Extending Aziz Al Azmeh’s Framework to Include Feminist History


Elizabeth Urban


This article suggests feminist history as a fruitful avenue for building upon two foundational aspects of Aziz Al Azmeh’s work: interdisciplinarity, and contextualizing “paleo-Islam.” Any scholar hoping to study women and gender in the Paleo-Islamic context is immediately faced with the problem that none of the narrative Arabic sources was written by women. To take at face value what male authored texts say about women is to adopt a naïve and uncritical view of Paleo- Islamic history. In order to address this problem, this article offers examples of various feminist historical methodologies—ranging from micro-historical analysis to prosopgraphy—to suggest how they can enhance our understanding of Paleo-Islam. For instance, scholars can critically read the Qur’ān and certain asbāb al-nuzūl to uncover debates about the status of slave women within the earliest umma. Moreover, genealogy is informative in reconstructing the types of marital and concubinal connections early Muslims were making, and it helps explain how the Umayyad dynasty was able to retain an “aristocratic Arab ethnicity” despite relying heavily on slave concubinage for procreation.


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How to Cite
Urban, E. (2021). Extending Aziz Al Azmeh’s Framework to Include Feminist History. Hawliyat, 19. https://doi.org/10.31377/haw.v19i.678
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