Piety, Honor, and the State: State-Sponsored Female Religious Authority and the Status of Women in Modern Moroccan Society
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This thesis examines the role and influence of state-implemented ‘alimat' (female religious scholars) and 'murshidat' (female religious counselors) in the modern Moroccan state. Specifically, it seeks to answer the question: can installing women into positions of religious authority liberate women in Moroccan society? I conclude that women in these positions are providing women with more resources to construct positive concepts of femininity apart from oppressive traditional dictations of what this gender role encompasses. This, however, will not completely liberate Moroccan women, because the reform actually strengthens the role of the state as the ultimate patriarchal figure for both men and women, and does not adequately provide men with more positive conceptions of masculinity. I argue that women in these positions are not adequately equipped to remove these sources of oppression, because they are intended to support the state’s ultimate power and reach in the religious sphere, while appealing to a feminist audience.