A Thousand and One Wives: Investigating the Intellectual History of the Exegesis of Verse 4:24
“A Thousand and One Wives: Investigating the Intellectual History of the Exegesis of Verse 4:24” traces the intellectual legacy of the exegesis of Qur’an 4:24, which is used as the proof text for the permissibility of mut’a (temporary marriage). I ask if the use of verse 4.24 for the permissibility of mut’a marriage is justified within the rules and regulations of Qur’anic hermeneutics. I examine twenty Qur’an commentaries, the chronological span of which extends from the first extant commentary to the present day in three major Islamicate languages. I conclude that doctrinal self-identity, rather than strictly philological analyses, shaped the interpretation of this verse.As Western academia’s first comprehensive work concerning the intellectual history of mut’a marriage and sexual ethics, my work illustrates the power of sectarian influences in how scholars have interpreted verse 4:24. My dissertation is the only work in English that includes a plurality of voices from minor schools (Ibadi, Ashari, Zaidi, and Ismaili) largely neglected by Western scholars, alongside major schools, and draws from all available sub-genres of exegesis. Further, by revealing ambiguities in the interpretation of mut’a, my work challenges accepted sexual ethics in Islamic thought, as presented by most classical and many modern Muslim scholars—and thus opens up space to theorize Islamic sexual ethics anew. My thesis contributes to this crucial conversation from the perspective of Muslim feminism.
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Mirza, Younus (Georgetown University, 2012)This dissertation focuses on one of the most popular medieval Muslim figures in modern times, Ibn Kathir. I argue that Ibn Kathir's work reflects a critical theological struggle in the history of Islam between those who ...