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October 12, 2016—briefing: “Only Women Understand Women!” – Muslim Female Preachers Claiming Religious Authority in Contemporary Malaysia" with Norbani Ismail. During the past two decades, Malaysian Muslim female preachers have gained access to opportunity and spaces in preaching Islam to the public. Their preaching activism, both through the mass media and the public podiums, is seemingly an indication of a shift in knowledge construction and diffusion, and the meaning of religious authority in contemporary Islamic discourse in Malaysia. They have gained trust from the public and become authoritative voice of Islam through acquired knowledge in fundamental texts of Islam. To claim the spaces in preaching, the female preachers have mastered the skills such as Arabic language, memorization of religious texts and public speaking. Just like the men preachers, they have dedicated their works towards creating a sound moral and ethical society based on Islamic framework. They preach to the public on various issues: moral-spiritual endeavors, socio-religious advices and practices, marital and family relations, and on events based on Islamic calendar. Nevertheless, the female preachers have to navigate their activism within the confines of expected social norms and of the highly-bureaucratized religious authority and administration. By adhering to social expectations and religious orthodoxy, the female preachers are able to continue preaching to the public, as well as to build the trust with both the established religious authority and the public.

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