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Muslim World Journal of Human Rights

Editor-in-Chief: Kayaoglu, Turan

Ed. by Baderin, Mashood A. / Monshipouri, Mahmood / Welchman, Lynn

1 Issue per year

CiteScore 2017: 0.08

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.102
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.016

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The Politics and Hermeneutics of Hijab in Iran: From Confinement to Choice

Ziba Mir-Hosseini
Published Online: 2007-09-18 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1554-4419.1114

Hijab – covering of a Muslim woman's body – is the most visible Islamic mandate. For a century it has been a major site of ideological struggle between traditionalism and modernity, and a yardstick for measuring the emancipation or repression of Muslim women. In recent decades hijab has become an arena where Islamist and secular feminist rhetoric have clashed. For Islamists, hijab represents their distinct identity and their claim to religious authenticity: it as a divine mandate that protects women and defines their place in society. For secular feminists, hijab represents women's oppression: it is a patriarchal mandate that denies women the right to control their bodies and to choose what to wear. The clash has been particularly strident in Iran, where the state has twice intervened with legislation to an extent that no other Muslim country has experienced. Iran, too, has been a prime site for the emergence of `Islamic feminist' discourses that speak of hijab not as a `duty,' but as a `right,' and as a social rather than a religious mandate, and finds juristic arguments to support this position. This article traces the genealogy of this new juristic position from notions of hijab in classical Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh). It documents how jurisprudential positions and notions of hijab in Iran evolved in response to socio-political factors. It concludes by highlighting wider implications of the new juristic position on hijab for establishing common ground between secular feminist and Islamic discourses.

Keywords: Iran; women’s rights

About the article

Published Online: 2007-09-18

Citation Information: Muslim World Journal of Human Rights, Volume 4, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1554-4419, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1554-4419.1114.

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