Does Islam call for the oppression of women? Is women's inequality supported by the Qur'an? Do men have the exclusive right to interpret Islam's Holy Scripture?
Non-Muslims point to the subjugation of women that occurs in many Muslim countries, while many Muslims read the Qur'an in ways that seem to justify sexual oppression, inequality and patriarchy.
In this paradigm-shifting book, Asma Barlas argues that, far from supporting male privilege, the Qur'an actually encourages the full equality of women and men.
Offering a historical analysis of religious authority and knowledge, Barlas shows how Muslims came to read inequality and patriarchy into the Qur'an to justify existing religious and social structures, demonstrating that the patriarchal meanings ascribed to the Qur'an are a function of who has read it, how, and in what contexts.
Barlas rereads the Qur'an's position on a variety of issues revealing that its teachings do not support patriarchy.
Rather, the Qur'an affirms the complete equality of the sexes, thereby offering an opportunity to theorise radical sexual equality from within the framework of its teachings.
This ground-breaking volume takes readers into the heart of Islamic teachings on women, gender and patriarchy, allowing an understanding of Islam through its most sacred scripture, rather than through Muslim cultural practices or Western media stereotypes.
Readers of this seminal text will learn to question patriarchal dogma, and see that an egalitarian reading of the Qur'an is not only possible but, for myriad reasons, more plausible. This revised, fully updated edition of Asma Barlas's bestselling book includes two new chapters - `Abraham's Sacrifice in the Qur'an' and `Secular/Feminism and the Qur'an' - as well as a new preface, and an extended discussion of the Qur'an's `wife-beating' verse and of men's presumed role as women's guardians.