Student Blogger - #dgemw Blog: Space for Debate
Professor Ziba Mir-Hosseini focused on how the rise of political Islam paradoxically gave the space for feminist Islamic critiques. Before the twentieth century, anticolonial attitudes prevented feminist legal thought from gaining a foothold because of anticolonialism's unifying force on the society, which deterred dissent. The rise of secular, autocratic regimes in the early twentieth century codified patriarchal laws that existed before in traditional Islamic practice. During this period, Islamic jurisprudential debate was confined to the ivory towers. In the second half of the twentieth century, the rise of political Islam brought this debate to the public sphere. Professor Mir-Hosseini focused on the distinction between Shari'a and Fiqh; Shari'a is God's will as revealed to Muhammad, which is universal and eternal, but Fiqh literally means "understanding" and refers to the man-made interpretation of the Qur'an and Islamic law. Feminist Islam questions the layers of understanding that have been applied by traditionalists. She stressed the incorrectness of starting a sentence with "Islam says…" Islam does not speak; rather, people claim to speak on Islam's behalf. Women can apply their own interpretation to the Fiqh to bring about effective change in the Islamic world.