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Spirituality and Islamic Feminism: A Critical Analysis of Religious Agency in Selected Literary and Cinematic Works

Almaeen, Mona (2018) Spirituality and Islamic Feminism: A Critical Analysis of Religious Agency in Selected Literary and Cinematic Works. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:66775)

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Language: English

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Islamic ideological evolution has been hugely affected by the cultural and political attributions of both colonisation and neo-colonisation. This is particularly evident in the polarising controversy over religious women's agency, which continues to engage many Islamic feminists. This research critically examines the religious agency of Muslim women as a product of the postcolonial ideological, historical and political factors that have shaped contemporary religious discourse, with a particular focus on Sufi informed religious agency. Sufism offers ideological and aesthetic tools that can empower agency in Islamic feminist writing, such as the spiritual ecology that is derived from Ibn 'Arabi's wa?dat al-wuj?d. Sufi literature is often critically analysed within the framework of Magical Realism, and this literary critical approach determines the reading of the mystical elements. These elements are therefore perceived as myths. This thesis avoids this critical mistake by asserting that these mystical aspects are faith-based articulations of resistance to the ideological normativity, of postcolonial ideologies.

This research examines a number of Sufi-based feminist novels: Leila Aboulela's Minaret (2005), "Days Rotate" (2001) and The Kindness of Enemies (2015); Raja Alem's My Thousand and One Nights (2007) and Fatma (2002); as well as the film Bab'Aziz (2005) by Nacer Khemir. The study of feminist views and the representation of women's agency affiliated with Sufism permits a further understanding of the literary and cinematic resistance to the normativity within which Sufi literature has been read. This study reveals that the novelists' and cinematic director's perspectives on spiritual women's agency, as articulated in the works under scrutiny, accommodate variable views of religious knowledge. This not only encourages different levels of engagement in the textual traditions as a source of agency but also instigates considerable engagement with the political issues that are integral to Sufism and women's agency. Overall, this research problematises both the normative consideration of Sufism and feminist engagement in the religious agency of Muslim women.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Gurnah, Abdulrazak S
Thesis advisor: Padamsee, Alex
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2018 08:10 UTC
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2020 04:10 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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