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Headscarves optional? Public lecture explores new rules for Muslims in the West

September 20, 2013

New rules for Muslims living in the West are allowing women to take off their headscarves, allowing Muslim families to take out mortgages (in Islam interest is normally forbidden) and are even permitting intermarriage to non-Muslims. Loyola University New Orleans Islamic Studies professor Adil Khan, Ph.D., will explore the topic in a free, public lecture Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. in Nunemaker Auditorium, located on the third floor of Monroe Hall on Loyola’s main campus.

This interpretation is known as fiqh al-aqalliyat—the term used to describe the latest evolution of Islamic law that affects Muslims living as minorities in non-Muslim countries. The legal reforms, though controversial to some, are intended to cater to this population.

“These issues are being reinterpreted and conceived as a way of allowing Muslims to function more effectively in Western society where they live as minorities,” Khan said.

Though the laws may be new, the actions they address are nothing new. “These laws are a little behind the times,” Khan said. “Western Muslim women are already intermarrying; Muslim women are already taking off their headscarves. They don’t need someone to sanctify it for them.”

The lecture, sponsored by Loyola’s College of Humanities and Natural Sciences and the Department of Religious Studies, is part of The H. James Yamauchi, S.J., Lectures in Religion series. Begun in 1985, the Yamauchi lectures are in memory of Loyola professor H. James Yamauchi, S.J., a celebrated former chair of the Department of Religious Studies who taught at Loyola from 1956 to 1966.

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