Posted by: mavra | December 14, 2007

week 10-Tradition

The three readings by Wadud and Mernissi talk about the role of tradition in shaping gender as we see it today. Amina Wadud talks about the process of interpretation of the Koran and how many factors have to be considered and eliminated in order to reach a some what accurate and neutral conclusion about its teachings. She says, ” As such, our earthly existence transforms our perceptions of the text and is equally potentially transformed by the text.” (p.62) This shows that the process of interpretation cannot be a one dimensional process. She talks about analysing the Koran through a hermeneutics circle, which takes everything into account. Wadud goes on to illustrate, in a rational, logical process of inquiry, about how Koran and Islamic tradition says very little about the distinction between men and women. It focuses more on the differences between individuals on the basis of their loyalty to their faith. I believe as long as there is room for any form of distinction, be it in the form of degree of faith it will always be misinterpreted and used to suppress and control the weaker social group. This highly religious distinction will end being translated into a social one as well. Nevertheless, the point of emphasis for her is that social distinctions exist but these should be over-ridden by the religious notion of equality. Fatima Mernissi’s readings “A tradition of Misogyny”, take on a similar process of reinterpreting religious text. She particularly talks about Abu Bakra, one of the companions of the Prophet, and his contribution to the Sahih hadith collection. Mernissi too asks for a re-evaluation of the meanings found in his reported hadith, of the tradition which is thought to construct gender identity in Islam. Like Wadud she talks about keeping every factor in mind which would, in this case, lead us to conclude that the collection of hadith contributed by Abu Bakra are not valid and cannot be made the premise for the gender narrative in Islam as it is highly misleading. In the second half also, Mernissi tries to illustrate how gender can be negotiated in tradition as Islamic inquiry and text provides the individual the space to form an identity, replacing the social that creates stereotypes. However, it is a problematic process as a negotiation between religion and the social self is difficult. 

– Mavra

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