chapter  2
14 Pages

Mixed Messages and Multiple Agendas

The Politics of ‘Women and Islam’

Among non-Muslims as well as among Muslims, it seems that everyone has become a stakeholder in the future of Islam, and that everyone is attempting to frame or reframe the discursive categories within which Islamic interpretation and politics are discussed. Everyone has a party line about which the 'good Muslims' and 'bad Muslims' are, and everyone seems ready to monopolize public discourse, whether in predominantly 'Western' or 'Islamic' worlds. Discourse has become increasingly divided, with some scholars of women and Islam expressing concern that the subject of 'women and Islam' has been hijacked, while others claim that finally it is gaining the attention it deserves. In the Summer 2005 special volume of The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences that was dedicated to 'Debating Moderate Islam', Asma Barlas, a prominent Muslim feminist, offers a sharp critique: For Barlas, the project of supporting 'moderate Muslims' comes then at a high cost for both non-Muslims and Muslims.