Asma Barlas is a distinguished scholar and an outspoken and esteemed public intellectual, recognised as such in Europe and the US. She has written and spoken eloquently against Western misreadings of the Qur’an, and passionately against Islamic misreadings that would appear to justify the oppression of women.
Barlas was born and raised in Pakistan, where she was one of the first women to join the foreign service. However, she was dismissed on the orders of the country’s military ruler for her criticism of him, and eventually received political asylum in the US.
Barlas is a professor of politics and director of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity at Ithaca College, New York. In 2008, she also held the Spinoza Chair in Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. Her degrees attest the breadth of her interests: she has a PhD in International Studies, an MA in Journalism and a BA in English Literature and Philosophy.
She writes about Qur’anic hermeneutics, Muslim women’s rights and Western representations of Islam and Muslims. Her best-known book is ‘Believing Women’ in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur’an.