This volume seeks to address issues of concern to women in Muslim countries and communities around the concepts of identity, politics, movements, and alliances. Crucial to identity politics is the fraught question of alliances: all the articles, ultimately, address this question.
The Dossier is dedicated to a question which comes up again and again in the discussions about women in the Muslim world: the centrality of religion as an analytical concept. Most articles included in this issue discuss, under one form or another the right to define oneself as secular vs a "natural" religious identity, and all the potential epistemological bias in the analysis of a specific situation that could follow the lack of conceptual clarity in these matters.
History is replete with examples of use of religion for social-political mobilization and for community control. The backdrop for this Dossier reflects processes leading sociological Muslims to becoming institutionalised subjects of organised Islamic nation states, communities and families.
The increased labeling of diverse immigrant communities of Muslim background in Europe as having a common culture since they share a common religion is appearing as a dominant trend. Religion is becoming equated with “culture”.
The Dossiers explore and synthesize a broad range of feelings, interpretations and strategies of women on issues of feminism, nationalism, internationalism, and religion. Our dossiers had announced the first two Asian lesbian conferences; we are now beginning to recieve articles about the situation of lesbians in Muslim countries and communities which we will be publishing in the future issues.
This issue of the Dossiers focuses on two main areas: the role of culture in the making of religious identities; and progressive interpretations within Islam. The issue of culture viz religion and identity is crucial to us; one of the aims of WLUML is to facilitate debate towards disentangling cultural identity from religious and political identities.
Highlighting the debate on women's human rights in Muslim countries and communities, this dossier presents the testimony on violations of women in Algeria which opened the Women's International Tribunal at the NGO forum-Beijing Conference on women; it is followed by a testimony on the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) amongst the Bohra Muslims in India. Both contributions show that certain local practices are being extended to other geographical areas.