Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-684899dbb8-7wlv9 Total loading time: 0.31 Render date: 2022-05-22T13:41:59.822Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

Cracks in the ‘Mightiest Fortress’: Jamaat-e-Islami's Changing Discourse on Women*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 2008

IRFAN AHMAD*
Affiliation:
ISIM-Leiden University Rapenburg 59 2311 GJ Leiden, The Netherlands E-mail: mailtoirfanahmad@yahoo.com

Abstract

Islamists' ideas about the position of women are readily invoked to portray them as ‘anti-modern’. The operating assumption is that Islamism (mutatis mutandis Islam) sanctions gender hierarchy. In this paper, drawing on ethnographic research and written sources of the Jamaat-e-Islami of India, founded in 1941, I question such assumptions. While defending Islam against the ‘epidemic’ of westernization, Maududi (b. 1903), the Jamaat's founder, called women ‘the mightiest fortress of Islamic culture’. Invoking the Quran and Prophetic traditions, he argued that women should not step outside of the home, and must veil themselves from head to toe. He stood against any political role for women. For decades, Maududi's interpretation went uncontested. However, from the 1970s onwards many members of the Jamaat began to critique Maududi and offered an alternative reading of Islam. They argued that women could indeed leave the home, assume key economic and political roles, unveil their faces, as well as act in films. By highlighting such voices and analysing the sociological coordinates of the contestations within the Jamaat, I underscore the transformation in the Jamaat's discourse. I conclude by discussing whether the critiques of Maududi by his own followers inaugurate an alternative discourse of Islamic feminism.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2007

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Abu-Lughod, Lila. 1998. Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Afary, Janet. 1997. ‘The War against Feminism in the Name of the Almighty: Making Sense of Gender and Muslim Fundamentalism’. New Left Review. 224: 89110.Google Scholar
Ahmad, Irfan. 2005. From Islamism to Post-Islamism: The Transformation of the Jamaat-e-Islami in North India. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. Department of Anthropology, University of Amsterdam.Google Scholar
Ahmad, Irfan. 2005a. ‘Between Moderation and Radicalization: Transnational Interactions of Jamaat-e-Islami of India’. Global Networks: A Journal of Transnational Affairs. 5 (3): 279299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ahmed, Imtiaz. 1983. ‘Introduction’. In. Ahmed, Imtiaz (ed.). Modernization and Social Change among Muslims in India. Delhi: Manohar, pp. XVIIXLIX.Google Scholar
Ahmed, Imtiaz. 2003 (ed.). Divorce and Remarriage among Muslims in India. Delhi: Manohar.Google Scholar
Ahmed, Leila. 1992. Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Ahmed, Leila. 1986. ‘Women and the Advent of Islam’. Signs. 11 (4): 665691.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ali, Azra Asghar. 2000. The Emergence of Feminism among Indian Muslim Women, 1920–1947. Karachi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Ali, Kamran A. 2004. ‘‘Pulp Fictions’: Reading Pakistani Domesticity’. Social Text. 22 (1): 123145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ali, Syed Naqi. 1988. Syed Maududi ka Ahd: Meri Nazar Mein. Rampur, India: Zikra.Google Scholar
Azmi, Altaf. 1999. Ahyaa-e-millat aur Deeni Jamaaten. Aligarh, India: Idara Tahqiq.Google Scholar
Badran, Margot. 2002. ‘Islamic Feminism: What is in a Name?’ Al-Ahram Weekly Online. January 17–23. http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2002/569/cu1.htmGoogle Scholar
Bayat, Asef. 1998. ‘Revolution without Movement, Movement without Revolution: Comparing Islamic Activism in Iran and Egypt’. Comparative Studies in Society and History. 40 (1): 136169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bayes, John H. and Tohidi, Nayereh. (eds). 2001. Globalization, Gender and Religion: The Politics of Women's Rights in Catholic and Muslim Societies. New York: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Calman, Jeslie J. 1989. ‘Women and Movement Politics in India’. Asian Survey. 29 (10): 940958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chatterjee, Partha. 1993. The Nation and Its Fragments. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Chhachhi, Amrita. 1991. ‘Forced Identities: the State, Communalism, Fundamentalism and Women in India’. In. Kandiyoti, Deniz (ed.). Women, Islam and the State. London: Macmillan, pp. 144175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cook, Michael. 2000. Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Daudi, Zohra. 2001. Manzil-e-gurezaan. Karachi: Al-banoria Press.Google Scholar
Dastoor-e-asaasi Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind. Undated. Delhi: Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind. Passed in April 1949.Google Scholar
Dastoor-e-Jamaat-e-Islami. 1942. In. Maududi, . Musalman aur Maujudah Seyasi Kashmakash. Vol. 3. Pathankot: Daftar Resala Tarjumanul Koran, pp. 171184.Google Scholar
Devji, Faisal. 1994. ‘Gender and the Politics of Space: the Movement for Women's Reform, 1857–1900’. In. Hasan, Zoya (ed.). Forging Identities: Gender, Communities and the State. Delhi: Kali for Women, pp. 2237.Google Scholar
Engineer, Asghar Ali. 1998. Rethinking Issues in Islam. Hyderabad: Orient Longman.Google Scholar
Engineer, Asghar Ali. 1987. (ed.). The Shah Bano Controversy. Bombay: Sangam Books.Google Scholar
Esposito, John and Voll, John. 2001. Makers of Contemporary Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fernea, Elizabeth Warnock. 1998. In Search of Islamic Feminism. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
Forbes, Geraldine. 1996. Women in Modern India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Harman, Chris. 2002 (1999). Prophet and the Proletariat: Islamic Fundamentalism, Class and Revolution. London: Socialist Workers Party. New Updated Edition.Google Scholar
Hasan, Zoya. 1999. ‘Muslim Women and the Debate on Legal Reforms’. In. Ray, Bharati and Basu, Aparna (eds). From Independence towards Freedom: Indian Women Since 1947. Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 120134.Google Scholar
Hasan, Zoya. 1994. (ed.) Forging Identities: Gender, Communities and the State. Delhi: Kali for Women.Google Scholar
Hasan, Zoya and Menon, Ritu. 2004. Unequal Citizens: A Study of Muslim Women in India. Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Hassan, Riffat. 2001. ‘Challenging Stereotypes of Fundamentalism: An Islamic Feminist Perspective’. Muslim World. 91 (1&2): 5570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hassan, Riffat. 1991. ‘The Issue of Woman-Man Equality in the Islamic Traditions’. In. Grob, L. et al. (eds). Women's and Men's Liberation: Testimony of Spirits. NW: Greenwood Press, pp. 6582.Google Scholar
Hassan, Riffat. 1991a. ‘Muslim Women and Post-Patriarchal Islam’. In. Cooey, Paula M. et al. (eds). After Patriarchy: Feminist Transformations of the World Religions (Faith Meets Faith Series). New York: Orbis Books, pp. 3964.Google Scholar
Hill, M. and Montag, W. (eds) 2000. Masses, Classes, and the Public Sphere. London: Verso.Google Scholar
Islahi, Ayaz Ahmad. 1997. ‘Syed Maududi: Fikri Pasmanzar aur Tasawwur-e-talim’. Rafiq-e-manzil. May-June: 97–109.Google Scholar
Islahi, Sultan Ahmad. 1997. ‘Jadeed Zara-e-iblaagh aur Islam’. Mujalla Uloom-e-islamia (Aligarh). 22 (1): 5598.Google Scholar
Islahi, Sultan Ahmad. 2000 (1994). Islam ka Nazariya-e-Jins. Aligarh, India: Ilm-wa-adab Publication.Google Scholar
Jalal, Ayesha. 1991. ‘The Convenience of Subservience: Women and the State in Pakistan’. In. Kandiyoti, Deniz (ed.). Women, Islam and the State. London: Macmillan, pp. 77114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jeffery, Patricia. 1979. Frogs in a Well: Indian Women in Purdah. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind ki Policy aur Program. 1964. Delhi: Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.Google Scholar
Karmi, Ghada. 1996. ‘Women, Islam and Patriarchalism’. In. Yamani, Maya (ed.). Feminism and Islam: Legal and Literary Perspectives. Reading: Ithaca Press, pp. 6986.Google Scholar
Kazemi, Farhad. 2000. ‘Gender, Islam and Politics’. Social Research. 67 (2): 453474.Google Scholar
Kishwar, Madhu. 1998. Religion at the Service of Nationalism and other Essays. Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Kumar, Radha. 1993. The History of Doing: An Illustrated Account of Movements for Women's Rights and Feminism in India, 1880–1990. London: Verso.Google Scholar
Lateef, Shahida. 1990. Muslim Women in India. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
Mahmoud, Muhammad. 1996. ‘Women and Islamism: The Case of Rashid al-Ghannushi of Tunisia’. In. Sidahmad, Abdel Salam and Ehteshami, Anoushiravan (eds). Islamic Fundamentalism. Boulder: Westview Press, pp. 249265.Google Scholar
Mahmood, Saba. 2005. The Politics of Piety. The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Majeed, Javed. 1998. ‘Nature, Hyperbole, and the Colonial State: Some Muslim Appropriations of European Modernity in Late Nineteenth Century Urdu Literature’. In. Cooper, John et al. (eds). Islam and Modernity: Muslim Intellectuals Respond. London: I. B. Tauris, pp. 1037.Google Scholar
Maududi, Syed Abul Ala. 1999. Rasael-wo-masaael. Delhi: Markazi Maktaba Islami Publishers.Google Scholar
Maududi, Syed Abul Ala. 1991. Talimaat. Delhi: Markazi Maktaba Islami.Google Scholar
Maududi, Syed Abul Ala. 1977. Islam aur Zabt-e-waladat. Delhi: Markazi Maktaba Islami.Google Scholar
Maududi, Syed Abul Ala. 1963. ‘Cinema’. In. Ahmad, K. (ed). Tahrik-e-Islami. Lahore: Chiragh-e-rah.Google Scholar
Maududi, Syed Abul Ala. 1959. Tanqihaat. Delhi: Markazi Maktaba Islami.Google Scholar
Maududi, Syed Abul Ala. 1953 (1940). Purdah. Delhi: Markazi Maktaba Islami.Google Scholar
Maududi, Syed Abul Ala. 1942. Musalman aur Maujudah Seyasi Kashmakash. Vol. 3. Pathankot: Daftar Resala Tarjumanul Koran.Google Scholar
Maududi, Syed Abul Ala. 1938. Musalman aur Maujudah Seyasi Kashmakash. Vol. 2. Pathankot: Maktaba Jamaat-e-Islami.Google Scholar
Mazumdar, Vina and Agnihotri, Indu. 1999. ‘The Women's Movement in India: Emergence of a New Perspective’. In. Ray, Bharati and Basu, Aparna (eds). From Independence towards Freedom: Indian Women since 1947. Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 221238.Google Scholar
McDonough, Sheila. 2002. ‘Muslim Women in India’. In. Sharma, Arvind (ed.). Women in Indian Religions. Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 166188.Google Scholar
Menon, Indu. 1981. Status of Muslim Women in India. Delhi: Uppal Publications.Google Scholar
Mernissi, Fatima. 1993. Islam and Democracy: Fear of the Modern World. London: Virago Press.Google Scholar
Mernissi, Fatima. 1985. Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in Muslim Society. London: Saqi Books.Google Scholar
Metcalf, Barbara. 2001. ‘Reading and Writing about Muslim Women in British India’. In. Islamic Contestations: Essays on Muslims in India and Pakistan. Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 99119.Google Scholar
Metcalf, Barbara. 1999. ‘Women and Men in a Contemporary Pietist Movement: The Case of the Tablighi Jamaat’. In. Basu, Amrita and Jeffery, Patricia (eds). Resisting the Sacred and the Secular: Women's Activism and Politicized Religions in South Asia. Delhi: Kali for Women, pp. 107121.Google Scholar
Metcalf, Barbara. 1992. Perfecting Women: Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi's Bihishti Zewar, a Partial Translation with Commentary. Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Minault, Gail. 1998. Secluded Scholars: Women's Education and Muslim Social Reform in Colonial India. Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Minault, Gail. 1990. ‘Sayyid Mumtaz Ali and ‘Huquq un-Niswan’: An Advocate of Women's Rights in Islam in the Late Nineteenth Century’. Modern Asian Studies. 24 (1): 147172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Minault, Gail. 1983. ‘Hali's Majlis-un-Nisa: Purdah and Women Power in Nineteenth Century’. In. Israel, Milton and Wagle, N. K. (eds). Islamic Society and Culture: Essays in Honor of Prof. Aziz Ahmad. Delhi: Manohar, pp. 3949.Google Scholar
Mirza, Qudsia. 2005. ‘Islamic Feminism: Possibilities and Limitations’. In. Moghissi, Haideh (ed.). Women and Islam: Critical Concepts in Sociology. Vol. III, Women's Movements in Muslim Societies. London: Routledge, pp. 300319.Google Scholar
Mody, Nawaz B. 1987. ‘The Press in India: The Shah Bano Judgment and Its Aftermath’. Asian Survey. 27 (8): 935953.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moghadam, Valentine M. 2002. ‘Islamic Feminism and Its Discontent: Towards a Resolution of the Debate’. Signs. 24 (4): 1135–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moghadam, Valentine M.. 1994. Identity Politics and Women: Cultural Reassertions and Feminism in International Perspective. Boulder, Col.: West View Press.Google Scholar
Moghissi, Haidah. 1999. Feminism and Islamic Fundamentalism. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
Mojab, Shaharzad. 2005. ‘Islamic Feminism: Alternative or Contradiction?’ In. Moghissi, H. (ed.). Women and Islam: Critical Concepts in Sociology. Vol. III, Women's Movements in Muslim Societies. London: Routledge, pp. 320325.Google Scholar
Nomani, Maulana Manzoor. 1998. Maulana Maududi ke saath Meri Refaaqat ki Sarguzasht aur ab Mera Mauqaf. Lucknow: Al-furqan Book Depot.Google Scholar
Pathak, Zakia and Rajan, Rajeshwari Sunder. 1989. ‘Shahbano’. Signs. 14 (3): 558–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Patel, Vibhuti. 1988. ‘Emergence and Proliferation of Autonomous Women's Groups in India: 1974–1984’. In. Ghadially, Rehana (ed.). Women in Indian Society. Delhi: Sage, pp. 249256.Google Scholar
Robinson, Francis. 2000. Islam and Muslim History in South Asia. Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Ruhela, Satya Pal. 1990. (ed.) Empowerment of the Indian Muslim Women. Delhi: MD Publications.Google Scholar
Sahgal, Gita and Yuval-Davis, Nira (eds). 1992. Refusing Holy Orders: Women and Fundamentalism in Britain. London: Virago Press.Google Scholar
Shaheen, Shabana. 1990. ‘Family Environment, Education and Vertical Social Mobility: Ten Case Studies of Highly Successful Indian Muslim Women in Different Professional Fields’. In. Ruhela, Satya Pal (ed.). Empowerment of the Indian Muslim Women. Delhi: M.D. Publications, pp. 3776.Google Scholar
Siddiqi, Nejatullah. 2003. ‘Tahrik-e-Islami: Aaj ke Qabil-e-ghaur Masaael’. In. Ali, Mumtaz (ed.). Tahrik-e-Islami Badalte hue Halat men. Delhi: Markazi Maktaba Islami, pp. 89102.Google Scholar
Siddiqi, Nejatullah. 2000. Islam, Maashiaat aur Adab: Khutoot ke Aaine men. Aligarh, India: Educational House.Google Scholar
Siddiqi, Nejatullah. 1995. Tahrik-e-Islami Asr-e-hazir men. Delhi: Markazi Maktaba Islami Publishers.Google Scholar
Tarrow, Sidney. 1998. Power in Movement. Cambridge: Cambridge University. Second Edition.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Thanawi, Ashraf Ali. Undated. Ashraful Jawaab. Deoband: Kutubkhana Naimia.Google Scholar
Tilly, Charles. 1984. ‘Social Movement and National Politics’. In. Bright, Charles et al. (eds). State-Making and Social Movements. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, pp. 294317.Google Scholar
Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. 1995. Silencing the Past: Power and Production of History. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
Willmer, David. 1996. ‘Women as Participants in the Pakistan Movement: Modernization and the Promise of a Moral State’. Modern Asian Studies. 30 (3): 573590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Winter, Bronwyn. 2001. ‘Fundamental Misunderstandings: Issues in Feminist Approaches to Islamism’. Journal of Women's History. 13 (1): 941.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Winter, Bronwyn. 2001a. ‘Naming the Oppressor, Not Punishing the Oppressed: Atheism and Feminist Legitimacy’. Journal of Women's History. 13 (1): 5357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zayd, Nasr Abu. 2006. Reformation of Islamic Thought. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.Google Scholar
Zindegi. Jamaat's monthly Urdu journal published from Rampur. Issues of 1961 (May), 1964 (August) and 1980 (September) consulted here.Google Scholar
Zindegi-e-nau. Jamaat's new monthly Urdu journal published from Delhi: Issues of 1999 (June) and 2002 (from January through June) Consulted here.Google Scholar
18
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Cracks in the ‘Mightiest Fortress’: Jamaat-e-Islami's Changing Discourse on Women*
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Cracks in the ‘Mightiest Fortress’: Jamaat-e-Islami's Changing Discourse on Women*
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Cracks in the ‘Mightiest Fortress’: Jamaat-e-Islami's Changing Discourse on Women*
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *