Muslim Women: Past and Present

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Throughout the ages, from the earliest days of Islam to contemporary times today, Muslim women have been and continue to be active leaders in their communities and countries across the world. This directory is a growing archive of leading Muslim women scholars, activists, writers, politicians, artists, religious and spiritual leaders, civil society leaders and more. Please contribute to this archive by suggesting Muslim women to be featured through our recommendation form.

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Asma Barlas

photo of Asma Barlas Photo courtesy of Asma Barlas.

Known For: Qu’ranic and Islamic research, studies on women and gender in Islam, and Comparative and International and Politics
Dates: Hijri 1369 - Present (AH)
Common Era 1950 - Present (CE)
Country: Pakistan

About

Born in Pakistan, Asma Barlas was one of the first women to be inducted into the foreign service. In 1983 she left Pakistan after General Zia ul Haq dismissed her for her critical remarks about him and the Pakistani judiciary, and settled in the U.S. After pursuing an impressive academic career, she is now Professor of Politics and Director of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity at Ithaca College in New York. She served as Spinoza Chair in Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam in the spring of 2008. Her credentials include a Ph.D. in International Studies from the University of Denver, an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Punjab in Pakistan, and a B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy from Pakistan’s Kinnaird College for Women.

Barlas’ varied span of research interests began in graduate school with a study of the politics of military rule and representative democracy (Democracy, Nationalism and Communalism, 1995). In 2002 her focus has shifted to the hermeneutics of the Quran, Muslim sexual politics, and relations between Islam and the West (Re-understanding Islam, 2008; Islam, Muslims, and the U.S., 2004; “Believing Women” in Islam, 2002). Currently, she is delving into religious embodiment and violence and has presented two papers on the topic.

Her work on the Quran has been translated into Bengali, Indonesian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Urdu, and has been invited to present on it in a number of venues in the U.S. and internationally.

Videos

Islamic women’s oppression and the Qur’an

Mp3: Interview on the Hajj

More Information

Asma Barlas

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This search feature will enable you to find Muslim women chronologically by the Common Era century. We are actively building the archive of Muslim women leaders from the past, as well as from today, and we would welcome your recommendations of women to feature. Please complete our “Recommend Muslim Women” form and check the site again in the near future as we actively expand this section of the portal with your suggestions.
This search feature will enable you to find Muslim women by their Country. We are actively building the archive of Muslim women leaders from the past, as well as from today, and we would welcome your recommendations of women to feature. Please complete our “Recommend Muslim Women” form and check the site again in the near future as we actively expand this section of the portal with your suggestions.
This search feature will enable you to find Muslim women leaders by entering the keyword(s) of your choice. If you cannot find a particular woman that you are looking for, please let us know by completing our “Recommend Muslim Women” form and check the site again in the near future as we actively expand this section of the portal with your suggestions.