Saturday, October 23, 2010

Imagine You Are a Jurist

I promised to share here what my last essay-assignment was. After this, I'll share the ones before that! All have been quite stimulating so far, and I'm looking forward to the future ones as well.

So, during the last  couple of weeks, we've been reading texts on Islamic jurisprudence and sexual ethics. We were heading towards Muslim jurists' views on conception and abortion, the laws on what a woman should do in various scenarios. Before that, our professor had us imagine that we, the students, are jurists in the medieval times and a good, practicing Muslim woman comes to us and asks if premature withdrawal is permissible or not because she and her husband are poor and have several children, and she does not think they should have anymore because they cannot afford them. Her husband claims premature withdrawal is the best method of preventing pregnancy and that using condoms (made of cured sheep's intestine) are forbidden according to Islam. So, she wants to know if it's Islamically acceptable to use condoms and whether or not premature withdrawal is allowed.

We give a response based on Islam (the Quran, hadiths, and jurists' opinions). Some time passes, and she comes back, unhappy, saying that she followed our advice but just found out that she is 2.5 months pregnant. She asks us 1) if she can have an abortion, and 2) if yes, then does she need her husband's permission?

SO! Exciting stuff! And everything we said was to be supported by the Quran, hadiths, and other jurists' opinions, which means we couldn't say, "No, of course you can do XYZ! Who said you can't?" etc... which is where one of the main challenges lies in being a jurist, I see now.

We were not allowed to read up on abortion and conception in Islam, save for the material he sent us that we could use to make our decision. In the next blog post, I will share what all those are -- ranging from Quranic verses to hadith reports to jurists' statements.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Important Texts for a Gender/Islam Course

I'm taking a class called Gender, Sexuality, and Islam. I want to post my ENTIRE syllabus here for that class! But I first need to ask my teacher's permission, I'd think.

Required Texts:

Ahmed, Leila. Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate (Yale University Press, 1992).

Ali, Kecia. Sexual Ethics in Islam (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2007).

Mernissi, Fatima. Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in Muslim Societies by Fatima Mernissi  (also titled The Veil And The Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation Of Women's Rights In Islam) (Perseus Books, 1991; originally in French, 1987).

Stowasser, Barbara. Women in the Qur'an, Traditions, and Interpretation (New York: Oxford U Press, 1994).

Wadud, Amina. Qur'an and Woman:Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective (Oxford University Press, 1999). 

Recommended Texts:

Barlas, Asma. Believing Women in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an (University of Texas Press, 2002). 

Spellberg, D. A. Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of 'Aisha Bint Abi Bakr (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994).

Supplementary Texts:

Abou el-Fadl, Khaled. Speaking in God's Name: Islamic Law, Authority and Women (Oxford: Oneworld, 2001).
Haeri, Shaela. The Law of Desire: Temporary Marriage in Iran (Syracuse University Press, 1989).

Hambly, Gavin (ed.), Women in the Medieval Islamic World (St. Martin's Press, 1999).

Musallam, Basim, Sex and Society in Islam: Birth Control before the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge University Press, 1983). 

Safi, Omid (ed.), Progressive Muslims: On Gender, Justice, and Pluralism (Oxford: Oneworld, 2003).

Ruth Vanita (ed.), Queering India: Same-Sex Love and Eroticism in Indian Culture and Society (Routledge, 2002).

In the next blog post, I will share what our last three assignments have been about. They're really interesting and stimulating topics, and I hope that those who hear about them will try doing them on their own.


Greetings of peace to all readers!

This blog is for me to share with others what I learn about the concept of gender (and sexuality) in Islam and to present my reviews of the literature I read on the topic. I find this discipline within Islamic Studies very fascinating and enlightening, and, as far as I see it, many Muslims are unaware of the classical and medieval -- or even modern and contemporary -- debates that our scholars have held for decades and beyond to attempt to come to an understanding on what "Islam" says about the rights and roles of of women, men, homosexuals, and other minorities (e.g., intersex people). In a future blog post, I will explain why I have enclosed the term "Islam" in quotations.

Feel free to leave comments, questions, feedback, etc., and I look forward to intellectual discussions with all those who are interested.

Good day/night to all!

- Serenity
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