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Like a thief in the night: the uneasy encounter with Islamic feminism

April 29, 2015 4:00 pm

Nayla Geagea, Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Ayat Noureddine

In the 1970s, when feminism emerged in the Birmingham center for cultural studies (bccs), Stuart Hall said: «feminism had broken in like a thief in the night». In one of the last interviews with him before his death, Hall admitted that he had committed a «serious mistake”, yet, it was an indication. That terrible trip of the tongue, he confessed, would tell him: «when it comes to authority and power, you are not as transformed as you think you are or as you ought to be».

Is Islamic feminism met with a similar uneasiness today? Does the composite term designate an oxymoron as critics would have it or does this strand of feminism hold its legitimacy precisely on the grounds of confronting and engaging with Islamism as a political ideology and practice?
as part of Beirut art center’s round table program during the exhibition unfinished conversations and the third research project by 98weeks titled “feminisms”, Beirut art center will host a round table co-organized with 98weeks and Dima Hamadeh, that invites a discussion around the relation between feminism and Islam. While Islam is variably one of the most enduring and active cultural, political, and legislative constituents in defining the social and legal positions of women in the region, trends in Islamic feminism have in the past few decades presented a view about solving women’s problems that would necessitate a reform in the Islamic institution instead of totally denouncing it. This event will involve a closed reading group in the morning that will analyze a text by Ziba Mir-Hosseini titled: the construction of gender is Islamic legal thought and strategies for reform.
In the evening, Beirut art center will host a public conversation with lawyer Nayla Geagea, Dr. Ziba Mir-Hosseini (via Skype), and Ayat Noureddine, that will place the question of women’s rights in Lebanon within the theoretical, linguistic, and legal argumentation of Islamic feminists as well as from the point of view of legal activists in a secular organization working on changing laws of nationality, domestic violence and others such as divorce and child custody.