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Lecture: “Women and Gender Ethics in Qur’anic Narratives” with Hina Azam (University of Texas)

March 18, 2021 | 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


Engaged scholarship on women and gender in Islam, and particularly in the Qur’an, has typically concentrated on prescriptive passages – first and foremost those that are legal in nature, and secondarily those that are ethical in nature.  Such studies have yielded important insights as well as new interpretations of what the Qur’an may be prescribing for its audiences.  While the prescription-oriented approach has continued apace and remains productive, some scholars have found discussion of Qur’anic prescriptions to be of limited utility, arguing that problems raised by the Qur’an’s prescriptions on gender ultimately cannot be solved without consideration of the Qur’an’s descriptive passages – those that are theological or anthropological in nature.  This attention to the Qur’an’s theological and anthropological content, and consideration of what that content tells us about the scripture’s views on women and gender, has yielded a second rich body of Islamic feminist scholarship.  Yet there is a third Qur’anic genre that has been less explored for its implications on questions of women and gender.  This is the genre of narrative – that is, of stories.  Narrative interpretive methods have been little applied to the study of the Qur’an, including on the topics of women and gender, despite the recent literary turn in the study of the scripture, and the seeming closeness of narrative approaches and literary approaches.  Few studies of women and gender in the Qur’an – significant though they have been – have focused identifying the anthropological and moral ramifications of its stories, nor have they focused on the theoretical problems of drawing prescriptive lessons from the Qur’an’s narrative content.  My research proposes to analyze the Qur’an’s stories about women, and to offer some thoughts on the problem of extracting ethical prescriptions from narrative content.


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Organized by Duke Islamic Studies Center, Duke Middle East Studies Center, and Duke AMES Department.


Duke University


March 18, 2021
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
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