This paper is an empirical research on women's participation in Islamic revivalist movement of Tablighi Jama'at. In the current discourse on religion and female sexuality, I intend to look within Islam, as a religion and as an assertion of identity in the form of Tablighi Jama'at and Tabligh's articulation of its weltanschauung on Muslim way of life, with excessive focus on female sexuality. Here I will discuss Tabligh's conceptualisation of gender and gender roles through my field experience and analysis of women participation in the movement. In recent years we see that there is an upsurge in religious movements across the world exerting their identities and attempting to claim their rights. Since women have always been central to the political and social imagination of the Muslim mind we see an increased level of women's participation in these movements with defined sexual morality and gender equality.
It is through the role of women in the transnational Islamic revivalist movement of Tablighi Jama'at, which arose as a response to Christian missionary and Hindu revivalist movements in the early 1920's in pre-partition India, that I have explored their level of engagement and their practices in order to bring into light tabligh's understanding of the female agency in the Muslim social order. In the backdrop of the feminist project and keeping in view tabligh's Orientalist understanding of the female, I raise the following questions, 'Is Tablighi Jama'at another such assertion within Islam that prescribes laws to define and control the female sexual desire through their understanding of sexuality and gender relations? Is the female tabligh member an agent of 'reform' or is she 'socialized' to believe that that men are superior and that what is described as masculine precedes and has priority over the feminine?
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Author Name: Ambreen Agha
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Keywords: Islam; Islamic Revivalism; Women; Tablighi; Jama'at