New Book: Divine Words, Female Voices

The relationship between Islam and feminism is complex. There are many Muslim scholars who fervently promote women's equality. At the same time, there is ambivalence regarding the general norms, terminology, and approaches of feminism and feminist theology. This ambivalence is in large part a product of various hegemonic, androcentric, and patriarchal discourses that seek to dictate legitimate and authoritative interpretations. These discourses not only fuel ambivalence, they also effectively obscure valuable possibilities related to interreligious feminist engagement. 

Divine Words, Female Voices ((Oxford University Press) is the follow-up to Jerusha Rhodes's 2014 book, Never Wholly Other, in which she introduced the idea of "Muslima" theology and applied it to the topic of religious diversity. In this new book, she extends her earlier arguments to contend that interreligious feminist engagement is both a theologically valid endeavor and a vital resource for Muslim women scholars. She introduces comparative feminist theology as a method for overcoming challenges associated with interreligious feminist engagement, reorients comparative discussions to focus on the two "Divine Words" (the Qur'an and Jesus) and feminist theology, and uses this reorientation to examine intersections, discontinuities, and insights related to diverse theological topics. This book is distinctive in its responsiveness to calls for new approaches in Islamic feminist theology, its use of the method of comparative theology, its focus on Muslim and Christian feminist theology in comparative analysis, and its constructive articulation of Muslima theological perspectives.

Jerusha Rhodes is Assistant Professor of Islam and Interreligious Engagement and the Director of the Islam, Social Justice, and Interreligious Engagement Program (ISJIE) at Union Theological Seminary in New York. She is the author of Never Wholly Other: A Muslima Theology of Religious Pluralism (Oxford University Press, 2014).