Islam and the question of reform : critical voices from by Rebecca Barlow, Benjamin MacQueen, Kylie Baxter

By Rebecca Barlow, Benjamin MacQueen, Kylie Baxter

Reform, via definition, isn't an entire holiday with culture, yet a selection through students, activists, politicians and demanding thinkers to re-claim the tenets in their religion. Islam and the query of Reform is a fascinating e-book in regards to the evolving and dynamic discourse that surrounds the query of Islamic reform.

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This question motivates the line of inquiry in the present chapter. Can the meaningful establishment of women’s rights in Iran occur vis-à-vis feminist rereadings of Islam’s holy sources and a corollary process of reform within the existing state framework? Alternatively, will the full establishment of Iranian women’s rights necessitate a move into secular discourse and an extensive process of reconstruction from outside the existing religious establishment? To address this question, it is instructive to examine and analyse religious-oriented feminism and women’s rights in the context of the Iranian reform movement, which characterised the country’s political landscape for seven years from 1997 to 2004.

The parallels suggested by this latter term with the Christian Democratic tradition are not unintended, as Muslim Democrats are equally concerned to fuse more or less liberal political opinions with the overarching framework of a religious ethic. 46 Islam and the Question of Reform This moderate turn within the Islamic movement manifests itself in a changed social agenda and methodology proposed for the realisation of the ‘Islamic’ state. Thinkers and political actors involved with the ‘Muslim democratic’ sub-current of politicised Islam do not believe that a state deriving its legitimation from the shari‘ah must be inherently opposed to concepts such as religiously inclusive nationalism, the open society, liberal democracy or even popular sovereignty (Anwar 2006: 6).

The strong-worded document protested the ‘unequal treatment of half of the Iranian population’, and insisted that ‘the constitution’s belittlement of women as citizens and active social participants has blocked their ability to secure their rights’ (Shekarloo 2005). These sentiments did not only present an affront to conservative women in the Seventh Majlis. Rather, the women activists who organised and participated in the 12 June sit-in also departed in ideology from government-affiliated, religious-reformist women.

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