Gresham College Lectures

Women, Islam and Prophecy

May 12, 2023 Gresham College
Gresham College Lectures
Women, Islam and Prophecy
Show Notes Transcript

The study of ‘Women and Islam’ has expanded exponentially in recent decades.

This lecture maps out emerging agendas, for example, the growing interest in women’s role in the transmission of Islamic knowledge and practice. It examines new avenues such as conceptions of women and gender in Muslim theology, using the theological debate on whether women could be prophets as a case study. How might this help us to rethink our own ideas about women in Islam?

A lecture by Dr Shuruq Naguib recorded on 9 May 2023 at Barnard's Inn Hall, London.

The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website:

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So I start with in the name of Aah, the most compassionate and the most merciful.I'd like to start my talk by, um, telling you a little bit about the scholarship of recent years on Islam, women and gender.Uh, this scholarship has been increasingly conducted in the last two decades by women who are Muslim or of Muslim background.Uh, like me, this has made it possible, uh, for Muslim women academics to refocus, expand, and transform Islamic studies, sometimes against the will of many who do, uh, conventional Islamic studies.Uh, however, they have to challenge these Muslim women academics and scholars have had to challenge the denigration of their scholarship in academia, uh, as advocacy.So they are accused of being advocates of a confessional, uh, agenda or as two liberal and two feminists, uh, when they, uh, are speaking in traditional circles.But despite these challenges, uh, there is a kind of wide recognition that there needs to be more inclusive models of knowledge production for women to participate in and for Muslim women to participate in the production of knowledge about Islam, uh, or Islamic knowledge, uh, that is, uh, more theologically oriented.In the slides that I, uh, I have for you, I'd like to explore the fruits of some of these recent studies.So one of the interesting things that, uh, have come out of, uh, scholarship on gender, women and Islam is an exploration of what women contributed to Islamic knowledge in the past.Uh, and these are some of the recent books that some of you might be familiar with.El Moja by a, uh, knowledge in Islam, uh, women in Knowledge in Islam, uh, by, uh, women in Islamic biographical collections, uh, by Ruth Waard.Uh, and these studies tell us about women's role in the transmission and construction of the Islamic tradition By, for example, uh, gives us, uh, an overview, a survey of the thousands of women, including the wives of the prophet who helped and contributed to, uh, creating, uh, the prophetic cannon.Uh, so for example, I Isha wife of the prophet, uh, produced or transmitted 2000 and, uh, 210 Hadis.And she didn't just transmit some of these transmissions are her own interpretation of prophetic practice of, or life of with the prophet or, uh, Koranic references.Uh, she also contested some of the male interpretations, and that continues, uh, down, uh, the, uh, the, uh, the years and the centuries.Uh, by the, uh, fifth century, we have, uh, a scholar called Shor del Kaba, uh, about whom there is a chapter in one of the three books that, that I introduced, uh, at the beginning was the calligrapher, uh, and Hadk scholar who taught until the age of 90 in the mosque of Baghdad, in, uh, in the sixth century of Islam and the 11th century of the common Era.Uh, here she's portrayed, uh, as sitting on the pulpit in the mosque in a famous literary work, uh, produced in the following century.Uh, there's in the 16th century whose book hasn't been studied yet, but has been authored, uh, and edited, um, it's called, uh, the Principles of Sophism, where she presents a whole theology of love based on her understanding and reception of, uh, the, the various Islamic traditions.Um, the, a lesser known scholar, uh, Sara bin, uh, a 15th century scholar who is, uh, both a transmitter of prophetic tradition and a jurist in her own right, who has, according to this manuscript, signed a religious ruling or a, a, a jurisdiction ruling in her own name.So, the point I'm trying to make is that women across the centuries contributed to the production of Islamic knowledge and women's, uh, role in academia today.In the study of gender, women and Islam has also been about revealing that aspect of Islamic history and presenting a model forward to change scholarship on Islam to take account to become cognizant of the role of women.And this can be grounded in theological works, which permitted women to engage in theology and scriptural interpretation.For example, bag and 11th century Iraqi scholar talks about the importance of, uh, permitting women to do f thick is Islamic jurisprudence, that there is no obstacle to them engaging in this, uh, Islamic discipline.Uh, but the code that I, uh, personally, uh, have, uh, a soft spot for, and I try to include in many of my talks because I think it's worth reflection upon, is by the, uh, Egyptian, uh, uh, and Syrian, uh, uh, scholar and nai, uh, from Damascus.Uh, he wrote a book on the rules of producing religious rulings in which he actually argued that, uh, provided that the religious color or the jurist has acquired all these conditions, for example, uh, that they ha they are an adult Muslim, uh, that that adult Muslim is trustworthy, pure from corruption or moral false who possesses a a perceptive mind, exact in action, accurate in reasoning, and generally attentive.It does not matter if that person is free, a slave woman or a blind person, and the jurist who acquires all these conditions can actually become an independent jurist, somebody who does not belong to a school of thought.So if they have reached that level of knowledge, they can actually establish their own school of thought.So that gate is there in the Islamic tradition for women, and yet we see such silence.And we have women who transmitted the prophetic tradition, some writings by some women's theologians.But the contribution is so small in comparison with the possibilities.And we see today contemporary shifts.So, for example, many women now are doing Islamic studies in the traditional way.Colleges have sprung up across the Muslim world and in minority contexts where women are studying the traditional disciplines.And as they do this, uh, they are partaking in traditional structures of knowledge, but also contributing to pushing the boundaries to some extent.Uh, we have seen the revival of Islamic education in general, uh, but I could say that some of the colleges I have seen, which are mixed, the majority have been women, including colleges in London, which, uh, are specialized in Islamic education.This is an image not from, uh, the, uh, the mosque in Manchester where I, where I live.Uh, this is an image of El Zahar, which is a major Sunni university in Cairo.And I was just passing by and, uh, with no intention to do any research on gender, but forever the academic.I wanted to catch this moment of women studying and teaching in the whole of the Mosque of Al Asher with their teach male teachers and female teachers mixing with the men.That image is very inspiring.And yet the question that I ask, and this is inspired both through my work and through questions that my daughter asked me when she was four and five, and six and seven.So if women are now partaking in Islamic knowledge, we know that they partook in Islamic knowledge in the past, but the impact is difficult to map out whether it's the literary legacy of the women or the impact on the ideas.What about women today?How can we push the boundaries of Islamic knowledge, whether we are Muslim or non-Muslim working in academia or in confessional educational context?What more can we do?And the reason I've asked this question is obvious.I'm a Muslim woman myself, but one day my daughter Maryam came to me back from the Islamic Arabic school and said, you know, today I felt so embarrassed because you lied to me.And I said, how did I lie to you, <laugh>?I don't think I'd lie to you.Uh, and she said, well, my teacher, her female teacher asked her if, uh, she knows any prophets of Islam.And she said, Maryam.And the teacher told her, there are no female prophets in Islam.And I've always known that there are debates about female prophets in Islam.And I've told my daughter that Mary, mother of Jesus is perceived as a female prophet as, so when she took that knowledge to her Islamic Arabic school, that knowledge was undermined as completely outside Islamic doctrine as incorrect.So I've started doing more research over the years, trying to write a book about debates on female prophethood in Islam.So while this might come across as a bit textual, uh, something of an intellectual history, um, maybe convoluted arguments amongst theologians in some bygone days, but these ideas, this history actually impacts lives and, uh, prevents, uh, many from remodeling themselves or remodeling their spirituality and morality in ways that, uh, are more open than the existing models.So dedicated to my daughter, I start this case study on female prophethood trying to trace the debate and weather.Actually, we can say that there is a consensus.Women can't be prophets.And why that is important, because prophecy is a form of agency that has been given to men in Islam and other Abrahamic traditions.It's a kind of divine election.If women were excluded from that, that is actually a serious, uh, issue to contend with as believing women.So, to start with, the conventional Muslim conception that my daughter confronted, uh, is that prophethood, uh, in Islam is conditional upon maleness.A representative, uh, a representative articulation of this to you can be found, uh, in, um, in a treaties by, uh, Persian, uh, scholar from the 14th century called.Um, by the way, I've made a list of the, the, some of the scholars I'll mention so that you can follow the names.Uh, this is in order of their appearance.I might not mention all of them, uh, if the time, uh, uh, if there are time constraints.Uh, so they're not in chronological order.So the first one, Abu a Persian scholar, uh, he, uh, he argues that, uh, there aren't any women prophets because prophethood is conditioned, uh, uh, is conditional upon Manness.In the opening paragraph of his discussion on the characteristics of Prophethood, he instructs the reader to know that the prophet must be male for anybody who knows Arabic, he says, explains this precondition on grounds of the public nature of prophetic responsibility, such as, uh, promulgation of a call to belief in God and the proclamation of proof, uh, such as a miracle, something to prove the prophecy, he then purports that femaleness is incongruent with that.And he says it's incongruent with that based on the Koran, uh, where, uh, it says in chapter 33, or the chapter of the clans, verse 33, remain in your houses speaking to the wives of the prophet that is remain in your houses and display, not your finery, as did the pagans of all, and perform the prayer and pay the arms and obey God and his messenger people of the house.God only desires to put away from you abomination and to cleanse you.Although the whole passage in, uh, chapter 33 from verse 28 until verse 33, is addressing the prophets wise.In particular,The verse I read out is extended to all Muslim women as an ideal, as normative women should remain at home.So if women should remain at home, how could God send them to have a public role as messengers to people?I mean, messenger, hood can involve divine prophecy, but messenger hood, in a very broad sense, can involve scholarship as well's view merits further unpacking.Uh, one of the things, of course, is his reading of the, uh, Koranic verse remain in, in your homes, uh, is only one of the recitations, but he presents it as a consensus, suffice it to observe that El Nafi presents this as the correct doctrine of the people who follow prophet Mohamed's tradition.But digging into the Sunni theological tones doesn't sustain this view.The more I looked, the more I found proof of major disagreements, not only about women prophets, but also about the nature of prophecy and prophethood itself.There are so many conceptions of prophethood, even within the Sunni tradition, even within the same school of the Sunni tradition.Uh, the Sunni tradition is, uh, is the largest denomination in the Muslim world.So there is abundant evidence that before nafi, the terms of the debate were markedly different.Nobody asked, is gender important for the, uh, uh, for the, um, the case for, for a person to become a prophet?The question was different.So the terms of the debate shifted over time.For example, in early classical systematic theology, the idea of women prophets is often tackled more openly.So the question was, uh, not, uh, dismissed.And it was, it often occurred not as a discussion of the characteristics and gender of the prophet, but more, uh, in the discussion about how we can prove, uh, prophecy.And this was, uh, a debate that I can't, uh, fully, uh, explain today.But it was a debate against the philosophers in particular who didn't see prophecy as important, and who considered human reason enough to, uh, discern what is good and what is bad, and to discern, uh, the truth in general.Uh, so in key works, looking at one of the renowned key works of systematic theology, the opposition to female prophecy doesn't turn on gender at all.Scholars such as Alni is number two, from two who, who represents a major, uh, classical theological school called, uh,.Uh, his argument relies on historical silence.So he doesn't make gender a condition of prophecy, rather, he says, we don't know of any woman who proclaimed herself to be a prophet.So even women who had miracles, and we have Mary, mother of Jesus or Maryam, uh, who, uh, is associated with miracles in the Koran.But does she anywhere in the Koran say that these miracles are proof of her prophecy?In that case, says, well, she was silent, so we can't consider her a female prophet.So the exclusion from prophecy is not a denial that women could be miracle workers.He accepts that Ma Mary Maryam is a miracle worker.Rather, it turns on a distinction between prophetic and saintly miracles.Since she didn't call herself a prophet, then this must be, uh, a manifestation of her saintliness or special status.And a further proof is the people of the K who are mentioned in the Koran as having manifested a miracle, uh, but that was never associated with, uh, a claim that they were prophets.So in a way, this leaves us, this classical position leaves us with the, uh, with the possibility that unbeknown as to us, there may have been women prophets that Dr.Koan has not mentioned.There may have been women prophets who proclaimed miracles as proof of their prophecy, but the Koran hasn't mentioned them.The Koran itself says that it does, it doesn't tell the stories of all prophets.The reason for this more open position in classical theology comes from the very conception of prophecy as, uh, turning on miracles.Miracle, or the miracle has to be, uh, there has to be a miracle, and the miracle has to be a proof of prophecy.Uh, and the idea representation of this is prophet Jesus.And, uh, prophet Moses and unique and marvelous miracles, like those of Maryam do exist.Uh, but if the miracle hasn't been announced as proof of the prophecy, then it can't be taken as such.Uh, and there are many scholars who accepted that view across the schools of thought, the rationalist and the traditionist.They were so concerned with the proof being proclaimed.So did anybody diverge from that wide, uh, view, uh, of, uh, prophethood and miracles in early Islam, which is not intended to exclude women as that later articulation I mentioned, but rather, uh, the exclusion of women from prophecy is a byproduct of the nature of the argument, and also is not, uh, uh, categorical in, uh, in denying that women could have been miracles, uh, could have been profits.Are there scholars who diverge?Yes, are scholars who diverge from these e centralizations, uh, take a different approach anchored in the Koran.So rather than adopting systematic theology, they develop hermanutics based in on the koran's language.So instead of reading an external already formulated idea about prophethood, and then finding evidence from the Koran, they start from the koran's understanding of prophecy and the language surrounding prophecy, uh, which one might call the conceptual grammar of Islam, of the Koran.One of these colors is I, he's number four as the , just to, uh, to say why he's here, because he represents the Rationalist school, uh, the Mak School for those who know the history of Islamic theology, who also agreed with alni about what constitutes prophecy and why women are to be excluded.So Imi is an an Lucian scholar who belonged to a, a school, uh, that took the Koran and prophetic tradition seriously, and developed a theology that is grounded in hermanutics of the text.So I has starts from arguing that the lack of evidence, the lack of historical evidence, cannot be taken to represent, uh, a view on female prophethood.And he writes, A treaty is called the Prophethood of Women, which is one of the very few expositions dedicated entirely to the question at hand.Uh, he argues, uh, that there are key, uh, terms and, uh, occurrences in the Koran that actually go against that, uh, consensus that there were no women that we know of who were prophets.He argues, for example, that the koan mentions a dialogue, recounts the dialogue between Abraham's wife, Sarah, and the angels in chapter 11, in which she is given use of Isaac and Jacob.So, Abraham's wife is talking to the angels.She is not simply a privilege of being a prophet's wife, as he will, as he will say and argue.He also mentions that the mother of Joseph's Moses was divinely instructed in chapter 28 to cast her son into the water.And more clearly on another occasion, uh, in Soha chapter 20, uh, verse 38, to, uh, she's, she's cast as having received revelation to cast her son into the water.So the word revelation is associated with her.If Nama considers this clear evidence that she perceived divine revelation, which mother would cast her child into the water without certainty that they will be saved and certainty cannot be achieved without revelation.Like Moses's mother and Abraham's wife, Maryam is giving news about her purification and election by the angels.And then she's visited by Angel Gabriel to be given glad tidings of Jesus employing all these citations as attesting.These women's Prophethood says that the whole point of the word for prophethood in Arabic, Nobu, which comes from Naeh, is to receive news, is to have news communicated.So fundamentally, Lexi Prophethood in Arabic means receiving news, divine news or revelation.And unlike the President scholars I've talked about so far, who all lived in the eastern part of the Muslim world, and who conceptualized prophethood in missionary terms, uh, prophethood as persuading, converting and publicly, uh, proclaiming miracles, for I has made the most, uh, important component of prophethood is prophecy.Not doing all these public rules, but prophecy itself and the objections against Mary and Mary's prophethood, uh, that for example, she doesn't proclaim herself a prophet, uh, not just in haz, but even other, uh, uh, scholars such as the, uh, 14th century Damas scholar in the ta, his name is not here.I wasn't planning to mention him.They say this idea, it comes from outside the Koran.There's no evidence in the Koran that somebody needs to say, I bring forth a miracle, and this is proof of my prophethood.And that's a convoluted theological, uh, argument, rather the Koran talks of revelation.So IK says that those object to marry as, uh, being, uh, a female prophet, uh, have no grounds, have no cor grounds, and those who say that in fact the cor designates her as a person of truth and Arabic words, uh, that this doesn't exclude her, her from being a female prophet, because, um,Joseph in chapter 12 of the Koran, who is a prophet, clearly designated as a prophet, is also described with the same term.If anything, prophethood and being a person of truth are intertwined.The Quran says about Mary, um, or about Jesus.Uh, the Messiah, son of Mary was only a messenger messengers before him passed away.His mother was a woman of truth.They both ate food.So in husband finds attestation in the Koran many times that being, uh, a person of truth, uh, is actually a station of excellence in the eyes of God that is concomitant to prophethood.And that being a person of truth indicates moral and spiritual perfection, which is a prerequisite of prophethood and has been achieved by Maryam.And not only Maryam in according to the Quran, Pharaoh's wife has also achieved perfection.And if we go by the prophetic tradition, there is the first wife of the prophet, another Sian scholar who belonged to the mainstream school of Alni, agreed with Iha, that going by Koranic evidence, all the terms surrounding Maryam echo, the status of prophethood purification election, being a person of truth, being purified, being given miracles, uh, all of these terms, uh, and, uh, let's say concepts of prophethood occur surrounding Mary in with such an intensity that albi, he was accord, been exceeded, uh, from the seventh century, cannot deny what the Koran is saying about, uh, Maryam as a female prophet.In fact, uh, he, uh, says toward the end of his exposition of, uh, verse 42, chapter three of the Quran, Iran, he says,Uh, Maryam to women is like Mohamed to men.So in her prophethood, she is to women what Prophet Mohamed is to men.So this parallel is quite powerful to think of a woman capable of being compared to Prophet Mohamed, uh, in, in, in this way.The point often made when I speak of Iha Corbi is that they were actually typical or exceptional, that their ideas was born out of, uh, uh, of a theology that was progressive.Because medieval Muslim society in Cordoba, specifically both of them were from Cordoba, was a bit lax.After all, Cordoba is often characterized by having had greater freedoms for women at the time, uh, than elsewhere in the Muslim world.And I was a contemporary of the famous and Delian Princess ela.Does anybody know Juan Letter here?No.So, ELA was a daughter of an.So toward the end of the golden period of, uh, Muslims, Spain, uh, in the early fourth century, uh, her, uh, romantic escapades are well known in the historical accounts.She was a poet herself.Uh, and, uh, she even inscribed on her gown, uh, the poetic lines, I am, by God fit for high positions, highest positions she imagined to be, uh, hers to take.And I walk on my way with great pride and offer my cheek to whomever desires to kiss it.So this was considered scandalous, even in Cordoba, but it also indicates, and it wasn't just who was a female poet, but also indicates that women saw themselves as able to aspire to the highest position and to freely ex express themselves.But I want to perhaps to, at the end of my talk, uh, to draw attention to a much earlier scholar, because if NA has wasn't influenced by the progressive , uh, society, and, uh, the, uh, let's say the prominent agency of women in cultural life in Muslims, Spain, if we go back to the, uh, third century of Islam, which would be the ninth century of the common era, we have ab al a polymath from Altra, Iraq, a rationalist scholar like Zari from the Maite School.Uh, his legacy covers all Islamic disciplines.In fact, we can say that he can be credited with bringing forth the idea of the miracle as proof of prophecy.He has written one of the earliest treaties on proofs of prophethood to argue against Christian theologians and rationalist philosophers who denied prophecy that prophet Mohamed's miracles are evident.Uh, and he coined the term Han proof.Why do I mention aljaz?It's like I've gone to Cordoba and, uh, I've mentioned in, uh, in the 14th century, why am I going back to the ninth century?Because I want to draw your attention to the fact that the whole debate about, uh, women's prophethood and the place of women in Islamic cosmology, as it were, or in Islamic understanding of the relationship between humanity and the divine, uh, is ongoing and can be traced back to those early roots and Miriam's uniqueness and the appeal of Maryam as a figure that, uh, represents this connection with the divine, that role, that, uh, unique role she was given by the divine, that this goes back to, uh, to the, let's say, to the ground of Islamic intellectual life, whether it was theological or literary, or, uh, Herman Utk, uh, especially in connection with the Koran.So doesn't say that Maria is a prophet of g of God, but he writes in a book, uh, in a polemic book, uh, against Christian theologians, an epistle on women.So in that theological treaties, which is polemical, that engages with Christian theologians trying to prove that prophet Mohamed, uh, is, is a true prophet, he comes up with a, a chapter or an epi on women.And under that, he includes a section entitled God Created a Child from a Woman without a Male Spouse, and did not create a child from a man without a female spouse.It's a very long title in Arabic.I've tried my best with a translation.Aja describes this as a marvelous miracle and an outstanding proof.So I've taken you back to that old language before something given to women only, and using the terminology of systematic, uh, Muslim theology, he says, or unambiguously references this to be, uh, something so unique to women, that it gives them a degree above men.That's not Cordoba.This is Basra in the ninth century.So Aljaz cannot be accused of, uh, sloppily using the term bohan since he himself coined it.He wrote one of the early treaties to argue for the bohan or the proof of prophet Mohamed's Prophethood, when he uses that term to describe Maryam as having a bohan that marks her uniqueness and that of all women above men in this particular way, that particular way being, uh, God's choice of a woman to be given the most marvelous miracle of the virgin conception.Then what he's saying is quite fascinating about how Muslim early Muslims actually understood or had an open horizon as they understood the question of gender and prophecy now jumping, uh, forward or leaping forward, uh, many, many centuries.I would say that these early favorable views, the conflicted opinions, uh, all of these different nuances about what constitutes prophecy Was not specific to, and Lucia for sure, and was never, uh, consolidated into any form of consensus either way.But it opened the possibility for even the most conservative scholars like I the last on my list, who is known as the, uh, authority on explaining the sound collection of prophetic tradition called.Uh, IK says, if we understand prophecy or prophethood as, uh, turning on prophecy or receiving revelation, then we have a tradition that says four women, uh, and, and receiving revelation and, uh, also, uh, being conditional upon moral perfection.Then we have four women in the prophetic tradition who achieved perfection, Maryam, ak, the wife of the Pharaoh, and, uh, the superiority, according to the tradition, the superiority of ish that to all women is like this, the superiority of Ed, which is a dish to all dishes, uh, considers it, uh, actually plausible based on the prophetic tradition.And, uh, this understanding of the idea of, uh, prophethood as prophecy, uh, coming to somebody who has achieved more imperfection.Now, I've taken you on a journey.Maybe I've confused you with all the theological terms.The point that, um, I'm trying to make is that one of the salient features of this debate is that scholars from the formative to the early modern period continue to address this question in the various religious disciplines across the multiple genres of writing.And I won't, I have a list of another 20, but I thought we don't have the time for that today.I'm writing a book about it.Um, so the salient feature of this debate is that it does not attempt to close down the possibility of women prophets, even those who are articulating correct doctrine, that prophethood is conditional upon maleness.They, in their arguments, in the detail of their arguments, they are trying to contend against all these different views.So in a way, by making those points about, or trying to exclude women from, uh, the possibility of receiving prophecy, uh, by mentioning all the other views, they reinscribe them in the debate, and the debate remains alive.So the final question that I want to leave you with.So what's the point of going back to all this tradition?Why don't we vendor the slate clean and start afresh?Um, that is because in the reality of religious practice, children, women, and many others will come against, uh, views that will sound like they are correct and most authoritative and based on consensus.So we need to, in order to challenge these models, which are exclusionary, we need to develop not just in new theology, because that's easy to dismiss, but also an understanding of theology that is far more open to, uh, to allowing women and others or, or women and, and all believers within the community to develop more inclusive models.So at this point, I think, uh, it's time for you to ask questions, and maybe you can try to push the boundaries of this theological thought by making suggestions, further suggestions as to where else you might think I should look, what other topics you think I need to, to be, uh, trying to deconstruct.Thank you very much.Really fascinating, um, lecture, um, especially going through all these great historical traditional figures.Um, and I think you, I think these traditional figures, all as great as they were, they would've been influenced by the culture of their time, which would've been male dominated, and maybe that influence, that was the external influence, which made them come to that view that they couldn't be female prophets.But as you say, iha counted that by going to the Quran itself and showing that it couldn't be ruled out.And actually, as a suggestion, it reminded me of a lecture listen to on YouTube recently called Female Archetypes in the Quran.And it talked about, if we go maybe the best way of countering these historical traditions, traditional view is acknowledge the strengths in them, but appreciate that they, the weakness in them is that they would've been influenced by their, their culture of their time, but that the Quran is free of these kind of cultural influences, and it actually portrays many women in the crown in a really positive, strong way.And, um, you know, pe people, as you mentioned, that, um, uh, the mother of Moses and Maryam and, um, even the Queen of Shiba is portrayed in a really positive light, actually.Uh, and actually the crown is actually devoid of the negative representation of Eve in Theran as well.So, um, and I just wanted to say it is really, um, fascinating talk, and thank you for, I just wondered if you thought about, um, any other examples in theran of, of women in Theran, which could strengthen the argument as well.Thank you.Thank you.That, that's, uh, an excellent question, uh, because I can say a bit more about why I'm doing what I'm doing.I said something toward the end about should we render this slate clean and, and start a fresh, I think there has been fantastic scholarship on women in the Koran and, and gender and women in the Koran and different angles to, uh, engaging with, uh, women, uh, figures in the Koran and gendered agencies in the Koran.And I've supervised several PhD pieces on the topic.Um, but the, I guess to, um, to be able to expand and promote a more egalitarian understanding, we have to engage with the tradition that so many hold onto.Um, the work of people like Amadou and Asma BAAs and uh, and many others is, has been inspiring, but it has always been accused of being outside the tradition, although I would say given the linguistic engagement, they are actually within the very heart of the tradition, but they don't engage or take on board the dominant views.I find that the politics of knowledge is, uh, very sensitive in Islamic contexts.And one of the ways that I think, uh, a more productive politics could be is in my experience, is to say you can't claim that to be a consensus, because it was never proclaimed as a consensus, uh, across time and in, in various, uh, Islamic, uh, works of, of renowned and authority.And I can point out where in reality when I'm faced with that, the view of a consensus or the view of exclusion is just, uh, rooted in some, uh, let's say imagined idea of tradition.So in pushing against the imagined idea of tradition, we need to see what the tradition actually says.Yes, they were the products of their own times that actually strengthens the argument.If they were the products of their own time and a male patriarchal, male-centered patriarchal context, why didn't they all exclude women in the end from prophecy?Why didn't they biologically indict all women?It would've been much easier.In fact, many of them took the Quran seriously.Many of them could not talk with certitude about women not being female prophets or not being anything.So the, the, the disagreement suggests that, you know, the tradition wasn't just the product of patriarchy as it were, but there are things that spoke from the Quran to people, and we can get glimpses of that.The reason I say this also, uh, is a, is a personal, uh, let's say theological stance.Uh, and it's a simple one, if the Koran was never understood until modernity.So if the idea of gender equality is koranic and that has never been understood at all, and it's such an important principle, then that says something about the Koran and not just its interpreters.So I would like to think that no generation of interpreters manages to embrace or capture the full meaning of the Koran, but certainly glimpses of fundamental principles must be present in the, uh, in the various receptions of the Koran, whether it's Koran, ex Jesus, or, uh, callam, which is systematic theology or any other discipline.I hope that you don't mind the long-winded answer.I saw has raised her hand that, I dunno who,Sorry, just wait for the mic.One second.Does that answer your question?Lovely to listen to you after a very long time.Um, of course, it's lovely to hear your overview of the different arguments about women in Prophethood, but the question that I have on my mind for, since I can remember is something went wrong very early, right?And very early on, I mean, I know there are some scholars who say, we've actually never had Islam, cuz Islam was never really implemented properly after the rightly guided and everything.So it opens if you take that line.Therefore, if we never really had Islam implemented properly, then what is it that we are living and what is it that we should be living?So there's a big what Could have, what Could, yeah, <laugh>.So therefore, this is a question I'm exploring myself at the moment, but the question I have on the issue of gender, which is something I've been involved myself for a long time, is I've got to the point, I've done all the angry and all of this and that, and all that I've done that I've overcome.Sure It comes Back, yeah, it comes back, period.There are some red flags here and there.Uh, but the question I have is that, um, we spend our, a lot of our time sort of being defensive against male exclusive, uh, exclusiveism, which is right.I'm not saying that as a negative, negative thing, uh, but they've put us in a position where we are constantly having to prove ourselves.And to be honest, I'm tired of having to prove ourselves because it's there, it's clear you've given the arguments for it.We don't have to keep, uh, proving it.But the other question that I have is, if we were to, I have implemented what I certainly feel is more what the chronic and prophetic message is.What would that look like?I don't think it looks like what we have today, right?Um, and I think what, what role, uh, do women have?Because I think that women are trying so hard to compete with men to have this kind of equality in the image of men, but we are losing what it is that actually women bring to the table.And you mentioned these potential prophetic, uh, figures.So what did they bring to the table?Were they the same as men?Were they different?And if there was a conversation happened between men and women of equal participation in a theological spiritual sense, what does that look like?What would that be like?Or how would we be living if that was actually happening?There's so many questions <laugh> and delivered so eloquently.I I was hypnotized exactly What, what, what the, yeah.Um, how would it look like if we live according to, um,Seem<laugh>Not really.You've got many of them do just as many crazy things.I have no expectations there necessarily, unless they fulfill the criteria that you're giving and contribute something new.Um, I think I'll take you to the image from .This, uh, this was taken last summer.I should have added an image from Ramadan.I spent Ramadan Ramadan in Cairo, and I went for the nightly prayers.And again, the, uh, the main hall of El Lahar was full of women.Um, I think we, yeah, and that's probably something I'm also, um, guilty of.We put too much emphasis on the text and intellectual life of the Islamic tradition and less emphasis on the practice.And we have very little historical knowledge of how Muslims practiced and what women contributed to, uh, faith and, and a life of faith and, and spirituality, everyday spirituality.I can't, uh, reconstruct that, uh, just off of the top of my head, but I can reconstruct my experiences of Muslim women's spirituality today, especially with, uh, increasing levels of knowledge and engagement with the text that's unprecedented.The number of women reading and, uh, studying Islamic text is, is increasing exponentially all over the world.Uh, I'm not saying that this necessarily leads to more in let's say more, uh, inclusive models, but it, it'll certainly have some impact on the emerging questions on the different types of practices.So one thing that I felt, uh, during those prayers in between, there were, I met many women who had degrees in Islamic theology who were commenting and correcting, uh, the, uh, the way the imam recited the Quran and explaining the recitations and sharing knowledge and moving amongst the men.And actually, uh, some of them were teachers of the men who were at the prayers in other contexts and were giving them instructions.I feel that these models of practice, this is within an educational, let's say within a scholarly, but after I left those nightly prayers, I just went around in the, the square, uh, in old Cairo where there were many women sat around the, uh, the, uh, shrines of members, uh, of the prophets family.And they too had their vivid spirituality, which has completely constructed the landscape or the public square, uh, in a way that, uh, gives them cent, uh, central place.Uh, and they were talking about their visions, their dreams, their understanding of the world, how they support each other materially, socially, et cetera.I think we've reduced, uh, what within have contributed and can contribute to a set of ideas and a set of texts and a set of interpretations.So that's one thing that I'm grappling with because in the end, I'm an academic and I'm trying to work within the parameters of academia, but there's so much more to, uh, life in faith that women contribute, uh, in, in real, uh, in real life and, and actually change the world around them, including men.But tracing that we need both ethnographers and theologians.And similarly, I've seen some things online about this.I'm no expert at all, but one thing I did feel, um, that it's worth saying is that very often we are blind to the lens that we're being asked these questions or these issues are being raised.And if, if the lens that we're looking at Islamic scholarship and the place of women in prophecy is through a Western lens, I think that so much can be so distorted and, and misunderstood because, um, if there were 124,000 profits or however many there were, uh, um, and as you say some tr tremendous women, um, in Islam, then, then there's a, I think there must be some, something much more fluid than firm definitions or even the need to extract anything too precise, because there is nobility and greatness in all people, men and women.And what I wonder, um, I hear about lectures I've talked, listened to about women that were teaching, and this goes to your point about what maybe the expansion of the notion of women, not just in terms of prophecy, but in terms of, uh, nobility and greatness and, um, uh, women of light basically.So the, the, the women that were known to be teachers of the great men that ultimately came to, um, be known, and they would go to the, to sit at the feet of these women to, to learn about Islam.So I think that the, there, there perhaps is too much rigidity to just looking at prophecy, because prophecy is something that is, it is a gift from a la that is completely out of anyone's control or, you know, and and to over define, I think might actually be damaging to the notion of, as you are referring to the truly spiritual great women.And, and maybe that that definition can be expanded a little.But I also wanted to just ask you, what were the four women that, that were highly regarded?It was Miriam, Miriam and, um, and, uh, aia,Uh, Moses's mother,Uh, and um, and depending On, yeah, those are the four that are well Known.Yeah, this is from the Sunni tradition.Um, maybe I should have mentioned that, uh, the issue of prophecy is not outside, uh, let's say doctrines, which govern, uh, the social relations, uh, within Muslim society.So you will find often in explanations of male's, guardianship over women as predicated on, uh, men having a higher degree of women.And the evidence of, uh, of male superiority is that God chose them to be his prophets rather than women.So it's not like a topic that's no longer relevant because prophecy was sealed.And, you know, uh, now we can just talk about women who are friends of God, AK or saints or, uh, that we are kind of projecting, let's say, uh, a scholarly, a western scholarly agenda on Islamic theology.It's at the heart of the various structures which see women in asymmetrical relations to men.And yeah, I mean, it, it, it comes up in so many contexts as the evidence for male superiority.So you can't escape from tackling that, you know, uh, that question also, I've been asked that quite often, you know, am I not bringing, let's say a feminist or a an analytical, uh, uh, question, um, that comes from gender theory and kind of, you know, imposes an esteem or a framework of knowledge on Islamic tradition and diverts us from the real question is how do we achieve, you know, uh, a degree of, of spirituality and greatness, et cetera?Uh, I would say given the, you know, the, uh, the range of engagement, it's not a modern question.It has been, uh, a question that we see across time, across place.They were concerned with that question.Uh, should we ignore it and say, okay, if we bring it up today, then we are kind of, you know, inscribing, uh, the Islamic tradition within a feminist liberal agenda.I think, yeah, I mean, a nuanced position for me is one that does not succumb to the binary of you either accept what there is or reject, reject it and adopt a different agenda from outside it.So neither, you know, uh, neither liberal feminism nor traditionalism, uh, are for me a way forward because I think we need to keep asking a critical question about the two horizons coming together.How do we bring them together?What do we get out of that?When do we create boundaries?When do we have a productive, uh, reflection on, on what the tradition might be saying, or what liberal feminism or gender theory might be saying, some of my work is actually a critique of gender theory and its limits, because it does not, and it'll not consider the metaphysical, it will All these, these things being beautiful.What I find interesting is Morrison, and she sort of said in my context, so I always, I always go back to that cause I think that can be so, so good.Um, and then the questions that asked formed the lens that isn't just sitting in modern western, modern, modern western, as you said, is so much historic.Yeah.And the fusion of these horizons, uh, or the bringing of these, uh, inquiries together, uh, and also projecting back the critical lens onto gender theory.As I said, um, much of gender theory that I read that I try to use is problematic because, uh, there's no space for understanding, uh, a metaphysics of gender that is not, you know, accepting that everything is political and everything is secular.So yeah, there is, there isn't a non-sec gender theory as it were.So that constrains me and constrains me, and that's a problem.So I try to write and engage, uh, in a critique.Some might call it decolonial critique.Uh, and we are, one of the things that I hope to, to do in this, uh, book ink, uh, is to try to find whether one could develop an EPIs team that is contextualized, of course, but that draws on the Islamic tradition, but doesn't necessarily, uh, repeat, uh, the views, but uses the concepts in helpful ways.So we don't need to repeat the views of all these scholars, but can we get something from them that is perhaps more, uh, appropriate to our context and push gender theory beyond its limits?I'm sure we've got a lot more questions for Dr.Neve.That is all the time.We've got this today.Um, thank you again.