The term ‘Muslim feminism’ is used by some feminists in Iran who recognize themselves as Islamic feminists, but they want to separate themselves from the former group.
Muslim feminists condemn Islamic feminists for not seeking amendments and improvements outside the context of Islam. Therefore, they regard themselves as a new class of feminists placed between Islamic and secular feminists. Roja Fazaeli defined Muslim feminism in summer 2004 defined as:
Both Islamic and Muslim feminists seek to reform Islamic law using ijtihad. However, Islamic feminist’s use of dynamic ijtihad as a tool for reform is confined to the framework of traditional Islamic fiqh, whereas Muslim feminists look for answers outside this framework. They acquire most of their responses from philosophy and Ahl Kalam. Ahl Kalam believe that before entering into the debate of dynamic ijtihad where time and context are crucial, one has to take into account some principle rules such as justice and equality, both of which are the essence of Qur’an. (2007)
After the victory of the Islamic revolution, a group of Iranian women joined women’s rights organizations and continued their opposition either in or out of Iran. They were defending women’s rights within their secular beliefs and concluded that because of the strong religious trend among Iranian women, no fundamental change can happen regardless of the religion. Therefore, we can conclude that they were seeking a theory that would cover the feminist views in a religious context and this was the time that the Muslim feminism was born in Iran. From their point of view it can be understood that Muslim feminism is a world between the fundamentalist and Western feminism. Mir-Hosseini believes that in order to be recognised in the Western academic world as a feminist scholar, one has to become a Muslim feminist instead of Islamic feminist for its dynamic source out from traditional concepts and. To be a Muslim feminist is also more tolerable in Islamic world than to be a merely feminist .
Muslim feminists’ discussions, either in or out of the country are based on cultural relativism, which means that any society has its own specific method and approach to resolve their issues and these issues should be studied in their specific cultural context (Ibid: 613) .
It is clear that Muslim feminism has been partly influenced by postmodern theories. Muslim feminists acknowledge patriarchy and male dominated society as the fundamental issue of women in the family and society. Seeking equality between men and women is their aim and they criticize the differences in the provisions and sharia (law) between men and women.
They also borrow the concepts of the western interpretation of humanism, secularism, human rights and the similarity between women’s and men’s rights. They attempt to provide new interpretations and readings of the Qur’an verses and simultaneously to provide the patterns from the West. While Islamic feminists seek for the...