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Rebellious Wives, Neglectful Husbands: Controversies in Modern Qur’anic Commentaries (May 2022)

Hadia Mubarak

Rebellious Wives, Neglectful Husbands: Controversies in Modern Qur'anic (…)

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Mubarak (Hadia), Rebellious Wives, Neglectful Husbands: Controversies in Modern Qur’anic Commentaries, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2022, 368 p. ISBN


Hadia Mubarak is Assistant Professor of Religion at Queens University of Charlotte. Mubarak’s publications include, Violent, Oppressed and Un-American: Muslim Women in the American Imagination in The Personal is Political, ed. Christine Davis and Jon Crane, Gender and Qur’anic Exegesis in The Routledge Handbook of Islam and Gender, ed. Justine Howe, and Women’s Contemporary Readings of the Qur’an in The Routledge Companion to the Quran.


Rebellious Wives, Neglectful Husbands explores significant shifts in modern Qur’anic commentaries on the subject of women against the backdrop of broader historical, intellectual, and political developments in early twentieth-century North Africa. Hadia Mubarak argues that the historical context of colonialism, nationalism, and modernization in the modern Muslim world set into motion new ways of engaging with the subject of women in the Qur’an.

Focusing on Qur’anic commentaries as a literary genre, Mubarak offers a critical and comparative analysis of three influential, modern, Sunni Qur’anic commentaries—authored by an Islamic modernist, an Islamist, and a neo-traditionalist respectively—with medieval commentaries spanning the ninth to fourteenth centuries on polygyny, divorce, sexual neglect, and marital hierarchy. In contrast to assessments of the exegetical tradition as monolithically patriarchal, Rebellious Wives, Neglectful Husbands identifies critical shifts in modern Qur’anic commentaries on gender, illustrating the ways in which modern commentators challenge patriarchal interpretations of the Qur’an while entrenching others. Rather than pit a seemingly egalitarian Qur’an against an allegedly patriarchal exegetical tradition, Mubarak captures a tafsir tradition with pluralistic, complex, and evolving interpretations of women and gender in the Qur’an. Mubarak argues that the capacity to bring new meanings to bear on the Qur’an is not only intellectually viable but inherent to the exegetical tradition.



Chapter 1: Ruptures and Continuities in Modern Islamic Thought
Chapter 2: Modern Approaches to Qur’anic Interpretation
Chapter 3: Reflecting the Colonial Gaze: Women in Modern Qur’anic Exegesis
Chapter 4: Sexually Neglectful Husbands: Classical and Modern Interpretations of Q. 4:128
Chapter 5: Rebellious Wives: Medieval and Modern Interpretations of Q. 4:34
Chapter 6: A New Rationalization for Polygyny: Medieval & Modern Interpretations of Q. 4:3
Chapter 7: Men’s "Degree:" An Unconditional Privilege?


View online : Oxford University Press