The private is political: Women and family in intellectual Islam
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In Hiba Ra'uf's Woman and Political Work, she argues that the family is the basic political unit of the Islamic community or nation (the umma). Her thesis is both feminist and Islamist, as she argues that the 'private is political'. By drawing analogies between family and umma, family and caliphate, the personal and the political, the private and public, Ra'uf seeks to dismantle the oppositions of secular society, to challenge the division of society into discrete spheres. This entails an implicit challenge to the secular state, but effected through the politics of the family. An Islamic family, she argues, is a powerful site for the transformation of socio-political institutions; a politics of the microcosmic with macrocosmic ramifications, effected through the very embodiment and practice of an Islamic ethos at a grassroots, capillary level. However, though Ra'uf contests liberal secularism's division of spheres with feminist and Islamist critical methods, she reproduces some of its fundamental assumptions about the nature of the family: as the domain of religion, in opposition to the secular state; as rooting community, in opposition to the individualism of the citizen; as an ethics grounded in affect; and as an essentially feminine world. In making the family the sphere of Islamic politics, Ra'uf re-enacts secularism's division of spheres, sacralizing the affective bonds of intimate relations and making the family the domain of religion. Furthermore, by emphasizing the family as the domain of women's political work, she reinscribes the family as a feminine sphere, so that woman's vocation is familial, as is her ethical disposition. © The Author(s) 2010.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1177/1464700110366805
Publication InfoMcLarney, E (2010). The private is political: Women and family in intellectual Islam. Feminist Theory, 11(2). pp. 129-148. 10.1177/1464700110366805. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/6954.
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