Feminism Hermeneutics Reform Gender in Islam


This paper is a study of Feminism Hermeneutics, the focus is on the Hermeneutics for the interpretation of the Qur’an. Departing from the idea of ​​intellectual figures of Islam that carries the feminist gender equality and justice in the interpretation of the Qur’an, is formulated a method of interpretation of the Qur’an based feminist. The findings of this study are based feminist hermeneutic of the Qur’an called the Feminism Hermeneutics. The modern intellectual thought of Islamic feminism, sued the gender bias in the interpretation of the Qur’an. Gender bias gave birth to the view that the position of women is not equal to men, women are not recognized as a full man only as subordinate to men. The name of religion, women should not present themselves, there should not be a leader, must be willing polygamy. Gender bias in the interpretation of the Qur’an  have been detrimental to women. Therefore, in order to achieve equality and gender justice needs dismantel gender bias in the interpretation of the Qur’an. Methodological problems in  the interpretation (tafsir}  of the Qur’an.

 Keywords: Feminism Hermeneutics, tafsir of the Qur’an, equality and gender justice.


In Islamic society is still strong presumption that the status of women is lower than men. Humanitarian women is considered incomplete, and the existence of women only complement and serve men. This assumption results in women experiencing various forms of discrimination and injustice. When the idea of ​​gender equality into global talks at the end of the 20th century, Muslim intellectuals involved in the discourse of Islamic sciences begin to question and examine the position of women according to the Qur’an. They concluded that the cause of the decline of the position of women in Islamic societies is gender bias in the interpretation of religion. Gender bias in tafsir of the Qur’an,  position women in the injured party.

In the face of the social changes which become more frequent and powerful today, interpretation of gender bias remains a religious reference of the most legitimate and sacred. This Tafsir codified into the legal system, must be obeyed. When the accused violated infidels. Women become prisoners theological. To liberate women from the shackles of this, gender bias in the interpretation of the Qur’an  needs to be dismantled and gender verses in the Qur’an needs reinterpretation.

Gender bias in the interpretation of the Qur’an has a lot to sue. The suit may be understood from the Islamic intellectual thought like, Amina Wadud, Asma Barlas and others. Gender bias in the interpretation of the Qur’an  is also being sued by Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals, like Siti Musdah Mulia, Nasaruddin Umar, Husein Muhammad and others. In view of this Islamic intellectuals, gender bias in the interpretation of the Qur’an became one of the causes of gender discrimination in the Islamic society. Therefore these figures dismantle gender-biased interpretation and reinterpreted the verses of the Qur’an gender.

Understanding gender bias lawsuit against interpretation can be concluded that the emergence of gender bias in the interpretation of the Qur’an  because of methodological problems. The product of tafsir cassical times using the classical method. The classical method of weak methodology, is atomistic, textual / literal, constructed culturally, historically structured, so that the meaning is limited, can not apply throughout the ages. Thus, it should be presented alternative methods for the interpretation of the Qur’an. In connection with that, this study serves Feminism Hermeneutics method, hermeneutics in favor of gender equality, feminist interpretation of the Qur’an based on product feminist interpretation.

This paper introduces Feminism Hermeneutics for the interpretation of the Qur’an. Feminism Hermeneutics is a Qur’anic hermeneutic. Indeed, contemporary Islamic leaders, such as Hassan Hanafi, Fazlur Rahman, Mohammed Arkoun was first introduce Quranic hermeneutics, and offers a variety of hermeneutics favor of social justice, but there is no hermeneutic methods that favor gender equality. Feminism Hermeneutics  is hermeneutics in favor of gender equality.

FeminismHermeneutics  compiled by exploiting the work of five feminist Islam. Actually quite a lot of work to question the Islamic feminist women in the commentary, when incorporated here in will be gigantic. The fifth character is, first, Amina Wadud, through her work  Qur’an and Women, Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman’s Perspective and Inside the Gender Jihad, Woman’s Reform in Islam. Second, Aysha A. Hidayatullah through her work Feminist Edges of the Qur’an (2014). Third,Musdah Mulia Siti Muslimah through her work  Muslimah Sejati dan indahnya  Islam menyuarakan kesetaraan dan keadian gender (2014). Fourthly, Asma Barlas through her work Believing woman in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretation of the Quran (2002). Fifth, Kecia Ali, through her work  sexsual ETICS & Islam: Feminist Reflectionson Qur’an, Hadith and Yurisprudence (2012).

Figures above sue feminist interpretation of gender bias and memproduct based feminist interpretation. They can be categorized in two generations. The first generation is, Amina Wadud and Musdah Mulia. The second generation is, Asma Barlas, Aysha A. Hidayatullah and Kecia Ali. The first generation had been instrumental interpretation of the Qur’an based feminist raises. This generation works as “trailblazers”, because it accounts for their work are under tremendous pressure, experienced male domination and gender-based intellectuals. Their work is nuanced against patriarchy hard and contains many personal experiences that show that they are oppressed. This generation is focused on the work of each,

The second generation appeared in 1990, fueled by an increase in the movement of women in the struggle for human rights of women internationally, such as the conference of Women worldwide in Beijing in 1995, which spawned a commitment to human development through gender equality and the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women) who gave birth to a commitment elimination of discrimination against women. Thought 0f  the second generation shows the development, where they support each other and intertwined with one another.

By analyzing the thinking of the fifth Islamic feminism above and understand their ideas about the interpretation of the Qur’an based feminist, then the task of this study is formulating a feminist hermeneutic model. Feminist Hermeneutics is a method of interpretation of the Qur’an  which is based on the principle of gender equality, work by using methodological steps that follow the principles of modern hermeneutical theory. Feminism Hermeneutics  can be an alternative method for the interpretation of the Qur’an, especially to interpret the verses of gender. The fifth Islamic feminist figures above  have proven to perform Qur’anic interpretation memproduct-based feminist and feminist interpretation, that interpretation is gender.

Amina Wadud

Amina Wadud - feminism hermeneutics
Amina Wadud

Dr. Amina Wadud, an Islamic feminist intellectual and gender fighters from the United States. Completed doctoral studies with the dissertation research on the position of women in the Qur’an. Began his career as a professor at the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM), the Department of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Heritage. Back to America (1992), she is a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her understanding of the interpretation of the Qur’an is obtained from reading the books written by Al-Zamakhsary, Sayyid Qutb and Maududi. In developing her thoughts on the methodology of interpretation of the Qur’an, she refers to contemporary Islamic thought, such as Fazlur Rahman.

Amina Wadud both scientifically as well as gender activists, promote the idea of ​​gender equality and justice in Islam. Wadud dismantle gender bias that characterizes the tradition of interpretation of the Qur’an over the years. She dissects the verses and certain key words in the Qur’an  which limits the role of women both individually and socially. When it finds some aspects of gender equality and justice in the Qur’an, Wadud conduct gender reinterpretation of passages in the Qur’an  from a female perspective without steriotype made by male interpretation framework. Wadud initiated based feminist hermeneutics is the method of Quranic interpretation, which refers to the idea of ​​gender equality and reject the patriarchal system. Thought it departs from its view that the gender bias in the interpretation of the Qur’an caused by methodological problems.

The idea put forward feminist hermeneutics based Wadud can be seen in his criticism of the classical commentators. According to Amina Wadud no interpretation of the Qur’an  that is truly objective, because each muffasir does some subjective choice. Wadud classical commentators criticized both methods, perspectives and content. Then Wadud offers holistic character of Qur’anic exegesis that consider all methods of interpretation on issues of social life, political, cultural, moral and religious and women as well as solving the problem comprehensively. Wadud thinking about hermeneutics can be said based feminist pioneer. He shows the connection between the theoretical and methodological interpretation of the Qur’an with the things that bring them (who and how). Some focus on the concentration, that is what the Qur’an, how the Qur’an  say, what is said against the Qur’an  and who is saying, and coupled with the sense current, that is what has not been said. With based feminist hermeneutics,Wadud reinterpret verses in the Qur’an  gender and gender-equitable result in misinterpretation.

Gender justice not only in the text {interpretation} , but practiced in social life. Breakthrough Amina Wadud very famous is when Wadud became imam and preacher Friday prayers on March 18, 2005 in an Anglican church, at Synod House, Manhattan, New York. Wadud carry out the Friday prayer in the church after three mosques refused because of a bomb threat against them. Friday prayer is sponsored by the “Muslim Women’s Freedom Tour” women’s empowerment organization led Asra Nomani. the Friday prayer followed more or less a hundred worshipers of men and women. In view of Wadud, leadership in worship has been relied upon for leadership in politics, then the backrest to be broken into.

 Aysha A. Hidayatullah

 Aysha A Hidayatullah - feminism hermeneutics
Aysha A Hidayatullah

Dr. Aysha A. Hidayatullah is assistant professor University of San Francisco, a Jesuit Catholic institution. She teaches courses on Islam, gender, and race. Aysha Hidayatullah presents a comprehensive analysis of contemporary feminist interpretation of the Qur’an . She combines feminist interpretation of the Qur’an  based on the figures of feminist and provide an important introduction to the field of science-based feminist interpretation of the Qur’an. Aysha conduct in-depth investigations and a radical critique of the methods of interpretation of the Qur’an and the feminist-based approach.

In her work  Feminist Edges of the Qur’an, she suggests three methods based feminist interpretation, namely: method of historical contextualization, intratekstualitas and monotheistic paradigm. Historical contextualization method of interpreting the Qur’an by taking into account the time and background context decline in verse or revelation (asbab al-nuzul). With this method of passages distinguished particular and universal. The verses of the particular applied to define the situation and condition of Arab society Ages 7 and verse universal for all human beings. Contextual method historically put a historical role in giving birth and the gender bias in the interpretation of classical biological essentialism.

Intratekstual method of reading the Qur’an treat holistically, that track how linguistic forms used throughout the text of the Qur’an and compare the verse with one another in the same theme. How to read the Qur’an with intratekstual method, which is not read these verses one by one, but read the verse in the same theme as a whole with reference to the Qur’anic principle of justice for all human beings.

Paradigm method,  related to the concept of monotheism of Islam, that is monotheism. The paradigm of tawhid means the unity of God and God can not be shared and compared. In the paradigm of understanding monotheism which distinguishes gender (sexism) can be considered idolatry, because  human being  is the vicegerent on earth. When the woman said capacity is not perfect, then it is definitely a mistake to understand the purpose of God about human  as vicegerent on earth. When women are seen not perfect, then women can not fulfill its role as guardian of God. Thus monotheistic paradigm is the basis of equality and gender justice.

Musdah Mulia

Musda Mulia - feminism hermeneutics
Musda Mulia

Dr. Musdah Mulia is a professor of Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta. Musdah known as a fighter equality and gender justice are persistent and consistent. He moves from idea to action. Thoughts on gender equality and justice written in her work and activities as gender activists demonstrated by various efforts to achieve gender equality. In Indonesia, brought the matter of gender in religious life, the obstacles are formidable and high sensitivity. Musdah Mulia do even sued the gender bias in the interpretation of the Qur’an  and bringing in the idea of ​​gender equality and justice in the interpretation. Musdah very vocal about gender equality. All this obviously requires a courage, but courage is not ordinary  but philosophical courage. Musdah Mulia has a philosophical courage.

Musdah have long realized that women confined in a prison theological, because of gender bias in the interpretation of the Qur’an , as seen in her work. Because the interpretation of the Qur’an is a product of human thought, then as the product of thought, then the interpretation of the Qur’an can be changed. Departing from the belief that human males and females are equally caliph fil ard, Musdah interpreting the Qur’an based feminist and feminist interpretations memproduct, including polygamy interpret and reinterpret verses nusyuz concept in the Qur’an. According Musdah, polygamy deny the humanity of women. The interpretation of the concept of nusyuz, the Qur’an commands only obey Allah and respect for her husband.

Asma Barlas

Asma barlas - feminism hermeneutics
Asma barlas

Asma Barlas Ph.D. of international studies from the University of Denver. She is originally from Pakistan and became the first woman (1976) in Pakistan at the time of Ziaul Haq, who works for a foreign service (foreign service). In looking at how Islam speaks about women, Barlas use two important arguments: arguments and argumentation hermeneutic history. What he meant by the argument of history is the unfolding of character textual and sexual politics that developed among the Islamic community, especially the process that has resulted in interpretations within Islam that has patriarchal tendencies. While the hermeneutical arguments intended to find what he described as epistemological egalitarianism and antipatriarchi in the Qur’an.

Asma Barlas bring new epistemology by applying the principles-based feminist hermeneutics in the interpretation of Quranic verses. The purpose-based feminist hermeneutics for the interpretation of the Qur’an is to show that the Qur’an epistemology is inherently anti-patriarchal and endorse action to formulate a theory of equality between men and women. Feminist hermeneutics for the interpretation of the Qur’an  used as a tool to explain the gender issues in the interpretation of the Qur’an with the aim to dismantle gender bias in the interpretation of the Qur’an to direinterpretasi.


Kecia Ali - feminism hermeneutics
Kecia Ali

Dr. Kecia Ali is Professor of the Department of Religion at Boston University and gave a lecture to materials related to Islam. She has written various books on gender in Islam that focuses on Islamic law on women. She discusses sexual violence against women and shows a collision between morality and law. Kecia Ali argued that the verses of the Qur’an  is interpreted by demeaning women, then it needs a feminist reflection on the Qur’an and Hadith. Kecia Ali feminist reflection on the Qur’an and the hadith, and Islamic law, especially regarding  marital and sexual as well as the issue of slavery in Islam. In discussing the problem marital,  Ali talking about the dowry, divorce and misogynistic matter against women in marriage.

According Kecia Ali, a progressive approach to the Quranic text can not be limited to selective presentation egalitarian verses in isolation from the context of the extensive scriptures. Such an approach would be in vain, because the argument for gender equality constructed by interpreting verses selective. This is where the method of jurisprudence can be offered. Because of legal experts will be associated with the source text with the social context. Laws are built have subjected to interpretation. According Kecia Ali, an understanding of the Quranic text should be changed each time according to social change.

The model of Feminism Hermeneutics

The task of this study is to formulate thoughts and ideas of the  fifth of the above figures. Thus  Feminism Hermeneutics  can be described in scheme 5:

First, based on experience / views of women. Experience / views of women in the interpretation of the Qur’an  is an important point. When the Qur’an  is interpreted based on the experience of men, then the perception of men who influence the interpretation of women’s position.

Second, framed feminist theory. Theories of feminism that core idea of ​​gender equality into the frame to establish a feminist hermeneutics. When the critical hermeneutics framed critical theory, then Feminism Hermeneutics  framed feminist theory.

The third, the method of historical contextualization. Method of historical contextualization, which consider the context and background of the time descent verse or revelation (asbab al-nuzul). This method aims to differentiate verses in particular, that the verses to define the situation and condition of Arab society Ages 7 and verse passages are universal for all human beings.

Fourth, using intratekstualitas method.  Application of the method of intratekstualitas, intended to develop a framework based on systematic thought to correlate some verses that talk about the same themes that seem appropriate linkage with the verses of the Qur’an, rather than applying at the same meaning to a verse.

Fifth, the paradigm of tawhid. To obtain a fair interpretation of women, we must return to the core teachings of the Qur’an that is monotheism as a paradigm framework Qur’anic exegesis. The concept of monotheism acknowledge God’s oneness, uniqueness and not divided (indivisibility). Tawhid is a key method in Feminism Hermeneutics for the interpretation of the Qur’an and the doctrine of the unity of God that is unparalleled. With the monotheistic paradigm will be seen clearly, differences in interpretation of the Qur’an. The model of  Feminism Hermeneutics  can be described as the chart below.

The Model of  Feminism Hermeneutics

hermeneutics feminism


Feminism Hermeneutics  on the readings of religious texts will bear the interpretation that gender justice. Feminism Hermeneutics  moral patterned by putting gender equality as a main backrest Islamic morality. Feminism Hermeneutics is critical model, which is critical of the Qur’an interpretation methodologies, critical of the classical commentators product related to the perception of women.  As well as critical of marginalizes women’s experiences in the process of interpretation. This critical attitude spawned issues are emancipatory.

Hermeneutics of Feminism need for interpretation of the Koran that women related Qur’anic teaching to adapt to the life of women in the contemporary era. Hermeneutics feminism able to articulate gender verses in the Koran to the current condition rationalize the message of the Qur’an concerning women. Hermeneutics of Feminism can be applied to gender verses in the Koran. Islamic Feminism figures have done.


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 Arivia, Girl, 2003, the Berspektif Feminist Philosophy, (Jakarta: Yayasan Jurnal Perempuan)

—————     2006 Feminism: A Conscience, (Jakarta: Kompas Media Nusantara)

Ahmed, Leila, 1992, the Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate, (New Haven: Yale University)

—————     2000 Women and Gender in Islam, (Jakarta: Lantern)

Ashghar, Ali Engineer, 1994, the Rights of Women in Islam (Yogyakarta: Landscape Library)

Alcoff, Linda, 1993, Feminist Epistemologies, (Routledge: New York-London)

Ali, Kecia, 2012, Sexual Ethics and Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qur’an, Hadith, and Jurisprudence,       (England: Oneworld Publications 185 Banbury Road Oxford OX27AR)

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Barlas, Asma, in 2002, believing Women in Islam: Unreading Patrarchal Interpretationsof the Qur’an, (Austin: University of Texas)

—————— 2004, Amina Wadud’s Hermeneutics of the Qur’an: Women Reading Sacred text, in Taji al-Faruki, ed. Modern MuslimIntellectuals and the Qur’an, (London: Oxford University Press)

Honor, Musdah, 2011, True Muslimah: Taking Reaching Ridha Islamic Way Divine, (Bandung: Publisher Maja)

—————     2014, The Beauty of Islam Voicing Gender Equality and Justice, (Yogyakarta: Naufan Library)

…………… 2014, Glory of Women in Islam, (Jakarta: Megawati Institute)

…………… 2005, Muslim Reformer: Women religious reformer, (Bandung: Mizan)

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