Your main fields of research include the Koran and gender. Does it matter whether the Koran is read by a man or a woman – and how do interpretations differ?
Amina Wadud: This is an important question, one that has not been asked in the history of Koranic interpretation until the present time. This is quite staggering because although our knowledge is very thorough and our intellectual tradition very strong, the question of whether it makes a difference if it is man or a woman reading the Koran was never posed. The issue was eventually raised in the 20th century and the answer is: Yes, it does make a difference. We can see this from the interpretation of the Koran generated by men until the 20th century.
Until the 20th century, not only do we not have any tafsir, i.e. exegesis generated by women, we don’t even have a record of a Muslim woman writing anything in a journal that might serve as part of a legacy of women reading the Koran.
We know that women read the Koran, and that they have memorized the Koran from the time of the Prophet. But we don’t know what women think about the Koran, we don’t have any record of that. So we’re trying to fill in the gaps and to construct a gender-inclusive reading that will open up the issue and give us a better understanding of what the Koran means for us as human beings. So yes, it does make a difference and the good news is that now we are aware of this, we can seize the opportunity to learn more about the Koran.