Juliane HammerNov 11, 2012
American Muslim Women, Religious Authority, and Activism
More Than a Prayer
University of Texas Press 2012
In 2005, Amina Wadud led a mixed-gender congregation of Muslims in prayer. This event became the focal point of substantial media attention and highlighted some of the tensions within the Muslim community. However, this prayer gathering was the culmination of a series of events and embodied several ongoing intra-Muslim debates. In American Muslim Women, Religious Authority, and Activism: More Than a Prayer (University of Texas Press, 2012), Juliane Hammer, Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, outlines the circumstances leading up to the prayer event and employs it as point of convergence to explore the multiple discourses surrounding Muslim gender issues. The debates following the prayer fell into two discursive frameworks, legal and symbolic. Hammer explores these themes through a broader body of sources written by American Muslim women both in relation to exegetical projects or legalistic frameworks leading towards gender equality or human rights. While gender remains central to the arguments of the book Hammer uses this subject to examine various issues related to contemporary Islam, including participation, leadership, law, media, and self-representation. In our conversation, we discuss the disintegration of traditional modes of authority, "progressive" Muslims, embodied tafsir, feminism, the permissibility and validity of women lead prayer, the hijab, book covers, mosques, networks, Asra Nomani, and Amina Wadud, but are only able to scratch the surface of this wonderful book.