The challenge of migrant communities and social cohesion – International Dutch module

Opening of the International Zoom Meeting

As participants started arriving to the Zoom meeting, Stella Van de Wetering greeted everyone on behalf of the Dutch team who is hosting this event. This is the first time that participants are not meeting in person for the international module, and experiencing EPIL in that way. Corona virus has affected everyone’s lives and way we do things. And so, we began this module in new realities.
In her opening references, Stella talked about polarization that vaccination has caused in the Netherlands and other EU countries and fear that lingers among us now.

Morning Meditation by the Dutch team
Morning meditation prepared by the Dutch team called upon some verses from Quran and Bible that thematize the fear, or rather, the unrest between the people, and finding comfort in faith.
Sara read surah from Quran which portrays aspects of trust, fear, love and compassion – surah 93 Ad Doha. Rita read Psalm 37:1-10. The morning meditation was ended by a song of Cat Stevens – Morning has broken.

Lectures on feminism from a Christian and Muslim perspective

Anne Dijk gave a lecture on Islam and feminism – female perspective on the history of Islamic knowledge

In short, in Arabic the world ‘feminism’ doesn’t exist. Feminism is very diverse and has many styles. We do come across terms like ‘nisa’iyya’ like in women’s movement, Al-Nahda Al-Nisaiyya – women’s liberation movement or the women’s awakening. As early as 1900-1930 this terminology is present in Arabic texts, and post 1950 the term is used for feminism as well.
There is somewhat of a Muslim dislike for the f word, mostly because of the stereotype. The stereotype in the Muslim world is best described by the photo of the Feminist movement (activists who rally naked, interrupt conferences etc.), and then, the term in this stereotypical view is also connected to colonialism, individualism and secularism – and very often perceived antireligion.
So we do see women’s movements in the Arab world, and they are pushing awareness for more equality of men and women.

Aside from that, there is the question of to what extend can “west” or western initiatives intervene in other societies and when it becomes seen as “colonial attitude”. The sentiments coming from the right regarding hijab or oppression of women is important to bear in mind when discussing about this subject.
There are different dynamics when talking about Islam and feminism that one needs to fight: the right-wing tendencies, the secular views that the religion is per definition oppressive, and then the view that fighting patriarchy can not be Islamic. Women’s rights in Islam come way before emergence of feminism. Ideas to discuss:
Patriarchy was primarily the rural structure rather than urban, until the industrialization.
Feminism in the west was instigated by the elite women – women in comfortable place – focused mainly on education and political participation.
Feminism in colonies was much more complex. Some questions developed later than in the west, such as the rule of patriarchism in urban areas. The classical religious interpretations of questions such as inheritance, stressed among elite women, was not a priority among less wealthy colonial society, etc.

Two forms of feminism:
Muslim women who fight against any form of oppression for women’s equality – activist Muslim feminism
Fight for equality between men and women based on sources of Quran and Hadith – Intellectual Islamic feminism
It doesn’t mean that the latter can’t be among the first.
Islamic feminism: Examples of Khadijah, Aisha, and Umm Salama.
Always ask yourself: Is this Islam or Hislam?

Participants in q/a session tackled the question whether the patriarchy is primarily rural structure or urban structure, and what struggles women meet in both settings; men being the head of the household; economic circumstances determining equality between men and women; power structure in the different fields (economy, politics, religion), etc.

Rita van Nierop offered a lecture on Feminist theology from Christian perspective

There is symmetry between men and women, a dominance of men in society and religion. That dominance is not normative but has grown historically through circumstances.
Became more elaborate 1960 in western Europe when women theologians started putting out that theology had been approached from male perspective, and emphasizing the problem of structural inequality of men and women within Christianity.

Two things are very important in feminist theology, position of women within a church, and the use of language (if God is he or she). When reading a Bible, we do not get a clear picture whether it’s a he or a she. Some churches now in the NL use both feminine and masculine words when talking about God.
Feminist theologians: Catharina Halkes.
Transformation is possible for all human beings – transform society to “kingdom of God” on personal level, social and ecological level.
Bible’s texts about women: Ester, Marta (cooks and cleans) and Mery (sits with Jesus), Paul, Galatians

Questions of the Letter of Paul to the Corinthians that mentions rules of conduct for women, if the parts were inserted later and by whom.
Lectures about hermeneutics and scripture

Geertje de Vries gave lecture on Bible and Hermeneutics

Understanding and reading of the Bible – Bible is a collection of various books and letters, with various genres, long and different range of origin, and different languages – fragments in Hebrew, fragments in Old Greek… Some date centuries BC and others are relatively new. It was a long process of collecting and assembling the Bible.

Hermeneutics – the art of understanding, and giving meaning to a text. Originates with Hermes, the mythological Greek God who was messenger of the Gods. Only after 1500s was used as the name for a way of interpreting the Bible. Before that, the Bible was not read among the ordinary people, it was only read by the clergy. With the Protestant Reformation it was translated into various languages.
Three things to consider when reading the text: the original meaning and circumstances of its origin; the configuration of the text (poem, historical, legal etc.); and how it is read today (intellectual background of reader, male or female, social or economic circumstances, etc.).

In feminism, there has been a lot of thought about process of giving the meaning. Feminist theology has discovered several different kinds of hermeneutics of giving a meaning to a text. Three of them are to consider:
Hermeneutics of suspicion – in whose benefit is the text, who is the author, what voice do we hear?
Hermeneutics of remembrance – What or who should be remembered. In Bible there are a lot of stories not nice about women, it is important we keep reading them, because we should read these examples so we condemn it when it happens in our time.
Hermeneutics of trust – you trust that the message in this book is a good message from God and investigate what kind of message is there and try hard finding it.
What frames my view: upbringing, feminist views, current condition, various things.

Dr. Stella van de Wetering offered a lecture on Sources of Islamic Studies – Hermeneutics of the Quran

The nature of the text of the Quran and Tafsir are a very different story than that of the Bible. The Quran was “reveald” to the Prophet at the age of 40, by the Angel who said to him Iqra’ i.e. Reciteand it continued in the next 23 years. El Alaq – the first surah reviled to the Prophet.
There is a clear difference between revelation (Quran) and words said by the prophet (Hadith).

After the death of the Prophet the text of the Quran saved by the members of the community was collected, sorted and put together.
Hadith refers to what Prophet had said or practiced, that was remembered and collected by the followers.
Any written text can have a lot of interpretations, which is the subject of Tafsir. So to understand the Quran, one first need to understand what Prophet used to say and do (Hadith) in that regard, then understand the cause and context of each revelation, and know place and reason for it.
I.e. Quran 33:35 reviled after Ummu Salma asked the Prophet why are men mentioned in the Quran and the women are left out. Then the verse 33:35 was reviled to explain that anything in men plural sentence is applicable to both men and women.

After the lectures on hermeneutics the group split into three groups for a workshop of textual reading (from Bible and Quran) with the lecturers. The vivid group discussions were brought to an end with reflections and conclusions. Bosnian group then closed the module with the meditation.

Share This: