Social and religious change in Damascus: one case of female Islamic religious authority

Kalmbach, Hilary (2008) Social and religious change in Damascus: one case of female Islamic religious authority. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 35 (1). pp. 37-57. ISSN 1353-0194

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Abstract

Female religious authority exists and is accepted in conservative Damascene circles, though scholarship has largely overlooked it. While charismatic forms of authority have been accessible to women for centuries, twentieth-century changes have made it possible for women to achieve scholarly authority as well. The female instructor in this study argues that it is natural for women to teach female mosque lesson groups; her own authority, though, is based not only on what is ‘natural’, but also on traditional and contemporary sources of legitimisation. At the same time, female Islamic authority is intrinsically limited by the gender mores of Islamic society. Though women are able to subtly reinterpret some aspects of their societal roles, they cannot completely change the social system. Hence female leaders spread conservative practice. Female religious authority can be seen as performative; by demonstrating their potential to openly oppose the system, women can maximise their standing within it.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc > BP001 Islam
D History General and Old World > DS History of Asia > DS041 Middle East. Southwestern Asia. Ancient Orient. Arab East. Near East
D History General and Old World > DS History of Asia > DS092 Syria
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Depositing User: Hilary Kalmbach
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2013 13:01
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2017 04:49
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/43669

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