Female Islamic Education Movements

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Female Islamic Education Movements: The Re-democratisation of Islamic Knowledge – a new book by Masooda Bano, published in September 2017 with Cambridge University Press, explores the significance of female Islamic education movements.

Since the 1970s, movements aimed at giving Muslim women access to the serious study of Islamic texts have emerged across the world. In the book, Masooda Bano argues that it is within these education movements that the creative spirit that marked the rise and consolidation of Islam, whereby Islam inspired serious intellectual engagement to create optimal societal institutions, can be found. Drawing on rich ethnographic material from Pakistan, northern Nigeria and Syria, Dr Bano questions the restricted notion of agency associated with these movements, exploring the educational networks which have attracted educated, professional and culturally progressive Muslim women to textual study, thus helping to reverse one of the most damaging legacies of colonial rule in Muslim societies: the isolation of modern and Islamic knowledge. 

With its comparative approach, the book will appeal to those studying and researching the role of women across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, as well as the wider Muslim world.

“One of the more striking developments in the Muslim world over the past century has been the way in which individuals have, to varying degrees, been taking responsibility for their Islamic understandings. In this important book Masooda Bano explores the process amongst women in three different Muslim societies and concludes with a cautiously optimistic view of the future.” (Francis Robinson, Royal Holloway, University of London)

“Persuasive and clearly written, Female Islamic Education offers stunning insight into why women’s mosque- and home-situated Islamic education and study circles have expanded in scope, impact, and prestige in recent years. Bano combines long-term field research in West Africa, the Arab world, and South Asia with a thorough knowledge of historical sources. The reasons for the growth in women’s religious education also provides a key to understanding why Islamic education, far from conventional predictions, is gaining ground today.” (Dale F. Eickelman, Dartmouth College)

“Tectonic shifts are at play within Muslim societies that remain overshadowed by more spectacular phenomena like Jihadi militancy. The rise of female Islamic education movements since the late 20th century is one of such tectonic shifts, and it could very well constitute a major turning point in the history of the Islamic tradition at large. The drivers of this transformation and its implications for Islamic knowledge are masterfully unpacked by Masooda Bano through a unique combination of analytical breadth and empirical depth.” (Thomas Pierret, University of Edinburgh)

To preview Chapter 1, please click here.