Dr. Alwani talked to Aquila Style about gender equality in Islamic scholarship for its scholar spotlight.
Below is an excerpt. To read the full article, click here.
The idea that Islam oppresses women has been allowed to flourish right across the world. Islamophobes, right-wing commentators and neo-conservatives will use it as a platform to launch scathing attacks on the “evils” of Islam and use it as the stick to beat Muslims with. These stereotypes, however, can only gain popularity if there aren’t opposing voices, especially female Muslim voices. Islamic scholar, academic and activist Dr Zainab Alwani, one of the leading voices in female Islamic scholarship today, is determined to change the way people perceive her faith.
With Islamophobia rampant right across the world, it was never going to be an easy task. With few female scholars being given a platform to speak in the world today, her job is made extra difficult. Voices like Dr Zainab – intelligent and well-versed in the Islamic sciences – are now needed more than ever, especially in a time when the discourse surrounding Islam has been hijacked by those with more sinister motives.
While there are many male scholars doing a great job informing others about their faith, their female counterparts need to be heard too. Not only to provide different perspectives, but to directly counter the claim that Muslim women cannot rise to positions of authority.
“Unfortunately, I often find myself to be the only Muslim female scholar on stage at conferences,” she says. While Dr Zainab believes there is a dearth of female scholarship, she believes the real problem is finding women who are willing to be at the front lines as mujtahidat (authoritative interpreters of the religious laws of Islam), who are able to identify and analyse sensitive issues that can sometimes defy the status quo.