Asma Barlas

Perhaps I am not up on Muslim writers and thinkers, but thanks to reading a discussion on Muslim Wakeup, I was informed of Asma Barlas, Professor, Politics Department, Ithaca College. Her website contains many articles which are thought provoking and worth a read. The nice thing is that many of her essays are published in The Daily Times, Pakistan, and not in academic journals. Thus making them available to a larger audience.

The following was taken directly from Professor Barlas’s website:

“My most recent research interests have been in the area of scriptural hermeneutics and the politics of reading/meaning-creation. To be precise, I am interested in how Muslims read and interpret their scripture, the Quran, because they frequently use patriarchal readings of it to justify sexual inequality and oppression [Believing Women? in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Quran, University of Texas Press, 2001].

This interest emerged gradually, from a general preoccupation with trying to understand different modes of oppression. My earlier work focused on the legacies of colonial rule as one way to understand contemporary South Asian politics [Democracy, Nationalism, and Communalism: The Colonial Legacy in South Asia, Westview Press, 1995].

At present, I am studying the so-called ‘civilizational clash’ between Muslims and Europeans that began in the seventh century. I am specially interested in finding out how Muslims encountered the West, why this encounter was/is represented by Europeans as a ‘clash’, and as a discourse of ‘Otherness’, and the ways in which this discourse plays itself out today in Western representations of Muslim holy war [jihad] and their treatment of women.

I am also working on developing new courses in the areas of human rights and colonialism/postcolonialism.” [From]

3 thoughts on “Asma Barlas

  1. I have her book, “Believing Women,” and it’s a tough row to hoe. Pretty difficult reading because of the academic “post-colonial studies” jargon and rather convoluted writing style. I imagine I’ll get through it some day, inshallah.

  2. Her book is really an answer to what had been troubling me for a long time. I admire her strenght for clearly laying down the fact that fact that historically interpretation of Quran has solely be in the hands of males who have been happily reading patriarchy in Quran and that explains opression of women in Muslim societies.
    The book , no doubt is a difficult read, but really worth reading.

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