I Speak for the Muslim Woman: Holy Deceits, Ambivalence and Ambiguity of Paradise

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In the Christian context, Marian imagery appears in the earliest theological treatises and continues into Merovingian circles in western Europe c.

“Allah est grand”: Muslims laugh, celebrate as blaze destroys Notre Dame cathedral during Holy Week

While dissimilar in space and time, both Christian and Muslim audiences struggled to define themselves in a rapidly changing world. Second, comparing Mary and Fatima depends on vastly different types of sources.

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Late antiquity and the early medieval period yield a number of ecclesiastical treatises and hagiographies referring to the Virgin. From these texts scholars can glimpse the elite, theological descriptions of Mary alongside the more approachable miracle texts and ritual descriptions. An ideal cross-cultural comparison would correlate Fatima images in theology and hagiography with their Christian counterparts; unfortunately, no easy parallel exists.

“Allah est grand”: Muslims laugh, celebrate as blaze destroys Notre Dame cathedral during Holy Week

The third difficulty of comparing Mary and Fatima within their respective traditions is that male authors often described them with conflicting and paradoxical images. Such bewildering imagery leaves the historian questioning how Christian and Islamic communities actually viewed women and gender roles. According to theologians, for example, God elevated Mary and Fatima as venerable mothers and exceptional women. Yet they were aberrations among their sex: part of their charismatic authority stemmed from the fact that God transformed them into pure vessels a miracle in itself.

For Christians Mary held God-made-flesh within her chaste womb and, according to early church fathers, eschewed public activities by confining herself within domestic boundaries. No greater miracle could occur in late antiquity than the transformation of a female into a holy figure. Islamic theology placed women in an equally precarious role. Classical texts included women among shayatin devilish forces sent to delude and confuse male Muslims. Both Christian and Muslim theological systems condemned the female body in its impurity and taint while extolling Mary and Fatima as holy vessels for sublime offspring.

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Political and sectarian discourse reveals equally contradictory versions of Mary and Fatima in theological texts. In doing so, these communities formulated and advertised new political boundaries and sectarian divisions.

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Mary and Fatima as mothers, quickly synonymous with orthodox right doctrine, effectively weaned their communities from hellfire. Male authors encourage Christian women, including abbesses and secular queens, to imitate that submissive quality. In both cases, the male householder never yields his ultimate authority: the father and sons rule within the ahl al-bayt, and the male priest presides over the church. These theologies and ideologies regarding Mary and Fatima appear not only in sacred narratives but also in material culture.

Early Christian catacombs and churches displayed images of Mary, glorified as virgin, mother, and bride. Medieval artists and architects transformed their theological, social, and political symbols into visual form. This work concentrates on feminine imagery in political, cultural, and theological rhetoric as well as material culture during periods of transformation and conversion.

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This approach reflects current trends among gender historians to correlate structures of power and authority with the literary and rhetorical nature of feminine imagery. As poststructuralist theory dictates, cultural systems often modify gender categories to accentuate changes in political and social conventions. Male authors employed Mary and Fatima as rhetorical tools in a complex discourse of identity and orthodoxy; they were more than models for women to emulate.

This approach is in sharp contrast to earlier feminist theory and modes of historical inquiry. During the s, feminist historians of early Christianity read late antique and early medieval authors as patriarchal proof texts. Feminist theologians rejected early church writings as misogynistic and oppressive. A feminist hermeneutic concerning women in Islam is more difficult to trace. Works available to Western audiences confine women to apologetic argument, descriptive historiography, or modern political rhetoric. Scholars generally ignore the abundant gender imagery and the rhetorical nature of miracle accounts to focus on their own political agendas.

More recent historical methodology attuned to literary criticism and poststructuralist examinations of gender and culture allows for a review of feminine imagery in general and Mary and Fatima in particular. The presence of Marian imagery in Merovingian Gaul is certainly not an exception among the barbarian kingdoms. Hagiographies are contentious texts for scholars of both religions, yet male authors employed this literary genre to promote Mary and Fatima effectively as feminine exempla. Read skillfully, hagiographies provide historians and feminists alike with not only sacred models meant to transcend time and space but also reflections of contemporary political and social debates.


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Such texts reveal distinct cultural contexts wherein male authors construct feminine images for a variety of audiences and purposes. S Al-Abbas A. S Lady Fatima Masuma S. Holy Women in Context Chapter Two. Virgins and Wombs Chapter Four. Mothers and Families Chapter Five. Change font. Note: We have transfered the docx and html files from its PDF, so may be there are some errors in Arabic words.

Thurlkill www. Includes bibliographical references p. ISBN pbk. Fatimah, d. Title BT T48 For Edmund and Geraldine Thurlkill And for my students, who always challenge and inspire. Notice: This version is published on behalf of www. Acknowledgments When time for writing these acknowledgments approached, I noticed a sharp increase in my propensity for procrastination. Preliminary Notes Translations The Latin and Arabic transliterations for all extensive quotations are provided in the notes. New Releases.

Description I Speak for the Muslim Woman is a down to earth, no holds barred discussion on the ultimate fate of the Muslim woman. Is there really a paradise for the Muslim woman? For years the Muslim woman has been tethered by the promises of fruitful gardens flowing with rivers where its inhabitants would be treated like royalties to fresh fruits and all kinds of delights. I Speak for the Muslim Woman challenges Muslim scholars and clerics to search their scriptures and from them produce concrete, unequivocal proofs that the life of the Muslim woman in these Gardens of paradise would be better than her present life here on earth.

By fanning off the smoke screen of religious euphoria to examine the core of assertions that Islamic scholars make about paradise, I Speak for the Muslim Woman squeezes out meaning from benign texts which Muslim men have celebrated for years as irrevocable proofs of rewards for the Muslim woman and calls Islamic teachers and their disciples to take responsibility for the tenebrous implications of doctrines that have been taught for centuries to the Muslim woman. Product details Format Paperback pages Dimensions Learn about new offers and get more deals by joining our newsletter.