The first convert to Islam was a woman and Umme Waraqa was the first female imam, nominated by the Prophet Muhammad to lead the prayers of his tribe or village. From Islam’s earliest days, women have played an important, if often under-acknowledged, role in the development of Muslim culture and civilization.
The primary goal of this course is to introduce students to the relationship between Islam and gender. As such, it will focus on the central text of Islam, the Quran, as well as the life of the early Islamic community. The course is a balanced mixture of scholarly readings, analyses of gender in Islamic scriptures, independent research and academic discussion among the group to encourage critical thinking and develop the skills to understand, conduct scholarly research and communicate intellectual ideas with empathy, clarity and respect. While the class reflects the bias in scholarship toward the study of women and femininity in Islam, the class also addresses masculine and non-binary perspectives. A second goal of the course is to capture the diversity of gender in contemporary Islam by emphasizing gendered experiences in Muslim communities both inside and outside the Middle East.