Lately I have been making a serious effort towards understanding the Quran and the message it holds. Along with Islamic history and tafsir, I find myself leaning more and more towards scratching some surface when it comes to debunking common Islamic stereotypes. And finding the actual truth.
You can say this journey began with Believing Women in Islam by Asma Barlas, that completely changed my life. It might as well be the most hardest book I’ve ever read, but so worth the effort as the impact has been life altering. You can read more about it from an in-depth review I did last year. Click here to know more.
Coming back to the book of this review, Quran and Woman by Amina Wadud was selected as a Book Club Read Along #2 for @sofia_reading bookclub. I read Believing Women in Islam with some 50 something ladies, and the same people and new ones joined together to read Quran and Woman.
And again, it was a magnificent experience.
Quran and Woman by Amina Wadud touched on many topics ranging from the creation story of humans, the Nafs, Taqwah, technical matters regarding divorce, inheritance, nushuz, polygamy and more. The book also discussed how words in Arabic containing a feminine or masculine root have often been used interchangeable to address both genders, which opens an entire field of discussion when verses are taken literally to demean one gender or establish superiority of the other.
Throughout my reading of Quran and Woman I was struck with how concisely Amina Wadud laid down her analysis and scholarship on the Quran, and continuously brought back her analysis to Allah’s Oneness and our Taqwah. She also mentioned the Tawhidic triangle which places God on the top, and women and men on the next level, equally.
This is a such a striking yet simple concept, as traditionally by saying that men are superior to women, we disconnect the direct line of communication between God and Women. Placing both sexes on the same level established the unity and open channel of communication with God and His creation.
While reading Quran and Woman has been nothing short of a stimulating pleasure, I can’t help but bring up my own bias prior to starting this book.
You see Amina Wadud has always been at receiving end of controversies, and one particular incident (details I don’t want to go into) cemented her as a controversial person when it happened. I was quite young and perceptive to what my elders opined on the matters of religion and faith, and took their words for it when they said what she did was wrong.
Now years later, after reading this book, there is not a single thing that goes against Allah’s Word or the Quran’s message. And while I still am not sure which side to fall on regarding that incident, myself and surely the world has seen so many MALE Islamic scholars do terrible things and blasphemy the word of God through their actions and sermons.
Yet they go unscathed mostly, and are re-accepted when it comes to preaching. So why can’t the world offer the same courtesy to Amina Wadud? Why does a female scholar have to be scrutinised for their past actions before they make a move in the present? Clearly that hasn’t stopped many male scholars from continuing their scholarship.
And that is why reading this book isn’t just about gaining knowledge.
It is about unlearning the prejudices, biases, misgivings, and patriarchal education we’ve grown up with and really engaging with the Quran ourselves. To use the brain we have and find the best of meaning. But most importantly to question exegesis that goes against Allah’s Oneness, message of mercy, peace, and justice.
Because we are always to find the best meaning from the Quran.
If you want to read more books about Islam here are some suggestions that were mentioned during the book club meetings:
- Believing Women in Islam by Asma Barlas
- Gendered Morality bby Zahra Ayoubi
- Women and Transmission of Religious Knowledge in Islam by Asma Sayeed
- Woman and Gender in the Quran by Celene Ibrahim
- The Sublime Quran by laleh Bakthiar
- The veil and the Male Elite by Fatema Mernissi
- A Jihad for Justice
Onto the basics:
- Rating: 5.0/5.0
- Should you read it: yes you should.
- Would I read it again: absolutely. This book needs multiple re-reads.
- Reader Level: intermediate level. There is some difficult vocabulary to understand.
Till next time,