Multiple Strategies to Challenge Gender Inequality within Muslim Societies
One of the notable achievements of progressive Islamic discourse in the recent decades has been changes in the main theoretical/methodological approaches. Muslim female scholars have embarked on using Islam and religious texts as a framework to promote women’s rights and gender equality in Muslim contexts. Through constructive and critical use of western feminist thought and concepts, they re-examine religious texts with gender conscious. At the same time, by using Islamic concepts such as justice and equality as basis of their theory and progressive Qur’anic interpretations, they contest the conservative gender discriminations and unequal treatment of women wrongly associated with Islam.
In this paper, I will look at the work of some of female Muslim scholars, who engage with the liberation theology; and some women’s organisations. These scholars and organisations actively use Islamic ethical framework, as new discursive patterns in their response to misinterpretations and literal reading of the religious text with regard to gender issues, and the demystification of allegedly endorsed patriarchal modes of gender relations in the name of Islam.
They embrace religious identity and feminist consciousness and challenge culturally imposed gender relations and meanings through advocating alternative religious discourses that are compatible with gender equality and advocate values and rights.