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Female Religious Authority in Shi'i Islam

Past and Present

Edited by Mirjam Künkler, Devin J. Stewart

Hardback (Forthcoming)

Case studies of women exercising religious authority in Shiʿi Islam from the classical period to the present

Islamic religious authority is conventionally understood to be an exclusively male purview. Yet when dissected into its various manifestations—leading prayer, preaching, issuing fatwas, transmitting hadith, judging in court, teaching law, theology, and other Islamic sciences and generally shaping the Islamic scholarly tradition—nuances emerge that hint at the presence of women in the performance of some of these functions. This collection of case studies, covering the period from classical Islam to the present, and taken from across the Shiʿi Islamic world, reflects on the roles that women have played in exercising religious authority across time and space. Comparative reflection on the case studies allows for the formulation of hypotheses regarding the conditions and developments—whether theological, jurisprudential, social, economic, or political—that enhanced or stifled the flourishing of female religious authority in Shiʿi Islam.

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  1. Introduction
    Mirjam Künkler and Devin Stewart
  2. Forgotten Histories of Female Religious Authority in Islam
  3. Mirjam Künkler, SCAS

  4. Umm Salamah: A Female Authority Legitimating the Authorities
  5. Yasmin Amin, AUC Egypt

  6. Heiress to the Prophet: Fatima as Inheritor of Her Father’s Legacy
  7. Alyssa Gabbay, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

  8. Female Authority in the Times of the Shi‘i Imams
  9. Liyakat Takim, McMaster University, Canada

  10. “She should not raise her voice when amongst men”: Imāmī arguments against (and for) women judges
  11. Robert Gleave, University of Exeter

  12. Husniyyah’s Debate at the Court of Harun al-Rashid: Sectarian Polemics and Female Religious Authority
  13. Devin Stewart, Emory University

  14. Princesses, Patronage, and the Production of Knowledge in Safavid Iran
  15. Yusuf Ünal, Emory University

  16. The Lives of Two Mujtahidahs: Female Religious Authority in 20th Century Iran
  17. Mirjam Künkler, SCAS, and Roja Fazaeli, Trinity College Dublin

  18. The "Other Half of the Mission": Amina Bint al-Hudà (al-Sadr) as Wakil for Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr?
    Raffaele Mauriello, Sapienza University of Rome
  19. Speaking in the Name of Zaynab: Female Shi‘i Religious Authority in Syria
    Edith Szanto, American University of Iraq, Sulaimani
  20. Women’s Religious Seminaries in Iran: A Diversified System Despite State Attempts at Unification and Standardization
  21. Maryam Rutner, NYU

  22. Cover Art: Laylî as Queen of Heaven by Muhammadî of Herât, ca. 1565

          Michael Barry

About the Author

Mirjam Künkler is Senior Research Fellow at Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study. She is co-editor, with Alfred Stepan, of Indonesia, Islam and Democracy (Columbia University Press, 2013).

Devin Stewart is Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Emory University. He has published numerous journal articles, including in Islamic Law and Society, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies and Journal of Qur’anic Studies.

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