eLaw Journal: Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law, Vol 17, No 2 (2010)

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A Space for Feminism in Islamic Law? A Theoretical Exploration of Islamic Feminism

Kent Blore


This article considers whether Islamic law is compatible with feminist jurisprudence, as well as the repercussions of the inquiry in the Australian context. It traces the origins of the Islamic feminist movement from the Western dominated first and second waves of feminism, through to the reactionary third wave that sought to refute the universalisation of Western experience. It considers that to have any meaning, Islamic feminists must espouse theories that harmonise its two components. In considering the feminist component, this article argues that contrary to post-modernist thinking, concepts contain core meanings regardless of context, and that for feminism, this includes an acceptance of gender equality. The article then turns towards the Islamic component, and highlights in particular the issue of whether a literal interpretation of the Qur’an is an immutable aspect of Islam. Ultimately Islam’s capacity to embrace feminist interpretations is a matter of choice, both for Muslims and non-Muslims.

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