There is no lack of books, pamphlets, scholarly tomes and polemical works on ‘Women in Islam’. Every genre is covered: classical, traditional, modernist and reformist. And we must not forget the digital media: a quick search on YouTube alone will generate over two million hits. Works on gender issues are, almost exclusively, about women. Yet any discussion of gender is incomplete without a consideration of masculinity. Despite this, there are hardly any studies that, as Limousine Ouzga notes, ‘render Muslim men visible as gendered subjects and that show that masculinities have a history and are part of gender relations in Muslim cultures’.
This may be due to the fact that we cannot define a unique and univocal Islamic concept of masculinity. The concept of masculinity dominant in a precise historical moment, in Islam as in any other religion or culture, is conditioned by economics, society, class, age, ethnicity, membership, history and political situation. Denying this would contradict the very nature of the gender studies that have led to the emergence of the category of ‘masculinity’. Moreover, highlighting the historicity of the concept of masculinity keeps us from falling into the trap of essentialism. It helps us avoid a Eurocentric reading, projecting the myths of Western culture on Islam.