Nevin Reda and Yasmin Amin, “Islamic Interpretive Tradition and…

In their groundbreaking new book, Islamic Interpretive Tradition and Gender Justice: Processes of Canonization, Subversion, and Change (McGill, 2020), Nevin Reda and Yasmin Amin raise excellent questions about the existence and formation of a canon in the Islamic tradition. This exciting book comprises ten chapters, organized into three sections: The Qur’an and Its Interpretation; Figurative Representation: Hadith and Biographical Dictionaries; and, finally, Fiqh and Its Application. The volume brilliantly and carefully responds to criticisms against Islamic feminism, such as the claim that Islamic feminist scholarship lacks methodological rigor. Some of the overarching themes that each chapter in the volume shares are providing more ethical and egalitarian interpretations of gendered verses in the Qur’an and interrogating the idea of canonization in Islam. Each author accomplishes this by challenging the unfounded assumption of an established canon in the Islamic tradition; by raising questions about what ijma’ (or consensus) is and if it has ever existed on given issues; and/or by using the methodologies of pre-modern male scholars of Islam only to produce significantly different interpretations on the same matter. Among the topics covered are polygamy, divorce, child marriage, women’s public participation, interreligious marriage, stoning, and so much more.

In today’s conversation with Yasmin Amin and Nevin Reda, we discuss the major contributions of the book, the process of compilation, what the authors mean by decanonization and by subverting the canon if one exists, some of the specific chapters of the book, such as on child marriage, polygamy, and biographies of women, and the question of ethical interpretations of the Qur’an in the context of gender.

Shehnaz Haqqani is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Mercer University. She earned her PhD in Islamic Studies with a focus on gender from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. Her dissertation research explored questions of change and tradition, specifically in the context of gender and sexuality, in Islam. She is currently working on a book project on Muslim women’s marriage to non-Muslims in Islam. Shehnaz runs a YouTube channel called What the Patriarchy?!, where she vlogs about feminism and Islam in an effort to dismantle the patriarchy and uproot it from Islam (ambitious, she knows). She can be reached at haqqani_s@mercer.edu.

Nevin Reda and Yasmin Amin, “Islamic Interpretive Tradition and…

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