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Exploring the(in)commensurability between the lived experiences of Muslim women and cosmopolitanism : implications for democratic citizenship education and Islamic education

Davids, Nuraan, 1970- (2012-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Includes bibliography


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Impressions and perceptions about Islām, particularly in a world where much of what is known about Islām has emerged from after the tragic devastation of the Twin Towers in New York, are creating huge challenges for Muslims wherever they may find themselves. Women as the more visible believers in Islām are, what I believe, at the forefront of the growing skepticism surrounding Islām. And central to the modern day debates and suspicious regard meted out to Muslim women today is her hijāb (head-scarf). Ironically, it would appear that the same amount of detail and attention that Islamic scholars have devoted to the role of women in Islām and how they are expected to conduct themselves is now at the centre of the modern day debates and suspicious regard. Yet, the debates seldom move beyond what is obviously visible, and so little is known about what has given shape to Muslim women’s being, and how their understanding of Islām has led them to practise their religion in a particular way. This dissertation is premised on the assertion that in order to understand the role of Muslim women in a cosmopolitan society, you need to understand Islām and Islamic education. It sets out to examine and explore as to whether there is commensurability or not between Muslim women and the notion of cosmopolitanism, and what then the implications would be for democratic citizenship education and Islamic education. One of the main findings of the dissertation is that the intent to understand Muslim women’s education and the rationales of their educational contexts and practices opens itself to a plurality of interpretations that reflects the pluralism of understanding constitutive of the practices of Islam both within and outside of cosmopolitanism. Another is that inasmusch as Muslim women have been influenced by living and interacting in a cosmopolitan society, cosmopolitanism has been shaped and shifted by Muslim women. By examining the concepts of knowledge and education in Islām, and exploring the gaps between interpretations of Islam and Qur’anic exegesis, I hope to demystify many of the (mis)perceptions associated with Muslim women, and ultimately with Islām. And finally, by examining how Islamic education can inform a renewed cosmopolitanism, and by looking at how democratic citizenship education can shape a renewed Islamic education, the eventual purpose of this dissertation is to find a way towards peaceful co-existence.

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