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‘Why invite her here? Her voice is ʿawra!’: vocal nudity debates and Muslim female preachers in northern Nigeria

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 June 2022

Rahina Muazu*
Affiliation:
Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, USA

Abstract

This article analyses the debates surrounding the ʿawra (nudity or nakedness in Arabic) of the female voice – what I call here vocal nudity – and the public presence of the female voice in Nigeria. It focuses on the preaching activities of two Muslim female preachers, Malama Khadija Gambo Hawaja and Malama Dr Zahrau Muhammad Umar, who present tafsīr (Qurʾanic interpretation; Hausa: tafsīrin azumi) to the public during Ramadan and rose to prominence through the publicity of their audio and video sessions and fatwas offered to women. I discuss their interpretation of verse 33.32, the only verse that refers to the female voice in the Qurʾan, their understanding of vocal nudity, and how they use the interpretations to reshape the concept of a righteous woman (Hausa: mace ta gari) in twenty-first-century Muslim West Africa.

Résumé

Résumé

Cet article analyse les débats autour de la ʿawra (nudité en arabe) de la voix féminine, ce que l’auteur appelle la nudité vocale, et la présence publique de la voix féminine au Nigeria. Il se concentre sur les activités de prêche de deux prêcheuses musulmanes, Malama Khadija Gambo Hawaja et Malama Dr Zahrau Muhammad Umar, qui présentent le tafsīr (interprétation coranique ; en haoussa : tafsīrin azumi) au public pendant le ramadan, et se sont faites connaître à travers la publicité de leurs séances audio et vidéo et fatwas offertes aux femmes. L’auteur traite de leur interprétation du verset 33.32, le seul verset faisant référence à la voix féminine dans le Coran, de leur vision de la nudité vocale, et de la manière dont elles utilisent les interprétations pour refaçonner le concept de la femme vertueuse (en haoussa : mace ta gari) dans l’Afrique de l’Ouest musulmane du vingt-et-unième siècle.

Type
Women in Nigerian society
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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