This course will critically explore diverse interpretations of women and gender within the Islamic tradition. After a brief introduction to the context, sources and diversity of the tradition, it will examine depictions of women and gender in the primary Islamic sources (the Qur’an and Sunna); classical exegetical and legal interpretations of women’s status and roles; and contemporary Islamic interpretations that touch upon topics, including marriage, women’s rights, leadership, and dress. The course will conclude with a constructive consideration of the potential extensions of contemporary interpretations of gender to broader topics, specifically masculinity and homosexuality.

Rather than comprehensively surveying the ‘issues’ with which Muslim women must contend or definitively identifying the correct stance on those ‘issues’, this course endeavors primarily to introduce the complexity and diversity of Muslim women’s attempts to assert agency and authority within the Islamic tradition. As such, while interpretative conclusions are vital, great emphasis will also be placed on developing a nuanced grasp of hermeneutical strategies, competing discourses, and identity negotiations.