The 'women's movement' in modern Islam: reflections on the revival of Islam's oldest issue
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AbstractWhile early Islam's development was far from unequivocal in the way women were treated, evidence nonetheless of radical reform around the issue is indisputable. The original Constitution guaranteed the right to inheritance, including of property, as well as to initiate divorce and testify in court. Women and men were equally bound by the law and punishable for misdemeanours against it, and were equally liable for the ultimate reward of entering Paradise. There is considerable evidence as well that eomwn were active participants and leaders in the earliest communities, with two of Muhammad's own wives being prominent in advocacy and juridicial advisory roles, both within and shortly after the lifetime of the Prophet himself. The chapter will attempt to set the scene for the volume by exploring these themes. It will make use of prominent Muslim scholarship around the issue of women in Islam, including work by Mohamed Talbi, Leila Ahmed, Amina Wadud and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, work that in various ways illustrates that the current struggle to recover the voice of women is crucial to no less than a recovery of Islam.