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Qur'an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective [Paperback]

Amina Wadud
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 1 1999 0195128362 978-0195128369 1
Fourteen centuries of Islamic thought have produced a legacy of interpretive readings of the Qu'ran written almost entirely by men. Now, with Qu'ran and Woman, Amina Wadud provides a first interpretive reading by a woman, a reading which validates the female voice in the Qu'ran and brings it out of the shadows. Muslim progressives have long argued that it is not the religion but patriarchal interpretation and implementation of the Qu'ran that have kept women oppressed. For many, the way to reform is the reexamination and reinterpretation of religious texts. Qu'ran and Woman contributes a gender inclusive reading to one of the most fundamental disciplines in Islamic thought, Qu'ranic exegesis. Wadud breaks down specific texts and key words which have been used to limit women's public and private role, even to justify violence toward Muslim women, revealing that their original meaning and context defy such interpretations. What her analysis clarifies is the lack of gender bias, precedence, or prejudice in the essential language of the Qur'an. Despite much Qu'ranic evidence about the significance of women, gender reform in Muslim society has been stubbornly resisted. Wadud's reading of the Qu'ran confirms women's equality and constitutes legitimate grounds for contesting the unequal treatment that women have experienced historically and continue to experience legally in Muslim communities. The Qu'ran does not prescribe one timeless and unchanging social structure for men and women, Wadud argues lucidly, affirming that the Qu'ran holds greater possibilities for guiding human society to a more fulfilling and productive mutual collaboration between men and women than as yet attained by Muslims or non-Muslims.

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Qur'an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective + Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate
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Product Description


"Excellent study. Important for cross-cultural women's studies."--Sr.Martha Ann Kirk, University of the Incarnate Word

About the Author

Amina Wadud is an Islamic Studies Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
HOW does the Qur'an describe the creation of woman? Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a new view on the qur'an April 27 2004
"Qur'an and Woman" offers one of, if not the, first views on the Qur'an through a woman's perspective. Seeing as how one of the main criticisms of Islam and its followers is that it does not respect nor treat women with the same equality that it does with men, hearing how a woman herself views these ideas is very interesting.
I liked how Wadud offered readers of the text new interpretations of certain passages, such as the one which declares that a woman must wait 3 months before sleeping with a new man after a divorce, but the husband may immediately. While some may see this as discriminatory, Wadud says that it is only to help the woman, so if it turns out that she is pregnant with her ex-husband's child, she will be able prove it is his without any challanges or confusion concerning new partners.
I thought that sometimes though, she explained too much of the text away from what it could be clearly stating. Her whole process of "saying no" allows one to reject parts of the text that they do not feel fits what they want it to fit, and include parts that do. I think that that process is a little iffy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quran and Woman: Equity and Dignity June 13 2002
I give this book 5 stars because as I was reading it I wished every Muslim woman (and man) would read it. The book is written by a professor of Islamic studies who (as she writes in the preface)" approached this research as if my life depended on the understandings I gained from studying the Quran". The book is aimed at proving the equality of men and women in the religion of Islam by going to the source: the Qur'an. It challenges the false concepts held by many Muslims (concepts that do not reflect Quran and Islam) such as:" men are superior to women", men are in charge of women", "men are natural leaders", " men rule the family and should get obedience from women", " women should not leave the house unless it is necessary"," woman's voice is taboo", etc. The author breaks down specific verses and key words that have been used to oppress and limit women, to show that their real meaning defies such oppression and limitation.
The book covers many aspects of equality manifested in the story of creation and the events in the Garden, the Quranic view of woman in the world with discussion of distinctive female characters in the Quran, the Hereafter including companions in the Hereafter e.g. "the virgins of paradise". The book also discusses controversies around the rights and roles of women and the relationship between men and women: male authority: polygamy, marital disharmony, divorce, inheritance, women as witness, etc. I think the author should have discussed two other important topics: veiling and segregation.
Although the book is only 118 pages, and is well organized into chapters and subtitles, it was a little difficult to get through: the writing style is somewhat academic, some concepts I think needed more elaboration to be clear, and I had to open my dictionary several times.
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5.0 out of 5 stars More Books to read Feb. 15 2002
I did like Dr. Wadud's book and I think it is a must read for Muslim women along with Fatima Mernissi's books. But injustice against women is part of a bigger crisis caused by rigid exegesis of the Quran in the Bedouin countries of Islam and by political Islam.
The whole picture is analyzed by another courageous, progressive, Muslim thinker and that is Judge Said al-Ashmawy. Along with Mernissi, I recommend two of his books for starters: "Against Islamic Extremism" in English and "The Truth About Hijab" in Arabic. "The Truth About Hijab" relates the public confrontations he had with Azhar scholars in 1994. He defended women's right to free themselves from Hijab tradition since Muslim men no longer posses or need to distinguish their women slaves ("your right hand possession") from free women ("thus be recognized and not molested"). Hence, there is no need now to distinguish free Muslim women from slave Muslim women since slavery was abolished all over the world over 100 years ago except in Saudi Arabia. The later started to abolish it gradually under international pressure in 1962 as they believed that is halal in their Bedouin version of Islam (Read al-Ashmawy, Iqbal Baraka, Mohamed Shahrour and Mernissi's books).
The Quran recommends decency in women's clothing, covering "Faraj", "Jaib" or sexual area but states nothing about women covering their heads. The Holy Quran has new regulation for these naked Bedouins in hot Arabia and it is for them specifically: "O children of Adam, we have provided you with garments to cover your bodies, as well as for luxury.".These Bedouins needed to learn these new Islamic customs: 1. garments are not vanity and nakedness is not humility. 2. Free women need to identity themselves from slave concubines.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must read July 22 2002
By A Customer
Few people, including many celebrated authors, and indeed many (of us) Muslims indeed, have ever taken the time to systematically read the Qur'an. To read for understanding, and take note of the religious laws stated therein. Compound that with the fact that each translation into English of the Qur'an is different, and it is hard to know exactly what the Qur'an actually says about women, unless one is an Arabic reader.
This book goes a long ways in debunking the popular myth and stereotype that are perpetuated by both "Orientalists" and the large mass of ignorant Muslims (who have never learned to seek knowledge for themselves).
So for those who really want to learn what the Qur'an teaches about women, if you dare to shatter your valued stereotypes...read this slim volume.
If you are willing to wade even deeper, read Stowasser's Women in the Quran, Traditions, and Interpretations.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Different perspective on the Qur'an
Amina Wadud's contrapuntal reading of the Qur'an from a woman's perspective is not only interesting, but enlightening. Read more
Published on April 27 2004 by Jonas Bender-Nash
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This book is fantastic! Wadud opens your eyes to a new way of looking at and understanding the Quran! Read more
Published on March 27 2004 by "aarif1"
4.0 out of 5 stars Error
The book is wonderful. Wadud's scholarship is excellent. How surprising, then, to find an error in the Arabic quotation on the important question of "The Origins of... Read more
Published on March 13 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars A reader
Very interesting book that gives a fresh perspective and understanding of the Holy Book. I may not agree with everything that is said but the scholarly approach lets me know that... Read more
Published on June 15 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars "a Woman's Perspective" doesn't have to be non-critical
Amina Wadud's book contains a lot of useful information that is good for the general reader to know, but its so-called "woman's perspective" on statements in the Qur'an sometimes... Read more
Published on Jan. 20 2003 by Alford
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read, re-read, re-read it some more
I purchased Wadud-Muhsin's book several years ago when I found it in a local bookstore in Malaysia. For a while, I left it sitting on my bookshelf along with the many piles of... Read more
Published on Oct. 15 2001 by Nina Simpson
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening and Informative
Wadud's "Qur'an and Woman" was a joy to read. Clearly, Wadud knows her stuff. The information presented is very accurate, and the book is nicely organized. Read more
Published on Aug. 22 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars The Truth Shines!
A book in which the TRUTH of the Qur'an shines through. After centuries of misreadings and forged lies, the truth that the Qur'an is a modern and vibrant law-book shows through. Read more
Published on Aug. 1 2001 by John Yagersky-Elisco
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is wonderful!
The sister evidently did a lot of research and she did alot of citing to prove her point. I am so pleased to see a well thought out arguement (in book style) for the rights of... Read more
Published on May 24 2001 by Muneera Fontaine
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