Women in the Mosque: A History of Legal Thought and Local Practice

Women in the Mosque: A History of Legal Thought and Local Practice

AUC Press

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Marion Katz

Juxtaposing Muslim scholarsÕ debates over womenÕs attendance in mosques with historical descriptions of womenÕs activities within Middle Eastern and North African mosques, Marion Holmes Katz shows how over the centuries legal scholarsÕ arguments have often reacted to rather than dictated Muslim womenÕs behavior.
Tracing Sunni legal positions on women in mosques from the second century of the Islamic calendar to the modern period, Katz connects shifts in scholarly terminology and argumentation to changing constructions of gender. Over time, assumptions about womenÕs changing behavior through the lifecycle gave way to a global preoccupation with sexual temptation, which then became the central rationale for limits on womenÕs mosque access. At the same time, travel narratives, biographical dictionaries, and religious polemics suggest that womenÕs usage of mosque space often diverged in both timing and content from the ritual models constructed by scholars.
Katz demonstrates both the concrete social and political implications of Islamic legal discourse and the autonomy of womenÕs mosque-based activities. She also examines womenÕs mosque access as a trope in Western travelersÕ narratives and the evolving significance of womenÕs mosque attendance among different Islamic currents in the twentieth century.


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