Islamic Social Studies: Gender, Sexuality, and Marriage

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Humanities/Philosophies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 December 2024 | Viewed by 390

Special Issue Editors

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Reutlingen School of Theology, D-72762 Reutlingen, Germany
Interests: sociology of emotions; sociology of religion, especially human and women's rights in Islamic societies and cultures

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Brisbane Campus (McAuley), School of Philosophy and Theology, Australian Catholic University, 1100 Nudgee Road, Banyo, QLD 4014, Australia
Interests: phenomenology; islamic feminism; post-colonial studies; phenomenological psychotherapy; feminist psychotherapy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

For several centuries, fewer issues in Islamic thought have grabbed the attention of the West as the questions related to women, the feminine body, and family laws in Islam. The Western gaze managed to generalize and characterize the image of Muslim women as subjugated and subordinate. Challenging the Western colonial image of Islam and Muslim societies, the revolt against Western colonial dominance appeared in all fields of political, economic, religious, educational, and socio-cultural thought. The process of reform and struggle for liberation ultimately concerned the status of women and their roles in the family and society.

Islamic reformism then emerged to bridge the gap between conservative religious leaders and secular modernists by promoting the idea of Islam as a progressive and dynamic religion capable of reforming in alignment with the demands of the modern world. While progress has been made in some areas, challenges remain in dismantling entrenched patriarchal structures and ensuring the full realization of the ever-changing terrain of the contemporary social landscape.

In a world characterized by flux and transience, where traditional structures and certainties seem to dissolve rapidly, Zygmunt Bauman posits that the instability of social norms has become a stable feature of our existence. This paradox serves as a guiding framework for our exploration. This Special Issue aims to examine the intricate tapestry of “liquefaction” within the realms of sexuality, gender, and marriage in Islamic societies and communities. By delving into the intersections of these fundamental aspects of human experience, we seek to unravel the complexities that arise when traditional norms encounter the currents of modernity, globalization, and cultural transformation.

In this state of interregnum, a state of liminality in which old structures, ideologies, and paradigms are crumbling but new ones have not fully emerged to take their place, what would be the reform approaches to address the profound challenges and transformations unfolding in Islamic societies? Are we in need of a more radical and transformative approach that goes beyond mere tinkering with existing norms and practices to a fundamental re-conceptualization of Islamic thought and practice?

Such a conquest requires a holistic and nuanced understanding that transcends the narrow disciplinary boundaries of historical, sociological, anthropological, philosophical, and religious perspectives. By employing interdisciplinary approaches, we invite you to engage in a nuanced dialogue that deepens our collective understanding of conquest and unravels the intricate layers of historical, social, cultural, and ideological dynamics at play.

The following are some of the possible research streams for this Special Issue. However, additional themes are welcome and encouraged.


Key Themes and Areas of Inquiry:

  1. The fluidity of gender identity in Islamic societies: Exploring how modern fluid norms and evolving cultural contexts influence perceptions of gender identity in Islamic societies.
  2. Transformative masculinities: An inquiry into the reconfiguration of traditional masculine norms and roles within Islamic societies in response to liquid gender norms.
  3. Queering Islamic marriages: Exploring the complexities of queer experiences within Islamic marital frameworks and the ways in which liquid norms shape understandings of marriage, partnership, and intimacy.
  4. Intersectional feminisms: This theme could explore the ways in which Islamic feminists navigate fluid identities and intersecting forms of oppression and the strategies they employ for social justice and gender equality.
  5. Religious suthority and sexual ethics: This theme can suggest analyses of the role of religious authorities in shaping sexual ethics and norms within Islamic communities in the context of liquid modernity.
  6. Transnational intimacies: Investigating the impact of globalization, migration, and diaspora experiences on gender, sexuality, and marriage within Muslim communities worldwide.
  7. Digital intimacies and virtual communities: This theme could explore how online platforms and virtual spaces facilitate new forms of intimacy, identity formation, and community building, as well as the challenges and opportunities they present for social norms and religious interpretations.
  8. Ethical consumption and sexual citizenship: This theme could explore how consumption practices and media representations shape attitudes towards gender, sexuality, and marriage and the implications for social norms and religious discourses.

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 200–300 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send it to the Guest Editor, Prof. Dr. Marziyeh Bakhshizadeh ([email protected]), and CC the Assistant Editor, Margaret Liu ([email protected]) of Religions. The Guest Editors will review abstracts to ensure they properly fit within the scope of the Special Issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer review.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Tentative timetable:

Deadline for abstract submission: 27 June 2024

Deadline for full manuscript submission: 15 December 2024


Ahmed, Leila. (1992). Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Ahmed, Leila. (2011). A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from the Middle East to America. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Ali, Kecia. (2006). Sexual Ethics and Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qur’an, Hadith, and Jurisprudence. Oxford: Oneworld Publications.

Ahmed, A., & Donnan, H. (Eds.). (2003). Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism. Oxford: Oneworld Publications.

Safi, Omid. (2009). Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters. New York: HarperOne.

Abu-Lughod, Lila. (1986). Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Wadud, Amina. (1999). Qur’an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman’s Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Mir Hosseinin, Ziba. (2022). Journeys Towards Gender Equality in Islam. London: Oneworld Publications Ltd.

Bauman, Zygmunt. (2000). Liquid Modernity. Cambridge: Polity.

Jahangir, Junaid. & Abdullatif, Hussein. (2016). Islamic Law and Mulsim Same-Sex Unions. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Kugle, Scott Siraj Al-Haqq. (2010). "Homosexuality in Islam: Critical Reflection on Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims." Oxford: Oneworld Publications.

Prof. Dr. Marziyeh Bakhshizadeh
Dr. Hora Zabarjadi Sar
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Islamic feminism
  • gender fluidity
  • sexual ethics
  • marital dynamics
  • intersectionality
  • queer Muslim identities
  • religious authority
  • transnational intimacies
  • digital cultures
  • ethical consumption

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Watching “L Word” in Tehran: The Construction of Narratives of Sexual Orientation in Persian-Speaking Communities in a Post-colonial Context

Abstract: In recent years, there has been an ongoing debate between the anti-west political-religious ideology of the government of Iran versus the orientalist ideology of the government of some Global North countries. I analyse seeking asylum based on sexual orientation as a survival strategy in such a postcolonial context. However, by referring to the creolisation theory, which explains how cultures constantly merge, inter-relate, synthesise and entangle, I question a common postcolonial understanding of LGBTQ-ness as a “Western” concept that cannot be used to explain the everyday living experiences of sexuality in the Global South. I argue that as access to cyberspaces and familiarity with the Global North languages is becoming increasingly common in the Global South countries like Iran, residents of these countries can have direct access to the LGBTQ culture of the Global North. From an interactive narrative analytical approach, based on semi-structured interviews with Iranian asylum seekers and activists in Turkey and an analysis of Persian social media debates, I explain how the living experiences of my research participants in Iran and my analysis of Persian Twitter users inside and outside Iran show that a growing number of Iranian residents identify as LGBTQ. I demonstrate how Iranian youth’s understanding of sexuality can be as fluid and complicated as other young citizens of different countries around the world. However, seeking asylum based on sexual orientation among Iranian citizens has impacted the tellability of their stories about the fluidity of sexuality. I conclude that debates around same-sex sexual conduct in Iran and other Muslim-majority countries are “glocal” and not only affected by the exceptional cultural and religious local context of the Middle East but also happen within the broader context of transnational debates on intimate rights among alt-right and feminist and queer movements and as part of a transnational feminist movement against fundamentalism.

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