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Bates College

Publication Date

Spring 2020

Program Name

Morocco: Multiculturalism and Human Rights


Following the 2003 terror attacks in Casablanca, the Moroccan government issued a series of reforms, including the introduction of the new program in Rabat that would train murshidat, women religious guides who would then go on to work in mosques and other public spaces all across the country. The intention of this program, the state claimed, was to 1) promote a moderate Islam and 2) empower women. In this research, I have consulted existing literature and conducted interviews with scholars and activists in the realm of women’s rights to explore various sides of this question: How does the work of the murshidat relate to women’s empowerment? Considering contexts of the Islamic feminist movement and the restrictions involved in state feminist efforts, I have attempted to place the murshidat in this broader scheme of women’s empowerment efforts in Morocco. My work reveals that the murshidat program does not, in many important ways, reflect the aims and ideals of independent Islamic feminists. The murshidat program may, however, be read as serving a vision of empowerment that grants greater visibility to women in Moroccan Islam, among other probable benefits.


African Studies | Civic and Community Engagement | Gender and Sexuality | Islamic Studies | Politics and Social Change | Public Policy | Sociology of Religion | Women's Studies


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