Journeying Through Islam, Society & Culture: Understanding Divergent Interpretations of Marital Rape Within the Sudanese Patriarchy

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  • Perennially, Islam has been viewed as a religion that subjugates women’s rights under the overwhelming pressure of the Islamic patriarchy. This work is an illustration of my journey as a third culture child through my home country, as I attempt to find answers to unusually difficult questions that bridge the theory and praxis of Islam. My journey begins as I unveil several complexities of interpretations concerning how Islam may or may not perpetuate, condone, or indeed even sanctify marital rape in Sudan. Muslim women living in predominantly Muslim countries do not have to see the Quran, Fiqh and Ahadith as a source that promote the oppression of women. Consequently, my goal is to offer an alternative way of thinking to both Sudanese women and men who have become conditioned to accept patriarchal interpretations of Islam. Maneuvering through culture, religion and society, this work attempts to answer a hyperbolically complex question: can Islam be read as sanctifying marital rape, or is it quite simply the cyclical effects of the religious patriarchy? I argue for less of an immediate solution, and more of a rethinking and re-engagement with the very texts that govern daily life within a marriage. Through qualitative data and the examination of secondary sources, I advocate for Sudan to begin the process of conscientization prior to the amendment of rape laws. My journey ends as I offer explanations for what I believe is a moral conundrum resulting from the societal implementation of religion. I hope that men can divorce themselves from false “religious” norms that have dictated and reiterated hyper-masculinity, and employ a more independent reading of Islam. My hope is that one day Sudanese women can examine the ambiguous and underlying meanings in those very same texts to find support for their bodily autonomy and emancipation of thought.

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