Overview: Islam and Feminism: Europe

Hanane Karimi, in "Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures", General Editor Suad Joseph, First published online: 2022

Based on a literature review of English- and French-language scholarship on Islamic feminisms, this entry aims to examine the debate over this concept, in particular from the vantage point of Muslim women based in the West. It explores two epistemological impasses tied to the politics of naming the struggles of Muslim women in the Western world as “Islamic feminism” . The first one pertains to how the label “feminism” regulates and situates the struggles and knowledge produced by Muslim women in the Francophone world as necessarily feminist: it becomes the condition of their legibility. The second addresses the way in which the label “Islamic” (i.e. “Islamic feminism”) conditions and pre-defines the mobilization of Muslim women in very diverse national and political contexts as being coherently religious. This double epistemological impasse and obligated framing as “feminist” or “Islamic” disallow a plurality of epistemological standpoints that cannot be resumed to either of these two categories. The article examines this by looking at the scholarship and forms of action by Muslim women in Canada and France in order to realign theories and scholarly productions to the political and social positions of Muslim women involved in real-life struggles without neglecting the power relations and social conditions that structure their engagements. Read more