An Islamic feminist is one who believes that Islam can be or should be used to reclaim women's rights in Muslim/other societies; she/he is not necessarily a Muslim.
A Muslim feminist is a Muslim who struggles for or at least believes in women's rights, whether or not that means using the Qur'an for support; he/she is necessarily a Muslim but not necessarily an Islamic feminist.
All right, now. Moving on to this "Introduction."
a. Definition: “a feminist discourse and practice articulated within an Islamic paradigm.” – Margot Badran
b. How it’s different from “western” feminism
i. The importance of religion (Islam) in Islamic feminism
II. Methodologies of Islamic feminists
i. The classic Islamic methodology of ijtihad (“independent investigation of religious sources”) and tafsir (exegesis; interpretation of the Qur’an)
ii. Methods and tools of linguistics, history, literary criticism, sociology, anthropology
iii. Their own experiences and questions as women
1. “Classical and post-classical interpretations of the Qur’an/Islam have been based on men’s experiences, male-centered questions, and the overall patriarchal societies in which they lived.”
a. ex: When defining aurah (an Arabic term the Qur’an uses for parts of the body that must be covered but does not specify as to what exactly those parts are), the Muslim (male) scholars had only their own experiences and views to rely upon in setting guidelines and rules for Muslim women to observe.
III. Women in Islamic feminism
a. The argument that if Islam liberated women in 7th century Arabia by granting them rights that may have been or were radical at the time in most other societies (rights such as those of divorce, education, choosing their own marriage partners, owning property), then it should liberate them in all other times and societies as well. In other words, if Islam’s intention is to advance their rights, it should be re-interpreted in each time period to exemplify this.
b. Re-readings of Qur’anic verses relevant to women (e.g., 4:34) (note the difference in the underlined words and phrases)
i. A traditional interpretation/translation of verse 4:34:
Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all). (Translator Yusuf Ali)
ii. A feminist interpretation of the same verse:
Men are the support of women as God gives some more means than others, and because they spend of their wealth (to provide for them). So women who are virtuous are obedient to God and guard the hidden as God has guarded it. As for women you feel are averse, talk to them suasively; then leave them alone in bed (without molesting them) and go to bed with them (when they are willing). If they open out to you, do not seek an excuse for blaming them. Surely God is sublime and great. (Translator Ahmed Ali)
c. Re-reading the hijab verses (dress code)
i. Hina Azam’s article “The Hijab at Cross-Purposes: Conflicting Models of Erotic in Popular Islamic Advice Literature”
IV. Homosexuality in Islamic feminism
a. Scott Kugle’s book Homosexuality in Islam
i. Contesting traditional interpretations of Islam regarding homosexuality, arguing that the Qur’an never suggests a rejection of homosexuals
1. a re-telling of the story of Lot: his people were condemned not because they were homosexuals but because they did not show respect to his guests and attempted to rape his guests. The Qur’an is thus against forced sexual acts
V. Other forms of Islamic feminism
a. Accepting traditional interpretations of Islam as empowering women
b. Using traditional understandings of Islam to reclaim (read: not gain) their rights as outlined in the Qur’an and hadiths (narrations of Prophet Muhammad)
VI. Conclusions and Discussion
a. How do Muslim feminist interpreters of the Qur’an avoid the bias of the classical and post-classical male interpreters? How do we know when we are being biased unless someone who experiences prejudice a result of our interpretations makes it known to us?
b. How do Muslim feminists deal with the fact that the Qur’an never speaks to women directly in the Qur’an, that it addresses women as a “them” (hunna in Arabic) and men as a “you (plural)” (kum in Arabic)? How, for instance, is a feminist reading of the Qur’an possible when the Qur’an itself puts women behind an invisible veil, when God Herself never talks to women directly and uses men as a medium through which to reach women?