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International Women’s Day 2023: My Soul is a Woman

Event Description

Umran Academic Research Association successfully celebrated International Women’s Day last year, and this year we are continuing the tradition with the theme “My Soul is a Woman,” inspired by Annemarie Schimmel’s book, to pay tribute to Annemarie Schimmel’s academic contributions. Her works help to overcome patriarchy at multiple levels in order to succeed. 

Annemarie Schimmel was born on 7 April 1922 to Protestant and middle-class parents in Erfurt, Germany and died on 26 January 2003. She was a very influential woman scholar who wrote extensively on Islam, particularly on Sufism. From 1967 to 1992, she was a professor at Harvard University. Her mystic approach to feminism makes her special and universal. She represents peace, harmony, and a message for humanity. 

Quote from her book – My intention with this book (My Soul is A Woman) is not to suddenly join the stream of feminist criticism, but rather to explore a new approach, one that, I hope, will lead to a better understanding of the women’s role in Islamic mysticism.”  

This theme “My Soul is a Woman,” serves as an important reminder of the critical role that women have played in shaping human history and  spirituality and mysticism throughout history, as well as their ongoing contributions to these fields. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it’s crucial to recognize the ways in which women have been historically marginalized and excluded from certain spheres of influence, including academia, spirituality, and mysticism. 

It is vital to recognize and honor the contributions of women scholars and activists, like Schimmel, who have worked to advance gender equality and promote peace and understanding across cultures. Rabia al-Basri, and Fatima al-Yashrutiyya are some of the notable female Sufis who actually initiated and have played a critical role in shaping the development of Islamic mysticism and spirituality. These women, and many others like them, have had a profound impact on Islamic spirituality and mysticism, emphasizing the importance of empathy, compassion, and love, and highlighting the interconnectedness of all beings. 

The theme “My Soul is a Woman” draws on the idea that the soul embodies compassion and empathy, often portrayed as a feminine aspect of the human experience. This is reflected in the Arabic words ar-Rahman and ar-Rahim, which is also manifestation of Allah or God, which are derived from the same root as “womb” and are often seen as feminine-gendered. The soul is seen as a manifestation of the word ar-Rahman, or compassionate, and is associated with feminine qualities. This idea also has resonance in other cultural and religious traditions, such as in Vedic literature, where God is sometimes referred to as the Mother Goddess, emphasizing the nurturing and life-giving qualities often associated with femininity. However, it is also important to note that in Islam, God is considered to be beyond gender or any other human attributes, and therefore some scholars, like Bruce B Lawrence, prefer to use a gender-neutral term like Barzakh when referring to Allah.  

The theme “My Soul is a Woman” is significant for International Women’s Day because it highlights the importance of recognizing and honoring the contributions of women to all aspects of society, challenging traditional gender roles and emphasizing the need for equality and justice for all individuals, regardless of their gender identity.  

To celebrate this day, UARA is hosting an event with two distinguished scholars, Professor Miriam Cooke and Professor Mousumi G Banerjee, as our guests. 

Prof. Miriam cooke is Braxton Craven Professor of Arab Cultures at Duke University, USA. Her research concerns Middle Eastern and Arab world studies. She focuses on modern Arabic literature and critical reassessment of women’s roles in the public sphere. She has written many books and articles. She is co-editor of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies. She is also advisor for Umran Academic Research Association, Turkey.  

Professor Mousumi G Banerjee is Professor & Head, Department of English Literature, The EFL University, Regional Campus, Shillong, India. She is also an Associate with the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), Shimla, India and also advisor for Umran Academic Research Association, Turkey. Her research interests include literary theories, postmodern criticisms, Western philosophy, text, language, and hermeneutics, poetic language, women’s writing and writings about women and film criticism. 

Theme: Internatıonal Women’s Day 2023: My Soul is a Woman
Time : 8 March 2023 (Wednesday)
04:00 Pm İstanbul
06:30 Pm  India
08:00  Am  New York

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 861 6826 8186
Passcode: 957915

Event Details:

  1. Taiba Riaz (French but of Pakistani origin). A Master’s student at at Alliance of Civilization Institute, Ibn Haldun University, Istanbul. She will speak of her experience in developing her concept of Unity Within Diversity.
  2. Professor Mousumi G Banerjee, HoD of English Literature, EFL University Shillong, India, will speak on “Unwomaning the Woman with Dickinson: A Discourse”
  3. Dr. Amina Hussain, Assist. Professor, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Language University, Lucknow will speak on “The Digital Gender Gap in India: An Analysis of Access, Implications, and Strategies for Inclusive Development” reflecting on the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day.
  4. Ayesha Syed, Heeral Kavlani, Nahid Aslam, Ruqaiya, Shivani Shivam, Shahina Farooq, and Saalima Khan (Umran teachers and students) will speak about their roles in Umran’s women and rural empowerment program.
  5. Rajeev Kumar will preview and speak about the journey of realization Umran Women’s Magazine.
  6. Closing Remarks By Professor miriam cooke, Braxton Craven Professor of Arab Cultures, Duke University

Organizer: Umran Academic Research Association and Unity Within Diversity

Coordinator: Rajeev Kumar