Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Female religious authority in Muslim societies : the case of the Da'iyat in Jeddah
Author: Al-Saud, Reem
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Restricted access.
Access from Institution:
The purpose of this dissertation was to explore how uninstitutionalised female preachers, or dā'iyāt, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia construct authority in a context in which male ulama dominate the production of religious knowledge and represent the apex of the religious and social hierarchy. The study was broad, descriptive, and explanatory and drew primarily on the framework known as ‘accountable ethnography’. Data collection occurred between June and December 2009 and consisted of observations, interviews, and collection of literary artefacts, which were reviewed alongside literature published internationally. A flexible mode of inquiry was employed, partly in response to constraints on public religious discourse imposed in Saudi Arabia after September 11, 2001. The study concludes that the dā'iyāt construct authority predominantly by relying on male ulama as marji'iyya diniyya (religious frame of reference) when issuing fatwas, as pedagogical models, as sources of charismatic inspiration, and as providers of personal recommendations. The dissertation also addresses a set of 'alternate' strategies of authority construction employed by Dr Fāṭima Nasiīf. Almost uniquely, this dā'iyā is found to construct authority that goes beyond reproduction of institutionalised views by developing scholarly arguments to support interpretations of Islamic texts that are responsive to women’s perspectives and needs. In doing so, she expands the parameters of religiously permissible practice while remaining, for her part, within the confines of orthodox practice. Thus, although her society and most researchers perceive knowledge as a masculine attribute in the Saudi religious sphere, in matters relating to women, as well as through active leadership in ritual practice, Dr Fāṭima demonstrates that the dā'iyā can become the authority. Nevertheless, for her and for the other dā'iyāt, the study finds that legitimatising female religious authority depends upon maintaining the established social order, including the hierarchy that places women in a subordinate position to men.
Supervisor: Talib, Mohammad ; Michael, Willis Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Islam ; Theology and Religion ; Modern spiritual movements ; Science and religion ; Philosophy,psychology and sociology of religion ; Social Sciences ; Anthropology ; Ethnographic practices ; Social anthropology ; Education ; Gender ; Ideologies ; Social status