Gendering prophecy in the Islamic tradition

ERI 144
Monday 19 February 2018 (12:00-14:00)

Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Seminar Series 2017/18

  • Speaker: Dr Shuruq Naguib (Lancaster University)
  • Title: Gendering prophecy in the Islamic tradition

All welcome!


Much of the discussion on the prophethood of women in different genres of Islamic writing revolves around the interpretation of certain elements of the Qur’anic narrative of Maryam. In key theological works such as Kitāb al-irshād by Imām al-Ḥaramayn al-Juwaynī (d. 419/1028), the question is addressed in the course of proving Prophetic mission and distinguishing between Prophets’ miracles and saintly marvels. In tafsīr works such as al-Qurṭubī’s (d. 621/1273) Al-Jāmi‘ li-aḥkām al-Qur’an, the discussion is more broadly related to the conceptual grammar of Maryam’s depiction in the Qur’an, mainly: her election (iṣṭifā), her moral and/or physical purification (taṭhīr), hence, potentially, her infallibility, her capacity to hear and speak to the Angels and, finally, her miraculous virginal conception. Although the majority hold the view that maleness is a prerequisite for prophethood, those who argued in support of female prophethood were not marginal figures in the Islamic tradition. Two of the most prominent scholars who espoused this view are Abū al-Ḥasan al-Ash‘arī (d. 324/936 CE) and Ibn Ḥazm al-Ẓāhrī (d. 456/1064). The paper has two aims, therefore: the first is to map out the contours of the medieval Muslim debate on women and prophecy; and the second is to analyse the different concerns underlying gendered conceptions of prophethood.

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