No nation has suffered the same extent of sartorial conflict and confusion as Iran during the modern period, caused by the impact of Western views on the hijab in the 19th century, the decree to unveil that was issued by Riza Shah Pahlavi in 1936, and the imposition of the veil in the wake of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
The differences of opinion among seminarians on the hijab in the Islamic Republic of Iran is undertaken herein with a particular focus on three representatives: Murtaza Mutahhari, who held veiling to be compulsory; Ahmad Qabil, who argued for the desirability of the hijab; and Muhsin Kadivar, who considers it neither necessary nor desirable.
The views of the three scholars are contextualised within the framework of ‘new religious thinking’ which is usually understood as a development in jurisprudence in post-Khomeini Iran.
Lloyd Ridgeon is a Reader in Islamic Studies and Head of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Glasgow. He is the author of Jawanmardi: A Sufi Code of Honour (2011) and editor of Javanmardi: The Ethics and Practice of Persianate Perfection (2018).
Professor Nacim Pak-Shiraz in conversation with the author.
‘This excellent study is an examination of the evolving theological and juristic positions on hijab among seminarians in Iran. The author Lloyd Ridgeon provides the reader with valuable insights into the complexity of the juristic debates. Focusing on the work of three aptly-chosen scholars, he makes their juristic arguments available in English for the first time, as well as referencing the extensive literature on the topic in English and Persian. The writing is clear, the story unfolds systematically and cogently, and the book is a pleasure to read.’
–Ziba Mir-Hosseini, SOAS University of London
‘This study fills an important gap by discussing the views of three different Islamic scholars from Iran on the hijab. A particular strength of the book is that it covers scholars from both the pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary periods. The contributions of the scholars are contextualized by providing accessible introductions to the political, social and cultural developments in Iran before and after the Islamic Revolution with a focus on gender issues and the question of the hijab. As such, the study illustrates quite well how Islamic jurisprudence is always situated in and responds to a particular context.’
–Oliver Scharbrodt, University of Birmingham