Public Religious Activities of Muslim Women in Turkey

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 11:30 AM
Room: Harbor Lounge B
Oral Presentation
Figen UZAR ÖZDEMIR , Sociology, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey
This paper aims to analyze the effects of Sunni Muslim women’s increasing public religious activities on their everyday lives and social status within their close relationship circles such as family and neighborhood. The analysis is an account of a two-year-long ethnographic field study in two state Quran courses and one informal Quran course in Ankara and twenty six interviews with the participant pious women. Muslim women’s public visibility has been increasing in the world as well as in Turkey. This is firstly due to the increasing rates of public participation of women in Turkey (there is positive development in women’s employment and education rates). Since working women spend most of their time outside their homes, pious women choose to fulfill their religious obligation of daily prayer (salat) in the mosques and mesjids which are public spaces. Secondly, more and more pious women claim their right to the public religious places such as mosques which have traditionally been male spaces and public religious activities such as Friday prayer which have been dominated by men as male religious activities. As a result, more women attend public religious activities at public religious places. This paper argues that pious women reorganize their everyday lives according to their public religious activities and that pious women’s public visibility elevates their social status within their families and among their neighbors and friends. They are seen as the “people in charge” of the religious affairs by their families and by their friends.