reclaiming Islam for themselves


Tired of being told their religion dictates subservience to men, Muslim women are reclaiming Islam for themselves. Muslim countries run on the premise that men have a God-given authority over women, and Muslim women are fighting back. While despotic governments and extremists battle for power, Islamic scholars, community activists, and ordinary Muslims are waging a peaceful jihad on male authority, demanding what they say are God-given rights to gender equality and justice.
Muslim Women Fight to Redefine Islam in Terms of Equality
This was a short descriotion of this article: Muslim Women Fight to Redefine Islam in Terms of Equality

I think this is this meaning of reclaim:
3. to get back something that you have lost or that has been taken away from you:
I want to reclaim the championship that I lost in 1999.
And this means they want back the supposedly "true content" of Islam, as it was written in the Quran, unlike the way it has been interpreted by Muslim men.
Do I correctly understand?
Thank you.
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Without fighting the various merits and claims of a religion that is not mine and with with I have serious contentions, I can say that "to reclaim a faith for oneself" means to assert the elements of that faith with which one agrees, and to deny the right of others to interpret the faith more narrowly.

    So that partly agrees with what you say, but you don't have to assert the "true content" of Islam; anyone can (and perhaps should) oppose the narrowing of a faith by extremists.

    Sometimes on this website I find myself "reclaiming the English language for myself" when I defy those who would recast it in a Latinate mould, or would hand it over to every teenage fad from Essex or South California.


    Thank you for your reply !

    But I don't quite understand this part:
    but you don't have to assert the "true content" of Islam; anyone can (and perhaps should) oppose the narrowing of a faith by extremists.
    Especially, where it disagrees with what I said. I mean, the narrowing of a faith/teaching is always a deviation from the original idea of it. Or did you mean something different?


    Senior Member
    I'm obviously not Keith, but I'm guessing you are getting "stuck" on the word "narrowing". I don't think it's necessary to use that word to make Keith's point. I think it's simply that the interpretation of some (mostly male) Muslims is not positive for women, and Muslim women now want to promote their interpretation of the faith and prevent Muslim men from having a 'monopoly' on interpretation.

    In general I would argue that most denominations are narrower than "the whole" of scripture (in Christianity and Islam at least), and that what you call "the original idea of it" is actually so vast that it ends up conflicting with itself so choices have to be made - i.e. "narrowing". But that's probably not a linguistic debate....


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    When there's a power struggle going on, it adds an aura of legitimacy to your argument when you say you are trying to "reclaim" what was once yours. It's used a lot nowadays in slogans (Reclaim the streets, Reclaim New York, Reclaim Wall Street etc.)

    It's commonplace for religious reformers to claim to be returning to a purer form of a religion that has, over the centuries, moved away from the intentions of its founder. It sounds less radical, less revolutionary than admitting that there is something wrong with basic tenets of that religion and that you want to overturn them.

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    "True content" is a difficult idea. Do you imagine that any Muslim of whatever denomination, will admit to arguing in favour of an "untrue" version of Islam? We all have a tendency to think that what we ourselves believe is the "truth". It sometimes takes courage to admit that we don't really know.

    As Gide said: Follow the man who seeks the truth; run from the man who has found it.
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