Men in Charge? About the Contributors

"Brimming with facts and insight, these critical and constructive essays by a global array of scholars and reformers focus our attention on how patriarchy functions in Muslim texts and contexts, and how it can be challenged. Their distinctive analyses converge and diverge, leading the reader to a new awareness of the range and power of Muslim feminist thought in the twenty-first century."

~Kecia Ali, Associate Professor of Religion, Boston University

About the Contributors

The contributors are academics and activists from varied disciplines and backgrounds who were brought together by Musawah. They are: Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Omaima Abou-Bakr, Asma Lamrabet, Ayesha S. Chaudhry, Sa'diyya Shaikh, Lynn Welchman, Marwa Sharafeldin, Lena Larsen, Mulki Al-Sharmani, Jana Rumminger and Amina Wadud.

Since its launch in 2009, Musawah has sought to produce new knowledge to support local and national movements as they develop and advocate for change.

 

Omaima Abou Bakr is a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cairo University, Egypt. She specializes in medieval Sufi poetry and comparative topics in medieval English and Arabic literature. Her scholarly interests also include women’s mysticism and female spirituality in Christianity and Islam, feminist theology, Muslim women’s history, and gender issues in Islamic discourses. She has published a number of articles in both English and Arabic on poetry and medieval literary texts, historical representations of women in pre-modern Muslim societies, women and gender issues in religious texts, and Islamic feminism. Her most recent publications are two edited volumes of collected articles: Feminist and Islamic Perspectives: New Horizons of Knowledge and Reform (2013) and al-Niswiyyah wa al-Manzur al-Islami (2013). Omaima is also a co-founder and Board member of the Egyptian NGO Women and Memory Forum.

Ayesha Chaudhry is Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and Gender Studies in the Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies and the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia, Canada. Her teaching and research interests include Islamic law, Qur'anic exegesis and feminist hermeneutics. She is the author of Domestic Violence and the Islamic Tradition: Ethics, Law and the Muslim Discourse on Gender (2014). This book explores the relationship of modern Muslims to the inherited Islamic tradition through a study of legal and exegetical discussions of wife-beating in the pre-modern and modern periods. Currently, she is working on a collaborative project of inter-faith feminist hermeneutics entitled Difficult Texts or Difficult Women? The Challenge of Scripture to Feminist Readings, which explores and challenges the limits of feminist interpretations of patriarchal religious texts in the three Abrahamic faiths. Ayesha is also developing methods of bridging the academic and community divide by translating her research interests into theatre-based performance art that might appeal to a wider audience. This project is entitled Cover Story and explores the meanings of multiple intersecting political discourses surrounding Muslim women’s sartorial choices.

Asma Lamrabet has been the director of the Research Center on Women’s Studies in Islam of Rabita Mohammadia des Oulémas in Morocco since its founding in 2008. She is also a haematologist at Avicenna Hospital in Rabat, Morocco. She has been studying women’s issues in Islam for many years and has delivered lectures on this topic at various conferences around the world. From 2004–7, she was the coordinator of a research and reflection group on Muslim women and intercultural dialogue in Rabat, Morocco. She was the president of GIERFI (International Group of Studies and Reflection on Women and Islam) and is currently a member of its Board of Directors. She is also the author of many articles tackling Islam and women’s issues, as well as other numerous books, such as: Musulmane tout simplement (2002); Aïcha, épouse du prophète ou l’islam au feminine (2004); and Femmes et hommes dans le Coran: quelle égalité? (2012), for which she received the Arab Woman Organization award in social sciences in 2013.

Lena Larsen has been the coordinator of the Oslo Coalition at the Norwegian Center for Human Rights, University of Oslo, Norway, since 1999. She obtained her PhD with a thesis on Islamic Judicial Thinking Encountering Challenges of Everyday Life: Fatwas as Proposed Solutions for Muslim Women in Western Europe (in Norwegian, 2011). She co-edited Gender and Equality in Muslim Family Law: Justice and Ethics in the Islamic Legal Tradition (with Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Kari Vogt and Christian Moe, 2013) and New Directions in Islamic Thought: Exploring Reform and Muslim Tradition (with Kari Vogt and Christian Moe, 2009), and was an associate editor of Facilitating Freedom of Religion or Belief: A Deskbook (with Tore Lindholm, W. Cole Durham Jr., Bahia Tahzib-Lie and Elizabeth Sewell, 2004). These publications are a result of projects of the Oslo Coalition on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Ziba Mir-Hosseini is a legal anthropologist, specializing in Islamic law, gender and development. She has a BA in Sociology from Tehran University (1974) in Iran and a PhD in Social Anthropology from University of Cambridge (1980), United Kingdom. A Professional Research Associate at the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Law, University of London, United Kingdom, she has held numerous research fellowships and visiting professorships, including Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Germany (2004–5), and Hauser Global Law Visiting Professor at New York University, United States (2002–8). She is a founding member of Musawah. Ziba’s publications include Marriage on Trial: A Study of Islamic Family Law in Iran and Morocco (1993, 2002); Islam and Gender: The Religious Debate in Contemporary Iran (1999); Islam and Democracy in Iran: Eshkevari and the Quest for Reform (with Richard Tapper, 2006); and Control and Sexuality: The Revival of Zina Laws in Muslim Contexts (with Vanja Hamzic, 2010). She co-edited Gender and Equality in Muslim Family Law: Justice and Ethics in the Islamic Legal Tradition (with Kari Vogt, Lena Larsen and Christian Moe, 2013). She has also co-directed two award-winning feature-length documentary films on Iran: Divorce Iranian Style (1998) and Runaway (2001). 

Jana Rumminger is a human rights lawyer who has been based in Southeast Asia since 2004. Her scholarship and activism have focused on human rights issues at the intersection of gender, race/ethnicity and religion. She has worked with Musawah in a variety of roles since 2007, including coordinating the project in the lead up to the 2009 launch and coordinating the Knowledge Building Initiative on Qiwamah and Wilayah since 2011. She has also worked with a number of women’s rights organisations in South and Southeast Asia, such as International Women's Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific, Sisters in Islam, Women's Aid Organisation and South Asia Women’s Fund, as well as several non-profit organizations in the United States. 

Sa’diyya Shaikh is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Working at the intersection of Islamic Studies and Gender Studies, she has a special interest in Sufism and its implications for Islamic feminism and feminist theory. Her areas of research include gender-sensitive readings of hadith and Qur’an; theoretical debates on Islam and feminism; religion and gender-based violence; and an empirical project entitled ‘South African Muslim Women, Marriage, Gender and Sexuality’. Her published books include Sufi Narratives of Intimacy: Ibn Arabi, Gender and Sexuality (2012) and Violence Against Women in Contemporary World Religion (co-edited with Dan Maguire, 2007). Sa’diyya is married, a mother of two, and a student of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen.

Marwa Sharafeldin is a women’s rights activist based in Cairo, Egypt. She has a PhD in Law from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom. Her research covers Islamic law, international human rights law, civil society and women’s rights. She is a campaigner for the reform of personal status laws in Egypt and a board member of Musawah, and is Musawah’s upcoming Executive Director for its Cairo-based Secretariat. She is also co-founder of an Egyptian network for women’s rights organisations and of the Young Arab Feminist Network, as well as NGOs Fat’het Kheir and Nahdet el-Mahrousa in Egypt. Since the beginning of the Egyptian revolution she has been involved in several women’s groups and activities to advocate for better women’s rights in the transitional process and the ensuing constitutional-drafting processes. Marwa is also a story collector and a writer. Her writings, which focus on women's issues, have been published in widely circulated Egyptian publications such as Al-Masry Al-Youm and Al-Shorouk newspapers.

Mulki Al-Sharmani holds a doctorate degree in cultural anthropology from Johns Hopkins University, United States. Since September 2013, she has been a lecturer and a research fellow at the Faculty of Theology, Study of Religion Unit, University of Helsinki, Finland, working on two research projects: ‘Islamic Feminism: Tradition, Authority, and Hermeneutics’ and ‘Transnational Muslim Marriages in Finland: Law, Gender, and Wellbeing’. From 2010–11, Mulki was a research fellow at Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki. From 2005–10, she was a joint research–teaching faculty member at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. Mulki is a member of Musawah Knowledge Building Working Group, and coordinated the Life Stories Project on Qiwamah and Wilayah. She is the editor of Feminist Activism, Women’s Rights, and Legal Reform (2013).

Amina Wadud is Professor Emeritus of Islamic Studies and Visiting Scholar at the Starr King School for the Ministry, part of the Graduate Theological Union, in Berkeley, California, USA. She is author of the groundbreaking Qur’an and Woman: Re-reading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective (1992), now translated into over a dozen languages. Her follow up publication, Inside the Gender Jihad: Women’s Reform in Islam (2006), traces the route of gender-inclusive theology into social action and policy reform. Since her retirement she has been acting as an independent scholar, having previously taught at International Islamic University, Malaysia; Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia; University of Melbourne, Australia; and in the United States at Harvard Divinity School, California Institute for Integral Studies and Virginia Commonwealth University, amongst others. In addition, she is currently an international consultant on Islam, gender and human rights. One of the founders of Sisters in Islam, Amina frequently serves as a resource person for Musawah knowledge building and capacity building activities. She is known as the Lady Imam for her efforts to live justice and equality for Muslim women in all aspects of her life: intellectual, spiritual, moral and political. She is also a proud mother and grandmother.

Lynn Welchman, a Professor at the SOAS School of Law, University of London, United Kingdom, specialises in law and society, Muslim family laws, women’s rights and human rights in the Middle East and North Africa. She has published widely in her research areas, including the book Women and Muslim Family Laws in Arab States: A Comparative Overview of Textual Development and Advocacy (2007). Her edited volumes include Honour’: Crimes, Paradigms and Violence Against Women (with Sara Hossain, 2005) and Women’s Rights and Islamic Family Law: Perspectives on Reform (2004). Prior to joining the SOAS staff in 1997, she worked in human rights, primarily with Palestinian human rights NGOs in the West Bank, but also with international human rights organisations, mostly in the Middle East. She is a Board member of the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Support of Human Rights Defenders and a founding co-editor of the Muslim World Journal of Human Rights and the Oxford Islamic Legal Studies Series. In 2007 she established the International Human Rights Clinic in the SOAS School of Law. 

Buy a copy of Men in Charge? Rethinking Authority in Muslim Legal Tradition via OneWorld (discount code 'MIC'), Amazon or Book Depository.

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