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Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

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.

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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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In the Name of Honour: The Free Aafia Siddiqui Campaign in South Africa

In Muslim Women, Muslimah Media Watch, Review, Society on July 23, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Earlier this year, South African Muslim media was abuzz with the story of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, an American-educated Pakistani cognitive neuroscientist who was convicted and sentenced to 86 years in prison for assault with intent to murder her U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan. The media campaign served to raise awareness about Siddiqui’s alleged abuse at the hands of the U.S justice system, and to assert her complete innocence. Her story is a difficult one, spanning the vastness of two continents and the complexity of terrorism politics in both of these. This post is not meant to cover the Siddiqui case, or to make any judgement claims as to her innocence or guilt. I would like to add that I sincerely advocate for justice for Siddiqui, who has no doubt suffered tremendously – whatever her political inclinations.

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Book Review: Desperate in Dubai

In Muslim Women, Muslimah Media Watch, Review, Society, Story on July 23, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Desperate in Dubai, a cheeky exposé novel based on the original blog written by Ameera al-Hakawati (a pseudonym), revolves around the lives of four women who live, love, and labour in the sparkling Gulf city of Dubai.

Cover of Desperate in Dubai.

I recently had the chance to catch up with al-Hakawati in Dubai, to chat about her book, her faith, and the politics of anonymous writing as a Muslim woman.

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South African Muslimahs Speak about Headscarves at Airports

In Muslim Women, Muslimah Media Watch, Society, South Africa on July 23, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Over the Christmas and New Year season, Quraysha Ismail Sooliman, South African Muslimah scholar and lecturer in Political Studies at the University of Pretoria, was on her way out of the country with her family. At Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, she and her daughters were stopped at passport control, and one of her daughters was asked to remove her headscarf in order to be properly identified. The same happened upon their return, when her second daughter was asked the same, both times in an abrupt and condescending tone.

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The Fight over South Africa’s Muslim Marriage Bill Rages on

In Muslim Women, Muslimah Media Watch, Society, South Africa on July 23, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Recently, the South African Justice Ministry opened the latest draft of the Muslim Marriages Bill (MMB) up for public comment and called for submissions on the bill’s contents.

Along with this came the media furor over the Muslim community’s reaction to the idea of the government recognizing Muslim marriages as Muslim marriages and providing legislation for Muslims according to both constitutional gender equality and the dynamism of fiqh. The point of this post is not to assess the Shar’iah compliance of the bill, but to highlight the voices in the media that have spoken out against blatant dismissal of the bill and called for critical engagement, especially since most of the issues deal with gender equality and women’s rights within marriages.

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