Female Religious Authority

  • Adis Duderija
  • Halim Rane
Part of the New Directions in Islam book series (NDI)


This chapter discusses the issue of female religious authority within Western Muslim communities in light of the growing gender consciousness in the West over the past several decades and the influence of Western liberal democracies and exposure to intellectual feminist currents on Muslim thought. It highlights that Western Muslim communities are becoming increasingly sensitive to the idea that (neo-)traditionalist approaches to Islam were/are exhibiting lack of interpretational awareness and self-reflexivity. This chapter presents an overview of the main actors and issues with respect to female religious authority among Western Muslims. It focuses on the work of Western Muslim scholars and activists such as Amina Wadud, Asma Barlas, Irshad Manji, and Asra Nomani who have been at the forefront of the debates surrounding female religious authority within Western Muslim communities. The chapter recognises that while the majority of the Islamic organisations and mosques are still firmly in the hands of men, signs of change are evident in the establishment of women-only, women-led, and gender-inclusive mosques as well as the inclusion of women in leadership positions in some major Islamic organisations.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adis Duderija
    • 1
  • Halim Rane
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Humanities, Languages and Social ScienceGriffith UniversityNathanAustralia

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