Qur’an of the Oppressed: Liberation Theology and Gender Justice in Islam

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This book offers a comprehensive survey and analysis of the commentaries of four leading Muslim intellectuals who have turned to the Qur’an to confront the problem of social injustice, from poverty and patriarchy to racism and interreligious communal violence. Using a comparative transnational framework, the book explores the exegeses of the South African Farid Esack (b. 1956), the Indian Asghar Ali Engineer (1939–2013), the African American Amina Wadud (b. 1952), and the Pakistani American Asma Barlas (b. 1950), supplemented by in-depth interviews with each of them. The following question frames the study: How have these intellectuals been able to expound this seventh century Arabian text in a socially liberating way, addressing their own realities of oppression and, thus, contexts that are worlds removed from that of the text’s immediate audience? The book argues that they have been able to do so due to three principal reasons: firstly, the substantive content of the text itself, that is, its accent on social justice and descriptions of God as a compassionate and just deity; secondly, their critique of existing reading practices, which (according to them) pose obstacles in arriving at an egalitarian and inclusive understanding of the text; and thirdly, their adoption of new reading practices that enable them to arrive at precisely such an understanding, thereby making the text directly relevant to their own lived experiences. The book concludes by reflecting on new insights that liberationist and women’s gender egalitarian readings can offer in terms of the ‘thematic exegesis’ of the Qur’an.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages308
ISBN (Print)9780198796480
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2017

Publication series

NameOxford Theology and Religion Monographs
PublisherOxford University Press


  • Qur'an
  • commentaries
  • readings
  • Muslim intellectuals
  • social justice
  • liberationist
  • women's readings
  • gender egalitarian
  • patriarchy
  • thematic exegesis


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