"Ways of knowing" : Islamic customs of polygamy, veiling and seclusion in the autobiographical writings of Huda Shaarawi and Kartini

Marlita, Tita (1997) "Ways of knowing" : Islamic customs of polygamy, veiling and seclusion in the autobiographical writings of Huda Shaarawi and Kartini. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This research was grounded in the writer's assumption that Islam—with its polygamy and veiling practice—and feminism were not compatible. Being a student of Women's Studies, who believes in feminism, and a Muslim woman, the writer experienced a conflict. In an attempt to resolve this conflict in a scholarly fashion, two personal writings by two Muslim feminists, which reflected their struggles against polygamy and veiling, by Kartini and Huda Shaarawi were selected for analysis. In this study, the writer analyzes how these two feminists approached the issues of polygamy and veiling, and their development as feminists. This study also aims to examine how Kartini’s and Huda's writings reflected their struggles to define their own voices in both male-dominated and colonial culture. -- This study employed textual analysis and a life history approach. As a theoretical framework in discussing the formation of Kartini’s and Huda's feminism, and their approaches to issues of polygamy and veiling. Belenky et al.'s five epistemological categories of women's perspectives of knowing were utilized. These five categories are: silence, received knowledge, subjective knowledge, procedural knowledge, and constructed knowledge. -- This study concluded that: (1) both Kartini and Huda contended that problems concerning polygamy and veiling lay in the interpretation of the Koran, not in Islam itself: (2) Kartini’s and Huda's approaches to the issues of polygamy and veiling are contextually- grounded: (3) the formation of Kartini’s and Huda's feminism followed the five stages of women's ways knowing suggested by Belenky et al.: (4) both Kartini and Huda used autobiographical writings to assert woman's individuality and distinctiveness in male-dominated and colonial culture: (5) both Kartini and Huda refused to recognize their colonizers’ language to define their identities. -- Examining these two feminists’ approaches to Islam in general, and to polygamy and veiling practices in particular, helped the writer to resolve her own conflict between feminism and Islam. The interpretation of the Koran becomes a key in understanding the position of women in Islam. Facts about women in the Koran had been selected and interpreted from the dominant androcentric position and discourse. The Koran became the established religious text in which male interests were vested. Hence, as Muslim feminists suggest, the interpretation of the Koranic verses dealing with women's rights and status should be based on the evaluation of Muslim women in the early years of Islam when the true Islam existed.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1341
Item ID: 1341
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [176]-182.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Gender Studies
Date: 1997
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Kartini, Raden Adjeng, 1879-1904; Shaʻrāwī, Hudá, 1879-1947; Sex role--Religious aspects--Islam; Muslim women--Social conditions; Polygamy (Islamic law)

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