Being Muslim: Unveiling the Voices of Asian Muslim Women Travellers

Abstract

A quick Google search for the keywords Muslim women travel will lead to myriad travel stories online. Undoubtedly, an increasing number of Muslim women are travelling beyond borders, breaking bigotry and gender bias. In light of the dynamic changes in the travel landscape, this study seeks to unveil the voices of Asian Muslim women. It offers an alternative viewpoint as most available discourses propose interpretations of Muslim women by focusing on travel experiences of the Arab Muslim woman. Based on in-depth interviews with 10 Asian Muslim women travellers aged between 22 and 37 years old from four different countries (Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia), the findings were explored and explained from three dimensions of empowerment proposed by Kabeer namely resources, agency and achievements. Research findings show that Muslim women in Asia are travelling without abandoning their cultural or religious beliefs. The proliferation of Muslim women travellers contests the view that gendered interpretations of religious texts promote patriarchal orientation in Muslim community that suppresses women leisure. In a way, this paper challenges the continuous misconceptions about Islam and travel among Muslim women. These women learn to unlearn patriarchy by seeking answers in the right places while they learn more about their self, religion and the world.

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Correspondence to Nor Hafizah Selamat.

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Poopale Ratthinan, S., Selamat, N.H. Being Muslim: Unveiling the Voices of Asian Muslim Women Travellers. Gend. Issues 35, 302–317 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12147-018-9215-3

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Keywords

  • Asia
  • Muslim
  • Women
  • Travel
  • Empowerment