Tabt i fortolkning: Et studie af Musawahs holitiske tilgang til lighed og retfærdighed i den muslimske familie

Tanja Fløe Dalby, Mie Hesselager Olsen, Merete Vedelstorp & Manon Alice Lavaud

Student thesis: Termpaper


Abstract In this project we study how the transnational movement Musawah articulates Islam and feminism through their holistic approach. Musawah is a transnational knowledge-building movement founded in 2009 i Malaysia, working to promote ‘justice and equality in the Muslim family’. Applying selected concepts from the theory of discourse of Laclau and Mouffe, we analyze the struggles around the definitions of feminism and Islam and investigate how Musawah positions itself as a movement in this field of discursivty. Our conceptual framework consists of Talal Asad’s concept of Islam as a discursive tradition, Meyda Yegenoglu’s feminist reading of Orientalism, and Saba Mahmood’s analysis on the feminist subject and agency. Moreover we use relevant research about feminism and Islam in the Middle-East and on a transnational level, with both historical and present perspectives. First we analyze the discursive battles around the four floating signifiers: ‘Islam’, ‘feminism’, ‘the Muslim woman’ and the ‘secular’ based on data collected at a conference held in Copenhagen about ‘challenges and opportunities for women in the MENA-region.’ In these discursive battles, feminism and Islam are often defined as antagonistic, although some articulate the two concepts as reconciliable. This is most clearly expressed within the discourse of Islamic Feminisism. Then we take point of departure in the texts published by Musawah. Musawah articulates a distinction between the divine islamic principles of shari’ah – which include equality and justice – , and the man-made interpretations of fiqh. In their articulation of Islam, all Muslims have the authority to interpretate the meaning of religion. We conclude that Musawah through its holistic approach articulates a discourse where feminism, human rights, Muslim people’s lived realities, equality, justice and Islam form a logic of equivalence. The one and only antagonism to this logic are the ‘false’ patriarchal interpretations of islam, which are the basis of the unjustices in Muslim family law around the world. Hereby we conclude that Musawah tries to formulate a new holistic discourse, where the antagonism between ‘East-West’, ‘religion-secular’ and ‘Islam vs. feminism and human rights’ are dissolved.

EducationsCultural encounter studies, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Undergraduate or graduate
Publication date13 Jun 2012


  • islam
  • musawah
  • feminisme