Muslim Women and the Challenge of Authority Conference Boston March 2012

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Amina Wadud’s Keynote Speech

Amina Wadud

Professor Emerita of Islamic Studies

The Authority of Experience

Islamic mysticism or tasawwuf confirms the necessity of experience for determining what constitute the authority of authenticity.  It is contrasted to elaborated constructs often developed in abstraction by the more legalistic thinkers.  In the 21st century Muslim women human rights and community activists began to grapple with the divide between the basic principles of justice and compassion espoused within the tradition but not experienced by some Muslim women in their lived realities. The divide between projected or perceived goals and women’s lived realities became an effective tool for promoting changes at the policy level and in the context of Muslim Personal Status Law.  It constitutes a shift from women as subjects of the law to women as agents of any laws that they are expected to live by.   This presentation will first describe different types of authority before proposing the methodological and strategic steps to an affimration of women’s lived realities as a means for interpretation, even of sacred texts, but particularly of policies and legal codes developed to achieve the ideal Islamic society.

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