What gets to count as Islam? In the current political climate this question is being repeated in a variety of contexts. The tapestry of...

What gets to count as Islam? In the current political climate this question is being repeated in a variety of contexts. The tapestry of various Islamic identities is revealed in an investigation of gender. In The Crisis of Islamic Masculinities (Bloomsbury, 2014), Amanullah De Sondy, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Miami, tackles the construction of Muslim manhood in several interpretive traditions. These forms of masculinity – both ideal & reviled – are taken across a wide spectrum of thought, from Islamist perspectives to those challenging patriarchy. Many of the discussions revolve around similar themes, most importantly family, marriage, sexuality, and veiling. Other constructions of masculinity challenge heteronormativity within Muslim identities. The Qur’an is central to many of the interpretations discussed in the book but De Sondy demonstrates that here too we are not presented with a singular and clear ideal of masculinity. Qur’anic descriptions of male prophets, including Adam, Joseph, Muhammad, and Jesus, each complicate a simple narrative of Muslim manhood. In our conversation we discuss hermeneutical strategies, feminists approaches to the Qur’an, notions of love and sexual boundaries, the Mughal poet Mirza Ghalib, gender fluidity, Sufism in South Asia, prophethood, and same-sex love.

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