Event Title

Islamic Law and Modernization: The Harem, Waqf, and Western Perceptions of Women in Islam

Location

Taylor 309, Madison Union, JMU

Start Date

4-6-2019 2:00 PM

Description

For many, simply the phrase “women under Islamic law” provokes thoughts of veiling, oppression and subjugation. These "Western" perceptions of Islam and Islamic law have often determined the West’s engagement with the Middle East, frequently perpetuating the narrative of "saving" "oppressed" Muslim women. But what is lost in these reductions of Islam is the capaciousness of Islamic law that, in many cases, contributed to a relatively high degree of female autonomy in the early modern Ottoman and Safavid Empires. Nevertheless, ideologies of Western "salvation" of these "barbaric" countries contributed to twentieth-century British imperialism in the broader Middle East. Utilizing Turkey’s perceptions of its Ottoman past and Iran’s perceptions of its Safavid past, this research aims to explore how western perceptions of and involvement in the Middle East had consequential effects on the lives and rights of women in Islamic law.

Presentation Type

Presentation

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Apr 6th, 2:00 PM

Islamic Law and Modernization: The Harem, Waqf, and Western Perceptions of Women in Islam

Taylor 309, Madison Union, JMU

For many, simply the phrase “women under Islamic law” provokes thoughts of veiling, oppression and subjugation. These "Western" perceptions of Islam and Islamic law have often determined the West’s engagement with the Middle East, frequently perpetuating the narrative of "saving" "oppressed" Muslim women. But what is lost in these reductions of Islam is the capaciousness of Islamic law that, in many cases, contributed to a relatively high degree of female autonomy in the early modern Ottoman and Safavid Empires. Nevertheless, ideologies of Western "salvation" of these "barbaric" countries contributed to twentieth-century British imperialism in the broader Middle East. Utilizing Turkey’s perceptions of its Ottoman past and Iran’s perceptions of its Safavid past, this research aims to explore how western perceptions of and involvement in the Middle East had consequential effects on the lives and rights of women in Islamic law.