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“You Don’t Need a Fatwa”: Muslim Feminist Blogging as Religious Interpretation


“You Don’t Need a Fatwa”: Muslim Feminist Blogging as Religious Interpretation

Riley, Krista Melanie (2016) “You Don’t Need a Fatwa”: Muslim Feminist Blogging as Religious Interpretation. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Through an examination of four prominent blogs written by self-identified Muslim feminists in North America, this dissertation looks at blogging as it relates to Islam, gender, sexuality, religious interpretations, community, and the public sphere. I begin by locating blogging in relation to literature on the public sphere, counterpublics, and alternative media, looking at issues including the divisions between public and private, questions of self-disclosure and anonymity, and the different shapes that audiences and communities may take in response to a blog. Using Sa’diyya Shaikh’s (2007) notion of “tafsir through praxis” – a lens through which she considers Muslim women’s lived experiences as sources of religious interpretation – I propose the concept of “tafsir through blogging.” I argue that blogging shapes the development of religious interpretation online in a number of ways as it weaves together personal narratives, textual interpretations, short episodic posts, audiovisual elements, and public discussions with an audience of readers.
The investigation of this practice through a focus on the topics of menstruation, queer issues, and gendered prayer spaces offers insights into how the bloggers’ writing practices challenge dominant discourses about women’s bodies, construct online interpretive communities, and provide new perspectives on Muslim feminist work. My examination of the bloggers’ discussion of menstruation looks at how the writers challenge expectations that menstruation should be kept private and conceptions of menstruating bodies as contaminated. Next, I look at how the bloggers use their writing to point to the limitations of dominant Muslim discourses on queer sexualities and relationships. Through an examination of blog posts and comments related to women’s prayer spaces in mosques, I consider the collective, public, and counterpublic dimensions of tafsir through blogging. The dissertation concludes by considering what the format of blogging means for questions of authority and legitimacy among Muslim feminists, suggesting that for these women writers whose ideas and online writing styles may be seen as far outside of the religious mainstream, blogging provides them an alternate avenue for establishing legitimacy as participants in public conversations about gender and Islam.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Communication Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Riley, Krista Melanie
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:9 September 2016
Thesis Supervisor(s):Stolow, Jeremy
Keywords:Islam, Muslim women, Muslim feminism, Blogging, Online media
ID Code:981812
Deposited On:09 Nov 2016 14:29
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:53
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