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Religious Intellectuals, the “Woman Question,” and the Struggle for the Creation of a Democratic Public Sphere in Iran

  • Farideh Farhi
Article

Abstract

The ideas of the new generation of religious intellectuals in Iran have been the main engine for the call for reform. These intellectuals have attempted to locate their views about the way women are and should be treated in Islamic societies in their much broader—and to them more significant—attempt to offer a modernist religious understanding and a more democratic reading of the role of religion in modern polity. Iranian feminists, on the other hand, have begun to insist that the particular situation of women in Iran is in need of more attention. Religious intellectuals have responded by engaging in reluctant analysis of the way the “woman question” poses itself in the Iranian context. So far, their analyses fail to take into account the gender implications of the struggle against absolutism and traditional authority. However, the dynamic interaction of the reform project with demands and aspirations of various sectors of Iranian public life will not allow the issue to rest here. Religious intellectuals, in their attempt to recreate essential religious truth in the form of new intellectual concepts and systems, will increasingly have to deal with systemic gender inequalities in a more systematic manner.

religious intellectuals women Iran Islam 

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© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2001

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  • Farideh Farhi

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