By Ahmad Zidan
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Extra info for Rightly Guided Caliphs
This ‘‘culturalization of nature and the naturalization of culture’’ 45 manifests itself in three claims (as the conservative Muslim position summarized above reveals): that there are essential ontological and ethical-moral diﬀerences between women and men, that these diﬀerences are a function of nature/biology, and that the Qur’ān’s diﬀerent, hence unequal, treatment of women and men aﬃrms their inherent inequality (in a series of steps, diﬀerence is thus transformed into inequality). In reading the Qur’ān in light of this deﬁnition of patriarchy, my aim is to see whether it endorses the ideas of sex/gender diﬀerentiation, dualisms, and inequalities that are implicit in these claims.
Here I consider how deﬁnitions of the canon, and of knowledge itself, shaped Qur’ānic exegesis. I also examine the roles of the state and of interpretive communities in the early stages of Muslim history in inﬂuencing the processes by which method, meaning, and memory were constructed. In this context, I focus in particular on how exegetical communities came to link their own commentarial practices to those ascribed to the Prophet and, in time, to elevate their commentaries over revelation itself, a method that has put a closure on how Muslims can ‘‘legitimately’’ read the Qur’ān today.
Even if we do not agree with these ideas, we need to take them seriously if we wish to argue against them. This is another way of saying that dissent, to be meaningful, must contend seriously with the discursive and moral-ethical frameworks it seeks to challenge in order to demonstrate its own value. That is partly what has prompted my own engagement with Western/feminist theories, many of which serve as helpful points of departure, that is, as ‘‘a starting point and an act of divergence, of moving away’’ 65 for my work.
Rightly Guided Caliphs by Ahmad Zidan