ENGLISH: PAKISTANI FEMINISTS AND ISLAMIC STUDIES SCHOLARS’ PERCEPTIONS ABOUT FEMINISM AND GENDER ROLES: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS
The paper aimed to explore the perceptions of the Pakistani Islamic scholars and feminist activists regarding the concept of feminism, gender roles, sexual orientations and reproductive rights. A qualitative research method was employed to investigate this phenomena and the study adopted a social constructionist epistemology. A purposeful sampling strategy was used to determine the sample. A total number of 16 research participants (8 feminists, 8 Islamic scholars) in the age bracket of 40-55 years were selected and in-depth interviews were undertaken with them. The study concludes that feminists and Islamic scholars agreed that feminism was a movement for women emancipation but differed on the points where Islamic scholars thought that the movement had some Western and men-excluding ideologies. Gender roles were thought to be a social construct by the feminists while Islamic scholars stressed on the complementarities of gender roles. However, both groups agreed that compulsion in roles assignment was uncalled for. Many of the differences that had been enmeshed in the minds of both sides were merely a misinterpretation of Islamic scripture or faulty cultural norms, which had been disguised and portrayed as religious injunctions. Both groups felt that a collective discourse of academia and development sector is needed to reach a mutual platform where both groups can work together for the betterment of women and dispel the misconceptions attached to each side.