Al-Huda International

How Muslim Women Empower Themselves through Online Study of the Qur’an

In: Hawwa
Author: Usha Sanyal1
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Al-Huda International was founded in Islamabad in 1994 by Farhat Hashmi and has since spread across several continents. Its rapid spread has been considerably aided by the online classes in English and Urdu from its headquarters in Canada. Its goal is to teach the Qur’an in Arabic to as many women as possible so they can access the sacred text directly without mediation and live in greater harmony with Qur’anic values. One might argue that Al-Huda uses a very “modern” technology, the Internet, to promote “traditional” religious values. But online students’ mastery of Arabic and intensive study of Islamic history and theology, my study argues, simultaneously gives them voice and a sense of empowerment, thereby challenging both traditional Islamic authority structures and Western representations of Muslim women. In this study, based on research grounded in participant observation as a former online student at Al-Huda, I provide an ethnographic portrait of the online learning experience.

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