Discourse and gender practices show that women occupy a weak position in Indonesia. Women are portrayed as their husbands' "companions", or as "complementary" to a male-centered system. This article aims to explore unilateral interpretations of the Qur'an that ignores verses that venerate women. Misrepresentations of verses that honour women, or erroneous reading of said verses, have caused women to be disadvantaged in public discourse, in social practice, and in policy. By analysing the Qur'an and hadiths, as well as a series of interviews, this article shows that arguments promoting gender inequality are founded on the deliberate selection of specific Qur'anic verses and hadiths in ways that reproduce existing social inequalities. As such, the interpretation process is biased by the patriarchal structures of contemporary Indonesia. A theoretical reading of various texts also shows that the positioning of women as subordinates has historical roots that can be conceptually recognised.

Author Biography

Erwati Aziz is an associate professor of Islamic Studies at Institut Agama Islam Negeri (IAIN) Surakarta of Central Java, Indonesia. She completed her Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at UIN Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta in 2008. Her research interests include Islamic theology, tafsir, hadits, Islamic education and gender studies. She has published a number of journal articles and books on Islamic studies including Hadits dan Ilmu Hadits, Tafsir dan ilmu Tafsir, and Gender in Isla (all in Indonesian).

Irwan Abdullah is professor of anthropology at the Department of Anthropology, Gadjah Mada University, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He is the founder of the Indonesian Consortium for Inter-Religious Studies (ICRS) and Kertagama Global Academia (KGA). He was conferred a Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology from the University of Amsterdam in 1994. He has led numerous researches and authored many publications on diverse anthropological issues, Indigenous cultures, Islam and Muslims, gender, languages and cultures, education, media.

Zaenuddin Hudi Prasojo is an associate professor of religious studies at Institut Agama Islam Negeri (IAIN) Pontianak of West Borneo. He is also the editor-in-chief and the founder of Al-Albab journal of religious studies. With the support of Fulbright Scholarship, he finished his M.A. in justice and peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) in Virginia, USA. He has also spent some time as Visiting Research Fellow at Oxford University. He earned his Ph.D. in religious studies from Gadjah Mada University in 2012.