‘Becoming a true Muslim’:Syrian women’s journey to devoutness

Buergener, Elisabeth (2013). ‘Becoming a true Muslim’:Syrian women’s journey to devoutness. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This study examines why some Muslim women in Syria are turning towards an Islamist faith practice and devoutness in the context of the Syrian da‘wa movement. Based on interviews and participant observation from 2006 – 2011 it demonstrates that the quest for the power to live authentic religious lives as devout Muslims lies at the heart of the phenomenon. It argues that the individual development as illustrated by the in-depth profiles of five women, is facilitated by the new access to religious education for women in mosques and private lessons through female preachers that was advocated by the male religious elite. In previous research the compliance of women with restrictive Islamist practices such as veiling has often been explained as empowering women through aiming at mobility and the participation in public space. This thesis argues that the extent to which the participants went in adapting their lives to the Islamist ideal cannot be sufficiently explained by this hypothesis. Rather, it points at their religious motivations to gain a meaningful, emotionally satisfying and correct religious practice in the hope of divine reward. In addition, this thesis analyses the ambiguity of the question of female empowerment as experienced by women in the social and political sense and as religious leaders on one hand and on the other the participants' own concept of empowerment as divine enablement to submission. Thus it contributes to a fuller understanding of devout Islamist women according to their values and self-perception, and offers insights into the unique Syrian context.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Theology and Religion
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/4710


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