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Book Talk| Rebellious Wives, Neglectful Husbands: Controversies in Modern Qur'anic Commentarie
The last decades have witnessed a proliferation of scholarship focused on women and gender in the Qurʾan. Yet, much of the scholarship evades a substantive engagement with tafsīr as a scholarly genre. This lack of engagement with tafsīr in the field of women in the Qurʾan partially stems from evaluations of the exegetical tradition as patriarchal and incapable of offering egalitarian interpretations. In her new book, Rebellious Wives, Neglectful Husbands, Hadia Mubarak argues that this evaluation requires a critical reassessment. Rather than discard the exegetical tradition as meaningless to Muslim’s contemporary efforts to recover the Qurʾan’s ethics, this book brings into conversation the distinct fields of tafsīr studies and women’s studies. The book explores the impact of modernity on three influential, Sunni Qurʾanic commentaries in the twentieth century through the lens of gender: Tafsīr al-Manār, Fī Ẓilāl al-Qurʾan, and Al-Taḥrīr wa’l-Tanwīr. Mubarak illustrates the ways in which colonialism, nationalism, and modernization set into motion new ways of engaging with the subject of women in the Qurʾan. Focusing her analysis on Qurʾanic commentaries as a scholarly genre, Mubarak offers a critical and comparative analysis of these three modern commentaries with seven medieval commentaries, spanning from the ninth to fourteenth centuries, on verses dealing with neglectful husbands (4:128), rebellious wives (4:34), polygyny (4:3), and divorce (2:228). Rather than pit a seemingly egalitarian Qurʾan against an allegedly patriarchal exegetical tradition, this book captures a tafsīr tradition with pluralistic, complex, and evolving interpretations of women and gender in the Qurʾan.

Mar 30, 2022 12:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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