n Journal for Islamic Studies - Re-constructing a religious identity through activism in an Islamist movement : experiences of female members of Qibla

Volume 33, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0257-7062



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.

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