Cover image for The idea of women in fundamentalist Islam
Title:
The idea of women in fundamentalist Islam
Author:
Shehadeh, Lamia Rustum, 1940-
Publication Information:
Gainesville : University Press of Florida, [2003]

©2003
Physical Description:
xiii, 321 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780813026060
Format :
Book

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Central Library BP173.4 .S48 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

"An invaluable source of knowledge on the social processes taking place in the world of Islam."-- Social Anthropology

"Lamia Shehadeh gathers so many loose threads, provides definitive answers, and offers bold analysis . . . from her deconstruction of significant Islamic texts and intelligent critique of these works. So far studies on Muslim women have oscillated between the apologetic and the titillating. This is a very focused piece produced by an expert on Islamic thought and Western gender theory as well."--Ghada Talhami, Lake Forest College

Lamia Rustum Shehadeh analyzes the writings and political practices of the nine Islamic ideologues of the twentieth century who masterminded the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism to demonstrate that their consistent emphasis on the subordinate status of women constitutes a vehicle for attaining political power. As the only study that compiles and critiques the gender theory of the major Islamic fundamentalists, The Idea of Women in Fundamentalist Islam offers a unifying theory elucidating their stand on women's role in society and the centrality of women in their politically ideal Muslim society.

In an attempt to create a working prevalent theory about gender in Islam, this book deconstructs the religio-political writings and political practices of the nine Islamic ideologues of the twentieth century who masterminded the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism: Hasan al-Banna, Abu al-'A'la al-Mawdudi, Sayyid Qutb, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Ayatollah Mortaza Mutahhari, Zaynab al-Ghazali, Hasan al-Turabi, Rashid al-Ghannoushi, and Sheikh Hussein Fadlallah. It demonstrates that although these ideologues have individual peculiarities, their consistent emphasis on the subordinate status of women in society and in their relation to men constitutes a vehicle for attaining political power.

By examining the spectrum of 20th-century Islamic fundamentalist discourse on the subordinate role of women, Shehadeh builds a bridge between political ideology and gender theory. She determines how the diversity of political, social, and economic domains within the discourse of the nine ideologues--male or female, Sunni or Shi'ite, radical or moderate--applies to gender relations, and whether their discourse is distinctive or remains within the classical or traditional mold of Islam. She demonstrates that the importance given to gender issues by fundamentalist ideologues and the constraints imposed on women in society are not so much due to patriarchy as to the manipulation of such issues for purely political purposes--to assure overwhelming male support and to divert attention from the real problems of society.

Shehadeh's study, the only work that compiles and critiques the gender theory of the major Islamic fundamentalist ideologues, offers a unifying theory elucidating their stand on women's role in society and the centrality of women in their politically ideal Muslim society. This book provides new perspectives and insights into the 20th-century concept of political Islam.

Lamia Rustum Shehadeh is associate professor in the Civilization Sequence Program at the American University of Beirut.


Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Shehadeh (American Univ. of Beirut) carefully studies the lives and writings of nine 20th-century Islamic fundamentalist ideologs, a group encompassing both Shi'ites and Sunnis and even one Egyptian woman, Zaynab al-Ghazali. Three of those represented are from Egypt, two from Iran, and one each from India, Sudan, Tunisia, and Lebanon. They all agree that the patriarchal family is essential to the reform of the Muslim community, or ummah, though they differ on the means. And while asserting that women are spiritually equal, they all share the belief that women's primary role is in the home, that gender is the source of universal social and intellectual differences, and that women are inherently dangerous, undermining masculine rationality simply by being present. Revealing contradictions between what is advocated for urban women and what is advocated for rural women who must work in the fields, between al-Ghazali herself and her recommendations for other women, Shehadeh synthesizes her findings and constructs a powerful theory of gender dynamics in contemporary Islam. Important for its political as well as its religious and gender insights, this book is highly recommended for all academic collections in politics and religion.-Carolyn M. Craft, Longwood Univ., Farmville, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

This is a major contribution to both feminist and Islamist studies. Rather than critiquing fundamentalist views regarding the status of Muslim women from outside Islamic thought, Shehadeh (cultural studies, American Univ., Beirut) highlights the inner contradictions and inconsistencies of nine modern Muslim fundamentalist thinkers. The author also contrasts the fundamentalist positions with those of normative Islam, and only in the concluding chapter is criticism from non-Islamic thought brought to bear. The fundamentalists range from theoreticians to those who have been able to carry out their political programs (as in Iran and Sudan), from a woman fundamentalist to an apparently moderate Tunisian political theorist, from Sunni to Shi'ite, Arab and non-Arab. Although there are elements common to all those whose views are being examined, this work is careful to consider the nuances as well. One important finding is that apparently open-minded fundamentalist reformists who espouse relatively liberal views on women in order to obtain power invariably succumb to traditionalist behavior once in charge. Shehadeh's presentations are couched in historical, social, and biographical analyses of each writer under consideration. Though the work is presented as a survey, individual chapters can be read profitably on their own. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through practitioners/professionals. S. P. Blackburn Hartford Seminary


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