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Associate Professor Sa'diyya Shaikh

Islamic Studies, Feminist Theory

Assoc Prof Sa'diyya ShaikhSa’diyya Shaikh is Associate Professor in the Department for the Study of Religions at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.  Her research is situated at the intersection of Islamic Studies and Gender Studies. She has a special interest in Sufism and its implications for Islamic feminism and feminist theory. Her book “Sufi Narratives of Intimacy: Ibn ʿArabī, Gender and Sexuality” is published by the University of North Carolina Press (2012); and co-published again in 2013 by both University of Cape Town Press and Munshiram Manoharl Publishers (New Delhi). Her areas of research include gender-sensitive readings of hadith, Quranic exegesis and Sufi texts; theoretical and political debates on Islam and feminism; religion and gender-based violence; contemporary Muslim women’s embodied, experiential and everyday modes of understanding Quranic teachings (“Tafsir of Praxis”). Shaikh has also completed an empirical project focussed on sexuality, marriage, and reproductive choices amongst South African Muslim women. For information related to CCI ...


Selected Publications


Shaikh, Sa'diyya. 2012. Sufi Narratives of Intimacy: Ibn 'Arabi, Gender and Sexuality. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press

Daniel C. Maguire and Sa’diyya Shaikh (eds). 2007. Violence Against Women in Contemporary World Religions: Roots and Cures. Cleveland, Ohio: The Pilgrim Press


Journal Articles

Shaikh, Sa’diyya. 2019. Allah, Hidden Treasures and the Divine Feminine. Article at The Immanent Frame: Secularism, Religion and the Public Sphere, (special project on the “Body” in "A Universe of Terms”) hosted by Social Science Research Council (USA),

Shaikh, Sa’diyya. 2018. Explorations in Islamic Feminist Epistemology. Article at Humanities Futures, Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke University

Mahomed, Nadeem and Shaikh. 2018. “Islam between Margins: Reassessing Gender and Sexuality in Islam.” The African Journal of Gender and Religion 24, no 2 (Dec): 120-138

Osman Mujahid and Shaikh, Sa’diyya. 2017. “Islam, Muslims and the Politics of Queerness in Cape Town.” Journal of Gender and Religion in Africa Vol. 23 No 2 (Dec): 43-67.

Shaikh, Sa’diyya. 2015. “Ibn ‘Arabi and How to Be Human” Critical Muslims, Special Issue on Race 13: 91-108.

Shaikh, Sa’diyya. 2013. “Feminism, Epistemology and Experience: Critically (En)gendering the Study of Islam.” Journal for Islamic Studies 33: 14-47.

Hoel Nina and Shaikh, Sa’diyya 2013.“Sexing Islamic Theology: Theorising Women’s Experience and Gender Through abd allah and khalifah.” Journal for Islamic Studies 33: 127-151.

Hoel, Nina and Shaikh, Sadiyya, 2013. “Sex as Ibadah: Religion, Gender and Subjectivity among South African Muslim Women.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 29 (1): 69-91.

Shaikh, S., Hoel, N. and Kagee, A. 2011. “South African Muslim Women: Sexuality, Marriage and Reproductive Choices, Research Report” Journal for Islamic Studies 31: 96-124.

Shaikh, Sa'diyya; Hoel, Nina and Kagee, Ashraf, 2011. "South African Muslim Women: Sexuality, Marriage and Reproductive Choices, Research Report" Journal for Islamic Studies, 31:96-121.

Hoel, Nina, Shaikh, Sa’diyya and Kagee, Ashraf.  2011. “Muslim women's reflections on the acceptability of vaginal microbicidal products to prevent HIV infection.”Ethnicity & Health 16 ( 2): 89 – 106.

Shaikh, Sa'diyya. 2009. "In Search of Al-Insān: Sufism, Islamic Law and Gender."Journal of the American Academy of Religion 77 (4): 781-822.

Hoel, Nina and Shaikh, Sa'diyya. 2007. "Veiling, Secularism and Islamism: Gender Constructions in France and Iran". Journal for the Study of Religion, 20 (1):111-129

Shaikh, Sa’diyya and Kugle, Scott. 2006. “To Love Every Life as Your Own: An Introduction to Engaged Sufism”.  Journal for Islamic Studies, 26: 1-11.

Shaikh, S. 2002. 'Islam, Feminisms and the Politics of Representation". Journal of the European Society of Women in Theological Research, 10:93-110.

Shaikh, S. 1997. "Exegetical Violence: Nushuz in Qur'anic Gender Ideology". Journal for Islamic Studies, 17:49-73.


Book Chapters/Contributions to Edited Collections

Claassens, L.J., Shaikh, S and Swartz, L. 2019. “Engaging Disability and Religion in an African Context.” In The Palgrave Handbook of Disability and Citizenship in the Global South, ed by Brian Watermeyer et al. Cham Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan” 147-164

​​​​​​​Shaikh, S. 2018. “Spiritual Refinement.” In The Shari’a: History, Ethics and Law, ed. by Amyn B. Sajoo.  London: I.B. Tauris Muslim Heritage Series: 5. 81-99.

Shaikh, Sa’diyya. 2015. “Sufism, Islamic Law and Gender: Rethinking the Terms of the Debate.” In Men in Charge? Rethinking Authority in the Muslim Legal Tradition. Eds. Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Mulki Al-Sharmani and Jana Rumminger. Oxford: Oneworld, 106-131.

Shaikh, Sa’diyya. 2013. "In Search of Al-Insān: Sufism, Islamic Law and Gender." In Muslimah Theology: The Voices of Muslim Women. Eds. Ednan Aslan, Marcia Hermansen and Elif Medeni. Bern, Wien and NewYork: Peter Lang, 267-308.

Shaikh, Sa’diyya. 2012. “Engaging Surrender: The Intimacy and Power of the Gender Jihad.” In A Jihad for Justice: Honouring the Work and Life of Amina Wadud, eds. Kecia Ali, Julianne Hammer and Laury Silvers. 213-216.
Ebook: (ISBN 978-0-615-61454-0)

Shaikh, Sa’diyya. 2011. “Morality, Justice and Gender: Reading Muslim tradition on Reproductive Choices.” In African Sexualities: A Reader, ed. by Sylvia Tamale. Oxford: Pambazuka Press, 340-358. 

Shaikh, Sa’diyya. 2011. “Embodied Tafsir: South African Muslim Women Confront Gender Violence in Marriage.” In Gender and Islam in Africa: Rights, Sexuality, and Law, ed. by Margot Badran. California: Stanford University Press, 89-115.

Shaikh, Sa’diyya. 2010 “Knowledge, Women, and Gender in the Hadith: A Feminist Interpretation” In The Hadith. 4 Vols. (Critical Concepts in Islamic Studies Series), ed. by Mustafa Shah. London: Routledge, Vol., IV, 252-261.

Shaikh, S. 2009. “Centering the Transcendent in the Search for Muslim Political Responses.” In After the Honeymoon: Muslim Religious Leadership and Political Engagement in Post-Apartheid South Africa, ed by Aslam Fataar and Farid Esack. Cape Town: Center for the Study of Progressive Islam, 41-45.  ISBN 978-0-620-43769-1.

Shaikh, Sa'diyya. 2007. “A Tafsir of Praxis: Gender, Marital Vi/olence, and Resistance in a South African Muslim Community”. In Violence Against Women in Contemporary World Religions: Roots and Cures, ed by Dan Maguire and Sa’diyya Shaikh. Ohio: The Pilgrim Press, 66-89.

Keynote Conference Presentations:

“Sacred Sex? Sacred Text? Theorising the Edges of Feminist Exegesis,” Roundtable Conference hosted by Gender Religion and Health Programme, School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, April 29th 2015
Title of Keynote Paper: Feminist Edges: A Sufi Hermeneutic of Generosity and Justice.

"Theorizing Gender and Islam" Conference and The Harshbarger Lecture in Religious Studies at Penn State University, 2 December 2014.
Title of Keynote Paper: "Between the 'Yes and the No': Ibn Arabi and Mystical Disruptions of Gender"

Keynote Address: The Annual Aasta Hansteen Lecture on Gender and Religion, Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo, 26 August 2013. 
Title of Keynote Paper: Feminisms and the Politics of “Experience” for the Study of Islam

“Gender Studies at the Interface of the Humaniora: An interdisciplinary conference on new directions in gender studies in the humanities,”
16 August 2012
Title of Keynote Paper: Feminisms and the Study of Religion