Lecture_2015-_20Islam_20and_20Women_20PPST by xiangpeng


									    Women in Pre-Islamic Near East
• Life was Rough… according to „law‟
   – Hammurabi‟s law code (1752 BCE: disobedient women get teeth
     knocked out (but disobedient son get hands cut off)
   – Middle Assyrian Laws: wife who gives away husbands possessions
     gets ear cut off; if she hits him in the groin (and equipment
     damaged, she loses a finger)
   – Later Assyrian law codes include women being pawned for debt
   – But consistently in NE law, rape/unauthorized deflowering of free-
     woman requires the man be killed, woman goes free
• Veil tied to class:
   – Assyrian law forbids slave women and harlots from wearing veil;
     noble women must cover head
   – Byzantine upper class houses had harem set up, even the Empress
     Irene veiled herself (including hands)
• Institutionalized Sexual Jealousy/Honor
   – Middle Assyrian law codes prescribe flogging and hard labor for
     baseless sexual slander (yo mama jokes out of the question)
   – Egyptian king and medicinal lack of virgins
  Women, Sex and Islamicate Civ.
• Sex = penetration and ownership  Sex is about
  power. Homo- or Heterosexual, penetrator is
  powerful, penetratee is dominated
• Women as Honor:
  – Pre-Islamic Arabia: „aqila = „prized possession‟
  – Islamic Civ.: ghira/rashk = „sexual jealousy‟
• Women as Danger
  – Women as unreasonable, governed by desire (“their
    brains are in their $^#*&#” = false hadith)
  – Female sexuality is what makes men lose control
  – Female sexuality is unquenchable (woman & donkey)
     threat to husbands/males‟ honor  female
    circumcision to reduce woman‟s „hotness‟
  – Female Circumcision?
  Women as Actors in Islamic Civ.
• Early/Pre-Islamic dynamos: Khadija, Aisha,
  Umm Fadl… is this a dying breed?
• Mother of the Believers:
 “The Prophet is closer to the Believers than their own selves, and his wives
  are their mothers. Blood-relations among each other have closer personal
  ties, in the Decree of Allah, than (the Brotherhood of) Believers and
  Emigrants: nevertheless do ye what is just to your closest friends: such is
  the writing in the Decree (of Allah).” Quran 33:6
• Hadith Transmitters in early period and again
  after the 1000‟s CE - today
• Legal Scholars: behind closed doors…
• Rulers? Shajarat al-Durr “Queen of the
  Muslims” in 1250‟s in Egypt
• Power behind the throne: ex. the “Sultanate of
  the Women” in 16oo‟s Ottoman Empire
                   Women and the Quran
• “Tell the believers to lower their gaze and guard their sexuality, this is
    Lo! men who and God is most knowing of what women
 • more pure for them,surrender unto God, and you do. Tell the
    who surrender, and men guard their sexuality and not make
   female believers to lower their gaze, who believe and women
    who their veils over their uppershows [normally].make instruct their
            their beauty except what
   evidentbelieve, and men who obey and women who         And           them
   to cast                              chests and not to       evident
    obey, and men lords, speak the truth and women
   beauty except to their who their fathers or the fathers of their lords,
    who speak nephews, their women or who persevere (in
   their sons, their the truth, and menslaves or male servants not of
   sexual ability or children not yet of age. And instruct them not to move
    righteousness) and women who persevere, and
   their legs such that what beauty of theirs that is hidden is known. And
    men who are humble and women who are
   seek God‟s forgiveness all O you believers so that you may prosper.”
    humble, and men who give alms and women
• “Men are responsible for women (qawwamun „ala) due to that by which
    who give alms, to some over others, and by what they (men?)
   God has granted favorand men who fast and women
    who fast, and men who guard women are obedient,
   have spent from their wealth. So righteoustheir modesty and
    women secretfear, admonishguarded. And those women whose
   guarding in who guard (their modesty), and men
                       what God has
   disobedience you                    them, then leave their beds, then
    who them. If they God much and women them,
   scourgeremember obey you, seek not a way against who indeed
    remember - great hath
   God is most lofty, God(4:34) prepared for them
• Surat al-Ahzab… and a vast reward.”
• “And from His signs is that He created for you mates from among you to
  dwell in them in peace, and He created love and mercy between you.
  Indeed in that there are signs for those who reflect.” (30:21)
• Divorce and Marriage by „al-ma‟ruf‟ = what is „known‟ / right
 Women and Islamic Law – Traditional
• Women are equal to men before God – but separate
  notions of nudity (but free/slave distinction remains)
• Women are under the care/supervision of men (mahram
  = male guardian)  separate inheritance laws
• Marriage is Contractual arrangement between woman
  and man
   – „Rights‟ and „obligations‟ not to be seen as „best‟ possible
     situation. Rather, „fiqh‟ is for worst possible cases… sexual rights
   – Violation of contract is grounds for divorce; men can divorce at
     any time; women can ask for divorce or forfeit dowry
• Women‟s Sphere is separate from Men‟s
   – Twice as many women needed for court testimony in financial
• Female Circumcision: al-sareeh ghayr saheeh wa al-
  saheeh ghayr sareeh… limited is recommended in most
  Sunni schools, although today muftis say it‟s prohibited
  unless done by a skilled doctor
Modernity and European Feminism
1850‟s onwards sees Ottoman/Egyptian contact with
• Elites vacation in Europe, French becomes language of
  the harem
1860‟s British travelers in upper Egypt notice that Xian
  women more fastidious about veil than Muslims
1899 lawyer Qasim Amin writes book the „Liberation of
  Women‟ saying that veiling not required in Islam
Huda al-Sharawi (d. 1947)& Saiza Nabrawi create Egyptian
  Feminist Union, attend 1923 Women‟s conference in
  Rome. Upon return they remove their face-veils.
Gender/Women Issues tied to power and thus to concerns
  about Colonialism, Cultural Authenticity (Amin‟s book as
  Anti Egyptian)
    Modernist / Islamist Reading
• Generally embraces traditional Islamic law, but
  with more emphasis on women‟s rights to
• Most clearly seen in the writings of Sayyid Qutb
  (d. 1966), Miryam al-Jameela, Muhammad Asad
• Complementarity of men and women: Muslim
  family designed for men and women to have
  different functions; men earn $, women raise
  family (what about dual-income?)
  (Enlightenment European argument)
• Islamic Law is Liberation:
  – Hijab allows women to be judged by personality and
    not beauty
         Progressive Reading
• Thematic vs. Traditional Exegesis (same as
• Not Male authored
• „Spirit‟ of the Quran as opposed to details of
  Islamic law
   – Ex. Quran „universalizes‟ the privilege of modesty for
     women in Jahiliyya society
• There is no set cultural context/interpretive lens
  for the Quran because it is universal
• Gender distinctions exist, but they have different
  meanings in different times
   – Ex. 4:34: men‟s „responsibility‟ is based on conditions
     of verse, ex. $; women‟s court testimony too
       Further Reading
• Women in Muslim Unconscious by Fatima
  Sabbah (1984)
• Sexuality and Eroticism amongst Males
  in Moslem Societies
• Women Gender and Social Change (ed.
  Haddad & Esposito)

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