ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Islam and Women s Rights

Women and Islam: A Historical and Theological Enquiry by Fatima Mernissi translated by Mary Jo Lakeland; Kali Publications, New Delhi, 1993; FATIMA MERNISSI, a professor of sociology at the University of Rabat, Morocco is a strong campaigner for a re- interpretation of the Islamic texts vis-a-vis the status of women. In this book she examines and reassesses literary sources like the Koran, the Tafsir of Tabari (a commentary of the Koran), the Hadith of al- Bukhari and al-Nasai, biographies of the Prophet and of the Companions, treatises on the causes of revelations, namely, Asbab al nuzul by al-Nisaburi and Lubab al nuqul fi asbab al-nuzul by al-Suyuti, treatises on the Koranic verses like the nasikh and the mansukh by scholars like Qatada Ibn Di'ama al-Sadusi, Ibn Hazm, Ibn al Jawzi, Ibn al-Barizi. The treatises are concise summaries of dozens of volumes of commentary and are usually in just one volume. The value of the sources used here cannot be underestimated and Muslim intelligentsia will not question the validity and urgency of the principal step urged by Fatima Mernissi, namely, the re-opening of the door of free interpretation. Indeed, this door should never have been deemed closed. Human society is dynamic; the need of guidance both by formulation of principles and by regulation of conduct, is constant. To declare the door of interpretation sealed is to force a rift between the ever-growing need for change and the state guidance which must, in time, widen into a gulf too broad to be bridged. The result would be frustration.
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