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Women and Gender in the Qur’an by Celene Ibrahim (November 2020)

Women and Gender in the Qur'an by Celene Ibrahim (November 2020)

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Celene Ibrahim, Muslim Chaplain, Tufts University

Celene Ibrahim is a faculty member in the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy at Groton School. She has written extensively on themes related to women and gender in Muslim intellectual history and is a public voice on issues of religious pluralism. Ibrahim holds a PhD in Arabic and Islamic civilizations from Brandeis University, a master’s of divinity from Harvard University, and a bachelor’s degree with highest honors from Princeton University.


The women of the Qur’an are varied and fascinating. They are military leaders, advisors in business, barren women who miraculously give birth, and much more. Many are paragons of virtue, and some are morally pernicious. They contain multitudes.

Celene Ibrahim explores the complex cast of female figures in the Qur’an, probing themes related to biological sex, female sexuality, female speech, and women in sacred history. Stories about gendered social relations permeate the Qur’an, and nearly three hundred verses involve specific women or girls. The Qur’an features these figures in accounts of human origins, in stories of the founding and destruction of nations, in narratives of conquest, in episodes of romantic attraction, and in incidents of family devotion and strife. Overall, stories involving women and girls weave together theology and ethics to reinforce central Qur’anic ideas regarding submission to God and moral accountability.

Ibrahim considers major and minor figures referenced in the Qur’an, including those who appear in narratives of sacred history, in parables, in descriptions of the eternal abode, and in verses that allude to events contemporaneous with the advent of the Qur’an in Arabia. Women and Gender in the Qur’an outlines how women and girls - old, young, barren, fertile, chaste, profligate, reproachable, and saintly-enter Qur’anic sacred history and advance the Qur’an’s overarching didactic aims.


Notes on Transliteration, Translation, and Abbreviations

1. Female Sex and Sexuality
2. Procreation, Parenting, and Female Kin
3. Women Speakers and Interlocutors
4. Women Exemplars for an Emerging Polity

Appendices Notes
Bibliography Indices

View online : Oxford University Press