Reconciling Feminism and Islam

6 November 2019 (Wed), 4-6PM
At Saga Classroom 4

“Reconciling Feminism and Islam”

Fatema Amijee
Associate Professor of Philosophy, National University of Singapore
6 November 2019; 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
Saga College, Classroom 4
Sponsored by Yale-NUS Philosophy

Can Muslim values be reconciled with a feminist outlook? The question is pressing on both an individual level—for Muslim feminists—and on a political level—for the project of making Islamic practice compatible with the ideals of a just and liberal society. A version of this question arises specifically for the central Muslim text, the Quran: can the message of the Quran be reconciled with a feminist outlook? There have been two extant approaches to this more specific question. The first reinterprets Quranic verses in a more egalitarian way. The second situates verses in their historical context so that their message retains force only in a particular historical time and place. I argue that both approaches are inadequate. The first threatens the place of the Quran in religious practice as a source of objective religious norms, whereas the second undermines the universal normative force of the Quran. Since Muslims take the message of the Quran to have both objective and universal normative force, neither approach can successfully reconcile the message of the Quran with a feminist outlook while preserving the place of the Quran in religious practice. I develop a novel approach to reconciliation that does not threaten the objective and universal normative force Muslims attribute to the Quran. My approach is revolutionary rather than apologetic, and carves out a central role for moral understanding in Islam-as-practiced.

BioFatema Amijee works primary in metaphysics, early modern philosophy and feminist philosophy.