Institut für Iranistik / Institute of Iranian Studies Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften
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Development of Islamic female seminaries and religious authorities in Iran

ZAS-Seminar 10, Vortrag von Frau Dr. Keiko Sakurai (Waseda University, Tokyo)
13.09.2011, 17:00
Seminarraum 1 (Erdgeschoß), Zentrum Asienwissenschaften und Sozialanthropologie
Apostelgasse 23, 1030 Wien


Abstract. The establishment of Jami‘at al-Zahra in 1984, the first official female seminary (houzeh-e ‘elmiyyeh) in post-revolutionary Iran, opened new possibilities for women to enter the male-dominated clerical hierarchy. The rapid growth of female seminaries increased the presence of seminary-educated women in the official religious sphere. However, as opposed to the male seminaries whose dominant role is to train mojtaheds who can issue a competent legal opinion, the primary role of female seminaries is to train educators and propagandists (moballegh).
Under such circumstances, until recently, dars-e kharej (the most advanced course to train mojtaheds) was not being provided at female seminaries. Furthermore, the majority of male religious authorities contend that women officially cannot be mojtaheds.
Drawing on interviews, documents issued by seminaries, and secondary sources, this presentation concludes that in spite of the rapid growth of female seminaries, very few women reach the rank of a mojtahed, and thus, in no way weaken the male-centric seminary system in contemporary Iran.






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