Is it a lapse into impressionism to ‘lend great
importance to the weight of Islam’ in considering the roots of the oppression of
Arab women? Despite all the social transformations that have occurred in the
Arab world since the era of the caliphs, secularisation has yet to take hold in
nearly all the Arab countries. Legislation dealing with marriage, divorce, and
the status of women (inferior in all cases) is still based on, or directly
inspired by, Koranic law in all the Arabic-Islamic states. What role is played
by Islam, what is its influence, and how is it used?
Nineteen eighty-four was a highwater mark for
popular and radical politics in South Africa. It also coincided with the
rejuvenation of conservative forces in the country. The upsurge in popular struggle was
precipitated by the advent of the National Party-inspired tricameral parliament.
In this resistance against apartheid several religious denominations (including
Muslims) joined the democratic movement.
We have to take stock of various developments
which took place in India in last fifty years of our independence. It is also
important to take stock of developments among Muslims in this period, especially
with reference to reform movements in Indian Islam.
India opted to be a secular
country and this decision had several repercussions. Right at the stage of
constitution making there were debates about uniform civil code. There were
heated discussions. Muslim members opposed adoption of uniform civil code.
Ultimately a compromised was accepted.
Women are the hidden
factor in the politics of ethnicity in the Muslim communities of Northern
England. The broader context to the apparent silence of women lies in a matrix
of patriarchy and imperial experience, as well as the impact of Orientalism on
contemporary European culture. In other words, there is a culturally embedded
assumption that women should know their place, colonial peoples should know
their place, and oriental women are too ethereal to have a place at all.
“That was an army of Black men
standing in front of me...They loved the message and they loved the
Messenger,” Minister Louis Farrakhan on the
Million Man March (Arizona Republic, 1996:
movement or agenda that defines manhood in the narrowest terms and seeks to make
women lesser partners...can be considered a positive step,” Angela Davis on the Million Man
March (Pooley, E
“To The Beat of His Drum” Time, Vol 143, No.
In the early I990s the Arab world
has witnessed an extraordinary publishing phenomenon. An 800 page book on Islam,
Al-kitab wa’lqur’an: qira’a mu’asira (The Book and the Qur’an: a contemporary
reading), was first published by the Ahali Publishing House Damascus in 1990.
The book challenges a millennium of Islamic tradition. It is highly critical of
the social, political and intellectual state of contemporary Arab countries. The
author has been denounced as ‘an enemy of Islam’ and as ‘a Western and Zionist
agent’. To date eleven other books have been written attacking his theses.
There are few women interpreters in
the history of Islam because women are seen to be the subject of the Islamic
shari’a and not its legislators. Yet even the few interpreters who have appeared
during the long history of Islam have been kept at the periphery, their views
never allowed to influence Islamic legislation. Moreover, even men interpreters
who were open-minded about women were marginalized and, in some cases, found
their authority questioned.
This research is an
examination of the relationship of the Sudanese state to issues of gender,
religion and class. It is one
component of my interest in the mechanisms the state employs for achieving both
political and cultural hegemony.