Islam and Gender: The Religious Debate in Contemporary Iran

Islam and Gender: The Religious Debate in Contemporary Iran

by Ziba Mir-Hosseini
     
 

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Following the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the re-introduction of Sharica law relating to gender and the family, women's rights in Iran suffered a major setback. However, as the implementers of the law have faced the social realities of women's lives and aspirations, positive changes have gradually come about. Here Ziba Mir-Hosseini takes us to the heart of the… See more details below

Overview

Following the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the re-introduction of Sharica law relating to gender and the family, women's rights in Iran suffered a major setback. However, as the implementers of the law have faced the social realities of women's lives and aspirations, positive changes have gradually come about. Here Ziba Mir-Hosseini takes us to the heart of the growing debates concerning the ways in which justice for women should be achieved. Through a series of lively interviews with clerics in the Iranian religious center of Qom, she seeks to understand the varying notions of gender that inform Islamic jurisprudence and to explore how clerics today perpetuate and modify these notions.Mir-Hosseini finds three main approaches to the issue: insistence on "traditional" patriarchal interpretations based on "complementarity" but "inequality" between women and men; attempts to introduce "balance" into traditional interpretations; or a radical rethinking of the jurisprudential constructions of gender. She introduces the debates among the commentators by examining key passages in both written and oral texts and by narrating her meetings and discussions with the authors. Unique in its approach and its subject matter, the book relates Mir-Hosseini's engagement, as a Muslim woman and a social anthropologist educated and working in the West, with Shii'i Muslim thinkers of various backgrounds and views. In the literature on women in Islam, there is no account of such a face-to-face encounter, either between religion and gender politics or between the two genders.

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Editorial Reviews

L. Carl Brown
Anthropologist Mir-Hosseini presents her transcribed discussions with Iranian religious figures during research trips back to her native land. All but one (Abdu Karim Soroush) are clerics, and three are ayatollahs. Together, they represent three tendencies: the traditionalists who accept gender inequality, the "neo-traditionalists' who seek "gender balance" while staying within the traditional Islamic legal paradigm, and the modernists who demand gender equality and a more flexible Islamic legal system. Mir-Hosseini also describes women's journals in Iran and the public discussion of gender. These debates, just like their subjects, are often veiled.
Foreign Affairs

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691010045
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
11/15/1999
Series:
Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics Series
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

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