chapter  8
15 Pages

Islamic feminism, possibilities and limitations

WithQudsia Mirza

The history of Islamic feminism demonstrates that, particularly during the formative periods, many of the critiques of Islamic gender discrimination that were being developed during this time were, to varying degrees, influenced by Western feminism. The Orientalist depiction of Muslim women both now and in colonial times the lack of recognition of diversity in Western feminist thought and the contemporary Islamist revival, have all contributed to the forms of Islamic feminism we see today. However, before concentrating on this important school of thought, it is necessary to locate Islamic feminism within the wider reform movement and to map the key feminist schools of thought within that broader movement. The common perception of Muslim women at this time, therefore, was that such women were unequivocally oppressed and subjugated. Ghada Karmi's analysis of women's status at the time of the introduction of Islam demonstrates that Islam had a regressive, rather than an ameliorative, effect on women's rights.