Stories about gendered social relations permeate the Qur’an, and nearly three hundred verses involve specific women or girls. The Qur’an features these figures in accounts of human origins, in stories of the founding and destruction of nations, in narratives of conquest, in episodes of romantic attraction, and in incidents of family devotion and strife. Overall, stories involving women and girls weave together theology and ethics to reinforce central Qur’anic ideas regarding submission to God and moral accountability.
Celene Ibrahim explores the complex cast of female figures in the Qur’an, probing themes related to biological sex, female sexuality, female speech, and women in sacred history. Ibrahim considers major and minor figures referenced in the Qur’an, including those who appear in narratives of sacred history, in parables, in descriptions of the eternal abode, and in verses that allude to events contemporaneous with the advent of the Qur’an in Arabia. Ibrahim finds that the Qur’an regularly celebrates the aptitudes of women in the realms of spirituality and piety, in political maneuvering, and in safeguarding their own wellbeing; yet, women figures also occasionally falter and use their agency toward nefarious ends. Women and Gender in the Qur’an outlines how women and girls – old, young, barren, fertile, chaste, profligate, reproachable, and saintly -enter Qur’anic sacred history and advance the Qur’an’s overarching didactic aims.