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‘Committed’ and ‘multi-pronged.’ The adjectives fit well with Dr
Farid Esack, his oeuvre, and academic as well as activist engagements.
He published Quran, Liberation and Pluralism in 1997; the work
was noted for its academic solemnity as well as earnestness to take the
message of the divine text to all it matters. In 1999, his more popular On Being a Muslim
came up; the work was a personal, humorous, passionate, and politically
committed take on being a believer in the age of multi-layered
structures of power and domination. The rest of the works were about the
Quran with a characteristic thrust on liberation and living together.
Dr Farid is professor of Islamic Studies at the University of
Johannesburg, South Africa; political activist known for his opposition
to apartheid, his appointment by Nelson Mandela as a gender equity
commissioner, and his work for inter-religious dialogue
Dr. Farid recently visited Calicut to address the Muqaddima conference organized by Students Islamic Organisation. He spoke to MUHAMMED NOUSHAD
on a wide range of issues including gender, liberation theology,
progressive Islam, HIV rehabilitation, political Islam, Shia-Sunni
polemics, decolonizing knowledge traditions etc.
As a Muslim theologian, what is your
paradigm of looking at the gender question in Islam? There have been
different schools and approaches within the Muslim world to address the
First of all, gender is one of a series of questions I am interested
in or fascinated with. It is one way of looking at the marginalized. The
trajectory of my personal life (justifies that perspective of looking).
I started off with an awareness of the issue of race, and racial
injustice. And then I did religious learning in Pakistan. I was in a
madrassa for eight years. And in Pakistan I became aware of how, in many
ways, there are similarities between gender oppression and my own
oppression as a non-white male in apartheid South Africa. So when I went
back to South Africa, much before I was engaged in the struggle for
racial liberation, I started working on questions of gender justice. In
many ways, I was quite instrumental in some of that work. And then I
became aware of the question of HIV and AIDS. As you know, South Africa
and Africa in general were very badly affected by it and the
discrimination against people who are living with sexually transmitted
disease and I became very involved in that.
And so, it is both the question of a comprehensive approach to
injustice, of growing awareness of the different manifestations of it,
and of then moving on to whatever I think as the urgent manifestations
of injustice. So, the context of gender equality and the struggle for
gender justice forms a path of my insistence on looking at my own
theological tradition. I am a theologian and I am also a committed
Muslim, whatever that may mean. That is where the question of gender
And then I don’t much frame the question in the context of women’s
equality. I frame it in the context of gender justice. I mean, the
gender question is slightly more complex than the question of women’s
equality. Religious people are very good at topics like ‘the role of
women in Islam’, for example. I think the question of gender in Islam is
more complex; it takes on board the very idea that gender is a social
construct. That the body is naturally given, but the functions assigned
to the body is not. But it all takes on board the questions of
masculinity and challenges traditional and religious views of what
masculinity is and what the role of masculinity is. And that also
touches on the different questions, for example, of the sexually
assigned role to different bodies and so I insist on speaking about
gender equality because I do believe that all of these things need to be
considered through the lens of justice and they are all challenging.
However, I don’t come to it from the angle of ‘Oops, these westerns;
they problematise the role of women in Islam, let me find some quick
answers for it’. That is not the position I come from.
Many Muslim societies often appear to be patriarchal and
misogynist. And there are certain Muslim scholars who take the position
that women’s equality is fundamentally a western agenda. They often
reject the idea of gender justice, saying that it is a feminist idea.
How do you take The Quran and hermeneutics to address this rejection?
I can well imagine this in a society like India or Pakistan on in the
Arab world. In South Africa, it didn’t emerge as a western idea, but as
a question inside the liberation struggle. And the liberation struggle
wasn’t a western struggle. It was a struggle of the black people. And
inside that struggle, people were making the connection between racism
and sexism. So, for us, it didn’t.
Then, it is true that a particular kind of feminism has emerged in
the west and the question of gender is used as a weapon with which to
beat Muslims. Secondly, it is true that many of the western reform
movements are contingent upon the embrace of western civilizational
values and consumer values. For example, many western feminists are
prepared to put a thousand different kinds of lipsticks and bikinis in
front of Muslim women, from all sort of fashions, and tell them you are
completely free to choose any of these. But when you say ‘no, I don’t
want to choose any of this, I don’t want to chose your fashion, I don’t
want to buy your concept of designing and consumerism and your notions
of beauty, and I choose to wear a hijab’ – then, they say ‘no, you are
not free’. So the same feminists in the vanguard of feminism will deny
women their basic right of choice.
It is not unlike Lord Macaulay, who was the Governor General of Egypt
in the late 1800s, standing in the forefront for the freedom for
Egyptian women, and back in England, being the head of the movement that
wanted to prevent women there from getting voting rights! It is again
the story of Laura Bush, the Republicans who have done so much to
disadvantage American women through various laws, especially Single
Mothers, and posing themselves as the liberators of the women of
Afghanistan. So there is a case to be made about how feminism becomes
part of the machinery of occupation and wars of occupation, destroying
local cultures and traditions.
At the same time, it is a fact that Muslim women are hurting, it is
true. The fact that the west is exploiting the idea of oppression of our
women, the fact that the west comes to us with a solution that fits
into the frame of consumerism, capitalism and empire building, does not
detract from the fact that inside Muslim society, as in Latino society,
as in African society, as in Hindu society, and in western society,
women suffer abuse at the hands of men. So, regardless of who mentions
the idea first, it is a problem we must address. And we address those
problems because our women are being hurt; not because they scream. When
they scream, they scream selectively. They pick up the case of one
woman in Nigeria, who is about to be stoned to death, and ignore the
fact that there are thousands of women dying because they can’t get
access to clean drinking water. As the west has introduced the idea of
privatization of water those women can’t afford water. And therefore
they are killing thousands of women. They come along and elevate the
life of a single fighter for women to have access to education – Malala
Yusefsai – and celebrate her life. And then they go along and destroy
hundreds of schools with students in them through their bombing
campaigns. But at the end of the day, the problem is still a problem
that is ours. But not uniquely ours and the solution must be ours. But
there is a problem and we don’t have to point our fingers at the west.
You mean one needs to find an approach or framework within the faith?
Within the faith and within the community. And so we need to address
gender violence from a Quranic perspective and gender relations from a
prophetic perspective. And there are many texts, with exceptions, that
do address the question of gender violence. There are texts that address
the question of male female relations, and of course there are texts
that endorse patriarchy. And these texts are also to be dealt with. They
must be dissected hermeneutically; they must be rethought with our own
And I am not saying that our tools are uniquely ours. Our tools can
also be learnt from others. But this idea of us learning from others and
others never learning from us is very problematic. I don’t think that
as believers, we should be shy from learning from others –
methodologies, hermeneutical tools and so on. The larger issue is, is it
a one-way street? Can the west, can the powerful, learn to become less
powerful? Can they try to sell us things that don’t advance their power?
And above all, can they learn from us? It is not a question of Muslims
reaching at the top; it is about creating a new world where people can
learn from each other. But as long as they insist on imposing their
ideas in imperialistic language and pushing these ideas with
imperialistic armies, our people are going to continue to resist their
ideas, and, as a result, make the work of people who are genuinely
committed to their communities just more difficult.
One of your major intellectual explorations has been the
liberation theology of Islam. Why do you emphasis on the emancipatory
potential of Quran?
I have always been religious. Not in a very casual way. My
religiosity hangs very easily on me. People say I don’t look religious, I
don’t act religious. And there are other set of people who get
surprised, saying ‘oh this guy is religious!’ But I have always had an
interest in religion; it has been a passion of mine. And I have always
been deeply moved by any manifestation of injustice. And so it’s simple
combining of the two passions of mine – my passion to see an elimination
of injustice on the one hand and the fact that I enjoy my texts,
religious books, I enjoy my tradition. I love it; I find it not only
inspirational, but a very valuable tool. And it is to bring these two
elements together that I find myself in this area of liberation
theology. It speaks meaningfully to me.
It was an invaluable tool for us
in the liberation struggle of South Africa. It became real for us in
mobilizing Muslims, in drawing them in hundreds and thousands to the
liberation struggle. The language of the Quran kept us moving when we
were in jail; it encouraged us and gave us hope. The Quran walked with
us in our darkest moments. In jail we were allowed only one or two
books; if you are a Christian, you were given a Bible and if you are a
Muslim, a Quran. And they thought they were giving us opium, along the
lines of Marxism, religion being the opium of the masses. In fact they
gave us good companions. We found fascinating stories of inspiration in
them, for ourselves and other people.
How to understand Islam from the margins became an obsession for me.
If you look at the text from the top, you find ways to justify the
status quo; but if you look at the same text from the margins you find
ways to subvert the system. For me, liberation also means liberation
from mankind to serve God. So it is a transcendental movement. It is
also asking what is the presence of God in the midst of all this
When you look back now at the liberation theology movement, how do you see its progress and the current trends?
In South Africa, liberation theology receded. Because liberation
theologians were drawn into occupying state positions. And these other
people then came in. Generally in the world, the Catholic Church was
also undergoing issues. There was the Cardinal Ratzinger – the pop who
recently retired and I never accepted the fact that he was a pop as he
was in charge of the board that decides who has become an infidel and
outcast. As he was performing that role in the Church before he became
the Pope, there was an antagonism towards liberation theology. As for
Muslim thinkers, many progressive thinkers were sold out for other
reasons. September 11 made them more interested in the questions of
America, or America’s problems with Islam. So the Muslim liberation
theologians started becoming more moderate and asking about Islam and
violence, Islam and peace, instead of asking about Islam and imperial
violence, Islam and occupations, the questions of poverty, the questions
of hunger and starvation and so on. For the last while, it has been
going through a difficult patch, but it is now seeing a revival in the
marriage between decolonial movement and liberation theology, with the
questions of urgency having been shifted to marginalized communities.
You have been active and have invested your time and effort in rehabilitating Black HIV patients. Could you say about it?
The HIV and AIDS was a dreadful thing in South
Africa and the religious response in general was a very simple one – you
are angering God with your sex outside marriage and AIDS is God’s
punishment. For example, Malik Badari said, embarrassingly, that it is a
maalika (angelic) virus that was constructed in the rectums of
the homosexuals of San Francisco; this is God’s punishment coming to
people. And my question has always been: what is God’s problem with
black people? What is God’s issue with the poor? Are you saying that
black people have more sex than white people? In Europe you find parks
where people can go and have sex; there are packets of condoms hung on
trees. You don’t find this in Africa. When white people and rich people
contract HIV, there is medical insurance for them. There is advanced
medical care. So there are structural, systemic causes underneath these
things. It is like saying when an earthquake happens this is adaab
(punishment) from God. When an earthquake hits in Japan, with 6.2 in
the Richter scale, nobody dies. When an earthquake happens 5.6 in the
Richter scale in Indonesia, thousands of people die.
What is God’s issue
with the people of poor countries? On the one hand you say it is a
punishment from God, and it is applicable only to poor people. So there
is a systemic issue. Issues of development, issues of poverty-a whole
range of issues connected to all of this. The relationship between this
and theology fascinated me. I got interested in HIV issues, because it
was affecting the poorest of people; it was affecting black people-the
most marginalized community in South Africa. By the way, in Africa it
has got nothing to do with the question of homosexuality. In Europe and
the US, in the beginning, it was primarily about men having sex with
men. In Africa, it wasn’t. It was about mother to child transmission, or
sex outside marriage, or sometimes sex inside marriage also. The vast
majority of women in India, for example, who have contracted this
disease, got it from their husbands.
You have been an active part of Progressive
Islam. In places like Kerala, the word means a left-oriented, liberal,
secular Islam, or rather a “good” Islam. What is it for you?
In South Africa, progressive meant, leftist, anti-imperialist,
anti-west. It was after the 9/11 that the term progressive Islam was
appropriated by people in the west, to mean anything and anybody that
had an issue with Muslim authority. I then walked away from the term. I
haven’t since identified with the term. Today, Progressive Muslim
basically means anybody who is prepared to lie down and pretend to be
dead as the United States and its allies walk over them, or Modi and his
allies walked over them, and say ‘Islam has nothing to say about
anything’ or ‘we don’t have no resistance to offer to anything, we are
dead, tell us what you want us to be and we will be that.’ That is what
liberal Islam means. That is what moderate Muslim means. That is what
progressive Islam looks like today. So, before the 9/11, in the South
African context, I was happy to be identified as a progressive Islamist.
After 9/11, particularly after the release of that book Progressive Muslims, edited by Omid Safi, the term progressive was really appropriated by them and I have since walked away from that.
Now, the global north is producing the newest Islamic
knowledge and thinking; English has become the first language that
produces Islamic knowledge, too. The global south is often a consumer of
the knowledge that the north produces. How do you look at this and what
are the ways to decolonize Islamic knowledge tradition?
It is a problem. I was teaching in the United States, in Harvard
University, before I came to Johannesburg, and the reason why I came
back to Johannesburg was all my questions, my intellectual questions
being asked inside the States, with the United States’ interests and
their political questions in mind. And the questions from the third
world and from the global south are a very different set of questions.
Intellectual power shifted in a serious way to the west. And even our
critical thinkers, scholars like Hamid Dabbashi, Ramon Grosfugel,
Amartya Sen, they all find themselves in the west. It is easier for us
to travel to the global north; it is more lucrative, we get paid. When
you come to places like India, you have to pay your own tickets; you are
lucky if you get your accommodation paid for.
Last week I was in
Nigeria, and you spend hours and hours traveling from airport to your
hotel. And you just want to get out of this place. The traffic, the
pollution, the living conditions. And that is because we have
internalized the first world also. When you want to publish a book, the
first thing that your publisher asks is, ‘will this book sell in
America?’ If your book doesn’t sell in America, there is no way that
they are going to publish your book. So, there is a real problem of the
colonization of knowledge and the production of knowledge happening in
the west in the academies that seemingly pretend to be neutrally and
objectively functioning inside the heart of the empire and it functions
as a way of carrying forward the meaning discourse of the empire.
I don’t have anything useful to say about alternatives. I think that
the one thing that is good is the ongoing piracy of books, important
books. Dabbashi gets pirated and becomes available in countries like
this. I think that is very good, that must be encouraged. And local
writers must be encouraged; local, global south writers must learn to
establish their own network. It is possible through the internet where
you don’t have to actually buy the books and also encourage each other
to publish books locally outside the frameworks of these bigger players.
I think that is the only way we can force the local sharing of
knowledge and the local productions of knowledge. Because at the moment,
this is like the huge pharmaceutical companies that have become
monopolists. They push up the prices of all the stuff, and people cannot
afford them and then it results in death. These are some of the things
that can be done. But we have a very long way to go. We actually have a
growing number of local writers. Unfortunately, they remain local. And
there isn’t enough being made to globalise them. I, for example, am
determined that I am now spending more of my traveling time in the
global south. I can tell you it is a problem. In the last year I have
been to three African countries. This is my second visit to India. I
have been to Indonesia and some other country. I also have been to a
similar number of countries in the global north.
Next year I am getting
seven months off, and I am spending three months in Jordan, three months
in Morocco and so on. But I can tell you it is a problem. Because all
the time, whenever I spend time in these countries, I have to pay and
don’t get my honorarium. And I fund my foreign students through my
honorariums, and now I have to figure out other means to fund my foreign
students who all come from the third world. But I also have decided
that I am going to be consciously recruiting in the south of India so
that I can develop a stronger partnership with my university and
students in the south of India. We have partnerships with the
universities in the north and these are exchange and so on. But I am
working on a very different pattern of partnership of actually
recruiting students to South Africa where we support them in everything
and occasionally send our students here and learn from the movements and
the developments here.
There has been a criticism that many reformist ideas in the
Muslim world are basically answers to the western issues and worries.
How do you respond to this argument?
I agree. I told you I left the US because I was tired of answering
western questions. That one analogy I made explains this again. If there
is one woman going to be stoned then the whole world responds, but
nobody cares if there are hundreds of women dying for lack of drinking
water. So it is a legitimate criticism. We have our own issues – issues
of poverty, issues of impoverishment, issues of exploitation of our
countries by both local landlords and capitalists from abroad. We have
own male-female issues. We need to work on them. We have to be careful
that these issues are not being co-opted by white NGOs, because this way
they ensure that their issues remain the sexy ones. A principled
commitment to justice means that we will tackle these issues regardless
of how and who raises them.
You have been actively organising interfaith dialogues and
inter-religious solidarity programmes. How do you approach inter-faith
I work extensively in interfaith dialogue. But the question isn’t one
of harmony. The more Christians tell me how Jesus Christ is both human
and spirit and God, and how Christ became God on earth, the more
confused I become. It is not a story that sits in my head. It is a story
that I find utterly confusing, and the more explanations I get the more
confusions I have. I don’t think that the problem between me and
Christians is that we don’t understand each other. I am not interested
in understanding their theology. And so the problem is not this lack of
understanding between people; and the argument that only if we
understand each other, the things will be wonderful, is ridiculous. In
the power dynamics going on in the world today, Christianity is being
invoked as a weapon of oppression, and Christianity is being invoked as a
weapon of liberation.
Similarly, Islam is being invoked as a weapon of
oppression, and as a weapon of liberation. I am interested in how do
people of different religions get together and demonstrate in their
solidarity with each other the usefulness or the uselessness of their
faith in combating injustice. It is on this terrain I want to see
whether you are useful or not. And so I am interested in inter-religious
solidarity against injustice. I am not interested in having tea with
you and telling you how nice my religion is on the question of women and
then you telling me how nice your religion is on the question of women.
I put some nice hadith in front of you; you put some nice verses for
me. And there we go home after that. The problem has never been between
religions, the problem has been about the exploitation of religions, and
the actual injustices that are happening in front of our eyes. And that
only is the inter-religious question.
In the contemporary context how do you engage with the movements based on political Islam?
First of all I don’t know what you mean by political Islam. If by
political Islam, you mean groups that are openly espousing alternatives
to the current political states or groups that say we need alternative
political system, like khilafat, groups such as Tafkir wal Hijra or the
Muhajirun or ISIS. Are you referring to those groups as political Islam?
No. I meant the democratic and non-violent movements inspired
by the intellectual pursuits of scholars like Syed Qutub and Syed
I think that there is a desperate need for the insertion of Islam and
Islamic ideas into political discourse. And I don’t think that Muslims
should eschew from participating in these political discourses. I think
there are paradigmatic ideas in Islam that speak to this situation.
There are ideas of accountability, ideas of the common good, ideas of
anathema to nepotism. There is this example of Abubaker saying that if
my daughter Fatima would have been accused of this, then I would have
held her to the same punishment. So that is an anti-nepotistic idea. And
there is the rule that certain punishment must be suspended in the time
of emergencies such as drought. The idea that if a single person dies
in a neighborhood of hunger, all the neighbors of 40 houses in all
directions will be held accountable. There are these social ideals that
can be translated into serious political ideas and practice. And so I
don’t advocate the separation of religion from politics. I think that
religious people must intervene in political matters. And they can even
intervene as politicians.
I don’t subscribe to the idea that politics is a dirty game. I think
there are many decent politicians, certainly in my part of the country,
who are genuinely interested in people’s issues, and still working and
transforming the lives of people. It is all well for moralists to walk
around and say I don’t want to be in politics, all these politicians are
corrupt. If all of us have to go to the toilet, somebody has to clean
the toilet; somebody has to manage the cleaning of toilets and this is
what politicians do. Managing the consequences of human shit. Of course
in many corrupt societies, there is a lot of money in it. I am just
talking about politics in general. I think Muslims should enter politics
and there are Islamic ideas on politics. Does this mean Muslims should
aspire for an Islamic state? No, I don’t agree with that. You try to
insert Islamic values in your society.
I am not even sure if I am a particular fan of the state itself. The
state is a relatively new invention. There are many other ways in which
people have found ways to govern themselves. I think those smaller
cooperative units, there are different models, I haven’t really thought
through. But I think there is a need for a legitimacy of Muslims
inserting religious values into the discourse on the state, intervening
in actual public debates on policies and even becoming engaged in
I am always afraid of states, especially large ones, and I am
particularly afraid of the states that they get their mandate from
beyond human authority. Because once you tell me that God has told you
something, then there is no space for me, if I don’t share your God, in
that conversation. This is like Zionists saying, our God whispered to us
one night that this piece of land is yours even though that piece of
land happened to have had millions of other inhabitants who have lived
there for thousands and thousands of years uninterruptedly. And because
of the promise your God made to you, you can come there today and become
a citizen. And that state must engage in continuous move to bring in
more Jews and to engage in ethnic cleansing to reduce the Palestinian
population. That is the nature of religious states. There is no space
for democracy, equality. All the religious states are deeply flawed, and
I am not a friend of any big state, I am not a friend of the ethnic
state, I am not a friend of religious states.
In Muslim community, there is also a
Shia-Sunni polemics, both in theological and political level. There are
Sunnis who argue that Shiism is historically a Jewish construct to
First of all, India and Pakistan and much of the Muslim world, are
very rich with conspiracies. There are at least a couple of conspiracies
hiding under every bed. When I was teaching many years ago in a
religious school, some Shia friends told me that the Sunni Muslims fold
their hands while they pray because there they hide their idols they
worship. And in the madrassa I was again taught that the Shias, in the
night of Ashura, switch off the lights in the second part of the
ceremony, so that they can have lots of sex orgies. A 16 year old boy
hearing this in a madrasa might even think ‘I wish I were a Shia to have
endless sex on those nights’! There is no basis for this. Most of the
times these are the lies we spread of each other. And it is very
insulting that your faith must sustain on your ability to tell lies
about another community.
And the Sunni-Shia tensions at a larger level are also reflective of
the political tensions that are happening inside the Muslim world. The
truth is that whenever anything happens that threatens power, people
will find ways to demonize each other. Whether it is accusing a sex
scandal about somebody or saying somebody is a Mossad agent or so. There
are theological differences between Sunnis and Shias. But anybody who
has eyes can see that it is on the whole the Sunni countries that have
aligned themselves with the United States and Israeli interests in the
Middle East for better or worse. And there is Iran, Lebanon which is a
bi-sectarian country and Syria to an extent that have consistently
aligned against American interests. Iraq used to be anti-US when Saddam
Hussain was there. On the Sunni side, of course, Hamas has also been
very consistent in its opposition to Zionism. I am not saying that all
the Sunnis are bad. The part of the vilification of Syria, and Iran at
the moment – in Syria there is an excuse of having an undemocratic
government, in Iran, much less so – is mostly based on their Shiite
leadership. So this is sectarianism.
South Africa is a multicultural society and you have
religious Muslims accepted at very high ranks, the most visible example
being your bearded cricket captain. In countries like India, in spite of
being secular and plural, the Muslim identity is often at stake and the
so-called mainstream is not culturally inclusive.
Not only do we have a bearded cricket captain. The Speaker of Upper House is a muhajaba; the minister of science and technology is a muhajaba; our minister of economic development is a muhajaba; many of our deputy ministers are muhajaba;
there is a musalla inside parliament itself. Our ambassador to
Washington DC is a religious Muslim. The minister of transport is a
Tablighi with his bog kurta and jubba and 40 days jamaat. In South
Africa, secularism is not a God to be worshipped. Religion is something
to be respected. People’s beliefs and non-beliefs are something to be
respected. And by respecting it, we give some space in the public
domain. The African National Congress, the ruling party, had their
national cadre conference recently, and I was asked to open the meeting
with a prayer. A Muslim was asked to open it with a prayer. Nobody
In India, secularism is presented as a means of maintaining the
balance of forces between different religious groups, and controlling
those balances of forces in theory. In practice, it is used as a weapon
to demonize religious minorities, and to privilege one religion over
Saturday, 14 May 2016
Thursday, 12 May 2016
Thoroughly enjoyed presenting a lecture this afternoon at the Chester Beatty Library (Dublin, Ireland) today on 'The Qur'an: At the Heart of Islam' which celebrates the Lapis and Gold: The Ruzbihan Qur'an Exhibition. - with L-R, Kristine Rose Beers (Senior Conservator), Dr. Elaine Wright (Curator of the Islamic Collections) and Fionnuala Croke (Director of Chester Beatty Library).
Tuesday, 10 May 2016
Cambridge Union Society - Thursday 5th May 2016 - "This House Believes Masculinity is damaging to everyone'
Dan Bell Dan is an award-winning journalist and editor who has written for national news outlets in the UK and America. He is features editor of online men’s issues magazine insideMAN.
Aditya Basrur is studying for an MPhil in Economic and Social History at Magdalene College. Until 2015, he practised corporate law in New York and Dubai. He holds degrees in law and history from the University of Auckland in New Zealand and an LLM from Columbia Law School in New York.
Amanullah De Sondy
Amanullah De Sondy, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam at University College Cork, Republic of Ireland is a Scottish Pakistani Muslim. Amanullah's first book, The Crisis of Islamic Masculinities, was published with Bloomsbury Academic in 2014 and he is regular contributor to BBC Radio Scotland's 'Thought for the Day'.
Mimi Turner Mimi is a former journalist at the Hollywood Reporter, who previously worked as the communications director for Northern and Shell, and is now the marketing director for the Lad Bible.
Ruth Sutherland Ruth is CEO of Samaritans, the leading suicide prevention charity in the UK and Ireland with 21,000 volunteers taking 5 million calls for help annually.
Monday, 9 May 2016
Mona Eltahawy is an Egyptian activist, feminist powerhouse, protestor of oppressive regimes and author of Headscarves and Hymen.
Laila Khalili is an Iranian academician who specializes on the politics of the middle-east.
And at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2016, both women answer the same question. Is feminist is social movement, or a serious political one? And if it is indeed serious politics, then what is the serious political impact of feminism?
And the largest question of all - is feminism giving us all the vocabulary and tools to fight ALL forms of oppression?