The Spirited Voices of Muslim Women in Islamic Reform Movements

Co-presented with Sydney Democracy Initiative (SDI), the Department of Government and International Relations, at the University of Sydney, and the Australia-Malaysia Institute, DFAT

01:30 minutes Download video (mp4, 345 Mb)

Dr Amina Wadud, Islamic feminist and scholar
28 April , 2011

Dr Amina Wadud has long been at the forefront of the ‘gender jihad’ – the struggle for gender justice within the global Islamic community. Her books Inside the Gender Jihad: Women’s Reform in Islam (2006) and Once in a Lifetime (forthcoming), and her religious activism, have helped provide the theological and epistemological tools for the struggle to reclaim gender equality in Islam.

Dr Wadud’s writings and vision for gender equality, within an Islamic ‘tawhidic paradigm’, incorporate the wider struggle against other forms of oppression such as racism, bigotry, religious intolerance, economic exploitation and the erasure of human dignity. Authentic gender justice requires gender mainstreaming – the inclusion of women in all aspects of Muslim practice, policy construction, and political and religious leadership. This multilayered vision of a humanistic Islam challenges singular labels such as feminist, liberal, progressive or Islamist.

Dr Wadud continues to actively engage with leading Muslim feminist organisations such a Sisters in Islam, Musawah, the global network of Muslim feminists and scholars of Islam from various disciplines. The widespread influence of Dr Wadud’s writings is indicative of their global diffusion and incorporation into the core curriculum of Muslim civil society organisations and tertiary institutions around the world.

In 2005, Dr Wadud made international headlines when she delivered a Friday sermon to a mixed gender congregation of over 100 Muslims in New York City. While conservative Muslim scholars and clerics charged her with blasphemy, respected scholars such as Gamal al-Banna and Ebrahim Moosa argued that Wadud’s actions are well supported by Islamic sources and thus entirely orthodox.

Dr Amina Wadud is currently a visiting scholar at the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley California, USA. She has also held positions at Harvard University Divinity School, Virginia Commonwealth University, International Islamic University, and the University of Melbourne.

She has travelled to more than 40 countries as a consultant on Islam and gender reform. Her research specialty is Qur’an and feminist epistemology for gender inclusive interpretations. In the future she hopes to develop a methodology for reading for gender and for gender inclusive Islamic ethics and spirituality.