Contemporary Iranian Feminism: Identity, Rights and Interpretations

Author(s): Roja Fazaeli (published in Muslim World Journal of Human Rights, Volume 4, Issue 1, Article 8, 2007)


In the last decade a body of literature has been written on the phenomenon of ‘Islamic Feminism,’ which closely links it to a human rights discourse in Muslim countries. The term ‘Islamic Feminism’ may seem a paradox, but by using Iran as a case study this article demonstrates that the idea of feminisms in Muslim societies, rather than being paradoxical, is actually a legitimate and potentially powerful force. In this paper Iranian feminists are categorized into four groups: Islamic state feminists, Islamic non-state feminists, Muslim feminists and secular feminists. Each group is differentiated according to their interpretations of fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), their use of ijtihad (independent reasoning) and their relations to human rights and to the government. The novel concept of feminist dependency paradigm is also explored. The dependency paradigm investigates the multi-layered dependencies of the feminists to the state, to foreign funders, intellectuals, and to the family.

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