المرأة والاجتهاد: نحو خطاب إسلامي جديد / Women and Ijtihad: Towards a New Islamic Discourse



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عزت, هبة ﺭﺀﻭﻑ; Ezzat, Heba Raouf

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[This article considers the question of the current struggle in the woman's question as it has become one of the most distinctive issues raised and a source of controversy between Secularists and Islamicists or between the adherents to tradition and the advocates of contemporaneity. The article begins with the spectacle of dominant polarization in the arena which, on the one hand, is the secular discourse that adopts modern sayings and, on the other, is the Islamic discourse that raises the slogans of women's dignity under the protection of Islam. The latter inclines towards narrativity and jurisprudential tradition and drowns in history without attempting to extract a model suitable for reality with its complexities. It lacks revision and self criticism, and focuses on preaching and giving advice on the improvement of woman's state without formulating alternative laws that include its intent, despite its participation in the parliamentary/democratic experience, thus leaving this change of laws wholly to the nation's institutions or the opposing current and under the supervision of Islam's official institutions. On the other hand, this article deals with the features of the Secularists' discourse, finding it lacking in ijtihad (Islamically informed interpretation) and critical revision of its sayings whose major concepts go back to Western schools-Marxist or Liberal-without the crystallization of an independent Arab discourse. Other features are the generality of its statements about Islam's respect for women and its failure to identify the conditions and restraints on Islamic legal and theological judgments as well as its failure in engaging in interpretive studies in the territory of heritage, its failure to point out the dilemmas and problematics of Western feminist discourse (particluarly in the questions of social morals and the family) and the attempt to present views on the ways of avoiding these currents in our reality if feminist theses are adopted. The secularists have also been weak in terms of self criticism and consideration of their own positions, while outspoken when it comes to attacking Islamicists. A final feature is the exaggerated concentration on the legal instrument in instituting change and the neglect of channels of cultural and moral change. This in turn led to focusing on addressing the state to undertake changes rather than address the needs of social units which has suffered, and rather than address the threats of globalism to national culture and traditions. In the second part, this article shifts to tracing new signs in the Islamicists' discourse particularly in the writings of Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali and Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawy. The article shows the development of the thought of the two shaykhs over the past three decades and charts its twists and turns and features, in opposition to the Secularist discourse that continues to entrench itself behind patriarchal slogans, male hegemony and traditional values without developing its concepts or sayings. In the third part, the article touches on a new discourse that bridges the gap between the two camps in order to undertake a humane and cultural project uniting the forces of the nation, with the purpose of raising women's status, consolidating the family as a social unit, and bringing the modern social sciences and shari'a (Islamic canonical law) closer. Such a discourse puts to application the religious text in its social reality and social research to the service of contemporary struggle in the woman's question. Finally, it re-reads history to discover the reason for the deterioration in women's conditions while throwing light on the aspects of women's contribution to culture. The purpose of this is to bring the two camps closer for the re-naissance of the woman and the nation.]

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