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Leila Ahmed Women And Gender In Islam Pdf

leila ahmed women and gender in islam pdf

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Ahmed, L. Women and gender in Islam: historical roots of a modern debate. New Haven: Yale University Press. Ahmed, Leila.

Islamic feminism

Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Are Islamic societies inherently oppressive to women? In this book Leila Ahmed adds a new perspective to the current debate about women and Islam by exploring its historical roots Are Islamic societies inherently oppressive to women?

In this book Leila Ahmed adds a new perspective to the current debate about women and Islam by exploring its historical roots, tracing the developments in Islamic discourses on women and gender from the ancient world to the present.

In order to distinguish what was distinctive about the earliest Islamic doctrine on women, Ahmed first describes the gender systems in place in the Middle East before the rise of Islam. She then focuses on those Arab societies that played a key role in elaborating the dominant Islamic discourses about women and gender: Arabia during the period in which Islam was founded; Iraq during the classical age, when the prescriptive core of legal and religious discourse on women was formulated; and Egypt during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when exposure to Western societies led to dramatic social change and to the emergence of new discourses on women.

Throughout, Ahmed not only considers the Islamic texts in which central ideologies about women and gender developed or were debated but also places this discourse in its social and historical context. Her book is thus a fascinating survey of Islamic debates and ideologies about women and the historical circumstances of their position in society, the first such discussion using the analytic tools of contemporary gender studies.

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Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jan 17, Murtaza rated it it was amazing. There's a curious and persistent disconnect that exists in cross-cultural discussions of the relationship between women and Islam. In the view of most non-Muslims, the religion seems hierarchical and obviously disadvantageous to women. The proof of this given are that its laws seem to seclude women in various ways and push them out of public space. To the chagrin and bewilderment of such interlocutors however, many Muslim women don't seem to agree with this conclusion.

Not only do they insist th There's a curious and persistent disconnect that exists in cross-cultural discussions of the relationship between women and Islam. Not only do they insist that Islam is not sexist — despite the undeniably sexist practices and laws reigning in much of the Muslim world — but they actually insist that it offers them a potentially superior form of egalitarianism, which they actively demand and would be loathe to part with.

How do we reconcile this? The book traces the origins of misogyny in Muslim societies, but also explains what it is in the religion that human beings, women, who just like men naturally seek dignity and equality, find appealing.

In doing so the book charts the ways in which the religion has been formulated and interpreted since its earliest days, right up to the modern period. Ahmed's thesis consists of two main points. First, the misogynistic structures of Islamic law were formulated not during the early period of Islam's creation, the time of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions, many of whom were women and who contributed in various ways to the corpus of Islamic teachings, but during the later Abbasid Empire.

As the Arab empire expanded, Islam interacted with and assimilated practices from existing Christian, Jewish and especially Zoroastrian communities in Iran and Iraq. Like most of the rest of the world, the pre-modern Middle East was an intensely misogynistic place. Many practices harmful to women reigned there, especially among the elites, including the maintenance of massive harems and patriarchal marriage structures that empowered men at women's expense. As Muslims gradually adopted the practices of the older and more sophisticated urban civilizations that they came to rule over, the elan of their earliest days, in which women were at times oppressed but at other times were warriors and compilers of hadith, began to wane.

Perhaps most crucially, the spiritual context in which certain practices of the early Muslims took place — including practices of the Prophet himself — was forgotten or suppressed in favor of a dry legalistic interpretations of events.

Things that were contingent to premodern Arabia were set in stone, while the spiritual background of the actions of the early Muslims, expressed in the egalitarian nature of the Quranic text, were downplayed or forgotten.

The interpretations of Islam that that those in power laid down ended up being almost invariably disadvantageous to women but very convenient for the powerful men of the Abbasid period. If that were the whole story it would be quite elementary. Few women would stick with a religion that seemed to have been obviously legislated against their interests.

But counter to the "establishment" Islam of politically powerful men, there has always been another egalitarian Islam that has appealed to the broad masses of people, including women.

In its ethical and moral voice, Islam proclaims the total equality of men and women as living souls, differentiated in value only by their piety. While the applied outward structures of Islamic law have often been disadvantageous or hostile to women though not as clearly as orientalists claim, nor have their own societies been much better in the full view of history , women have also justly continued to hear an egalitarian moral and spiritual message in their readings of the Quran.

As such they have advocated for their rights on an Islamic basis throughout history and continue to do so. Their allegiance is to the popular, "non-technical" Islam, based on spiritual and ethical equality. It also happens to be this Islam that has held the emotional allegiance of the vast majority of Muslims since the inception of the religion. The first part of the book deals with the formation of Islamic law during the Prophet's time and its transformations under the Abbasids.

It then glides very quickly over the Ottoman medieval period before getting into modern Egypt, which appears to be Ahmed's specialty. The richness of the research that she brings to both subjects is impressive. Ahmed mines huge numbers of primary source documents to unearth common attitudes towards women and explain how entirely contingent interpretations of doctrine and history have been reified into law.

She doesn't seem to specialize Turkey, Iran or South Asia which necessarily limits the scope of the book but I found that her focus on Egypt constituted an intellectually satisfying case study. Ahmed's reading of contemporary Islamic movements in Egypt, many of which claim women as adherents, is nuanced and perceptive.

She is correct that those who try to implement practices of a distant past that they do not know, which is indeed unknowable, are embarking on a fools errand.

But using the example of Egyptian women's movements, Ahmed articulates how complex the modern revival of Muslim practice is. Anyone considering it to be mere reaction is missing the story. The Islamic dress of many working women in Muslim societies is entirely novel, a modern version of clothing with no precedent in the past when few women were educated or lived public lives. Egypt's Muslim women are articulating an alternative modernity in their lives and lifestyles, as they have moved into the professional job market, government and academy in unprecedented numbers over the past century.

There are a number of general takeaways from the book worth reflecting on. Faced with oppression, some women in Muslim societies have attempted a wholesale cultural conversion to the West as their mode of feminist activism.

Looked at soberly, this is a strange response and has in fact not been the norm over time. Meanwhile many "male feminists" who have set their eyes on Muslim women have been motivated by less than noble aims.

Colonial officials explicitly saw targeting women as a means of destroying Muslim societies from within and leaving them prone for exploitation. Meanwhile, putatively reformist Muslim men like Qassim Amin have been positively hateful towards the women of their societies at times, decreeing their "emancipation" from the veil defined by colonialists as the ultimate signifier of culture or lack thereof, a formulation implicitly accepted in turn by reactionaries as a way of expiating their own embarrassment at being associated with unworthy women who are looked down upon by the West.

Things are clearly not always as they seem and anyone making simplistic pronouncements about women and Islam is probably repeating some very tired and inexcusable old errors. If nothing else, I hope readers of this book will come away from it understanding the absurdity of giving Muslim women the ultimatum that to obtain their rights they must discard their culture and religion wholesale and become Westerners.

For those who know or care enough to see it, Islam offers an egalitarian vision based on spiritual, moral and ethical equality among human beings.

It is this vision that has kept the devotion of huge numbers of people of both genders, despite the oppression of the powerful. No culture or society is inherently misogynistic, even those that have annihilated thousands of women in literal "witch hunts" in their past. In the West, women's emancipation was made possible by the expansion of political freedoms to all, which made organizing on behalf of women possible in the first place.

We should allow both the political and social space for Muslim women to articulate their own vision of rights and freedoms. This is in fact possible to do in an Islamic context and has been done by many of the brilliant women whose lives are recounted in this book. In creating such a program for women's empowerment, perhaps a more sustainable vision of feminism can take root in the Muslim world than the narrowly upper class and Western-centric version that was imported during colonialism and has been withering away every decade since the colonizers left.

This book is justly considered a classic, both of women's studies and Islamic historical scholarship. It is a powerful rallying cry against misogyny, racism, colonialism, and the many other ugly expressions of power that try and dress themselves up in garments of virtue, whether secular or religious. View all 7 comments. Apr 28, Beaman rated it liked it Recommends it for: nobody. Shelves: islamic-history.

Which is worse, having no book on a subject or having a flawed one? This is the dilemma Ahmed's book faces us with. The book suffers from factual errors and methodological shortcomings. Nevertheless, it's the first book to attempt the ambitious task of offering a historical survey of the topic. To back this statement about women in pre-Islamic Mec Which is worse, having no book on a subject or having a flawed one?

To back this statement about women in pre-Islamic Mecca inheriting property, she writes, "Other women besides Khadija are mentioned in the texts as trading in their own right, for example, 'Aisha bint Mukharib Ibn Sa'd, Consulting the source she cites, Ibn Sa'd , one notices a few things.

Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate / Edition 1

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In she published her book Women and Gender in Islam , which is regarded as a seminal historical analysis of the position of women in Arab Muslim societies. Thomas Professor of Divinity chair since In , Ahmed received the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion for her analysis of the "veiling" of Muslim women in the United States, in which she described her rejection of her own previous critiques of the veil as sexist in favor of the view that the veil, when voluntarily chosen, is a progressive and feminist act. The Ahmed family became politically ostracized following the Free Officers Movement in Her father, a civil engineer, was a vocal opponent of Gamal Abdel Nasser 's construction of the Aswan High Dam on ecological principles. She earned her undergraduate and doctorate degrees from University of Cambridge during the s before moving to the United States to teach and write, where she was appointed to professorship in Women's Studies and Near Eastern studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in followed by a professorship in Women's Studies and Religion at the Harvard Divinity School in , where she currently teaches. In her memoir A Border Passage, Ahmed describes her multicultural Cairene upbringing and her adult life as an expatriate and an immigrant in Europe and the United States.


In this book Leila Ahmed adds a new perspective to the current debate about women and Islam by exploring its historical roots, tracing the developments in Islamic.


Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate

Also Available in: Cloth. This is a book that must be read. No other general survey of women and gender in Islam exists. I am deeply grateful to Leila Ahmed for giving us this book. This is a highly original, well-researched book that explores a topic of great current interest in a responsible and enlightening fashion.

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Postmodern Culture

This chapter focuses on recent debates on women and Islam as framed in the Western media. Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Skip to main content. This service is more advanced with JavaScript available.

A combination of Islam and feminism has been advocated as "a feminist discourse and practice articulated within an Islamic paradigm" by Margot Badran in Islamic feminism is defined by Islamic scholars as being more radical than secular feminism [3] and as being anchored within the discourse of Islam with the Quran as its central text. In Bangladesh , Khaleda Zia was elected the country's first female prime minister in , and served as prime minister until , when she was replaced by Sheikh Hasina , who maintains the prime minister's office at present making Bangladesh the country with the longest continuous female premiership. Islamic feminists interpret the religious texts in a feminist perspective.

Are Islamic societies inherently oppressive to women? In this book Leila Ahmed adds a new perspective to the current debate about women and Islam by exploring its historical roots, tracing the developments in Islamic discourses on women and gender from the ancient world to the present. In order to distinguish what was distinctive about the earliest Islamic doctrine on women, Ahmed first describes the gender systems in place in the Middle East before the rise of Islam. She then focuses on those Arab societies that played a key role in elaborating the dominant Islamic discourses about women and gender: Arabia during the period in which Islam was founded; Iraq during the classical age, when the prescriptive core of legal and religious discourse on women was formulated; and Egypt during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when exposure to Western societies led to dramatic social change and to the emergence of new discourses on women. Throughout, Ahmed not only considers the Islamic texts in which central ideologies about women and gender developed or were debated but also places this discourse in its social and historical context. Her book is thus a fascinating survey of Islamic debates and ideologies about women and the historical circumstances of their position in society, the first such discussion using the analytic tools of contemporary gender studies.

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This chapter discusses contemporary debates around the topic of gender relations in Muslim societies with a focus on Muslim women. After a brief introduction and geographical orientation of the subject matter, we start the chapter with a description of theological debates around the role of women in Islam and Muslim understandings of sex and gender. We then shift our attention to contemporary practices and discuss socio-cultural debates around the gendered Muslim body and explain how and why they have been central in the instrumentalization of politics. Here we include the discursive and symbolic politics around veiling that have taken a prominent role in European debates around citizenship, integration, and belonging. Following from this, we deliberate the place of gender in political theology and conclude by engaging with the question of transnational feminism. Skip to main content.

Mesopotamia- Growth of urban societies increased male dominance, as well as military competitiveness. Law codes institutionalized males as the head of the family. There were parallels with Islamic and Byzantine legal thought in regards to gender. Passing on of property through the sons gave more importance to the male and facilitated more male dominance in society. Muhammad only said his wives should be secluded, not all Islamic women. The Transitional Age- Koran expressly notes the equality of men and women. In the scripture there is also common and identical spiritual and moral obligations placed on all individuals regardless of sex.

Also Available in: Cloth. This is a book that must be read. No other general survey of women and gender in Islam exists. I am deeply grateful to Leila Ahmed for giving us this book. This is a highly original, well-researched book that explores a topic of great current interest in a responsible and enlightening fashion.

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Leila Ahmed

4 Comments

  1. Georgina A.

    17.12.2020 at 14:10
    Reply

    In this book Leila Ahmed adds a new perspective to the current debate about women and Islam by exploring its historical roots, tracing the developments in.

  2. Rantepenro

    20.12.2020 at 11:14
    Reply

    It is a response both to the growing strength of Islamist movements, which urge a return to the laws and practices set forth in the core Islamic discourse, and to the way in which Arab women are discussed in the West.

  3. SofГ­a M.

    20.12.2020 at 19:20
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