Professor promotes feminism in Islam

Asma Afsaruddin discussed inclusive language of religion and spirituality in the the Qur’an.

Written by Payton Boyd

The Qur’an’s verses were originally written to empower Muslim women according to Asma Afsaruddin, professor of Islamic Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures at Indiana University.

“Qur’an 33:35 uses language deliberately inclusive of women and maintains the absolute religious and spiritual equality of women and men….Women who can read and understand the Qur’an themselves draw their power and strength from it,” Afsaruddin said.

According to Afsaruddin, the Qur’an gives women a say in contracted marriages, owning their own property during marriage, and allowing divorce if necessary. Specifically, the Qur’an allows women to expect equal treatment from their husbands.

The roles of Islamic females shifted during the Common Era. Traditionally known as Fuqaha,’ Islamic jurists began to use the Qur’an verses to revoke the rights of women, and to show favoritism towards the male.

Afsaruddin stated that during the time of the Prophet, women attended the mosque in Medina. Today, many countries claim to adhere strictly to Islamic principles, yet prohibit women from going to mosques.

She said hat men have primarily interpreted the Qur’an and their interpretation has become authoritative.

UTK student Walker Godfrey seen picking up a brochure for the lecture. //Payton Boyd
UTK student Walker Godfrey picks up a brochure for the lecture. //Payton Boyd

“The notion of women as the tilling ground of men conveys a positive evaluation of the sexual and procreative functions of marriage to be regarded as good deeds for which one will earn heavenly rewards, “Afsaruddin said. “On the contrary, male jurists have construed this verse to imply that women are the sexual property of men.”

According to Member of Knoxville Islamic society Drost Kokoye, there are different scholars within Islam that interpreted the Qur’an’s teachings and made decisions on how people can live their lives.

“A lot of people are preconceived to the notion that Muslim women are spoken for, and that we are fragile and oppressed members of Islam without many rights,” Kokoye said. “In reality, it is just as much our responsibility and our right to fulfill our life’s pursuits as a male in Islam.”

Photos by Payton Boyd

Edited by Taylor Owens