Saturday, September 10, 2016

SYMPOSIUM :: The Case for Female Clerics in Islamic Law: Textual Bases,Old and New, Religious and Secular

Mai Fenlian (买粉连) is a former cleric who argues that there is a textual basis in Islamic law for female clerics. She suggests that evidence can be found in the Qurʾān and ḥadīth (prophetic reports) supporting "women's equal footing in religious life" and legitimizing "women's activities in social activities, from education to war." To be sure, she hedges the textual argument with an argument about the benefits, commenting that having more knowledgeable Hui women would lead to "more harmonious families and communities." Another scholar, Ge Caixia (葛彩霞), also uses Islamic law texts as the basis for her main argument in favor of female clerics’ authority, citing a ḥadīth relaying that "the Prophet Muhammad’s wife Aisha taught Islamic law, among other topics, to women." She complements the Islamic law texts with an argument from modern Chinese law, which "defines the requirements for an 'Islamic staff member' [to be] gender-blind."