Customer Reviews for

Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women

Average Rating 3.5
( 51 )
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(22)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

an unusually balanced portrayal

Books on Islam and especially books regarding the treatment of women in the Islamic world tend to be, for the most part, biased and one-sided, clinging to cries of human rights violations and oppression. And while it's true that these things do occur in some countries, ...
Books on Islam and especially books regarding the treatment of women in the Islamic world tend to be, for the most part, biased and one-sided, clinging to cries of human rights violations and oppression. And while it's true that these things do occur in some countries, that is by all means a cultural practice and is due to the misinterpretation of the religion by fundamentalist regimes. Islam in its truest form is a religion that honors and respects the woman, and many women choose to wear the veil as a sign of modesty and submission to God. I thought Brooks did a pretty good job showing the cultural implications and contrasting them with Islamic law, especially with issues like female circumcision and abuse, which are clearly not permitted in Islam. Although I sometimes detected a hint of negativity in her voice, I believe this to be one of the more accuate books on this subject that can be found today.

posted by Anonymous on January 5, 2004

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

definately misleading

It is so obvious from the very first page that the writer started this book with the intention 'this book is to tell the readers that Islam is an oppressive religion and women in Islam and very unhappy'. Those who 'like' to hear that, will love the book, those who reall...
It is so obvious from the very first page that the writer started this book with the intention 'this book is to tell the readers that Islam is an oppressive religion and women in Islam and very unhappy'. Those who 'like' to hear that, will love the book, those who really know how Muslim women live their lives, will immediately understand that this book is a piece of crap. I don't understand, why does this writer force her biased ideas on the readers. Ultimately, anyone who does not know about Islam would end up thinking that because the writer has 'been to Muslim countries' knows 'the religion' which is very untrue. I am a Shia Muslim girl and I would like people to know that I am an independent person with a free will. Islam does not stop me from earning a livelihood or taking decisions about my life. Yes, it does guide me to the right path where, I cannot be exploited in any way and I am very glad it does. I was not born in the middle east, but I have lived a major part of my life there, and now reside in the west, so I think I am at least familiar with all these cultures, never the less, I am trying to understand the western culture with an open mind, unlike the writer of this book. wearing hijab (a veil) is my personal choice because I don't want men to ogle at me when I step out of my home. I want to be rather identified as a 'dignified person'. I am and was always loved by my family and my father, brothers or my husband never disrespected me. Personally, after knowing women and men from different religions and the attitude of men towards the women, I feel that a Muslim women are actually more liberated, than women in other religions. Islam does not make me any lesser of a person just because I am a female, in fact, as a women I am more respected, valued and hence more protected by my religion. By the way, as the writer shows interest in quoting the words of Imam Ali (A.S) with regards to the parts of desire, and is trying to show the status of women in Islam, Perhaps she might want to gather some sayings of his about how women should be treated in Islam and their actual status and respect in the religion according to Imam Ali (A.S) himself, or may be the Holy Quran, just for a better understanding

posted by Anonymous on August 22, 2008

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  • Posted August 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Life for women in Islamic countries from the most restrictive to the most liberal.

    As far as a comprehensive look on women living under Islam I have found no better. From the most restrictive (Saudi Arabia) to the most liberal (Egypt) one is presented with a fascinating glimpse of what it must be like to be female and to live in a Middle Eastern world. In Chapter 7 A Queen the author even writes of how an American woman (the former Lisa Halaby now Queen Noor) marries the King of Jordan, converts to Islam then having to face her own challenges adjusting to a slow-to-accept Islamic society. The author also writes of other American women married to Middle Eastern men and living in their respective countries subject to the same type of restrictions other Islamic women have had to face. Already in the Preface of the book I was shocked to learn that the wearing of the Islamic hijab (the veiled attire) for one of the author's colleague's signified "acceptance of a legal code that valued her testimony at half the worth of a man's, an inheritance system that allowed her half the legacy of her brother, a future domestic life in which her husband could beat her if she disobeyed him, make her share her attentions with three more wives, divorce her at whim and get absolute custody of her children." I could not imagine any intelligent, well educated American woman born and raised in a democratic society ever learning to tolerate such injustice. Betty Mahmoody who later wrote her book Not Without My Daughter certainly lived to experience her nightmare "of an American wife who agrees to visit her husband's family in Tehran only to find herself trapped there by Iranian laws that forbid women to leave the country without their husband's permission." Mahmoody's book does indeed "give an unremittingly bleak picture of life in Iran, describing wife beatings, filthy houses and vermin-infested food." In contrast the author writes in Chapter 5 of a certain Janet from Kansas City who "gradually found herself coming to love many aspects of her life in Iran. She found that Iranians lavished affection on the few Americans who stayed. Some Iranians had warm memories of American teachers or technicians who had helped the country while even those who saw Americans only as rapacious exploiters felt that Janet, by staying, had aligned herself with Iran. Instead of being greeted with hostility, she found herself welcomed everywhere--pushed to the front of food lines, given the best meat and helped in every possible way." Yet at the end of this same chapter the story of Margaret, another American born Islamic wife, is highlighted. Her husband accustomed to going on long business trips to America had, instead of taking her for a visit to her parents, chose to leave her behind to do the chores for his mother and sister: " 'My mom's not too pleased' she said. 'She calls up and says, 'You waiting on his relatives again? ' She knows they're working me to death. She wants me to come home.'" Yet, when asked by the author why she had not taken up her mother's advice and go home for a while Margaret "straightened her hunched shoulders and kneaded the small of her back with a clenched fist. 'I can't' she said "My husband doesn't want me to." It was up to him to sign the papers that would allow her to leave the country." How truly sad a scenario!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    One of my favorites for sure

    For anyone interested in a factual and accurate look at the role of women in Islam this book is great. With direct interviews with Muslim women, it gives clear information written in a very enjoyable way. I absolutely love this book, you should definitely pick yourself up a copy.

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  • Posted August 31, 2009

    An enjoyable read as well as informative!

    I was anxious to learn more about this topic without reading a textbook. It has done just that. I appreciate the coverage of various countries rather than focusing on just one.
    Brooks' personal experiences with the women lends authority in a non-judgmental manner. Their stories should be shared and this book should be a must read for high school students.

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  • Posted August 26, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Informative for a journalist

    Nine Parts of Desire is informative for a small book for reading. This book i would say is enjoyable but more of a documentary than a book of book club reading. It sums up 50% of middle eastern culture but is mostly about the middle east itself. To learn a little bit bout the middle east i suggest this book.
    Overall, it expalains and tells the journey of Geraldine Brooks as a Jewish-American journalist traveling to Palestine, Egypt, and other middle eastern countries for interviewing.

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  • Posted June 20, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    I'm Tired of People Saying That Muslim Women Are Oppressed!

    Bismillah...People need to stop assuming things and let the facts speak. Muslim women HAVE rights and they are not lowly nor are they portrayed that way in The Holy Quran! America is such a hypocrite! Wasn't there such a thing as the feminist movement here in America? Don't women face sexual harrassment in the workplace?? Yeah okay! Just because a muslimah's body parts are not visible doesn't mean that she's in a prison. A woman should respect herself enough to know that she shouldn't be on blatant display for all and any to see. Amuslim woman can work and that is her money. Is it her right to be taken care of by her husband if she chooses.
    Get the facts straight and stop putting a negative light on Islam that is NOT TRUE. Islam is the fastest growing religon maybe that's why they try so hard to spread lies. May Allah have mercy on you and me. Allahu Akbar.

    Safiya Abdur-Rahman

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2006

    Spirituality IN religions OUT

    It's an objective reporting by a Western feminist of quite a few Muslim countries where courage is of a tremendous asset in my eyes. All the aspects that she comes across or confronts she does with all the skills 'n tools of a modern journalist. There's nothing new for the watchers of the Middle-East except that it's very well-documented, well-written with a lightness that palliates the claustrophobic sombreness of the subject. May I add that if one day the 'fatwa' should ever become a badge of honour she will be in the same class as the author of 'The Satanic Verses', Naguib Mahfouz, Nawal Saadawi et al.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2006

    wasted my time reading it. throwing it away not worth selling it....

    Although I disagreed with many of the authors points the main one I will focus on is that Islam is NOT an oppresive religion. Islam has liberated me in every way. For all those who criticize the Muslim woman for covering her beauty need to pay attention to their scriptures: 'Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head¿it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head.' (I Corinthians 11:4-6 NIV) Also in islam women CAN BE IMAMS or religious leaders in their community from DAY ONE. Christian women... '...it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men the constant practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men and his living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God's plan for his Church.' Pope Paul VI THIS IS ONE OF THE MANY REASONS I LEFT CHRISTIANITY AND EMBRACED ISLAM.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2006

    VERYoppresive and stupid book

    I waste my time to read it. Somone very hateful to Islam was writing those idiotic text. I lived in several Muslim Countries, and love their culture and style of life

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2005

    haram

    This book was not good because it is making Islam seem like an oppressive religion,which is not true. Also PROPHET MUHAMMAD DID NOT MARRY KHADIJA FOR HER MONEY!!! Before reading this book you must know what Islam is all about ! Islam is anything but oppressive! However, Islam states that Paradise is opened for people under the Rahma of the Women or Mothers! ISLAM DOESNT OPPRESS WOMEN AT ALL! Islam has to do with modesty, which is something that bothers women today ....

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2003

    this book is full of bullshit!

    this book is mixing cultural issues with religious issue that are NOT true!!!! i dont care how long she has lived in a muslim country...islam DOES NOT oppres women, and this makes non muslim people that reads this book thinks that islam makes women oppressed! this book should be banned from all of the lie that it tells about muslims and islam!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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