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“Modeling Exemplary Behavior: Womanhood in a Sufi Organization”

3/27/2018 4:00 PM

“Modeling Exemplary Behavior: Womanhood in a Sufi Organization”

Department of Middle Eastern Studies and
South Asia Seminar Series are pleased to present:
Summar Shoaib, PhD Candidate, West and South Asian Religions, Emory University
“Modeling Exemplary Behavior: Womanhood and Performing Authority in a Sufi Transnational Organization”

Minhaj ul Qur’an International (MQI), an organization and movement based in Pakistan and founded by Dr. Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri, claims to represent the silent majority of Sunnis in South Asia who practice a Sufi-inflected “vernacular” Islam. Because male figures like Qadri serve as the public image of the movement, the role of women in the MQI has not been fully recognized; however, women are at the forefront of the movement, organizing community action, attracting more members to the organization, and helping raise funds. My fieldwork with the MQI shows how people acquire and develop virtues by aligning themselves with one or more exemplars; followers engage with exemplars at the local level while aspiring to the standards upheld by an ultimate exemplar, Dr. Qadri. MQI women see Qadri as their shaykh and do not discursively claim the feminist label; they instead emphasize the need for women to fulfill their roles as mothers and wives, but also enact feminist morals and principles in their work with the MQI. In ritual performances and other group gatherings, MQI women assert authority using a variety of strategies, highlighting their womanhood as an asset in the ability to spread the message of the movement.

Date: Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Time: 4pm
Venue: Callaway S-221, Emory University, Atlanta
Contact:, 404-727-2575,

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