Published Archives

Eid al-Fitr 2013: Celebrating our Fitrah

In Muslim Views, Muslim Women, Palestine, Sacred Space, Scholar, Society on August 13, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Published in the Muslim Views Eid al-Fitr edition in August 2013.

As the Ummah approaches the beautiful celebrations of Eid al-Fitr, all Muslims – women and men alike will rejoice in the return to our fitrah, that innate disposition of purity which we are all created with. As we celebrate, let us spare an extra prayer for Muslim women, who in many cases, not only observed their own fasts but also prepared the Suhoor and Futoor meals for their families and communities.

As we approach the days of Eid, we also find ourselves in August – women’s month. In reflecting on the divergence of these two significant events, it is essential to reflect on some of the current challenges facing women, both of the Ummah and of humanity. Muslim women in South Africa are a whirlpool of talent and have certainly made great strides both educationally and professionally. Whilst on the national level, the visibility and contribution of Muslim women in the spheres of government, media and the corporate world are promising, on the community level, both socially and spiritually, there still remain some gaps. I refer here to the lack of inclusive sacred spaces in the masaajid and Eid musallah, as well the absence of a considerable active presence of women in key leadership positions in Muslim organizations – particularly scholarly bodies. I do not mean to generalize to the point of claiming no presence of women in these areas at all, because progress has certainly been made – however, there remains a strong need for more visible and significant contribution by women, which follows in the trajectory of the Quran and Sunnah of Muhammad (pbuh).

Book Review: Imam Shafi’i: Scholar and Saint

In Muslim Views, Review, Scholar on July 23, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Published at Muslim Views

Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafiʿi (d. 204/820) was one of Islam’s foundational legal thinkers. Drawing on the most recent scholarship on Shafi’i’s work as well as her own investigations of his life and writings, Kecia Ali explores Shafi’i’s innovative ideas about the nature of revelation and the necessary if subordinate role of human reason in extrapolating legal rules from revealed texts. This study sketches his life in his intellectual and social context, including his engagement with other early figures including Malik and Muhammad al-Shaybani.

Ali studies the life and works of Shafi’i from his early life through to his death, looking specifically at his travels and their influence on his thought, his metamorphosis from student to Shaykh to saint, the development and refinement of his legal theory and substantive law as well as his rise to sainthood posthumously, and his contemporary image as one of great popular interest and veneration.

Book Review: Sufi Narratives of Intimacy: Ibn Arabi, Gender, and Sexuality

In Uncategorized on July 23, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Published at Muslim Views

Research in the areas of Islamic and Gender Studies often overlap when it comes to the question of women in the Islamic spiritual tradition. What does Sufism offer to men and women seeking out paths of equality and egalitarianism? How does maleness or femaleness influence spirituality, and is the notion of the un-gendered soul a tenable one in the context of a hyper-gendered legal tradition? Is it possible to go beyond socially instituted gender norms, to more fundamental questions about what it means to be a human being, and use these notions to then create new gender discourses? These are some of the questions Dr Sa’diyya Shaikh, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Cape Town’s Religious Studies department, grapples with in her latest publication, Sufi Narratives of Intimacy: Ibn Arabi, Gender and Sexuality. She handles the complex spheres of gender and Sufism with the intellectual finesse and critical maturity required for such an endeavour, displaying and in-depth, working knowledge of the tradition.

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