A discussion arose out of my earlier post where I bemoaned the lack of equality between the sexes in Pakistan & Bangladesh. I was asked to justify that p.o.v on "religious" grounds. On the issue of gender in Islam, others have done a masterful job: Fatima Mernissi's The Veil and The Male Elite, Leila Ahmad's Women and Gender in Islam and Amina Waddud's Qur'an and Women spring immediately to mind.
I will post on the question of "political leadership" in the near future but I want to show the ambiguity on gender in the Qur'an.
What is immediately notable in the three books I have selected is that they all deal with the text of the Qur'an as opposed to the jurisprudence tradition. It is mainly because it is in the body of Qur'an itself that we can trace the inherent contradiction: A community [ummah] made of Believers who are equal before God and a differentiated status given to women in the society. Just a few examples from Surahs The Clans and The Women:
Facing these verses (they are only a sample), I continue to feel that the spirit of equality which permeates the Qur'an overrides, in my views, the other divergences. For now, I call to your attention Hijabman's excellent post on women leading prayer. [Thanks Zack]