The Friday Intensives put on by the MSA are meant to tackle key topics that are imperative for us to address and educate our community about. Initiated this year, the events are open to the Ann Arbor and greater Michigan Muslim Community as a whole. Our final Friday intensive is scheduled for March 20th with one of the prominent contemporary female scholars of our time, Shaykha Zaynab Ansari.
Shaykha Zaynab Ansari spent four years studying sacred knowledge at Abu Nour Islamic Foundation of Damascus, Syria completing with a distinction. Her studies covered Arabic, Qur’anic exegesis (tafsir), Qur’anic recitation (qira’at), Shafi’i jurisprudence (fiqh), the Prophetic biography (sira), Hadith, Inheritance law (mirath), and theology (tawhid). Upon returning to the US, Zaynab studied under the tutelage of Ustadh Khalil Abdur-Rashid. She holds a B.A. in History and a B.I.S. in Middle Eastern Studies from Georgia State University, graduating summa cum laude. She has taught with Sunnipath, Seekers Guidance, and writes for Azizah Magazine. She resides in Atlanta, GA.
We are bringing her to Michigan for a session on feminism and defining who the Muslim American feminists are. With the lack of female scholarship being celebrated on campus, we believe it’s imperative that we bring in speakers who teach us about Muslims and Islam from a woman’s perspective. This session and a few other sessions throughout the month serve to educate the community about the diverse roles Muslim women play in an Islamic community and how feminism is being understood and appreciated within the community as well. Sexism is very relevant and widely practiced in various Muslim communities including college campuses. Currently, feminism is projected through a negative lens that divides the community as they receive and tackle complex issues like establishment of women only mosques, creating safe spaces for women, and general acceptance of women scholarship in Islam and media.
The session aims to address feminism as it is being perceived in the community and how we can correctly define the roles of Muslim American feminists as they impact the broader society through their knowledge and education.
The focus of the event is beneficial and related to the Arab and Muslim American Studies because it brings to light the lack of female voice and any celebration of female scholarship in the community. We wish to remind people of how Muslims benefited immensely from the scholarship of women early in the history of Islam and how some of them served to pass the Islamic laws that are practiced to this day.