Demystifying the Muslimah : changing subjectivities, civic engagement and public participation of Muslim woman in contemporary South Africa.
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This study interrogates the validity of generalizations about Muslim women. While Islam is undoubtedly important in the lives of most practising Muslim women, rather than regarding their actions and behaviours as governed by Islamic law, the study seeks to historicise their experiences through a life history approach of five women engaged in the civic life of their communities (however widely this may be defined) and in public participation in various ways. Using oral history as a methodology, it investigates what drew these women to civic participation; the nature of their participation in terms of the organisations they are members of and the activities they are involved in; the stimulus for civic engagement and public participation and their achievements in this regard as well as the impact of participation on their identities and subjectivities. Most existing work on Muslim women deals with issues such as sexuality and reproductive choices, the AIDS pandemic or conversion to Islam. This study adopts a life history approach to understand multiple aspects of the women’s lives, including and especially their civic and public engagement.