n Journal for Islamic Studies - Feminism, epistemology and experience : critically (en)gendering the study of Islam

Volume 33, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0257-7062



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.

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