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Women's Human Rights and Islam : a Study of Three Attempts at Accommodation

Svensson, Jonas LU (2000) In Lund Studies in History of Religions 12.
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Avhandlingen tar avstamp i en pågående internationell diskussion om kvinnors mänskliga rättigheter och islam. I denna diskussion kan olika muslimska ståndpunkter identifieras. En del avvisar mänskliga rättigheter, såsom dessa formulerats i internationella människorättsdokument, som ”västerländska” påfund och hävdar de religiösa källornas överordnade auktoritet. För andra är islam en förlegad religiös tradition vilken inte bör ha något inflytande vad gäller frågan om kvinnors mänskliga rättigheter. Samtidigt höjs också röster för möjligheten att omtolka de religiösa källorna på ett sätt som ger utrymme för acceptans av internationella normer. Det är den senare tendensen, och dess roll i det... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Avhandlingen tar avstamp i en pågående internationell diskussion om kvinnors mänskliga rättigheter och islam. I denna diskussion kan olika muslimska ståndpunkter identifieras. En del avvisar mänskliga rättigheter, såsom dessa formulerats i internationella människorättsdokument, som ”västerländska” påfund och hävdar de religiösa källornas överordnade auktoritet. För andra är islam en förlegad religiös tradition vilken inte bör ha något inflytande vad gäller frågan om kvinnors mänskliga rättigheter. Samtidigt höjs också röster för möjligheten att omtolka de religiösa källorna på ett sätt som ger utrymme för acceptans av internationella normer. Det är den senare tendensen, och dess roll i det internationella samtalet, som står i fokus för analysen.



Texter av tre internationellt erkända muslimska akademiker utgör det grundläggande materialet. Filosofen och religionsvetaren Riffat Hassan, sociologen Fatima Mernissi samt juristen och människorättsexperten Abdullahi Ahmed an-NaÞim är alla välkända på den internationella scenen. De har alla publicerat texter som läses och anförs i den internationella diskussionen om kvinnors mänskliga rättigheter och islam. Texterna har kritiserats och kommenterats, men sällan analyserats i detalj med avseende på de metoder de tre författarna brukar i sina tolkningar av islam, de tekniker som används i försök att övertyga olika publiker samt hur författarnas versioner av islam förhåller sig till andra ”islamer” i nutiden.



Det inledande kapitlet i avhandlingen ger en översikt över den nutida internationella diskussionen om kvinnors mänskliga rättigheter och islam. Syftet är inte att bidra med ytterligare åsikter i grundfrågan, utan att ge ett sammanhang i vilket de tre debattörernas texter kan placeras. Här beaktas bland annat innehållet i internationella människorättsdokument med avseende på kvinnors rättigheter, statusen hos kvinnokonventionen från 1979 i förhållande till muslimska länder och den generella debatten bland muslimer om relationen mellan könen och religionens roll i detta sammanhang. Var och en av de tre utvalda debattörerna ges ett kapitel i avhandlingen. Dessa tre kapitel har samma tematiska struktur. I konklusionen görs vissa jämförelser, och frågor av mer generell art rörande tolkningsmetoder och diskussioner kring religioners roll i förhållande till mänskliga rättigheter beaktas. Den metodologiska och teoretiska ramen som presenteras i inledningen hämtar inspiration från de akademiska fälten islam-ologi, kunskapssociologi, diskursanalys, teorier om globalisering och religion samt genusteori. (Less)
Abstract
The dissertation focuses on interpretations of Islam that claim compatibility with international human rights norms in the context of women’s rights. These interpretations are seen as parts of an on-going contemporary international debate on women’s human rights and Islam that engages Muslims as well as non-Muslims. Existing UN-formulated international human rights schemes are a basic starting point. Texts by three internationally renowned Muslim scholars – philosopher and religious studies scholar Riffat Hassan, sociologist Fatima Mernissi and legal studies and human rights scholar Abdullahi Ahmed an-Na‘im – constitute the main part of the material studied. These three individuals become exponents for what is termed an... (More)
The dissertation focuses on interpretations of Islam that claim compatibility with international human rights norms in the context of women’s rights. These interpretations are seen as parts of an on-going contemporary international debate on women’s human rights and Islam that engages Muslims as well as non-Muslims. Existing UN-formulated international human rights schemes are a basic starting point. Texts by three internationally renowned Muslim scholars – philosopher and religious studies scholar Riffat Hassan, sociologist Fatima Mernissi and legal studies and human rights scholar Abdullahi Ahmed an-Na‘im – constitute the main part of the material studied. These three individuals become exponents for what is termed an “accommodation-position” among Muslims participating in the debate. The analysis covers methods used in the attempts to provide interpretations of the basic Islamic religious sources – the Qur’an, the hadith-literature and Muslim historiography – which accommodate international human rights norms in the context of women’s rights. Through this activity the exponents produce versions of Islam that compete with other contemporary versions of the religious tradition for general recognition, as the ‘correct’ representation of the divine will. The study also takes into consideration techniques used in the texts to convince different audiences both of the legitimacy of the interpretations presented, and of the interpreters’ authority.



A general overview of the international debate on women’s human rights and Islam is provided in order to outline the context of the versions of Islam suggested by Hassan, Mernissi and an-Na‘im. The texts are analysed as parts of this international debate, including their social functions within the debate. One of the questions asked concerns why these interpretations receive international attention and what purposes they fulfil in the international debate. They are also analysed as parts of an on-going, worldwide discussion among Muslim religious activists concerning, for example, the role of religion in society and the issue of religious authority. Theoretical inspiration is found in the academic fields of Islamology, the sociology of knowledge, discourse analysis, gender theory and theories on cultural globalisation. (Less)
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author
opponent
  • Dr. Mayer, Ann Elizabeth, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Islamology, History of Religions, Islam, human rights, women’s human rights, Women’s Convention, CEDAW, gender, globalisation, Qur’an, hadith, historiography, Riffat Hassan, Fatima Mernissi, History, Abdullahi Ahmed an-Na‘im., Historia, Non-Christian religions, Världsreligioner (ej kristendom), Mänskliga rättigheter
in
Lund Studies in History of Religions
volume
12
pages
252 pages
publisher
Almqvist & Wiksell International
defense location
Carolinasalen, Kungshuset, Lundagård
defense date
2001-01-13 10:15
ISSN
1103-4882
ISBN
91-22-01849-2
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
976f307b-17dc-473e-8a27-f8308eb6f239 (old id 19749)
date added to LUP
2007-05-25 12:01:07
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:44:56
@phdthesis{976f307b-17dc-473e-8a27-f8308eb6f239,
  abstract     = {The dissertation focuses on interpretations of Islam that claim compatibility with international human rights norms in the context of women’s rights. These interpretations are seen as parts of an on-going contemporary international debate on women’s human rights and Islam that engages Muslims as well as non-Muslims. Existing UN-formulated international human rights schemes are a basic starting point. Texts by three internationally renowned Muslim scholars – philosopher and religious studies scholar Riffat Hassan, sociologist Fatima Mernissi and legal studies and human rights scholar Abdullahi Ahmed an-Na‘im – constitute the main part of the material studied. These three individuals become exponents for what is termed an “accommodation-position” among Muslims participating in the debate. The analysis covers methods used in the attempts to provide interpretations of the basic Islamic religious sources – the Qur’an, the hadith-literature and Muslim historiography – which accommodate international human rights norms in the context of women’s rights. Through this activity the exponents produce versions of Islam that compete with other contemporary versions of the religious tradition for general recognition, as the ‘correct’ representation of the divine will. The study also takes into consideration techniques used in the texts to convince different audiences both of the legitimacy of the interpretations presented, and of the interpreters’ authority.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
A general overview of the international debate on women’s human rights and Islam is provided in order to outline the context of the versions of Islam suggested by Hassan, Mernissi and an-Na‘im. The texts are analysed as parts of this international debate, including their social functions within the debate. One of the questions asked concerns why these interpretations receive international attention and what purposes they fulfil in the international debate. They are also analysed as parts of an on-going, worldwide discussion among Muslim religious activists concerning, for example, the role of religion in society and the issue of religious authority. Theoretical inspiration is found in the academic fields of Islamology, the sociology of knowledge, discourse analysis, gender theory and theories on cultural globalisation.},
  author       = {Svensson, Jonas},
  isbn         = {91-22-01849-2},
  issn         = {1103-4882},
  keyword      = {Islamology,History of Religions,Islam,human rights,women’s human rights,Women’s Convention,CEDAW,gender,globalisation,Qur’an,hadith,historiography,Riffat Hassan,Fatima Mernissi,History,Abdullahi Ahmed an-Na‘im.,Historia,Non-Christian religions,Världsreligioner (ej kristendom),Mänskliga rättigheter},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {252},
  publisher    = {Almqvist & Wiksell International},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Lund Studies in History of Religions},
  title        = {Women's Human Rights and Islam : a Study of Three Attempts at Accommodation},
  volume       = {12},
  year         = {2000},
}