Special for International Women’s Month
Dr. Riffat Hassan is a Muslim theologian from Pakistan who opposes the Islamic view of the inferiority of women. She says that since anti women legislation and custom are enacted in the name of theology, it is necessary to study the Koran and investigate the source. This required courage since challenging traditional interpretation of the Koran can be a capital offense. On the other hand we are all familiar with the claim that Islam has given women more rights than any other religious tradition. And Riffat Hassan decided to deal with that contradiction.
Riffat Hassan began her quest in 1984 when her feminist friends in Pakistan asked her to help define the theological argument for women’s liberation. That request change her life. The events of 9/11 made her work much harder and she continued to promote understanding of Islam internationally.
This is a rare TUC Radio archive recording of Riffat Hassan from April 1993 at UC Berkeley. We had never heard a purely theological argument for women’s liberation and learned much about Islam that night. We realized how closely related Islam, Christianity and Judaism are, making women of these three faiths the largest minority of any kind in the world. The basic myth of Adam and Eve is embedded in all three religions and is used by all of them to define woman as secondary, inferior and sinful. In this talk Riffat Hassan takes a closer look at the original story told in the Koran and by the end of this program your idea of Adam’s identity, or who was first and the whole issue of the rib will be thoroughly shaken.
Riffat Hassan was Professor of Religious Studies and Humanities at the University of Louisville, Kentucky. She received her PhD from Durham University, UK, in 1968 and has taught in many institutions, including Oklahoma State University and Harvard Divinity School. She retired in 2009 after 33 years of teaching.
Recorded April 1993 in Berkeley, CA