Journal for Islamic Studies - Volume 33, Issue 1, 2013
Volume 33, Issue 1, 2013
Source: Journal for Islamic Studies 33, pp 3 –13 (2013)More Less
Like many feminist initiatives, this special issue has its origins in long and nourishing conversations about abundance and absence, convergences and missed connections and the possibilities we dreamed of amid the complex terrain of feminist debates and Religious Studies in South Africa. In 2010-2011, the three co-editors of this issue were colleagues in a space that was most hospitable to such discussions, the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Cape Town. In the course of the year, our talks often centred on the rich history of gender theory in our disciplines of African literature and Religious Studies, yet we also noted the absence of a truly fertile exchange between two areas in which the country had produced much-lauded and influential scholarship: feminist theorising and Islamic Studies. In our discussions, we imagined a space that could generate such an exchange and thus emerged a collaborative feminist research project on "Theorising Experience, Subjectivity and Narrative in Studies of Gender and Islam".
Author Sa'diyya ShaikhSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 33, pp 14 –47 (2013)More Less
Responding to Elizabeth Castelli's (2001) call to "trouble" and destabilise dominant or mainstream categories of analysis in the study of religion and gender, this paper looks at the feminist epistemological category of "experience" as it relates to the study of Islam and Muslim societies. I explore how mystical and mundane "experience" may currently intersect with feminist thought to produce egalitarian knowledge of gender and subjectivities within Muslim thought, in particular convergences of feminist and Sufi approaches to epistemology and religious experience. My approach is two-fold. First, I provide a critique of particular contemporary presentations of women's experience and feminist subjectivities in relation to Islam. Second, I offer a reconstructive feminist engagement with the category of experience in reading aspects of the Muslim tradition, focusing on the works of 13th century male Sufi, Muḥyī al-Dīn Ibn ҅Arabī. Through a creative dialogue with the ideas of this influential Muslim thinker, I aim to contribute both to a critical reflection on issues of feminist epistemology as well as production of new and nascent knowledge by Islamic feminists.
"Speaking for ourselves" : American Muslim women's confessional writings and the problem of alteritySource: Journal for Islamic Studies 33, pp 48 –76 (2013)More Less
This article examines the phenomenon of American Muslim women's self-representation through the medium of autobiography post-9/11, focusing on Sumbul Ali-Karamali's The Muslim Next Door, Asma Gull Hasan's Red, White, and Muslim and the edited collections I Speak for Myself and Love, InshAllah. Highlighting the operation of "Muslim media chic", the authors challenge the assumption that Muslim women speak solely for themselves through emancipatory "truth-telling" narratives, arguing that self-narration tailored to the demands of explaining oneself to a non-Muslim audience results in gendered forms of ambassadorship that require critical examination. In addition to the problems of confessional representation, the authors also observe the writings' invocation of American cultural supremacy and depoliticised individualism, the latter propelled by post-1990s mass-media modes of feminine visibility, including chick-lit.
States of being : public selves and national privacies in queer Muslim autobiographies in South AfricaAuthor Gabeba BaderoonSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 33, pp 77 –100 (2013)More Less
In this essay, I consider apartheid's racialised exclusions as well as the gendered and sexualised silences in certain forms of national belonging articulated by the anti-apartheid struggle and the post-apartheid nation. In particular, I theorise the role of autobiography about sexuality and religion in countering the regulation of political belonging in contemporary South Africa. I argue that life narratives can engage in a complex and dissident relationship to public discourses on national belonging. Black South Africans have produced an impressive record of autobiographical writing since the 19th century, generating an intricate local history of private life. In this trajectory, I explore what Muslim self-writing can contribute to South African conceptions of the private by analysing the collection of autobiographical essays published in Hijab: Unveiling Queer Muslim Lives. I argue that the forms of self-making in these narratives illustrate some of the social uses to which a confluence of religion, sexuality and national identity is being put in contemporary South Africa. I suggest that the intersection of religion and sexuality forms a complex engagement with questions of cultural authenticity and national belonging, potentially unsettling conventional exclusions and generating new forms of identity and affiliation.
Author Desiree LewisSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 33, pp 101 –126 (2013)More Less
Although set in the 1990s and published in 2002, Alaa Al Aswany's novel The Yacoubian Building conveys the corruption and brutality that led to explosive revolutions in Egypt from 2011. Moreover, his depiction of Cairo-dwellers with diverse class, cultural and gendered experiences functions as a microcosm of the dense forms and histories of contemporary Egyptian socio-political processes. This article argues that the novel's power derives not only from its prophetic insight into Egyptian neo-colonial politics, but also from its expansive exploration of personal and collective freedoms. Connecting ideas about freedom to his scrutiny of how Islamic discourses have been represented and appropriated, Al Aswany shows that aspects of Islam have played a vital part in liberating personal and political struggles. The article therefore demonstrates that Al Aswany challenges Western-centric, orientalist and narrowly rights-based conceptions of social justice by exploring the interconnectedness of sexual, spiritual and political freedoms.
Source: Journal for Islamic Studies 33, pp 127 –150 (2013)More Less
This paper explores Muslim religious subjectivities as reflected in two central Islamic ideals, namely, ҅abd-Allah (servant of God) and khalīfah (moral agent). Drawing on the insights provided by Islamic feminists, we bring their theological views on ҅abd-Allah and khalīfah into conversation with issues of sexuality and sexual praxis in the lives of contemporary South African Muslim women. By paying particular attention to the various ways in which South African Muslim women navigate the God/believer relationship as part of sexual decision-making, this paper problematises the ambiguities that mark religious discourses on sex for the cultivation and fulfilment of the roles of ҅abd-Allah and khalīfah.
Re-constructing a religious identity through activism in an Islamist movement : experiences of female members of QiblaAuthor Gadija AhjumSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 33, pp 151 –184 (2013)More Less
According to Farid Esack, the Qibla movement was one of three Muslim "strands of justice" in the struggle against apartheid. The limited scholarship on Qibla has largely focused on its "militancy" and the charismatic personality and role of Achmad Cassiem. Little or no research has been done on other individuals active in Qibla, particularly pertaining to women's engagements and commitments to the ideals of the movement. This paper sheds light on how some women viewed their activism in the movement as part of a simultaneous re-making of their religious identity as Muslim women. Drawing on qualitative in-depth interviews, I explore the meaning and significance of religion as experienced and conceptualised by some women activists. By using Hans Mol's identity model of religion as a framework, I show how women's socio-political activism is intimately intertwined with the development of their religiosity. I suggest that Qibla, in its response to the apartheid state and politically complacent Muslim bodies, contributed powerfully to the re-construction of the religious identities of many of its members.
Author Durre S. AhmedSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 33, pp 185 –194 (2013)More Less
For millennia, humans inhabited two psychological worlds and "languages" in tandem: the world of fact (logos), having to do with the rational and pragmatic, enabling practical functioning at the material level, and the world of meaning (mythos), which has to do with sensemaking, giving meaning to the complex emotional experiences we call "life". Overwhelmed today by logos, the symbolic language of mythos has become almost extinct or reduced to literalism.
Source: Journal for Islamic Studies 33, pp 195 –203 (2013)More Less
Full Circle - Malika Ndlovu
Conversations with my father - Rustum Kozain
How to write about Indonesia - Rustum Kozain
for an indian daughter - Shabbir Banoobhai
Song of the Husband 2 - Gabeba Baderoon
Language Poems - Gabeba Baderoon
kafira, three generations - Roshila Nair
Zulekha's raggle taggle - Roshila Nair
message in a bottle - Roshila Nair
In the shade of Allah's mercy : reflections on Islam, embodiment and abortion : reflective essays and poetrySource: Journal for Islamic Studies 33, pp 204 –215 (2013)More Less
I am a Muslim woman and I recently chose to have an abortion. I consider my religion to be one of the defining aspects of my life. I am an active member of the community in which I live, particularly in the area of women's education and empowerment. I am a wife and a mother of two little girls, both of whom I am still nursing while pursuing a post-graduate degree in Islamic Studies. My husband and I plan to have more children in the future, God Willing.
Author Shaida Kazie AliSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 33, pp 216 –225 (2013)More Less
As an undergraduate, I was introduced to the writings of Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou. Walker, in particular, inspired my imagination and made me want to read fiction by black women in South Africa, who I presumed were writing about my experiences as a black, Muslim woman. So, filled with youthful enthusiasm, I flew up the university library steps to enquire about such local writers, primarily women of Indian descent. The librarian handed me a few stapled pages, a list of book titles and authors, saying that if such writers existed, it would be easy enough to find them since they should all have names like Pillay or Naidoo. I was incredulous. This was one of those moments where you wake up in the middle of the night with just the right cutting retort, since, at the time, you can hardly think, let alone say anything. I slunk away.
Source: Journal for Islamic Studies 33, pp 226 –234 (2013)More Less
Much has been written about traditional Muslim education in the last decade, often termed the madrasa in common parlance. Primarily, these writings have addressed the perception that madrasas are the hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism and pose challenges to global peace and their function in Muslim societies, specifically on the Indian subcontinent and in Afghanistan. However, the term madrasa is a widely used term and means various forms of traditional tutelage for Muslims. In South Africa, it is common for Muslim children to attend afternoon classes after school where they are taught the basic beliefs and practices of the faith in addition to learning Qur҅ānic recitation.
Source: Journal for Islamic Studies 33, pp 235 –239 (2013)More Less
The last two decades have witnessed a burgeoning of literature, particularly academic works, on Islam and homosexuality. In addition to the numerous journal articles on the topic and the writings of activists and self-identified LGBTIQ Muslims, monographs have contributed to the discussion on same-sex sexuality among Muslims both historically and in diverse contemporary contexts. Titles such as Sexuality and Eroticism Among Males in Moslem Societies, Islamic Homosexualities, and Homoeroticism in Classical Arabic Literature first appeared in the 1990's. These books attempted to provide a view into how same-sex relations functioned within Muslim societies historically, anthropologically and in literary texts, with the latter two providing a more scholarly lens through which to approach this topic.
Sexuality in Muslim Contexts: Restrictions and Resistance, Anissa Hélie & Homa Hoodfar (eds.) : book reviewAuthor Nina HoelSource: Journal for Islamic Studies 33, pp 239 –243 (2013)More Less
Focusing on Asian and Middle Eastern contexts, Sexuality in Muslim Contexts: Restrictions and Resistance presents a collection of chapters that explore past and current discourses on sexuality, sexual diversity and sexual rights. In particular, the book examines the various ways in which patriarchal constructions of sexuality inform women's experiences and expressions. As reflected in the title of the book, the contributors, in varying ways, analyse and critique the structural religio-political mechanisms that police women's sexuality as well as render visible the innovative spaces emerging for the contestation and re-mapping of women's diverse sexualities in selected Muslim contexts.