Dinner with Dr. Wadud

Last Thursday, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Amina Wadud, author and prominent Muslim feminist scholar. She was in town to give a guest lecture at Oregon State University, sponsored by the school’s Women’s Studies Department.

The Women’s Studies Department hosted dinner with Dr. Wadud at the delicious Big River restaurant and then we headed to her lecture. Dr. Wadud’s lecture was held in a tiny room, but I was so pleased to see that the room literally overflowed with people interested in her work.

Her lecture focused on the language of the Qur’an and Islam’s inherent demand of gender equality. She explained how human rights had become an “either/or” endeavor for Muslims (either you choose Islam or human rights, but not both); her argument was that Islam and human rights are not exclusive, but in fact that Islam inherently supports and demands human rights (and thus gender equality).

She also spoke about the gender equality inherent in Qur’anic verses. “The Qur’an is explicitly inclusive in all stages of life and death,” she said, noting that both men and women are part of God’s design—women are not an afterthought, nor are we imperfect versions of men.

After her lecture, several people purchased her books and lined up to talk to her. First in line were several young men. I was amused that they had not come to support her, but rather challenge her.

This is what male privilege looks like: a group of young men splitting hairs and challenging the decades of research done by a female scholar who’s been Muslim since before any of them were born, assuming that even though she’s done more research on the subject than all of them put together, they still have something to teach her.

It was a pleasure to spend time with Dr. Wadud. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out her books.

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