Does Islam tolerate feminism

Women in Europe

Ina Wunn

To person

Dr. rer. nat., Dr. phil. habil .; since 2006 associate professor at the University of Hanover; since 2007 Academic Senior Councilor for Religious Studies, Faculty of History, Philosophy and Theology, Bielefeld University, Postfach 100131, 33501 Bielefeld. [email protected]

Muslim women today face multiple challenges and discrimination: as a woman, as a migrant, as a Muslim. Between adaptation and self-assertion, they seek their place in European society.


Muslim women have now established a permanent place in German and European society: Today they are not only doctors, lawyers and bankers, but they also play prominent and glamorous roles in public. In Lower Saxony, Aygül Özkan, an avowed Muslim woman of Turkish origin, holds a ministerial office, the Turkish-born actress Renan Demirkan is a fixture in German films, and Yasmeen Ghauri, a photo model of German-Pakistani origin, graces the front pages of international women's magazines.

Success stories like this one that are circulated in the media and marketed as examples of both successful integration and emancipation - mind you on the slide of a picture of the Muslim woman who is largely banished into the home, who is barely able to speak the German language and who is suppressed, like her as a Western woman Stereotype haunts the media and discussion forums. [1] Correspondingly, the successful author Hatice Akyün states that she “(has to) serve again and again as one of the rare Turkish women who 'made it'", and the television presenter Dunya Hayali has only too often discovered in the course of her career that "in her Profession not only their gender, but also their origin from a Muslim country represent a disadvantage ". [2] For many Muslim women, “having made it” means asserting themselves in a society that assigns them a special status in several respects or even discriminates them: as a woman, as a migrant and as a Muslim, a topic that the renowned psychologist Birgit Rommelspacher in particular repeatedly addresses when she discusses the problematic attitude of European feminists towards Islam and their "Muslim sisters". [3]

Muslim women have had and still have a hard time fighting for their place in Western society. Discriminated on the one hand by a stereotypical Western view of Islam, on the other hand possibly restricted by a family and personal environment shaped by patriarchal values, they, as self-confessing Muslims, usually seek support from feminists in vain; a situation which the (Muslim) social scientist Corrina Gomani characterizes as follows: "While the secular worldview of western immigration societies and democracies is ignited by the headscarf question and the position of Muslim women in Islam, it is easy to overlook the fact that the inner-Islamic or Muslim discourse shows the gender issue in a far more complex way than it might appear. Again, several controversies may be touched upon: the controversy between traditionalism and westernization, between Islamism and secularism, and between feminism and Islamism. "[4]

Muslim women in Europe are actively responding to these diverse challenges. There is a strong movement among them away from a patriarchal and towards an egalitarian, gender-equitable understanding of Islam. This movement can be found both in the old, grown Muslim societies as well as in the young Islamic communities of the West.