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Sufi Narratives of IntimacyIbn 'Arab?, Gender, and Sexuality$
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Sa'diyya Shaikh

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780807835333

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807869864_shaikh

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Introduction: Tales of Contention: Muslim Gender Imaginaries

Introduction: Tales of Contention: Muslim Gender Imaginaries

(p.1) Introduction: Tales of Contention: Muslim Gender Imaginaries
Sufi Narratives of Intimacy

Saʿdiyya Shaikh

University of North Carolina Press

In many parts of the Muslim world, gender contestations over women's ritual leadership is a controversial topic in contemporary gender politics. Antagonists in gender debates argue that men are natural leaders and spiritual authorities in sacred spaces. Also, the presence of women in mosques, particularly if the woman leads the ritual congregational prayer, stirs sexual desire in male congregants and distracts their religious devotion. Muhyī al-Dīnibn al-Άrabī offers a deeply grounded response to the issue of women's imamate or the religious necessity of ṭijāb. This book argues that Ibn Άrabī's approach to gender debates is suggestive of his primary discursive tradition, Sufism. Focusing on Ibn Άrabī's works, it explores the potential of Sufi discourse to address gender questions at a deeply rooted level of religious meaning. The book examines how love, sexuality, marriage, and related gender dynamics are conceived, imagined, and created in Ibn Άrabī's works. Overall, it analyzes the varying and ambivalent discourses of sexuality and gender found in Sufism.

Keywords:   Ibn Άrabī, ritual leadership, gender politics, congregational prayer, Sufism, love, sexuality, marriage, gender

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