Gender and Islam

My soul is a woman: The feminine in Islam, By Annemarie Schimmel, 2002

  • An internationally acclaimed scholar, who has dedicated more than fifty years of her life to understanding the Islamic world.Annemarie Schimmel examines a much-misunderstood feature of Islam: the role of women. Schimmel is critical of those–especially Western feminists–who take Islam to task without taking the time to comprehend the cultures, language, and traditions of the many societies in which Islam is the majority religion.Shattering stereotypes, Schimmel reconstructs an important but little-known chapter of Islamic spirituality. With copius examples, she shows the clear equality of women and meni nthe conception of the Prophet Muhammad, the Quran, the feminine language of the mystical tradition, and the role of holy mothers and unmarried women as manifestations of God.This work is studded with luminous texts from Arabic, Turkish, Persian, and particularly Indo-Muslim cultures, which reveal how physical love can give expression to the highest forms of mysticism.

The Tao of Islam: A sourcebook on gender relationships in Islamic Thought, By Sachiko Murata, 1992.

  • The Tao of Islam is a rich and diverse anthology of Islamic teachings on the nature of the relationships between God and the world, the world and the human being, and the human being and God. Focusing on gender symbolism, Sachiko Murata shows that Muslim authors frequently analyze the divine reality and its connections with the cosmic and human domains with a view toward a complementarity or polarity of principles that is analogous to the Chinese idea of yin/yang.

The face behind the veil: The extraordinary lives of Muslim women in America By Donna Gehrke-White, 2006

  • For years, the image of the Muslim woman in America has been shrouded in secrecy, as mysterious as the face behind the veil. In this timely and moving book, journalist Donna Gehrke-White provides a rare, revealing look into the hearts, minds, and everyday lives of Muslim women in America and opens a window on a culture as diverse as it is misunderstood. “The Face Behind the Veil” is an insightful chronicle of identity and faith, a celebration of women who are changing the face of America and Islam.

Rethinking Muslim women and the veil: Challenging historical and modern stereotypes, By Katherine Bullock, 2002.

  • A powerful critique of the popular western notion that the veil is a symbol of Muslim women’s oppression. In postulating a positive theory of the hijâb, the author challenges with great sophistication both the commonly held view of Muslim women being subjugated by men, as well as the liberal feminists’ who criticize the choice of women to cover themselves as ultimately unliberating. The author argues that in a culture of consumerism, the hijâb can be experienced as a liberation from the tyranny of the beauty myth and the thin “ideal” woman. In dispelling some widely held myths about Muslim women and the hijâb, the author introduces respectability to the voice of believing Muslim women, claiming that liberation and the equality of women are fundamental to Islam itself.

Muslim women activists in North America: Speaking for ourselves By Katherine Bullock, 2005.

  • His book introduces eighteen Muslim women activists from the United States and Canada who have worked in fields from social services, to marital counseling, to political advocacy in order to further social justice within the Muslim community and in the greater North American society. Each of the activists has written an autobiographical narrative in which she discusses such issues as her personal motivation for doing activism work, her views on the relationship between Islam and women’s activism, and the challenges she has faced and overcome, such as patriarchal cultural barriers within the Muslim community or racism and discrimination within the larger society. The women activists are a heterogeneous group, including North American converts to Islam, Muslim immigrants to the United States and Canada, and the daughters of immigrants.

Quran and Woman: rereading the sacred text from a woman’s perspective By Amina Wadud, 1999.

  • Qu’ran and Woman contributes a gender inclusive reading to one of the most fundamental disciplines in Islamic thought, Qu’ranic exegesis. Wadud breaks down specific texts and key words which have been used to limit women’s public and private role, even to justify violence toward Muslim women,
    revealing that their original meaning and context defy such interpretations. What her analysis clarifies is the lack of gender bias, precedence, or prejudice in the essential language of the Qur’an.

Islam, gender and social change By Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and John Esposito, 1997.

  • For several decades, the Muslim world has experienced a religious resurgence. The reassertion of Islam in personal and political life has taken many forms, from greater attention to religious practice to the emergence of Islamic organizations, movements, and institutions. One of the most controversial and emotionally charged aspects of this revival has been its effect on women in Muslim societies. The essays collected in this book place this issue in its historical context and offer case studies of Muslim societies from North Africa to Southeast Asia. These fascinating studies shed light on the impact of the Islamic resurgence on gender issues in Iran, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Oman, Bahrain, the Philippines, and Kuwait. Taken together, the essays reveal the wide variety that exists among Muslim societies and believers, and the complexity of the issues under consideration. They show that new things are happening for women across the Islamic world, and are in many cases being initiated by women themselves. The volume as a whole militates against the stereotype of Muslim women as repressed, passive, and without initiative, while acknowledging the very real obstacles to women’s initiatives in most of these societies.

Islam and the destiny of Man By Charles Le Gai Eaton

  • The aim of this book is to explore what it means to be a Muslim, a member of a community which embraces a quarter of the world s population and to describe the forces which have shaped the hearts and the minds of Islamic people. After considering the historic confrontation between Islam and Christendom and analysing the difference between the three monotheistic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), the author describes the two poles of Muslim belief in terms of Truth and Mercy the unitarian truth which is the basis of the Muslim s faith and the mercy inherent in this truth. In the second part of the book he explains the significance of the Qur an and tells the dramatic story of Muhammad s life and of the early Caliphate. Lastly, the author considers the Muslim view of man s destiny, the social structure of Islam, the role of art and mysticism and the inner meaning of Islamic teaching concerning the hereafter.