BS (Social Sciences & Liberal Arts)

Faculty / School

School of Economics and Social Sciences (SESS)


Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts

Date of Award

Fall 2023

Date of Submission



Ramsha Siddiqi, Lecturer, Department of Social Sciences


Aliya Iqbal Naqvi, Visiting Faculty, Department of Social Sciences

Project Type

SSLA Culminating Experience

Access Type

Restricted Access


Although research consistently demonstrates a strong association between Abrahamic religions and a reinforcement of patriarchal ideals across cultures (Seguino, 2011), with an emphasis on scriptural texts as a possible source of such notions (Burn & Busso, 2005; Orme et al., 2017), women belonging to these faiths globally display higher levels of religiosity than men (Stark, 2002). While several physiological and sociological explanations have been suggested for this perceived paradox, a consideration of social-cognitive mechanisms is key to understanding how women remain commit med to seemingly sexist religious notions. Using a combined psychosocial framework of cognitive dissonance, ambivalent sexism, and system justification theory, this research explored the reconciliatory strategies used by Muslim women in Pakistan to navigate the controversies surrounding women’s rights in Islam, and how they compared to apologetic elements in mainstream Islamic feminist discourse. Six Sunni Muslim women affiliated with the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), aged 20-23 years, were recruited for qualitative semi-structured interviews about their thoughts regarding three controversial Quranic verses (2:282; 4:11; 4:34), and how they reconciled with these controversies. Results from a thematic analysis of their responses revealed that the women engaged in various reconciliatory strategies including reframing the context of verses, discrediting mainstream interpretations of the Quran, endorsing benevolent sexist notions, and displaying a dogmatic acceptance of certain scriptural injunctions — themes that were also found in some Islamic feminist scholarship. This study has important implications for necessitating discussions about the ways in which not just women, but other marginalized groups also make sense of and organize their relationship with religious power structures that do not always serve them, particularly in an underexplored location like Pakistan.


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