An Islam of Her Own: Reconsidering Religion and Secularism in Women's Islamic Movements

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $64.86
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 23%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (5) from $64.86   
  • New (3) from $73.32   
  • Used (2) from $64.86   


As the world grapples with issues of religious fanaticism, extremist politics, and rampant violence that seek justification in either “religious” or “secular” discourses, women who claim Islam as a vehicle for individual and social change are often either regarded as pious subjects who subscribe to an ideology that denies them many modern freedoms, or as feminist subjects who seek empowerment only through rejecting religion and adopting secularist discourses. Such assumptions emerge from a common trend in the literature to categorize the ‘secular’ and the ‘religious’ as polarizing categories, which in turn mitigates the identities, experiences and actions of women in Islamic societies. Yet in actuality Muslim women whose activism is grounded in Islam draw equally on principles associated with secularism.

In An Islam of Her Own, Sherine Hafez focuses on women’s Islamic activism in Egypt to challenge these binary representations of religious versus secular subjectivities. Drawing on six non-consecutive years of ethnographic fieldwork within a women's Islamic movement in Cairo, Hafez analyzes the ways in which women who participate in Islamic activism narrate their selfhood, articulate their desires, and embody discourses in which the boundaries are blurred between the religious and the secular.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An informative, critical engagement of the interplay of feminism and religion in a postcolonial society."-A. Madhi,Choice

“This unique study of the personal narratives of women active in Islamic charity organizations in Cairo allows us to glimpse the surprisingly complicated and contemporary meanings for them of ‘Islam as a way of living.’”-Lila Abu-Lughod,author of Writing Women's Worlds: Bedouin Stories

“A lucid account of the personal, community, and national forces that shape Egyptian Muslim women who engage in social activism as part of their commitment to religious ideals. This book seeks to go beyond the usual dichotomies that pit the secular and modern against the religious and traditional.”

-Marnia Lazreg,author of Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women

“Emphasizing narratives that explore modern selfhood and identity politics among Islamic activist women, Hafez examines the many contexts that transcend an opposition between religion and secularism. This timely, excellent book formulates new methodological and theoretical approaches relevant to anthropology, religious studies, gender studies, and Middle East studies.”

-Susan Slyomovics,co-editor of Women and Power in the Middle East

“Exquisitely captures the multi-faceted desires that draw Egyptian women into Islamic beliefs and practices. Compelling insights, challenging to key standing theories. Powerfully and convincingly argued.”

-Suad Joseph,editor of Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814773031
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 4/11/2011
  • Pages: 204
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Sherine Hafez is Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of California, Riverside, and the author of The Terms of Empowerment: Islamic Women’s Activism in Cairo.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

1 Introducing Desiring Subjects 1

2 Writing Religion: Islam and Subjectivity 27

3 Women's Islamic Movements in the Making 51

4 An Islam of Her Own: Narratives of Activism 77

5 Desires for Ideal Womanhood 101

6 Development and Social Change: Mehmeit 127

7 Reconsidering Women's Desires in Islamic Movements 151

Glossary 163

Notes 165

Bibliography 175

Index 183

About the Author 191

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)