Islamic feminism: A contradiction in terms? (2018) Djelloul Ghaliya. A complicated and challenging article. Some parts feel very critical towards islamic feminism but the text in general attempts to develop a new alliance with the movement. I’m not sure what Ghaliya is after or with whom she is discussing with.

Drawing on post-colonial criticism, Islamic feminism reveals how the trope of ‘saving Muslim women’ is produced by the colonial nature of power. However, any attempt to de-colonialize thought also requires transcending the notion of ‘post’ and looking at history ‘backwards’, as Achille Mbembe asks us to do. This process of transcending requires us, from the outset, to recognize ways in which the past is present and then to ‘unlearn how to learn’, so as to free ourselves from colonial bonds and enable the emergence of new perspectives in political imagination ‘in common’.

Islamic feminists may be a manifestation of a metamorphosis combining movements of secularization and Islamization. By waging their struggle against the patriarchy manifest in Islam and against the Islamophobia manifest in feminism, they are connecting the political and the religious in a way that de-sacralizes relations between genders and de-traditionalizes Islam.

French-speaking Belgian Muslim feminists make use of the religious repertoire both in order to reconstruct the ethnic bond (Islam as a driver of community solidarity) and to remove the bonds imposed by the ethnic and religious group (Islam as a generational link, accompanied by sexist practices). In all these examples, feminists find the source of their commitment in their ‘citizenship’, that is in their normative membership of a democratic system and in the principle of the equality of its members.

[…] the work needed to open up any prospect of de-colonial feminism that would include everyone, whether or not they are of Muslim culture, religion or tradition, would involve ‘unlearning how to learn’ and not relearning the same thing in some other way.

Islamic feminism seems, first and foremost, a place for intellectual deconstruction of patriarchal authority and racism, a place where these researchers and activists have striven to remove the category of ‘Muslim women’ from a subordinate position in order to be heard and recognized, above all by other feminists and anti-racists. But, as Soumeya Mestiri points out, they lack an audience.

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