Concepts of ‘honour’ in Islam and Muslim communities, and their impact on Muslim women: perceptions, praxis and new modalities

Postgraduate students

Sanah Mehnaz


Funded by the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH)

Honour has increasingly become an important talking point over the past few decades, through media coverage, activist campaigns and within academic research and literature. However, the dominating attention in regards to honour has been projected onto honour crimes and killings specifically, relating to the Islamic religion and Muslim communities. Undoubtedly, crimes and killings relating to honour ideals and perceptions are worthy of such attention and examination due to the deeply negative impact they have on the lives of women all around the world. Yet, such attentiveness has also leads to the broader implications of the concept of honour, upon the lives of Muslim women and, within the Islamic religious framework to be overlooked. The term honour has thus been restricted to association with crimes and killings within the contemporary periods. Such an association not only limits a thorough comprehension of the concept of honour within Islam, it also contributes to and perpetuates the impact and existence of negative ideals and practices within Muslim communities, aside from crimes and killings.

This research, intends to critically examine and ultimately reconceptualise the notion of honour within Islam and Muslim communities through a multivalent scrutiny of how ‘honour’ is inscribed through the history of both normative and folk Islam, within scripture and Islamic jurisprudence and in the lived experiences of Muslim women. Reconceptualising honour within Islam creates room for reconsideration of religious rulings motivated by gender-specific notions of honour. The impact of these upon constructions of the ‘ideal Muslim woman’, within both religious literature and attitudes and behaviours within Muslim communities, will be analysed and criticised in detail.