The Custom ('urf) Based Assumptions Regarding Gender Roles and Norms in the Islamic Tradition: A Critical Examination
This article critically examines certain custom (ʿurf) based assumptions and theories regarding gender roles and norms in Sunni Islamic tradition and law. First the article considers how scholarship should conceptualize Islamic tradition. Next, the processes through which the concept of ʿurf has entered into the Islamic tradition and Islamic law in particular are considered. The ʿurf based assumptions regarding the nature of gender roles and norms in (neo)-traditional Muslim thought are based on what I term a “gender oppositionality” thesis. I argue that the gender oppositionality thesis has strongly influenced the manner in which the Qurʾān and Sunna have been interpreted with respect to gender issues and on the basis of which patriarchal traditional Islamic law (and ethics) have been constructed. In particular, I highlight and problematize the conceptual link between women as “fitna” (sources of chaos), male honor (ʿird) and sexual jealousy (ghairāt) in discourses in (neo-)traditional interpretations of the Islamic tradition. Finally, the article articulates how traditional Qurʾān–Sunna hermeneutics failed to recognize the importance of “comprehensive contextualization” of the Qurʾān–Sunna on the basis of which we can question the validity of gender-oppositionality based interpretations of the Qurʾān and Sunna present in (neo-)traditional discourses that were incorporated into Islamic law through the concept of custom.
Studies in Religion
Religion and Religious Studies not elsewhere classified