This chapter considers the complex relationship between gender and Islamic political thought through a few snapshots: the Qur'an, female contemporaries of Muhammad, medieval Islamic scholarship, and modern Muslim women. Several women are mentioned in the Qur'an, some of whom demonstrate a strong independent spirit. They are held responsible for their own salvation, apart from their husbands or male relatives. The independent personalities of women who appear in the Qur'an are reflected in the stories of early Muslim women as recorded in Islamic history. Muhammad's wives played key political roles during the lifetime of Muhammad and the early generations of Islam. In the modern period, “Muslim women” as an abstract, essentialized entity has become a measuring stick for “progress” as well as an embodiment of “authentic” Islamic values.
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