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Muslim Women in Modern Transformations

B089
Session Chair: N.N. | Friday, August 28, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

Nahid Afrose Kabir

Religious communities in society: Muslim women’s position

Identity, culture and religion are intricately associated with one another. The factors that normally lead Muslims to define their identity depend on the family they are born into, the culture and religion they belong to and it is also based on their community and life experiences. In some Muslim families, male identity is considered privileged over female identity. Research has found that the notion of Muslim family is generally shaped by the Quranic verses where certain verses are used to justify men’s power over women. Yet the notion of patriarchy, power and “othering” of Muslim women is also prevalent in the non-Muslim societies where they form a minority. In this paper, I discuss the placement of Muslim women both in the Islamic communities and non-Muslim societies. This paper is based on interviews of Muslim girls and women, aged 15 to 30 years in Australia, Britain and America from 1999 to 2011.

Anna Piela

To wear or not to wear the niqab? Discussions of recently converted Muslim women in the West

This paper looks at online discussions amongst women living in the West who have converted to Islam and chosen to wear the niqab (face veil). It considers their motivations for adopting clothing that (in the West) has come to symbolise negative associations with Islam, most notably patriarchal oppression, and/or extremist radicalisation amongst Muslim women. This has been illustrated by the recent news stories about 'jihadi brides' – women travelling to live in Islamic State-controlled territories. However, discourses associating these choices with purely external influences are oppressive in themselves, as they deny women agency in both the conversion and the adoption of the niqab. Departing from these reductionist narratives, I focus on non-political motivations for wearing the niqab by recently converted women; these remain unaddressed in the literature. I examine these women's positions in the context of wider, theoretical debates on religious indviduation, authority pluralisation, and female agency (Peter, 2006; Wadud, 2006).

Fulera Issaka-Toure

A Ghanaian Brand of Islam: A Perspective on Gender

Islam as a construct has various meanings and different forms of representations. Islam has different layers and meanings. The textual, local/national and individual levels of Islam do not always interact. From textual point of view, Islam might appear to have a closed meaning. However, from the context dynamics and individual practices its meaning as well as its symbol vary drastically. With a particular reference to gender, the various levels of Islam have had not much attention but one met with broad generalizations without any form of contextualization. As contextualization and individual lived realities render the meaning and significance of Islam open, I approach this work from the angle of a Muslim court in Accra. I will show from the perspective of the works of a non-state owned Muslim kadhi’s court in Accra, that Islam means one that ensures women’s rights.

Mahmoud Baballah

Community ideology versus Modernity

The Saharawi tribal nomadic Community is highly influenced by pre-Islamic traditions from the Arabian Peninsula that has been documented as far back to the fifth century in the period known as the Jahiliya. However, the Hassani community the indigenous community inhabiting the region known as Western Sahara has witnessed significant changes covered different aspects of life. One aspect of these is woman's aesthetics. Evidently, the period of the Spanish colonization was influential on women's view to modernity, it has being an obsession. The available mass media presenting reports on woman's affairs including her appearance as an issue have contributed in one way or another to the alteration of Sahrawi women's understanding of modernity. Generally, the change occurred, but most of the general combinations of traditional women's appearance in Western Sahara are still maintained. May be, such change could be described as superficial because the Sahrawi Bedouin community still has the heavy hand over feminist ideology to supersede.

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