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Abstract

This paper is based on a survey, 25 interviews, and observation. According to the results so far, Islam means three things for women in today’s Morocco: faith, culture, and politics. Islam as faith is generally perceived as a personal relationship with God. Such a relationship is seen as both rewarding and empowering, but also private. Women who perceive Islam as faith observe the Islamic rituals and may or may not wear the veil. Women’s perception of Islam as faith is a rather poorly understood topic in research in a heavily space-based patriarchy, probably because of its intimate relationship with the private sphere. However, for many women, Islam as faith constitutes a genuine locus of agency involving identity and the self. Islam as culture is mainly viewed by women as an inherent part of who they are and what sociocultural background they belong to. Unlike faith, which is often considered personal, culture is generally viewed as part of a “package” that includes community and society. A large proportion of the women who view Islam as culture do not necessarily practice the Islamic rituals, and may not wear the veil, but would feel insulted if they were called “non-Muslim.” This view of Islam does not necessarily attach Islam to cultural traditions; on the contrary, culture is often perceived in this context as a lively, flexible, and dynamic concept. Women who perceive Islam as politics observe the rituals, wear the veil, and are keen on making their voice heard in the public sphere. The three meanings that women give to Islam nowadays may interact, but for methodological reasons I will deal with each separately. While the three perceptions are dictated by the conditions of a space-based patriarchy, they are differentiated by a number of variables pertaining to the overall sociopolitical contexts, as well as by women’s level of education, economic status, and social status

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