Muslim and Arab Women

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Dr. Nimat Hafez Barazangi's forty years of combined scholarly active work with Arab, Muslim, and non-Muslim organizations and individuals in North America and the Muslim/Arab world has mainly focused on the development and education of Muslim/Arab women in the primary sources of Islam; the Qur'an and the Hadith (Prophet Muhammad's narrated traditions). She published about 25 research articles and book reviews, and a monograph on this subject.

Her monograph Woman's Identity and the Qur'an: A New Reading (The University Press of Florida, 2004) was labeled by an anonymous reviewer as "the most radical book in the last 14 centuries of Islam." The monograph was translated in 2007 into Arabic under the title: Qira'a Jadida lil Qura'n: Al Huwiya al Dhatiya lil Mar'a.

To access Nimat Hafez Barazangi's latest lecture in Arabic, click here.

To access Nimat Hafez Barazangi's latest lecture in English, click here.

Her latest research work is The Absence of Muslim Women in Shaping Islamic Thought.
A lecture presented on this topic at Hamline University School of Law, October 2008, .

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Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 20
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    Why Muslim Women are Re-interpreting the Qur`an and Hadith: A Transformative Scholarship-Activism
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Ashgate Publishing series, Gender in Law, Culture and Society, 2013., 2013)
    In order to challenge and transform the un-Islamic views of women as secondary in the structure of Muslim societies, women have retaken their principal role and reinterpreted the primary source of Islam, the Qur'an. As changes in the global political landscape were coupled with the Muslims' elevating the Prophetic tradition to the level of the Qur`an, Muslims women's scholarship-activism is progressing into more radical steps and they are declaring themselves as authority in Qur`anic and Prophetic sciences. Such transformative solutions represent the only hope for a meaningful reform in Muslim societies.
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    Foundations of Muslim Extremism and the Marginalization and Violence Against Women
    Barazangi, Nimat; Research Fellow Feminist; Gender, & Sexuality Studies; Cornell University (2015-11-19)
    In this presentation I argue that Muslim women issues are symptoms of the widespread crisis in understanding Islam. I also argue that these issues, being the consequences of extremism on all fronts, are the active drive to understand the foundations of Muslim extremism. To better understand this crisis, we need a radical shift in discourse to be able to analyze the mind-set of these extremist Muslims, the majority of whom are males. They may claim to adhere to Islam, yet they are violating the basic principle of Islam by coercing people to follow their own rules under threat of force or rape. They call for the rule of shari’a, but the meaning of “shari’a” has been largely abused for many centuries. Their behavior is mainly based on few Islamic texts that are either taken out of context or fabricated to justify their violent acts. For example, Muslim extremists use some of the reported narratives (Hadith) on the authority of the Prophet Muhammad (also known as his tradition or sunnah) to enforce social structure that negatively affect Muslim women, like issues of modesty, leadership, and testimony. This abuse of the reported narratives, I argue, is the main cause of the crisis in understanding Islam because some of these narratives are not corroborated by the Qur`an. Muslim women, therefore, need to rethink the Hadith because it is still being used as a source for applying the Qur`an, or as the primary source before the Qur`an, even when the contents of some narratives are not corroborated by the Qur`an. Hadith narratives must be carefully evaluated and should not replace Qur`anic guidance, the only divine and binding text of Islam.
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    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez; Traducción: Jolanda Guardi (Athenea Digital, 2014-12)
    Este texto quiere ser una investigación pedagógica estructurada históricamente sobre la condición de la mujer árabe y musulmana, y tiene como objetivo el de explicar cómo las primeras mujeres musulmanas y las contemporáneas están lejos de la operación de interpretar el texto coránico, aunque la mayor parte de este texto sugiere el desarrollo de las relaciones entre géneros, en las sociedades musulmanas, para la realización de la justicia y la equidad entre hombre y mujer. Por ejemplo, ¿por qué Aisha y Hafsa (que Dios esté satisfecho con ellas) no son mencionadas entre los comentaristas del Corán, y no buscamos un comentario escrito que las cite, a pesar del hecho de que la primera vivió durante el descenso del Corán y la vida del Enviado de Dios, para orientarlo en su vida cotidiana y política, y a pesar de que la segunda, Hafsa, ha sido una de las primeras lectoras del Corán y de los que lo aprendieron, y conocía todo el texto y la pronunciación perfectamente, y por qué estas dos mujeres quedaron detrás de los primeros compañeros del Profeta cuando se trató de decidir sus sucesores?... La razón, en mi opinión, es que no se ponía confianza en ellas, a pesar de las muchas indicaciones de precisión, en particular en los hadices,2 porque eran mujeres, porque aun los primeros musulmanes no eran inmunes al problema del machismo bajo la presión social tribal que permanece aun hoy día.
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    The Absence of Muslim Women in Shaping Islamic Thought: Foundations of Muslims’ Peaceful and Just Co‐existence
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Journal of Law and Religion, 2008-11)
    This paper explores the ethical and legal pedagogy of the current debates on “reforming” Muslim societies, whether they claim to reform social and legal systems, reform educational institutions, or liberate Muslim women. Since these debates claim to achieve balance in global or domestic conflicts, I address the foundations of these debates by answering three questions: (1) Are the rationales for American and/or European governments’ interventions justified?; (2) Can the discipline of civil law help in rethinking Islam for Muslims; and (3) Are Muslims themselves ready to critically address the use and misuse of Islam’s primary sources (the Qur’an and particularly the Hadith) in their rethinking of Islam? I argue that rather than seeking to “reform others,” in this case Muslims with an elitist attitude and sometimes violent interventions, we scholars of law and religion, scholars of Islam, policy-makers, and social justice researchers would be better off if: (1) we thought of Islam as a religio-moral rational worldview, rather than a set of laws, (2) we recognized Muslims as subject to historical transformation, like any other religious groups, and understood how they developed their present views of Islam, and (3) we considered our own real responsibilities to address the forms of global injustices as powerful shapers of world politics, particularly the politics of difference—the view that the “other” is inferior, and women’s role as mostly complementary to men. These arguments will be developed by addressing (a) the limitations on “reforming” Muslim societies if one only continues the common debates and practices of what is known as “Islamic law” or “shari’a law,” (b) the deficiencies in confusing Islamic guidelines with current customary and legal systems in Muslim societies, (c) the problems resulting from confusing Islamic principles in the Qur’an with their extrapolations in the Prophetic tradition (the Sunnah or Hadith) and especially with jurisprudence rulings (Fiqh) or customary practices (‘Adat or ‘Urf), and (d) the effects of Muslim women’s absence in shaping Islamic thought, from the time of the first Muslim community about fourteen centuries ago.
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    The Absence of Muslim Women in Shaping and Developing Islamic Thought
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Dialogue of Truth for Life Together, 2013-10)
    It is fair to claim that the true message of Islam concerning women has rarely been practiced throughout Islamic history and for the past 14 centuries. Muslim women have remained a passive force in changing the prevailing unjust practices of Islamic thoughts concerning women, and the reality of the 700 million Muslim women. This is the case today despite what we read in the UN Development Agency reports—that the majority of university students in most Muslim countries are females. Recently, during the past two decades, North American Muslim female scholars, for example, have significantly contributed to the reinterpretation of the Qur’an and particularly to the study of Muslim women. Yet, rarely does an American or any Western educational institution, including the Muslim Umma, acknowledge and mainstream such contributions for the reconstruction of new knowledge of Islam (that is, what is known as shari`a or `urf), or in rethinking Islam. In this article I will discuss why these negative images and practices, as well as the sad reality in keeping women away from Islamic thought and the decision- making process, and how to rethink the future of Muslim women that is fundamental to rethinking of Islam.
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    Muslim Women in North America
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (1991)
    Barazangi discusses the challenges facing American Muslim women in search of identity. Her lecture was part of the Series on "National Conversions and Social Diversions," Organized by the Western Societies Program at Cornell University in 1991.
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    American Muslim Women Challenging Conventional Understanding of Islam
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Cornell University, 2009-09-28)
    Muslim women all over the world have been mostly viewed as secondary and/or complementary in the structure of all Muslim societies. In order to challenge and transform these un-Islamic views, women needed to retake their principal role and reinterpret the primary source of Islam, the Qur’an. In doing so during the past two decades, some American Muslim women, including myself, are challenging the conventional understanding of Islam in the hope to implement a fundamental aspect of the social justice contract between Muslims and Islam. Indeed, this was the first essential step toward accomplishing the comprehensive human rights for ourselves, as well as challenging the unwarranted authority, the hijacked Islamic authority, by Muslim men for about 14 centuries. Although the conditions during the last decade of the 20th century were right for Muslim women peaceful revolution that is firmly grounded in the Qur’an, the drastic change in the global political landscape since 2001 reversed these conditions for the majority of Muslim women. There is no simple solution, and there is no hope for any meaningful reform in the near future. Both Muslims and Westerners are to blame.
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    Why Muslim Women Are Re-Interpreting the Qur'an: A Transformative Scholarship-Activism
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Cornell University, 2010-09-16)
    Muslim women all over the world have been mostly viewed as secondary and/or complementary in the structure of Muslim societies. In order to challenge and transform these un-Islamic views, women needed to retake their principal role and reinterpret the primary source of Islam, the Qur'an. In doing so during the past two decades, some American Muslim women, including myself, are transforming the conventional understanding of Islam in the hope to implement a fundamental aspect of the social justice contract between Muslims and Islam. Indeed, Muslim women are challenging the unwarranted authority, the hijacked Islamic authority by Muslim men, and moving toward accomplishing the comprehensive human rights for themselves. This event was part of the CAPE Lecture Series.
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    Why Muslim Women Must Reinterpret the Qur'an
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Commonwealth Club, 2010-07-19)
    Nimat Hafez Barazangi, Ph.D. '88, a research fellow in the Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies program at Cornell, suggests it's time for Muslim women to have a peaceful, silent revolution firmly grounded in the Qur'an. Barazangi works to improve attitudes and conditions for women in Islam. She is the author of "Woman's Identity and the Qur'an." The lecture, moderated by National Public Radio correspondent Laura Sydell, was recorded in front of a live audience at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on July 19, 2010. A podcast is included and a video can be accessed from the link below.
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    Vicegerency and Gender Justice in Islam
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (University Press of Florida, 1996)
    This chapter summarizes Islamic view of life as a system and analyzes some implications of this system for family and male-female relationships. It is necessary, therefore, to replace the conceived notion that Islam is a religion limited to the ritual acts of worship (the five pillars) with the affirmation that Islam is a system designed for a purpose, and that this system is either accepted as a whole, understood within its ontological worldview, and acted upon within its components, or its practice may not be total. It is as important to understand that one cannot be operating partially within this system and still claim it as the base of operation. That is because whenever something is not accomplished according to what the system was designed to achieve one cannot discredit the system for not fulfilling its goals. One might understand the reason(s) that have lead to the unexpected results, rather, by exploring the steps that may have been missed during the application. I am proposing that Islam as a system or an ideology has a central concept (or an essence) around which certain principles (or secondary and tertiary concepts) are built. These principles vary in their priority depending on their closeness to objectifying the central concept. The closer they are, the higher value they should be given and the more consideration they should receive in application of the system. Then on the outer circle (of the imaginary diagram) there are the auxiliary hypotheses (or the manifestations) which, if were appropriated within the framework of the central concept and with the essence of the principles as the base, will achieve the intended results (or the outcome) of the system. The focus of this paper is on the Islamic principle of al-Khilafah (vicegerency of human beings to Allah as the Only God and the Supreme Guide), its social implications for the family, and where and how its manifestations may have been mistaken for its essence. Al-Khilafah is the purpose of the Islamic system, that is, fulfilling the purpose of creation and the will of Allah through human morality. The first part of the argument is that the principle of al-khilafah has been generally understood by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and has been practiced by the majority of Muslims on its manifestation level and not at the essence level of the principle. Furthermore, the perception (conception and practice) of this principle has been generally outside the Islamic ontological view and without consideration of the central concept of Islam, Tawhid (the Oneness of God and humanity). The second part of the argument will be stated as follows. Unless scholars, Muslims or non-Muslims, who are concerned with the study of Islamic family realize the different conceptual levels of the Islamic system, understand the variation in the implications of the different conceptualizations, and use the central concept as the epistemological base, their attempt to understand or prescribe solutions to injustice in male-female relations in the Muslim family will fail. Also, as long as Muslims are practicing the principle of al Khilafah and its social and political implications on the manifestation level only, they will not fulfill that principle nor the central concept of Islam, Tawhid.
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    Muslim Women's Islamic Higher Learning as a Human Right: The Action Plan
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Syracuse University Press, 1997)
    How do we expect the Muslim woman, collectively and individually, to identify with Islam as revered teachings and to act within its parameters, and to accommodate new human knowledge, be it that of a local Mufti's (clergy) injunction or a human rights advocate's recommendation, while neither Muslim societies nor human rights advocates recognize her self-identity as an autonomous spiritual and intellectual being? Accessing Islamic higher learning (deeper knowledge of the Islamic primary sources, the Quran and the authentic Hadith [prophetic tradition]), is argued to be the means by which the Muslim woman self-identity is recognized as a trustee. Relying solely on others' interpretations to guide her spiritual and intellectual needs is by itself an evidence that the Muslim woman's right to understand, to consciously choose, and to actively act on her choice of Islam is being compromised. Muslim Woman's deeper knowledge of the Islamic primary sources is significant to defining her relationship to God and to others. Muslim woman's understanding of "human rights" within the Islamic worldview, based on pedagogical reading (the art of learning and teaching) of the Quran is significant. I derive the rationale behind the demand for woman's educational rights from the Islamic worldview. The methodologies of the discipline of education and the strategies to implement the platform for action--that define the parameters for the Muslim woman's human rights--are grounded in that worldview. Examining her role as a human entity in the Quran does not merely concern the Muslim woman's "free choice;" it concerns her ability to maintain the pedagogical dynamics of Islam to effect a sustainable change in history. Self-realization of Muslim woman can only effect a sustainable change in history when that self-realization unfolds the meaning of trusteeship. The Quranic intention of trusteeship or vicegerency (AL-khilafah) (2:30) eliminates the replacement of the individual trusteeship by proxy. The intent of this essay is to make a pedagogical interpretation of the word and the script of the sacred, analyzing empirical data concerning Syrian Muslim women's perception of Islam regardless of their educational level. Such an interpretation is to be a meaningful exercise to women living in the post-modern era and to produce an action plan for the Muslim woman to regain her identification with Islam. One of the Quranic intentions in entrusting human beings with individual rights and responsibilities toward themselves, each other, and the universe is to bring a balance between the sexes. The interpretations of these rights and responsibilities, therefore, need to stem from efforts to exact the balance between polarized perspectives that have dominated, for instance, the fields of Muslim women's studies and of human rights activism. The strategic implications of this chapter lie in : (1) presenting a pedagogical paradigm to rethink and to act within the balanced perspective of Islam and its primary source, the Quran, away from the many layers of "taqlids" (following precedence) and from Western rationalization of Islam, (2) facilitating for Muslim women the strategies to realize their identity and to re-learn Islam in its clear, transforming meanings, and (3) interpreting human-rights activists' concerns within the Quranic concerns for a just human society, where justice means balance and fair play in the order of things, and a sustainable change of women's role.
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    The Equilibrium of Islamic Education: Has Muslim Women's Education Preserved the Religion?
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Religion And Education, 1998)
    I focus on issues of equilibrium in Muslim women's education to understand the tension between the ideals and practice and its ramifications for Islamic and Muslims' education in the United States. I argue that one maintainer of Muslim women's low effectiveness, perpetuated across new generations of Muslims, is the general perception that women are the preservers of culture and religion by proxy. The issue before us: How is it possible for a morally dependent individual to instill the character of autonomous spiritual and intellectual Muslim who can integrate effectively in a "pluralistic" society? In addition to the various degrees of perceptions and misconceptions about Islam, religious tolerance and Multiculturalism, the problem is mainly of perceiving women, particularly Muslim women as morally dependent and, hence, socially and politically irrelevant or non-central to issues of Islamic education. With the exception of few, the majority of Muslim women are neither involved in the educational decsion-making of the Muslim community nor of this nation. Often perceived as preservers of customary practices instead of agents of cultural change and contributors to inter-cultural understanding, Muslim women and their Islamic higher learning has been marginalized.
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    Parents and Youth: Perceiving and Practicing Islam in North America
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Temple University Press, 1996)
    This chapter examines how some Arab Muslim youth and families in North America perceive themselves both as Arabs and as Muslims in the context of Canadian and United States societies. Parents are concerned with how best to transmit the Islamic ideological and Arab cultural heritage to their children. One of their problems derives from differences among Arab Muslims, who come from varied national origins and hold several interpretations of the Islamic view, not all of which are based on the Qur'an; as a result they also have different nationalistic attachments to their understanding of Arab heritage. A second problem arises between immigrant parents and their American-reared children. The children may participate in American culture to a greater extent than their parents, and they are constantly faced with the conceptual need to accommodate potentially conflicting points of view. Effective identity transmission requires the determination of the nature and extent of the different interpretations held by parents and their children and of the way these interpretations are reflected in their practice of Islam and association with the Arabic heritage.
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    Self-identity as a Form of Democratization: The Syrian Experience
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Indiana University Press, 1999)
    This chapter combines historical research and a field reporting of participatory action research (PAR) with one of the grassroots women's movement in Syria. I will analyze the participatory or democratization efforts by members of this informally organized group (the group) that is working toward Muslim women's self-identity. Islamic higher learning and its relation to Islamic principles of gender justice provide the framework of this analysis. Various factors have been affecting the priorities in women's Islamic knowledge and self-realization within the predominantly Muslim society of Syria. Even when the group emphasizes community-based informal education and social welfare activities, inside and outside views of Islam and Muslim women do influence the decision-making process. These decisions may concern matters ranging from the group agenda to the members' identifications with Islam. Interpreting Islam in this group's course of action is, consciously or unconsciously, affected by the domestic, national and international affairs of Syria. The present Syrian constitution does not declare Islam as a state religion. Yet, it is hardly possible to find a discussion of any issue in Syria or any other Middle Eastern and Muslim countries without invoking a "monolithic" representation of Islamic religion-cultural and political image. Meanwhile, no studies attempted to present the Islamic conceptual and pedagogical foundations for individuals' self- identity with Islam and the consequent civic decision-making process that affects the individual and communal life. As a PAR researcher and educator, my working and reporting on this group is to argue for the change in discourse to be able to understand Muslim women's movement towards democratization. Some members of the group felt a need to further their indigenous educational strategies and invited me to participate in the group's study-circles. The group strategies consisted on reading the Qur'an and acting on what they learn. I knew of the group earlier and had informally observed some of their activities during subsequent visits to Syria. My presence in Syria for a period of three months annually during 1995-1997 helped develop this research and educational working relationship with the group. Considering the Islamic principle of self-discipline for self-realization as neither inferior nor superior, this group affirms autonomous responsibility as central to the Islamic religio-political process of educating. The group interpreted this principle to mean first-hand knowledge of Islam from its primary sources. Intimate knowledge of these sources (the Qur'an and the books of Hadith that contain the Prophet Muhammad's extrapolation of Qur'anic principles) is viewed as the only means to 'liberation.' Liberation is intended to rid oneself of the dichotomous agendas of "liberal" vis-a-vis "traditional" interpretations of Islam.3 The group's primary concern have been to understand and apply the Qur'anic way of life. Participatory decision-making process in the group, has been confined within the males' 'traditional' (i.e., grounded in absolute principles) interpretation of Islamic texts concerning the role of individual within a religio-socio-political structure of family and society. My work with this group, as a facilitator, takes the Islamic principle of self-discipline one step further to affirm self-identity within the Islamic premise of gender justice. To facilitate their movement from the predominantly males' interpretations of the Islamic primary sources is to make the Islamic principle of trusteeship (Qur'an, 2:30) explicit through higher Islamic learning. A Muslim individual may not fulfill the Islamic pedagogy of a trustee without being able to autonomously choose, understand, and act on her choice of Islam as a worldview. This process requires both autonomous morality and intimate knowledge of the Qur'an before an individual can act as a trustee. Proxy or heternomous moralities--though represent prevalent practices--do not replace autonomous morality. Community welfare is central to Islamic principles of governing, but it does not preclude the primacy of autonomous morality as a form of self-governing. Within the guidance of the Qur'an and Hadith, when in conflict, the community collective welfare takes precedent over individual rights. My analysis of this group self-learning and self-governing is intended to present a form of democratization by this Syrian feminine movement to affirm Muslim women's agency. The group may not call its work democratic, nor feminine. This movement, though, has achieved and maintained some form of effective intellectual and civic participation despite the historical and cultural constraints that dominated the Syrian society, like other Muslim-Arab societies. My intention is not to compare this Syrian grassroots movement with other movements inside or outside Syria, but to change the perception of Muslim women's invisibility as an indicator of full dependency and/or oppression. By changing the discourse we find that "mainstream" literature concerning democratization, Syrian society, and Syrian Muslim Arab women have overlooked this type of groups because these groups are not connected to the center of power. Applying self-identity for self-realization approach within the Islamic framework of gender justice as a base of participation or democratization presents different set of assumptions. Self identity for self-realization approach presupposes higher Islamic learning to re-gain the power of knowledge as a means of active agency. Further synthesis of the context of this study, the history and culture of Syria provide evidence for this group's active agency.
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    Muslim Women's Islamic Higher Learning as a Human Right: Theory and Practice
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Syracuse University Press, 2000)
    Limited access to Islamic higher learning is argued to be the basis for the Muslim woman's inability to emancipate and to self-identity as a Khalifa (trustee)--a Qur'anic mandate (or potential) of human existence. Muslim woman's reliance solely on others' interpretations to guide her spiritual and intellectual needs, be it those of Muslim or of non-Muslim men and women, is by itself an evidence that Muslim woman's right to understand, to consciously choose, and to actively act on her choice of Islam is being compromised. Full access to the Diin, the Islamic belief system, calls for the Muslim woman to take part in the interpretation of Islamic teachings of the Qur'an and the Hadith and to maintain the pedagogical dynamics of Islam, rather than being limited to maintaining the human re-production, the Muslim family structure, or the individual human rights as suggested by others. My understanding of woman's gender justice vis-a-vis "liberation" within the Islamic worldview is based on epistemological reading (the philosophy of knowledge) of the Qur'an. The rationale behind the demand for woman's access to knowledge is derived from the Islamic framework. The methodologies of the discipline of education and learning and the struggle for human dignity that define the parameters for Muslim woman's emancipation are grounded in that framework. To examine her role as a human entity in the Qur'an does not merely concern the Muslim woman's "freedom of expression;" it concerns the woman as an autonomous spiritual and intellectual human being who can effect a change in history. The intent of this chapter and of my overall research is to make a contribution towards an educational and pedagogical interpretation of the Qur'an for women living in the post-modern era and thereby to produce an action plan for the Muslim woman to regain her identification with Islam. My analysis of empirical data concerning Muslim women's perception of Islam, the contemporary North American Muslim woman, in a historical context serves to clarify the meaning and the implications of Islamic higher learning regardless of these women's educational level. Preliminary observations suggest that the majority of Muslim women's movements do not aim to eliminate the tension between the two sexes by claiming sameness in the struggle for equality. Rather, their goal is Taqwa (to balance) the tensionback in favor of woman, as the Qur'an intends in the first place when human beings, male and female, were entrusted with individual rights and responsibilities toward themselves, each other, and the universe. I will argue that one of the basic principles of Islamic justice is gender justice. The interpretations of these "equal" rights and responsibilities, however, stem from different perspectives of Islam. Muslim women groups are scattered on a continuum from the idealized polemic Muslim to the idealized static Western perspectives. Few are those who are making efforts to exact the balance between these perspectives. The pedagogical implications of this research lies in : (1) intervening among Muslim men by coaching them to rethink and to act within the balanced perspective of Islam and its first source, the Qur'an, away from both the many layers of Muslim "taqlid " (following precedence) and from Western interpretations of Islam, (2) facilitating for Muslim women the environment and the means to realize their identity as autonomous spiritual and intellectual beings, and to realize the vastness of their task in educating themselves and others in Islam--encluding changing the entrenched paradigm of understanding Islam studies and its practice, and (3) integrating human-rights activists' concerns within the Qur'anic concerns for a just human society, where justice means the balance and fair play in the ideals and realities among all humans.
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    Al Huwiyah Al Dhatiyah lil Mar'a Al Muslimah
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Dar Al-Fikr, 2002)
    See attached abstract in Arabic.
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    Domestic Democracy: The Road to National and International Democracy
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, 2003)
    In this paper, I draw an analogy between participatory democracy in the Qur`anic gender revolution and the national-international democratic relationship. Qur`anic relations create an active process of individual political consciousness and social action, while the present national-international relations hardly create national awareness or global justice. I argue that antithetical to the active process of the Qur`anic gender revolution stands the analysis of Muslim women's role in the political discourse and the governance of Muslim societies merely within gender "add-on" strategies, particularly as discussed in contemporary Western academic and Muslim traditionalist discourses. As a Muslim woman scholar-activist, I view the use of gender and other constructs as deactivating factors in the conscious process of participatory democracy within Islam. This deactivation of consciousness could explain why some Muslim women scholar-activists resist feminism that emphasizes universal group solidarity, without paying attention to individual worldviews. It could also explain why these women resist the predominantly Muslim male elite conception and practice of the consultative process (shura): participation is limited to the selected few, and women's participation is an "add-on" or only to address domestic issues. By defining Islam as an action-oriented worldview that encompasses social, cultural, and political elements, including religious and secular "Ijtihad", I emphasize this worldview's reliance on human capacity to reason, and its goal being the construction of fair decision-making process that brings equilibrium (Taqwa). I bring to the surface underlying assumptions about how tension in the domestic relationship is reflected in tensions between national and international relationships. I specifically address the tension between feminists-generated conceptions of democracy vis-a-vis Muslim women's participatory democracy. These tensions are manifested on four levels: ontological or value claims, epistemological or knowledge claims, cultural or historical claims, and praxis or socialization claims. My focus will be on the relation between the power of knowledge and social and political constructs. My goal is to develop a self-learning process to improve my own capacities and those of other Muslim women (and men) to control our destinies more effectively: to change life situations in the home, in the learning/work environment, and in the larger social context to support self-realization and self-determination. It means the ability to bridge individual political consciousness and social action to effect a cognitive and attitudinal change on the individual, social and political levels, mitigating potential resistance by both modernists and traditionalists.
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    Muslim Women's Education: Between East and West
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Holmes and Meier, 2004)
    The media and the popular culture literature in America and Europe are not the only biased groups in portraying women in Islam as "oppressed" and that their liberation can take place only outside Islam. Contrary to my trust in the impartiality of Western scholarly and activists groups, I am finding that such groups are as inequitable when it comes to addressing the "Muslim woman question" from within the framework of Islam. Empirical and historical findings in my current research on Muslim women's education in western societies, such as in North America, suggest that the absence of concerns for Muslim women's religious education is not only evident, but particularly polarized during the last two decades of the twentieth centuries. Though many of these groups are advocates of Judo-Christian women's participation in their respective religious theological and scholarly ranks, none of these groups raises the issue of Muslim women inclusion in decision-making and scholarly ranks among Muslim communities. The Qur'an and the Hadith are rich in precepts that speak of Almighty God's design for harmonious social order and humanity's responsibility for understanding God's design and working from within it. For many Muslims, including those active in North America, citing these precepts is enough to prove that Islam has always embraced a well integrated educational imperative and comprehensive knowledge of the Islamic teachings for all Muslims. Few, however, are critical when the discussion concerns women's Islamic education and the women's role as preservers of culture and as the primary educators within the faith of Islam. These few Muslims may readily acknowledge that women have more power in Islam than most Westerners realize, but when the question of allowing more women to become Islamic scholars and jurists is raised, the issue becomes that of women's primary role as nurturing mother and wife instead of educating scholar and a partner in the interpretation of the tradition. Meanwhile, Muslim women in the USA and Canada, as generally is the case in other Western societies, are not free to practice certain aspects of Islam with the excuse that women are being oppressed by Islam. While Muslim women are trying to build their own agenda for emancipation, they are being torn between secular humanists who do not allow them to practice their own reading of the religion, and the Muslims who still think that a women's Islamicity is expressed through the wearing of a headcover and seclusion and by her male household. Analyzing this polarization in the context of Muslim women's education historically, since the interaction between the West and Muslim societies has intensified in late nineteenth century, and empirically, using North American Muslim women as the case-in-point, indicates a discrepancy in the world views on education, on Islamic education, and on women's education. This discrepancy resulted in a tension between Muslims and Westerners in which Muslim women's education suffered the brunt. By synthesizing these discrepancies and the resulting historical and contemporary practices, I will conclude with some suggestions for developing an integrated educational strategies for Muslim women within the Islamic framework and in the contemporary Western social context.
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    Understanding Muslim Women's Self-Identity and Resistance to Feminism and Participatory Action Research
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Praeger, 2004)
    While headed in similar directions, rarely have feminist researchers and participatory action researchers acknowledged each other as collaborators with mutually important contributions to the journey. Through the work presented in this volume, the contributors hope to influence feminist scholarship to be more participatory and action-oriented, and participatory action research to be more grounded in feminist theories and values. This book has two distinct yet interrelated and intertwining aims. First, it creates a space for a diverse group of educators, researchers, and scholars to grapple with the multiple and complex issues that are threaded throughout feminist and action research. Second, it seeks to examine how action research and feminist research can complement each other in developing strategies for engaging in collaborative research that is rooted in activism and productive change.
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    Silent Revolution of a Muslim Arab American Scholar-Activist
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Texas University Press, 2005)
    After 35 years of living in the Unites States, every time I meet a new person, I am asked: Where are you from? My own personal, political and scholarly journey along with that of some of my cohorts engaged in search for answers to this and relevant questions have shaped my silent revolution. It is a revolution against the way Muslim-Arab girls have been raised unprepared to experience their identity autonomously; it is a revolution against the social systems that abuse and stereotype Muslim Arab women--be it the Muslim, the Arab or the American systems--chiefly because of their dress code. The goal of this revolution is to ignite the flames for social change, re-interpreting the Qur'an in order to retrieve its dynamics that originally intended to establish gender justice. Though the three and one half decades of my life in the US-- first as a foreign student, then as a permanent resident and a citizen--are marked by milestones distinctive dates and events, in my search for answers to different questions, I prefer to go back and forth between them.