Destabilizing Gender, Reproducing Maternity Mary in the Qur'an

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Kecia Ali



The Qur'an tells Mary’s story in extended passages in Surat Al 'Imran (Q 3) and Surat Maryam (Q 19). These stories have been interpreted to emphasize sameness between men and women and prove qur'anic gender egalitarianism on the one hand, and to illustrate the qur'anic valuing of female, especially maternal, experience on the other. This essay proposes a third tack, highlighting queerness. Focusing on Surat Al 'Imran, this article suggests new avenues for thinking about gender, family, and society in the Qur'an. In situating Mary in a semi-genealogical prophetic lineage and a believing community, qur'anic verses by turns affirm and unsettle binary gender constructions and disrupt heteronormative reproductivity. Oscillating between highlighting Mary's femaleness and likening her to prophetic and pious males, the text offers rich notions of gender, kinship, and power. A queer reading of Mary poses certain dangers but also offers a way out of certain feminist impasses by rejecting a totalizing narrative.



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