Women of Islam find empowerment within the verses of Qur’an

The Qur’an’s verses were originally written to empower Muslim women according to Asma Afsaruddin, professor of Islamic Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures at Indiana University.

Afsaruddin stated, “Qur’an 33:35 uses language deliberately inclusive of women and maintains the absolute religious and spiritual equality of women and men….Women who can read and understand the Qur’an themselves draw their power and strength from it.”


Asma Afsaruddin seen above during discussion

According to Afsaruddin, the Qur’an gives women a say in contracted marriages, owning their own property during marriage, and allowing divorce if necessary. Specifically, the Qur’an allows women to expect equal treatment from their husbands.

The roles of Islamic females shifted during the Common Era. Traditionally known as Fuqaha’, Islamic jurists began to use the Qur’an verses to revoke the rights of women, and to show favoritism towards the male.

Afsaruddin stated that during the time of the Prophet, women attended the mosque in Medina. Today, many countries claim to adhere strictly to Islamic principles, yet prohibit women from going to mosques.

According to Afsaruddin, men have primarily interpreted the Qur’an, and their interpretation has become authoritative.


UTK student Walker Godfrey seen picking up a brochure for the lecture

Afsaruddin stated, “The notion of women as the tilling ground of men conveys a positive evaluation of the sexual and procreative functions of marriage to be regarded as good deeds for which one will earn heavenly rewards. On the contrary, male jurists have construed this verse to imply that women are the sexual property of men.”

According to Member of Knoxville Islamic society Drost Kokoye, there are different scholars within Islam that interpreted the Qur’an’s teachings and made decisions on how people can live their lives. “One of the topics that scholars don’t agree on is that men are allowed to marry outside the faith while women are not. Some will say, they are not allowed to but many will say they can, it’s just a matter of where their faith lies.”

Kokoye stated, “A lot of people are preconceived to the notion that Muslim women are spoken for, and that we are fragile and oppressed members of Islam without many rights. In reality, it is just as much our responsibility and our right to fulfill our life’s pursuits as a male in Islam.”



UTK Students use Baker Center as Information hub for Election

A tweet wall at the Baker Center’s debate screening allowed students to see their fellow classmates’ opinions in real-time Tuesday evening.


Student tweet wall used during debate

Morgan Chance, Baker Center Ambassador, said that the screenings have allowed students to voice their opinions on the election.

The Baker Center has increased student involvement in the presidential election through screening two of the three debates, registering students to vote, and becoming an early voting location.

Baker Scholar Alina Clay stated, “The screenings at the Baker Center are really beneficial for students here on campus because they provide a ready outlet for students to participate in the broad political processes. Having the screenings here and the student events that we do here to learn about the political process and learn about elections are so critical because it brings the issue to us.”

The screenings have given students a way to build their own beliefs upon facts instead of  basing their opinions on things they see while flipping through mass media outlets.

According to Clay, students are beginning to realize the importance of their own involvement in the current election issues. “When candidates say controversial things, students can see these things and hold the candidates accountable.”


UTK students watching the debate

The debate screenings held at the center were nonpartisan, or political-party neutral.

UTK grad student Ann Harik stated that, ” I do think it’s helpful that the debates are shown on campus, and I do think it’s helpful that it’s nonpartisan. I think a lot of students feel like their voice doesn’t matter, and we need to remind them that their vote matters.”

The Baker Center also helps students register to vote and is a site of early voting for this election. Registered voters will be able to come to the center to vote early  Oct. 31st-Nov. 3rd.

Nissa Dahlin-Brown, Associate Director of the Baker Center, said that close to 2,500 students registered to vote at the center in a  competition with the University of Florida to see which university could register more students to vote. UTK won despite the fact that UF has a significantly larger campus population than UTK, with UF having a population of nearly 50,000 students.

According to Dahlin-Brown, the student-organized Voterpalooza and mock debate helped to spread awareness about the upcoming early voting period. The center is also using outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to remind students about the opportunity to vote early.