Recasting Gendered Paradigms: An Indonesian Cleric and Muslim Women in the Malay World

This essay examines the ideas of a prominent Indonesian cleric, Haji Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah (Hamka), about the place of women in Islam and in Southeast Asian Muslim societies.

I argue that Hamka was engaged in the project of “recasting gendered paradigms,” which involves reinterpreting, reconceptualizing and reconfiguring various dominant understandings about the roles, functions and responsibilities of women in Islam as reflected not only in the Qur’an and the adat (traditional customs), but also in modern discourses about women’s empowerment. I show that Hamka’s commitment to advocating for women’s rights and critiquing prevailing ideas about the place of women in religion and society was a product both of his personal experiences and of the profound social and intellectual shifts that characterized his day and age.