Welcome to another edition of Maruf Messages!
This edition's theme is Feministan!
Feministan is the universe where feminism en feminine are celebrated.
Sa'diyya Shaikh & Lana Sirri
19:30 - Opening
19:45 - Sa'diyya Shaikh "Rethinking Gender with Ibn Arabi"
20:45 - Pause
21:00 - Lana Sirri "Queer Muslim women in Berlin"
22:00 - Closure
Sa'diyya Shaikh - Rethinking Gender with Ibn Arabi: Feminist Friendships and Spiritual Refinement
Sa’diyya Shaikh is Associate Professor and Head of Department of Religious Studies at the University of Cape Town. Her study of Islam began with an abiding interest in existential questions and their connections to issues of social justice – effectively, a curiosity about the relationship between the spirtual and the political. Her book Sufi Narratives of Intimacy: Ibn Arabi, Gender and Sexuality (UNC Press, 2012) was part of an ongoing journey of grappling with these formative concerns that still animate much of her work. This book presents a contemporary reading of the work of the 13th century Andalusian Sufi polymath Muhyi al-Din Ibn Arabi, to address questions of human purpose, the nature of reality, and the ethics of gender relationships. In 2013 the book was shortlisted for the American Academy of Religion Book Awards for Excellence in the category of Constructive-Reflective Studies; in 2015 it won the University of Cape Town Book Prize; and in 2016 it was longlisted for the Humanities Book Award of the Academy of Science of South Africa. Sa’diyya has also published research articles on gender-sensitive readings of hadith and Quran; theoretical debates on Islam and feminism, Sufism and Islamic Law, religion and gender-based violence; and empirical work on South African Muslim Women. In 2007, she co-edited (with Dan Maguire) and contributed to a book entitled Violence Against women in Contemporary World Religion: Roots and Cures (Pilgrim Press). Her current book project is focussed on “Gender Justice and Sufi Ethics.” Sa’diyya is married to Ashraf Kagee, a novelist and an academic, and enjoys their feisty and opinionated teenage daughter, Nuriyya, and gentle, funny younger son, Ismael.
Rethinking Gender with Ibn Arabi: Feminist Friendships and Spiritual Refinement
This presentation begins by reflecting on an Islamic feminist method and approach to the tradition. I then apply this approach to some ideas of an influential pre-modern Sufi thinker Muhyi al-Din Ibn Arabi (d.1240). In particular, my paper focuses on ways that mystical language and method provide a dynamic model to engage human nature and gender within the Muslim tradition. I argue that Ibn Arabi’s use of paradox, ambiguity and contradiction, demands the believer to engage with fluidity and enables spaces ripe for feminist reflections. I then draw some contemporary feminist theorists into conversation with Ibn Arabi’s gendered use of language, to explore the openings that he provides in our rethinking of gender. I argue that Ibn Arabi's mystical method often pushes the reader to the limits of a binary patriarchal logic, and invites us to think into a more generative space of tension – tensions that creatively interrupt fixed conceptions of gender, and instead encourages a more expansive and inclusive notions of human nature.
Lana Sirri - Queer Muslim women in Berlin