If we start from the rarely contested fact that the Qur’an is a text that is open to multiple and different interpretations, we can then agree with R. Barthes “that the text does not reflect reality, but it reflects its author’s interpretation of reality.”
It is therefore possible to conclude that the interpretation of the Qur’anic text cannot be identical to that of 15 centuries ago. The original speaker no longer intervenes, and laster interpretations are performed by the receiver.
However, the Fuqaha – exclusively male ones – have so far monopolized this right and reinterpreted the Qur’an through the filter of a patriarchal culture.
But since the accession of women to education and work, we have observed the emergence of an interpretation that is more favorable to women’s rights. In Tunisia, for example, where there is a feminization of the education sector, and where religious education is taken in charge largely by women, no one is tempted to conclude that this new approach is the result of the involvement of women in this field.
Despite that, we believe that this ruling should be tempered, because although it is true that the subjectivity of the receiver affects the interpretation, the latter is not solely due to the gender variable, but also, and more importantly, to the weight of ideology. Interpretations are then mainly the result of values that guide our thoughts, words and actions.
This is why we can notice that the interpretations of the Qur’an, in a modernist or backward-looking way, are not necessarily linked to gender. Today, some men and women are calling for a reform that must meet the needs of our reality, confronting other men and women who require a return “to the pure foundations of Islam.”
Thus the battle takes place at the level of ideas that are formed primarily through education and the media.
It would be wise then to act upon these two sectors, if we want to change the situation of women through an interpretation that is more appropriate to our modern reality.
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