Islamic and Jewish Religious Feminism: Similarities, Parallels and Interactions



The roots of both Islamic and Jewish religious feminism may be found in the 1970s. Both ideological movements arose in response to the feminism of the 1960s in the United States and in France which was secular and even anti-religious. Similarities and parallels in the roots and development of the two religious feminist movements may be expected as functions of the similar sociologies of Islam and Judaism. The two forms of religious feminism were in fact parallel responses to the rise of Islamism and Jewish fundamentalism that promoted strict interpretations of Islam and Judaism, particularly as regards gender issues. They differed, however, in their global and Middle Eastern manifestations. The two religious movements have similar although not identical issues of language and authenticity, which influence the dispersion of religious feminist ideas. Interactions between Jewish and Muslim religious feminists may seem impossible in the current politically charged atmosphere. On the other hand, there is clearly a communality of interests among religious women of both faiths which may serve to prevail over conflict.