"Woman is a madrasa":The role of women in production of Islamic knowledge in Bishkek
(American University of Central Asia)
The paper introduces the overlooked yet growing role of women actively shaping and disseminating Islamic knowledge in Kyrgyzstan. Analysis of formal and informal learning experiences of women demonstrate well that female Muslims in Kyrgyzstan did not confine their learning only to private study of life circle rituals, but make great efforts to take their positions as teachers and students in both - Islamic Educational institutions and house based study sessions known as taalim, where they creatively contribute to production of Islamic knowledge. Being involved in all types of learning and teaching, including public lectures of prominent imams, preaching tours of Tablighs, taalim, madrasa teaching etc. they are focused on scriptural Islam. However, engaged learning of textual Islam doesn't distance them from modern real life context making them conservative practitioners, instead lead them to learn Islamic texts to respond to their modern real life needs. Because of this different types of study circles for women as well as public lectures of prominent religious teachers are able to attract more and more women of varying socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.
Shaping Islam: Religious knowledge production and religious knowledge circulation in Central Asia and beyond