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Women in the Middle: challenging hyper-liberalism, challenging ultra-conservatism

In Uncategorized on November 30, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Presented at IPSA Spring Symposium.

Published at Voice of the Cape.

I would like to begin by stating from the outset, that I approach this topic, not as an Islamic scholar or expert of any kind, but rather, as a student, a gender activist, and quite simply, as a woman who is trying to walk the middle way. There is, I believe, no better spokespeople for Muslim women as Muslim women ourselves, and therefore, I thank IPSA for extending this invitation to me, although I am quite humbled and hesitant to express my opinions on the same platform as such accomplished scholars, especially my esteemed teacher, Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, with whom, not surprisingly I have discussed this topic, time and time again.

It would be very easy and painstakingly clichéd to approach a topic such as “women in the middle” with the usual bout of “Islam has given women so many rights”. This is both simplistic and does not meet the challenge of answering exactly why and how so many things have gone awry with women and Islam. Instead, I wish to provide an overview of the new gender discourses in the tradition, a middle way approach by way of ‘fiqh al-Nisa’ and reference to some examples of South African women treading the middle way.

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