Decolonizing Islamic Feminism: Zaynab al-Ghazali’s Spiritual Activism in Return of the Pharaoh
This article offers Gloria Anzaldúa’s notion of spiritual activism as a more productive theoretical lens through which to analyze Zaynab al-Ghazali’s feminism as evident in her memoir, Return of the Pharaoh, and articulated in her articles and interviews. Anzaldúa’s spiritual activism functions here as a decolonial theory that challenges the Western conception of spirituality as a passive, escapist epistemology. In this analysis of al-Ghazali’s memoir, spiritual activism means activism that is both spiritual and political. Oxymoronic as it might seem, Anzaldúa’s spiritual activism serves as a model not necessarily to emulate but to decolonize Islamic feminism by showing its limits and limitations in analyzing Muslim women’s works. Through taking al-Ghazali’s memoir as a case study, this article moves beyond controversy between feminists (either secular or Islamic) and Western binarisms and open the door toward a more solid decolonial Islamic feminist theory and praxis deeply rooted in spirituality and politics.
Stable URL: muse.jhu.edu/article/856254