Islamic Feminism and the Challenges of Gender, Sexuality and LGBTQ Rights in Contemporary Islam

By Eren Cervantes-Altamirano.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Islamic feminism has emerged to counter historical patriarchal interpretations of Islamic theology and liturgy, and to reclaim womanhood, gender, and sexuality within Islam’s sacred texts. The movement has also challenged Western feminist discourses that deem religion uniquely patriarchal and oppressive for women. Despite the challenges, a number of Islamic feminists, including Amina Wadud and Fatima Mernissi, have turned to the overarching themes in the Qur’an to recover a progressive interpretation of the sacred scriptures that allows for a discussion on gender, sexuality, and LGTBQ rights. The challenges prevail as Islam, at the institutional level, remains highly patriarchal. Furthermore, the politization of Islam in the West has led to the targeting of Muslim women in non-Muslim countries through the media and policy-making. This paper aims to analyze the ways in which Islamic feminism can advocate for scriptural interpretations that challenge traditional and contemporary views on Muslim women, while initiating a discussion on LGTBQ rights within a religion whose texts have been solely interpreted through the eyes of cissexual men.

Keywords: Feminism, Gender, Sexuality, LGTBQ, Islam

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 2, Issue 3, 2012, pp.75-85. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 407.975KB).

Eren Cervantes-Altamirano

Undergraduate Student, Political Science and Religious Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

Erendira Cervantes-Altamirano is a political science and religious undergraduate student at the University of Alberta. She recently published “Recovering the Progressive Spirit of Islam: Ijtihad and Its Transformative Possibilities in Islamic Feminism” in the online student journal, Axis Mundi. She is also a writer for the controversial Muslimah Media Watch online forum. She is hoping to further develop her research in gender and sexuality within religion and secularism through a graduate program.