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My Podcast Series: Mothers of the Believers (Ummahat al-mu’minin)

Welcome to my short podcast series about Ummahat al-mu’minin, the mothers of the believers. I collaborated with KARAMAH to bring you this special series. 

Through this series, I want to take you on a journey through time to learn about the mothers of the believers and therefore become the best human beings, citizens of this earth, fathers/mothers, children, neighbors, colleagues and students that we can be. 

All nine episodes from the series are posted below.

Thank you for tuning in.

EPISODE ONE

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With A’isha In Mind: Reading Surat Al-Nur Through The Quran’s Structural Unity

While a multiplicity of interpretations is a consistent historical feature in Qur’anic scholarship, the
intratextual method (tafsir al-Qur’an bi-l-Qur’an) has been accepted as a central method of
interpretation. Building upon this method, this chapter explores and furthers the methodology of Al-wahda al-bina’iyya li-l-Qur’an (the Qur’an’s structural unity) and argues that reading the sura/chapter as a structural unit can yields significant exegetical insights. By focusing on Surat al-Nur (Qur’an 24), and focusing on an incident involving ʿA’isha bint Abu Bakr (d. 678/57) as an example, this chapter draws attention to hadith scholarship identified with a revisionary body of literature that takes as its scope the verification and validation of a prophetic tradition. Herself representing an example of Muslim women’s scholarly contributions, Alwani argues for the significance in identifying the organic interconnections between the Qur’an and Prophetic sunna in order to further hermeneutical insights. Read More

Teaching Other Faiths About Islam

Over the course of the last century, we have witnessed a revival of religion and religious traditions, contrary to speculations about the gradual decline of religion in society. While in the fifties, the religious landscape of America was reflected in Will Herberg’s book, Protestant, Catholic, and Jew, in the sixties, theologians were talking about the impact of secularization on religion and theology. The dominant theories expected religion to decline, especially in the public realm, and thought that it should be marginalized, limited to private life, and the development of religion would be succeeded by science. Today, in American academia and the public sphere, we are witnessing the study of world religions, interreligious dialogues, comparative religion studies become part of the educational curriculum.

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A Methodology for Understanding the Qurʾān in the Modern Day

This paper is concerned with the Qurʾānic methodology of Al-waḥda al-bināʾiyya li-l-Qurʾān and its impact in the arena of religious sciences and beyond. I provide a concise overview of the classical and contemporary debates concerning the genealogy of this method, including examples and a brief analysis of the works of a number of modern scholars who have contributed to the development of this methodology. Approaching the Qurʾān as a unitary structure, as a consistent hermeneutic, contributes to our understanding of critical issues not only in the Qurʾān and Sunna, but also in other religious disciplines, such as Islamic law. More importantly, I argue that this method provides an important hermeneutic resolution to critical debates surrounding Islam’s moral and ethical framework. I conclude by stressing that Al-waḥda al-bināʾiyya li-l- Qurʾān is essential for enhancing religious scholarship in general and for advancing the spheres where Islamic knowledge is applied.

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Transformational Teaching: Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a Teacher and Murabbī

This article analyzes the transformative role of Prophet Muhammad as a murabbī. I apply the hermeneutic of reading the divine text as a structural unity, a concept known as al-waḥda al-binā’iyya li-l-Qur’ān. After defining the concept of murabbī, I suggest that a holistic reading of the Qur’an can help us rebuild our concepts from within the Qur’an, a methodological approach that we can use to reshape the current religious discourse. I present the Prophet’s (pbuh) mission as a roadmap, a model that envisions a holistic relationship between the Qur’an and the Sunna as its final goal. I then devote special attention to this model by focusing on his teaching strategies and how they impacted the first generation of Muslims. I argue that a strong methodology based on the Qur’an and Sunna can help revive the role of a compassionate Muslim community. I close by stressing the significance of developing this traditional role and applying it in all aspects of contemporary life.

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Socioeconomic and Gender Justice in the Qur’an: Modern Challenges

This chapter explains the meaning of gender and socioeconomic justice in the Qur’ān and Sunna and its impact on women, family and society. It provides a concise overview of the Qur’ānic paradigm and its principles on gender-justice, and an overview of familial relations and its impact on socioeconomic stability. It also examines the controversial views on the concept of qiwamma, and its impact on gender roles in the family and society. It argues that the Qur’ānic organic unity and Qur’ānic principles can be used as a methodological model for interpreting the Qur’ān and examines how to engage the Prophet’s Sunna holistically in the light of the Qurʾānic messages and objectives. Finally, the chapter concludes by presenting some effective strategies on empowering women and the poor, reducing poverty, and preserving family stability.

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Seeking Guidance: Contemplating the Qur’an

In this age of globalization, technology and the vast spread of information, we as Muslims need a model to better capture dimensions of Muslim reality more effectively. We need guidance. As it was well stated from the first surah, al-Fatihah the Opening. “You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help. Guide us on the straight path, the path of those who have received your grace; not the path of those who have brought down wrath, nor of those who wander astray” (1:5-7). Surah al-Fatihah teaches us the attitude of a seeker-after-truth and to recognize the fact that the Lord of the Universe is the source of all knowledge. God continues revealing his love and mercy upon us by teaching us where to find the guidance.  The Qur’ān is Huda (guidance), as stated in the second surah 2:2-5, “This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who are cautious and mindful of Allah.” Read More

Academic Articles and Chapter Books

The Muslim World

In October 2014, Dr. Alwani wrote an article called Maqāṣid Qur᾽āniyya: A Methodology on Evaluating Modern Challenges and Fiqh al-Aqalliyyāt for a special issue of The Muslim World journal entitled “Judaism and Islam in America.”

She also served as the co-editor of the issue. You can find the articles here. See pages 385–388.

Interfaith Just PeaceMaking: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on the New Paradigm of Peace and War

In 2012, Dr. Alwani contributed a book chapter called “Conflict Resolution: Muslim reflection” to the book “Interfaith Just PeaceMaking.” The chapter demonstrates how the Islamic model protects the solidarity of the community and emphasizes the importance of a clear, structured process for solving conflicts. You can read the chapter here.

Setting the Record Straight: Aisha and the Tradition Reclaiming a Lost Legacy

In 2002, Dr. Alwani wrote this paper called “Aicha Istidrakat and Their Methodological Premises: Reclaiming a Stunted Tradition” to draw attention to an important and under-researched area in hadith scholarship, identified with a revisionary body of literature that takes for its scope the verification and validation of prophetic tradition. You can read the paper published in the journal of Women and Civilization here.

Critical Reading in al-Ghazālī’s Usul al Fiah Legal theory Books Qira’a fi Kutub al-Ghazālī al Usulia

In 2001, Dr. Alwani wrote an article analyzing the work of Imam al-Ghazālī in jurisprudence. You can read the article here.