Overview

"Islamic feminism" would seem a contradiction in terms to most Westerners. We are taught to think of Islam as a culture wherein social code and religious law alike force women to accept male authority and surrender to the veil. How could feminism emerge under such a code, let alone flourish? Now, traveling throughout Central Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, as well as Islamic communities in the United States, acclaimed Arab Studies scholar and bestselling author Elizabeth Fernea sets out to answer that ...
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In Search of Islamic Feminism

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Overview

"Islamic feminism" would seem a contradiction in terms to most Westerners. We are taught to think of Islam as a culture wherein social code and religious law alike force women to accept male authority and surrender to the veil. How could feminism emerge under such a code, let alone flourish? Now, traveling throughout Central Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, as well as Islamic communities in the United States, acclaimed Arab Studies scholar and bestselling author Elizabeth Fernea sets out to answer that question.

Fernea's dialogue with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances prompts a range of diverse and unpredictable responses, but in every country she visits, women demonstrate they are anything but passive. In Iraq, we see an 85 percent literacy rate among women; in Egypt, we see women owning their own farms; and in Israel, we see women at the very forefront of peacemaking efforts. Poor or rich, educated or illiterate, these women define their own needs, solve their own problems, and determine the boundaries of their own very real, very viable feminism. In Search of Islamic Feminism offers a groundbreaking new interpretation of the status and vision of Muslim women that will open up a new world to its readers, even as it challenges our own sense of what feminism means.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Feminism, like democracy, is not an easy sell in many parts of the world, especially in traditional societies with autocratic regimes. However, feminism today enjoys an advantage in that it can adapt to local cultural forms and practices; hence the author's concept of Islamic feminism. Fernea, who has written numerous books on the Middle East (e.g., Children in the Muslin Middle East, Univ. of Texas, 1995) has firsthand experience of the cultural context she treats in this investigation. Starting in the mid-1950s, she has traveled repeatedly with her family to the Middle East, spending years at a time there. Here she sets out to answer basic yet sometimes complex questions about Middle Eastern women: their predicament, what feminism means to them, whether its ideas are helpful, and the alternatives in traditional societies. The last chapter is on Muslim women in the United States. Although the author states in conclusion that Islamic feminism seems to her to be alive and well in the countries she visited, gender equality is still a long way off. Highly recommended for all libraries and essential for women's studies collections.Ali Houissa, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307773852
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/29/2010
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 464
  • File size: 4 MB

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
A Note on Transliteration
1 Uzbekistan 1
2 Morocco 62
3 Kuwait 144
4 Turkey 200
5 Egypt 240
6 Iraq 289
7 Saudi Arabia: A Brief Visit 332
8 Israel/Palestine 344
9 The United States: Coming Home 364
Conclusion 414
Index 423
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