Muslim Women's Egalitarian Participation

Why Muslim/Arab Women are Re-interpreting the Qur'an (Video)
The idea is that Muslim/Arab women have remained a passive force in changing the reality of the approximately 800 million Muslim/Arab women and the prevailing unjust practices in Islamic/Arabic thought. For example, a woman is treated as secondary or complementary in the social structure. This is the case today despite the UN Development Agency reports that the majority of university students in most Muslim/Arab countries are females.

By reflecting on some historical reform movements, I will use examples from contemporary events to argue that passive views and unjust practices concerning Muslim/Arab women remain because the premises and foundations of reform have not changed. For example, American-Muslim/Arab female scholar-activists have significantly contributed to the study of Muslim/Arab women and to the reinterpretation of the Qur'an during the past two to three decades, but negative attitudes and unjust practices about Muslim/Arab women still prevail. That is, we rarely see Muslim/Arab organizations and governments or American educational institutions acknowledge and mainstream such contributions for the reconstruction of new knowledge of Islam.

The Absence of Muslim Women in Shaping and Developing Islamic Thoughts (Video)
Dr. Nimat Hafez Barazangi was invited to deliver the key lecture in the Near East School of Theology’s Christian/Muslim Thought Forum, "Dialogue of Truth for Life Together" (Beirut, Lebanon, March 3, 2009).  She was introduced by NEST President, Dr. Mary Mikhael.  The Executive Director of Higher Religious Legislators House (Dar Al-Iftaa) of Lebanon, Dr. Muhammad Al Naqri, responded and dialoged with her and the audiences.  The title of her lecture was: "The Absence of Muslim Women in Shaping and Developing Islamic Thoughts."  The lecture, the response, and the dialogue were carried on in the Arabic language.

Muslim Women in North America (Audio)
Barazangi discusses the challenges facing American Muslim women in search of identity. Her lecture was part of the Series on "National Conversions and Social Diversions," Organized by the Western Societies Program at Cornell University in 1991.

Why Muslim Women Must Re-interpret the Qur’an (Video)
The time has come for Muslim women to move from the peaceful, silent revolution that is firmly grounded in the Qur’an into an open struggle against injustice. I choose this topic because there is a crisis in understanding Islam visa-a-vise Muslims, from the Far East to the Far West. As a result of this crisis, the majority of Muslim women have lost their identity and identification with Islam.

American Muslim Women Challenging Conventional Understanding of Islam (Video)
Muslim women all over the world have been mostly viewed as secondary and/or complementary in the structure of all Muslim societies. In order to challenge and transform these un-Islamic views, women needed to retake their principal role and reinterpret the primary source of Islam, the Qur’an. In doing so during the past two decades, some American Muslim women, including myself, are challenging the conventional understanding of Islam in the hope to implement a fundamental aspect of the social justice contract between Muslims and Islam. Indeed, this was the first essential step toward accomplishing the comprehensive human rights for ourselves, as well as challenging the unwarranted authority, the hijacked Islamic authority, by Muslim men for about 14 centuries. Although the conditions during the last decade of the 20th century were right for Muslim women peaceful revolution that is firmly grounded in the Qur’an, the drastic change in the global political landscape since 2001 reversed these conditions for the majority of Muslim women. There is no simple solution, and there is no hope for any meaningful reform in the near future. Both Muslims and Westerners are to blame.

Why Muslim Women Must Re-interpret the Qur'an (Article)
The Prophet, as an agent of change, was willing to take a risk by challenging the common sense knowledge of the time. Yet the majority of today's Muslims are not willing to abandon the centuries old representations of Islam that are misleading and unjust, and replace them with the egalitarian intention of Islam as outlined in the only divine source, the Qur'an. Let us remember that the Qur'an was the only written source for almost one hundred years after the death of Prophet Muhammad and before his biographies and these traditions were collected. Essential as they may be, some of these traditions that concern women were abused by male interpreters, such as the issue of attire and seclusion. By using one Hadith to emphasize the extreme seclusion of women behind the head cover, erroneously called 'Hijab," Muslims are ignoring the basic teaching of the Qur'an about modesty that does not necessarily require a head cover. The head cover was practiced before Islam and continued to be practiced by Muslims for cultural or environmental reasons. More specifically, verse 31 of Chapter 24 concerning the "Khimar," incorrectly translated as "veil," talks about covering women's bosoms and is intended to guard the lineage and protect inheritance.