“Muslim Women’s Collectives, Organizations, and Islamic Reform ” by Amina Wadud from Inside the Gender Jihad: Women’s Reform in Islam

Many may be familiar with Judeo-Christian biblical phrase, “And God said, ‘let there be light.’” Of course, this results in the creation of light; God’s invocations so on and so forth throughout the process of creation result in manifestation. This invocation-manifestation pattern also exists in the creation story of Islam, which prefaces Wadud’s discussion of nomenclature, a notion she defines as “the particular metaphorical and literal use of language, or abstract reasoning” (90-91), and describes as “an important distinguishing aspect of what it means to be human above the rest of creation” (90). Nomenclature precedes language and communication – it holds a unique power. Wadud explains that “according the Qur’an, a test was given between humankind and the angels [and] while the angels confessed their ignorance, human beings were able to ‘give the names of things’(3:33)”(90); this distinct ability to understand essence, and, in turn, define the essence through invocation, sets human beings apart from the rest of creation, and thus, holds us responsible for exercising moral judgement. If we are able to understand essence, we are able to name “right” and “wrong;” our ability to name is representative of the purpose of the human species. Following this, we must clarify that most human beings possess the gift of nomenclature – women and men alike. Just as both men and women must be held accountable for exercising moral judgement, both should be granted the ability to define “right” and “wrong” for the human species, and thus, shape a more inclusive and equitable global community.

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