Asma Barlas, Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 2002. 254 pages.
Does the Qur’an permit the oppression of women? Can women pursue equality and remain within the framework of its teachings? In this original and thought-provoking work, Barlas attempts to address these controversial questions. In the preface, Barlas asks whether the Qur’an is a patriarchal text, and acknowledges that while this question might not be meaningful from the perspective of the Qur’anic text itself, Muslim women today are confronted with frankly patriarchal exegeses. In order to open up a discursive space for her reading, Barlas asserts that various readings of the Qur’an should not be confused with the text itself, and that since Islam has no clergy, women can reclaim the right to interpret the Qur’an. Contrary to both conservative and progressive Muslims, she argues that the Qur'an challenges inequality and oppression.