Transmitting of Islamic feminist discourse and activist work

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An historical Overview of Conferences on Islamic Feminism  Circulations and New Challenges

م 8:24 2022/ 11/ An historical Overview of Conferences on Islamic Feminism : Circulations and New Challenges
Revue des mondes musulmans et de la
128 | 2010
Féminismes islamiques
An historical Overview of
Conferences on Islamic
Feminism : Circulations and New
Texte intégral
Conferences bringing people together in face-to-face encounters form an integral part of the history of Islamic feminism and are intimately involved in the shaping and transmitting of Islamic feminist discourse and activist work. At the same time,
conferences help consolidate transnational Islamic feminist networks and cement relationships. They also provide valuable records of the work and serve as markers of the trajectory of Islamic feminism The conference on Islamic feminisms: boundaries and politics that Stephanie Latte
Abdullah organized at the Institute de Recherches et d’Études sur le Monde Arabe et
Musulman in Aix-en-Provence in December 2009 occurred at a time when Islamic feminism is moving with increased acceleration from a primary focus on theorization to the stage of social movement organizing. It is also a moment (1) when expanding numbers of women affiliated with Islamist political parties and movements are gravitating toward the egalitarian model of religion that Islamic feminism explicates,
and (2) when moves toward egalitarian Islam are discernable inside highly conservative
Muslim majority societies such as Saudi Arabia. These trends maybe seen as the new sociological layer in the quest for the implementation of an egalitarian model of Islam as we get insights into from papers presented in the conference Ce site utilise des cookies et vous donne le contrôle sur ceux que vous souhaitez activer
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م 8:24 2022/ 11/ An historical Overview of Conferences on Islamic Feminism : Circulations and New Challenges
The terms in the conference title—Islamic feminisms, boundaries, politics--capture key concerns of this moment in the history of Islamic feminism. The pluralizing of
Islamic feminism can be read either as announcing or suggesting the need to consider the notion of multiple Islamic feminisms. I continue to prefer to retain the singular to keep the focus on Islamic feminism’s core message, and sine qua non, of full human equality inclusive of gender equality and social justice. As I see it, if this basic meaning is not taken as a given then we are not speaking of Islamic feminism but of something else. Now that there is an accelerated move in the trajectory of Islamic feminism from theory building to social movement building clearly there will be, and are, different local movements, responding to the diversity of local imperatives, but the driving core principles and core ideas remain the same. I think retaining the singular reminds us of this and helps preserve the integrity of Islamic feminism. I think we have to be wary of the possibility of fragmentation and circulation of multiple meanings that can cunningly undercut or dilute the basic tenets of Islamic feminism which pluralizing the term might unwittingly promote. I do agree however that we need to guard against the possibility of suggesting Islamic feminism is static and monolithic. I also understand that we need a vocabulary to talk about the multiplicity within Islamic feminism short of simply adding ans. (I do pluralize Muslim women’s secular feminisms which emerged from the start as diverse, nationally-grounded social movements.)
The question of boundaries is vexing. There exist both conceptual and social boundaries. I have just made the case for respecting Islamic feminism’s conceptual boundaries, which should not be seen as tantamount to shutting out theoretical refinements and dynamic thought, and indeed I understand boundaries to be porous.
Concerning social boundaries and Islamic feminism, as just observed, we are at a moment when more women, from Islamist groupings and in arch conservative societies, are coming into Islamic feminist space, in terms of being inspired by the ideals of an egalitarian Islam. Yet, while there is not a necessary connection between
Islamic feminism and religious identity, there is now a noticeable slide toward associating Islamic feminism with being Muslim and a recent tendency among progressive Muslim women for gate-keeping in some movement-building circles. The less bounded Islamic feminism is in terms of who is in and who is out as pivoted around identity the more vitality it will have and the greater chance for its vision to be translated into practice at local levels and to become abroad social reality.
Now is the time for serious political work. In this social movement stage what is needed is not more theology but more politics. Patriarchal states - whether secular or
Islamic - as well as patriarchal Islamist movements are not moved by the vigor of religious argumentation alone but by their own political interests. It is not that what
Islamic feminism stands for has not worked for many women in their everyday lives, for it has. The great success that Islamic and secular feminists scored with the revision of the Moroccan Mudawwana or family law came about through astute politics involving women, civil society at large, and the state. The theology was in place.
I would now like to place the Aix-en-Provence conference in the context of an abbreviated history of conferences illuminating Islamic feminism, focusing on a few groundbreaking meetings in which I have participated over the past two decades that mark some of the milestones in the trajectory of Islamic feminism.
It was at the 1990 Roundtable on Identity Politics and Women that Iranian-American sociologist Valentine Moghadam organized at the United Nations World Institute for
Development Economics (WIDER) in Helsinki that there were the first inklings that the phenomenon that would be soon identified as Islamic feminism was in the making, that is to say, that moves to articulate principles of gender equality and social justice in
Qur’anic language were underway. We as a group of secular feminist scholars and human rights activists of different religions and national backgrounds had assembled to discuss the still relatively new and disturbing appearance of religious fundamentalisms and their dire effects on women. Nayereh Tohidi, an Iranian scholar, and I coming directly from Egypt where I was doing research, shared the news that from inside the
Islamic Republic of Iran and from within the context of the Islamic political and Ce site utilise des cookies et vous donne le contrôle sur ceux que vous souhaitez activer
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م 8:24 2022/ 11/ An historical Overview of Conferences on Islamic Feminism : Circulations and New Challenges
cultural resurgence in Egypt, efforts were underway to develop an Islamic liberation theology counteracting the repressive treatment of women. This conference occurred one year before African-American Amina Wadud published her groundbreaking book

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