Women and Islam: The role of holistic interpretation
In the Islamic world, the absence of women's voices within the academic and political realms has rendered Islamic history incomplete. However, in the last century, Muslim women and men have increasingly attempted to reinterpret their religious and cultural traditions within holistic interpretive frameworks that underscore the importance of revisiting the historical context and reformist intent of the Qur'anic revelation in order to understand the ways Islamic values and precepts can speak to people today. This thesis investigates this emerging discourse of "holistic interpretation" and concludes that consistency and coherence do exist in the assumptions and methods of contemporary "holistic" interpreters, which lead to conclusions about Islam that often differ from the conclusions of the "atomistic," traditional and reactive interpreters. In particular, the "holistic" approach offers a vehicle for a distinctive Islamic discourse that responds to the needs and rights of women while supporting inclusive dialogue, nonviolent social change, and peace.