390 Mirjam Ku¨nkler
40. The hadith is a body of traditions relating to the Prophet Muhammad and informs believers of the
words and activities of the Prophet, especially his explicit or tacit wisdom about human conduct
and social affairs.
41. Annemarie Schimmel, Islam—An Introduction, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992,
42. On the method of veriﬁcation, see Anne Soﬁe Roald, ‘Feminist Reinterpretation of Islamic
Sources: Muslim Feminist Theology in the Light of the Christian of Feminist Thought’, in eds
Karin Ask and Marit Tjomsland, Women and Islamization: Contemporary Dimensions of Discourse on
Gender Relations, New York: Berg, 1998. Bukhari (d. 870) was the ﬁrst to collect and classify the
more reliable hadith of the tens of thousands in circulation in the ninth century. His comprehensive
collection comprises more than 7,300 hadith. His contemporary, Abu Muslim (d. 875), produced
a similar compilation and their collections are mostly considered sahih (sound). Further collections
stem from Abu Daud, Nasai, Tirmidhi and Ibn Maja in the tenth and eleventh century.
43. See Roald, ‘Feminist Reinterpretation of Islamic Sources’, ibid. It is interesting to note that
Hojatoleslam Saidzadeh employs precisely this method in the articles where he criticizes the early
decision by state authorities to exclude women from judgeship. ‘Among other arguments, the
author interprets a Quranic passage usually taken to mean that males are naturally superior. As is
often done by Islamic reformists, the author then rejects some Islamic traditions (hadith)as
inauthentic and reinterprets others, concluding with a formula of the type found in Islamic
religious decrees: “We afﬁrm that the potential of women is the same as that of men whatever the
employment and function; this goes equally for the function of judge or jurisconsult (faqih)” ’.
Zanan, No. 5, 1992, p. 23 quoted in Keddie, ‘Women in Iran’, op.cit., p. 421.
44. See Roald, ‘Feminist Reinterpretation of Islamic Sources’, op.cit.
45. The term aql relates not so much to the wisdom of individuals, as rather to a consensual
understanding of what, when quoted in a judgment, the general public could ﬁnd reasonable.
46. Afshar, Islam and Feminisms,op.cit., p. 5.
47. Al-Azmeh, Islam and Modernity,op.cit., p. 1.
48. Abdolkarim Soroush, Reason,Freedom,and Democracy in Islam, New York: Oxford University
Press, 2000; ‘Islam and Pluralism’, lecture held at SOAS, University of London, 14 January 2001,
and ‘The Evolution and Devolution of Religious Knowledge’, in ed. Charles Kurzman, Liberal
Islam, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998, p. 245. See also Valla Vakili, ‘Abdolkarim Soroush
and Critical Discourse in Iran’, in eds John Esposito and John Voll, The Makers of Contemporary
Islam, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001; and ‘Debating Religion and Politics in Iran: The
Political Thought of Abdolkarim Soroush’, The Council on Foreign Relations, 1997, available
online at: ⬍http://www.cfr.org/public/pubs/vakili.html ⬎.
49. As hinted at before, the question of what exactly, beside the Qur’an, constitutes the core religious
texts, is disputed. Al-Azmeh, for instance, contends that the hadith do not constitute core texts and
that they are irrelevant to law making. Al-Azmeh, Islam and Modenity,op.cit., p. 11.
50. Quoted in Mir-Hosseini, Islam and Gender,op.cit., p. 253.
51. Abdolkarim Soroush, ‘The Evolution and Devolution of Religious Knowledge’, op.cit., p. 245.
52. Soroush does not engage in a further elaboration on which criteria should serve to establish that
validity. These, he holds, have to be established by each respective community within the
concerned ﬁeld of science, and these also underlie the effects of time.
53. Newsletter, 3. An ideologization of Islam, according to Soroush, has not only occurred in Iran, but
in many parts of the Muslim world, and has furthered a particular, politically buttressed
understanding of religion, which suggests a ﬁnal and absolute interpretation. The effects of the
monopolization of religious knowledge to narrow interpretations, he holds, have made religion an
instrument in attaining goals. It has promoted a dogmatic understanding of religion concerned
with exoteric, accidental aspects and, with its false emphasis on ﬁqh, has resulted in intellectual
rigidity and exclusivism. In Iran it has raised the Islamic clergy to an exceptional position with a
priori privileges—an elitist development, which runs counter to essential Qur’anic teachings about
the community of faith. He designates the rigid and politically supported interpretation of Islam
an ‘Islam of identity’—a comprehensible ideology that may help to overcome a modernity-inspired
‘crisis of identity’, but is far removed from a deeper understanding of religion. As an ‘Islam of
identity’, religion is transformed into an all-encompassing body of knowledge that prescribes
solutions even for the most particular and singular occurrences. To arrive at a deeper understand-
ing of it—an ‘Islam of truth’—Soroush believes one would have to engage in a deliberation about