Islam; and, 2) the response pending on demographic factors, since it is possible to detect variations in the response to this double-sided definition of Islamic feminism depending on social situation, political participation and different relations to religious orthodoxy. The principal objective of the present study is therefore to understand the ways in which Islamic feminism transforms the lives of Muslim women, bearing in mind two central questions: a) how can we understand the relationship between Islamic feminism and other Islamist movements? and, b) to what extent can the religious aspect of Islamic feminism act as a limiting (or liberating) factor with regards to its feminist stances? Following this main objective, the present study will look at the following themes, which seek to examine the totality of the most palpable aspects of the topic: 1) secular feminism of Western origin and its various manifestations in the Muslim world, between secularization and re-Islamization; 2) the past and present affinities between Islamic feminism with the Islamist ideology, movement and model; 3) the compatibility between Islamic feminism and shari'a (the possibility of assimilation to this Islamic jurisprudence); and, 4) the extent of the influence that Islamic feminism can have on social conscience and on social practices, bearing in mind its contradictions. (AU)