Dr. Edith Szanto, whose PhD in Religious Studies is from the University of Toronto, served as assistant professor at AUIS for several years.
Funded by the EU, CGDS is producing podcasts, in Kurdish, Arabic and English to promote understanding of gender issues in the region. The following is one of the podcasts produced for the project.
Dr. Edith Szanto, whose PhD in Religious Studies is from the University of Toronto, served as assistant professor at AUIS for several years. She developed and taught, as part of the gender minor, an upper-level course on women in Islam Dr. Szanto has now joined the Religious Studies Department at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, an R-1 Institution. Her research interests, in addition to gender and Islam, include Twelver Shi'ism, Sufism, religious minorities in the Middle East, and the anthropology of Islam.
Dr. Szanto begins by responding to the equation of Islam with the suppression of women. The burka and driving restrictions and so-called “honor” killings might be the first images that come to mind about Islamic women. She goes on to talk about her experience with her course on women and Islam, and then describes the situation of women and gender in the time of the birth of the Prophet Muhammed in the sixth century CE. She goes on to discuss how the Qur’an presents women, the historical records of ordinary women in early Islam, and the Sunni-Shi’a split in terms of gender. Next, she talks about women in the spread of Islam in the centuries following Mohammed’s death, and specifically about urbanization in contrast to the desert tribal culture in which Islam was born. After naming some of the most interesting areas of gender research in Islam currently, Dr. Szanto highlights her own research in terms of gender.