Ayesha S. Chaudhry is an associate professor of Islamic studies and gender studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She is the author of Domestic Violence and the Islamic Tradition: Ethics, Law, and the Muslim Discourse on Gender (Oxford University Press, 2014). She has consulted on high-level national and international cases concerning human rights and religious pluralism and freedom, as well as on divorce cases involving Muslim-majority countries.
At Radcliffe, Chaudhry is working on a project that constructs a feminist Shari’a by re-imagining the narrative of ‘Ā’isha, Muḥammad’s youngest wife. Constructions of 'Ā'isha are central to justifying and supporting patriarchal Islamic laws, especially those regarding women’s political and religious leadership, women’s testimony, polygamy, child marriage and virginity testing, slander and corporal punishment for illicit sex, and domestic violence. Therefore, creating a feminist narrative of ‘Ā’isha is necessary for Islamic legal reform. Chaudhry is examining premodern, patriarchal constructions of ‘Ā’isha, investigating modern Muslim debates around these laws, and proposing strategies for reimagining ‘Ā’isha to frame a narrative for a gender-equal Islamic law. Looking at major Muslim debates about gender through the lens of ‘Ā’isha will provide a counter-narrative to conceptions of a patriarchal Islam.
Chaudhry earned her PhD in Middle East and Islamic studies from New York University and a collaborative MA in Near Eastern civilizations and women’s studies from the University of Toronto. She is a contributor to the Globe and Mail. Chaudhry has been an Early Career Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at UBC.