Historical analysis
Interpreting the Shari'a
Women and Human Rights
Gender issues and Islam
Women in Non-Islamic States
The Veil


Issues that touch upon women in the Islamic world are many. This bibliography aims at giving an idea of the material available of history, the interpretations of law, the contemporary discourse and some specific topics particularly pertinent to the subject. The first section here represents books which give a general overview of women in Islam. It must be mentioned that many books will touch different of the categories used in this bibliography - e.g. books on feminism often mention interpretations of the law and books on fundamentalisms often mention human rights issues, therefore one cannot consider the division absolute. At the very end of the bibliography is a section divided into area-specific studies.

  • Beck, Lois, Keddie, Nikki R.: Women in the Muslim World. Harvard University Press. 1978 Massachusetts USA
  • Bell, Haj Dawud: Introduction to Islam: An Explanation for Western Readers. Trafford Publishing. 2006.
  • Chouqqa, Abou: Encyclopédie de la Femme en Islam. Al Qalam 2007
  • Edge, Ian ed.: Islamic Law and Legal Theory. Dartmouth Publ. Comp 1996. UK
  • Fahmy, Mansour: La Condition de la femme dans l'islam. Broché 2003
  • Imache, Djedjiga; Nour, Inès: Algériennes entre islam et islamisme. Edisud. 2007
  • Lemu, B.Aisha; Heeren, Fatima: Woman in Islam (Perspectives of Islam). Islamic Foundation. 2007
  • Hani, Ramadan: La Femme en Islam. Poche2004
  • Hussain, Freda: Muslim Women. St. Martin's Press, Inc. 1984 New York USA
  • Hussain, Justice Aftab. Status of Women in Islam. Law Publications. 1987
  • Parshall, Phil; Parshall, Julie: Lifting the Veil: The World of Muslim Women. Gabriel Publishing. 2003
  • Qureshi, Iqbal: Women and Islam. Saurabh Publishing House. 2007
  • Raffard de Brienne, Daniel: L'islam et les femmes. Via Romana 2007
  • Rasool, Kay : My Journey Behind the Veil: Conversations with Muslim Women. Lothian Books. 2003
  • Robinson, Kathryn, Gender, Islam and Democracy in Indonesia (ASAA Women in Asia Series), Routledge edt., 2008
  • Roded, Ruth: Women in Islam and the Middle East: A Reader. I. B. Tauris; New Ed edition. 2008
  • Serrano-Niza, Lola - Hernandez-Perez, Maria B., Mujeres y religiones, Idea. 2008
  • Soussi Tamli, Rkia, Islam e le donne in politica. Interviste nei luoghi di decisione (immigrazione, integrazione, cittadinanza), Casadeilibri ed., 2009
  • Speaker-Yuan, Margaret, Women in Islam, Greenhaven Press. 2005
  • Udink, Betsi, Berger Anna (trad.), Allah & Eva: Der Islam und die Frauen, Heyne. 2009
  • Walter, Wiebke: Woman in Islam. George Prior. London UK
  • Yahyaoui Krivenko, Ekaterina, Women, islam and international law, Nijhoff. 2009
  • Yesilcayir, Celal, Baspinar, Corinna, Feminismus im Islam und Frauenbewegungen im Modernisierungsprozess der Türkei, Grin Verlag. 2009

Historical analysis

When Islam was born with the revelations of the Prophet, it changed the previous tribal society. In the tribe the male bond was the one that counted, which shows e.g. in the rules of heritage, where agnates only, were heirs. Within the family the man was the unquestioned leader with unlimited power. Islam introduced changes in a changing society, on some points improving the status of women on some points heavily restricting their influence. In the new social reality establishing itself, it was necessary to make new rules suited for different ways of life than previously. The books found in this session mainly treat the history of women in Islam - whether singular persons, groups or specific countries. Such historical material is particular important in order to understand developments in law and society which have affected women's position in Islam.

  • Bullock, Katherine: Rethinking Muslim Women and the Veil: Challenging Historical and Modern Stereotypes. International Institute of Islamic Thought. 2007
  • Bivins, Mary Wren: Telling Stories, Making Histories: Women, Words, and Islam in Nineteenth Century Hausaland and the Sokoto Caliphate. Heineman. 2007
  • Graham, Mark: How Islam Created the Modern World. Amana Publications. 2006.
  • Cortese, Delia; Calderini, Simonetta: Women and the Fatimids in the World of Islam. Edinburgh University Press 2005
  • Cuffel, Alexandra (Editor); Britt, Brian (Editor):Religion, Gender, and Culture in the Pre-Modern World. Palgrave Macmillan. 2007
  • El-Azhary Sonbol, Amira (Editor): Beyond the Exotic: Women's Histories in Islamic Societies (Gender, Culture & Politics in the Middle East S.) Syracuse University Press. 2005
  • Dayan-Herzbrun, Sonia: Femmes et politique au Moyen-Orient. Editions L'Harmattan. 2005.
  • Gaïd, Tahar: Les femmes dans le Coran : Récits, études et analyses à la lumière de la tradition musulmane. Iqra. 2006
  • Haja, Fdal: La vie des Sahâbiyât : Femmes condisciples du Prophète. Universel. 2005
  • Hinchcliffe, Doreen: Polygamy in Traditional and Contemporary Islamic Law, In Islam and the Modern Age, Vol 1 nr 3, 1970
  • Kandiyoti, Denis (Ed.): Women, Islam and the State, Temple University Press, 1991
  • Nadvi, S. Suleman; Ansari, Saeed: Women Companions of the Holy Prophet and Their Sacred Lives Kitabwala. 2004
  • Nashat, Guity (Author); Beck, Lois (Editor): Women in Iran from 1800 to the Islamic Republic. University of Illinois Press. 2004.
  • Murphy, Claire Rudolf et al: Daughters of the Desert: Stories of Remarkable Women from Christian, Jewish and Muslim Traditions. Skylight Path. 2005
  • Rapoport, Yossef: Marriage, Money and Divorce in Medieval Islamic Society. Cambridge University Press. 2007
  • Rizzo, Helen Mary: Islam, Democracy and the Status of Women. Routledge, 2004
  • Saïah-Baudis, Ysabel; Renoux, Henri: Haram: itinéraire d'une femme arabe. Relié. 2003
  • Sancar, Asli: Ottoman Women: Myth and Reality. The Light, Inc. 2007
  • Schick, Irvin Cemil (Editor); Buturovic, Amila (Editor): Women in the Ottoman Balkans: Gender, Culture and History. I. B. Tauris 2007
  • Thurlkill, Mary F: Chosen among Women: Mary and Fatima in Medieval Christianity and Shi'ite Islam University of Notre Dame Press 2007
  • Waddy, Charis: Women in Muslim History. Longman Group Ltd. 1980. London. Printed in Bath UK

Interpreting the Shari'a

The problem of the interpretation is a key one when trying to understand why women find themselves in the situation of suppression. It is basically the question of how medieval jurists assigned a role behind veils and walls to Muslim women, or to put it otherwise it is. A problem obvious to every person of intelligence: how to reconcile the message of fundamental equality in Muslim doctrine with the specific inequality that is the basis for the relationship between the sexes in reality. The interpretations are thus extremely relevant because they may give an impression of how male power constellations have influenced women's position over centuries.

Various interpretations of Islamic law have shaped how women live their lives in the co-called Islamic world - a world that, contrary to many simplistic and populist representations, is be no means homogeneous. This session of the bibliography suggests readings on interpretations of Islamic law, both purely theoretical and set into various contexts: such as interpretations in the light of modernism and post-colonialism. It is also in this session that one will find references on modern readings of the law and examples of the initiatives taken by many modern scholars to find a reading of the Shari'a which corresponds to the 21st century. For specific readings on Feminism and Islam and Human Rights and Islam please see the corresponding sections, but many books in this section will be very useful for anyone interested in these aspects too.

  • Abbasi, David: Femmes et Guerres en Islam Politique. Ste Ecrivains Associes. 2004
  • Ali, Ayaan Hirsi: The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam. Free Press. 2008
  • Ali, Ayaan Hirsi; Mijlstra, Josie: Insoumise. Robert Laffont. 2005.
  • Ali, Kecia: Sexual Ethics in Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qur'an, Hadith, and Jurisprudence. Oneworld Publications. 2006
  • Adeney, Miriam: Daughters of Islam: Building Bridges with Muslim Women. Inter-Varsity Press 2002.
  • Ahmed, Leila: Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate, Yale University Press 1993
  • Assoulien, Florence: Musulmanes: un chance pour l'Islam, Paris, Flammarion, 1992
  • Arat, Yesim: Rethinking Islam and Liberal Democracy. State University of New York Press. 2005
  • Awde, Nicholas (ed): Women in Islam: An Anthology from the Quran and Hadiths. DH Books 2005
  • Barazangi, Nimat Hafez: Woman's Identity and the Qur'an: A New Reading. University Press of Florida. 2005
  • Ben Youssef Zayzafoon, Lamia: The Production of the Muslim Woman: Negotiating Text, History, and Ideology. Lexington Books. 2005
  • Bodman, Herbert L; Tohidi, Nayereh E - Eds.: Women in Muslim Society, Diversity within Unity, Lynne Rienners Publishers, 1998
  • Burlas, Asma: Believing Women in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Quran. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. 2005
  • Caner, Ergun Mehmet: Voices Behind the Veil: Women on the Women of Islam. Kregel Publications 2004
  • El Fadl, Khaled Abou. Speaking in God's Name: Islamic Law, Authority and Women. Oneworld Publications 2001
  • EL HAJJE O., Le role de la femme dans la famille et dans la société, in "I diritti dell'uomo. Cronache e battaglie", vol. 7, n. 3, 1996.
  • Husni, Ronak: The Status of Women in Islamic Law and Society. Routledge; 2007
  • Lakhdhar, Latifa: Les femmes au miroir de l'orthodoxie Islamique. L'Aube 2007
  • Gassan, Asha, Du statut inférieur de la femme en Islam, L'Harmattan, 1997
  • Gauch, Suzanne: Liberating Shahrazad: Feminism, Postcolonialism, and Islam. University of Minnesota Press. 2006
  • Goodwin, Jan: Price of Honor, Muslim Women Lift the Veil of Silence on the Muslim World. Little, Brown and Company, 1994
  • Layne, Jasmine: "Islam Elevates Women" Unveiling the Myth. PublishAmerica. 2004
  • Lambert-Hurley: Muslim Women Reform and Princely Patronage. Routledge 2006
  • Lamchichi, Abderrahim: Femmes et Islam : L'impératif universel d'égalité. L'Harmattan. 2006.
  • Leonetti, Isabel Taboada: Les femmes et l'Islam : Entre modernité et intégrisme. Editions L'Harmattan. 2004.
  • Heath, Jennifer: The Scimitar and the Veil: Extraordinary Women of Islam. Hidden Spring 2004
  • Jones-Pauly, Chris: Women Under Islam: Gender Justice and the Politics of Islamic Law. I.B Tauris. 2007
  • Mandelbaum, David Goodman: Women's Seclusion and men's honor. The University of Arizona Press. 1988. USA
  • Moghadam, Valentine M., Gender and national identity: women and politics in muslim societies, Zed Books, Londra (UK), 1994
  • Mernissi, Fatima: Women and Islam: An Historical and Theological Enquiry. Blackwell Publishers. 1991
  • -, Fatima: Islam and Democracy. Fear of the modern world, Luchterhand, 1992
  • Minces Juliette., La femme voilée, Calmann-Lévy, 1990.
  • -, Juliette Le Coran et les femmes. Hachette Littératures. 1996
  • Nadwi Mohammad Akram: Al-Muhaddithat: The Women Scholars in Islam. Interface Publications. 2007
  • Naseef, Fatima: Droits et Devoirs de la femme en Islam: à la lumière du Coran et de la Sunna. Broché 1999
  • Naseef, Omar: Liberation Theology: Islam and the Feminist Agenda in the Qur'an. AuthorHouse. 2007
  • Nasir Jamal J.: The status of women under Islamic Law and under modern Islamic legislation, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002
  • Saleh, Fatwa e Al Qazwini, Moustafa. A new Perspective Women in Islam. Islamic Educational Center. 2001
  • Shaaban, Bouthaina: Both Right and Left Handed. The women's Press limited. 1988. London UK
  • Sharify-Funk, Meena: Encountering the Transnational: Women, Islam and the Politics of Interpretation. Ashgate 2008
  • Souaiaia, Ahmed E.: Contesting Justice: Women, Islam, Law, and Society. State University of New York Press. 2008
  • Stowassar, Barbara: Women in the Qu'ran, Tradition and Interpretation, New York: Oxford University Press, 1994
  • Suad, Joseph (Editor); Najmabadi, Afsaneh (Editor):Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures, 6 Volumes. Brill Academic Publishers, 2008
  • van Doorn-Harder, Pieternella: Women Shaping Islam: Reading the Qu'ran in Indonesia University of Illinois Press. 2006
  • Wadud, Amina: Qur'an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective, Oxford University Press, 1999
  • Wadud, Amina: Inside the Gender Jihad: Women's Reform in Islam Oneworld Publications 2006
  • Zayzafoon, Lamia Ben Youssef: The Production of the Muslim Woman: Negotiating Text, History, and Ideology. Lexington Books 2004

Women and Human Rights

Women's Human Rights in Islam very often receive a great deal of attention, but not always the right kind of attention. Saying that women have no rights in Islam is playing into the hands of those who gain from oppression and ignoring the many voices that claim the exact opposite and do so with both scholarly and cultural legitimacy. Assuming that women's human rights are non-applicable to Muslim women because of their faith and legal system is denying these women their voice. The following books demonstrates clearly how Islam and human rights in general but women's human rights in particular are compatible and how anyone who claim that these rights only belong to a certain culture - the western - is guilty of a great deal of wrong doing - no matter where this person comes from.

  • Afkhami, Mahnaz: Faith and Freedom: Women's Human Rights in the Muslim World (Gender, Culture, and Politics in the Middle East), Syracuse University Press, 1995
  • Afkhami, Mahnaz and Friedl, Erika - Eds.: Muslim Women and the Politics of Participation, Implementing the Beijing Platform, Syracuse University Press, 1997
  • Ali, Shaheen Sardar: Gender and Human Rights in Islam and International Law - Equal Before Allah, Unequal Before Man?, Kluwer, 2000.
  • Bayes, J: Globalization Gender Religion: The Politics of Women's Rights in Catholic and Muslim Contexts, Saint Martin's Press, 2001
  • Bewly, Aisha: Empowering of Women. Ta-Ha Publishers. 1999
  • CARLIER J.Y., Le statut personnel des musulmans: droit comparé et droit international privé. Brylant, Bruxelles, 1992.
  • Chaar Abdel-Maoula Samia: Fondements de la liberté de la femme dans le droit musulman. Paris, Cujas, 1984.
  • Chinkin, Christine: Women's human rights: Guaranteed by universal standards or discounted by cultural bias?, The Hague-Boston-London, Nijhoff, 1997.
  • Dalacoura, Katerina: Islam, Liberalism and Human Rights. I. B. Tauris; 3 edition. 2007
  • Deveaux, Monique: Gender and Justice in Multicultural Liberal States. Oxford University Press. 2007
  • Engineer, Asghar Ali: The rights of women in Islam, C. Hurst & Co, 1992
  • - Asghar Ali: Islam, Women and Gender Justice. Gyan Publishing House. 2003
  • - Asghar Ali: The Qu'ran, Women and Modern Society. New dawn Press. 2004
  • Esposito, John L & DeLong-Bas, Natana - Eds.: Women in Muslim Family Law, Syracuse University Press, 2002
  • Ferree, Myra Marx (Editor); Tripp, Aili Mari (Editor): Global Feminism: Transnational Women's Activism, Organizing, and Human Rights: Transnational Women's Activism, Organizing, and Human Rights. NYU Press. 2006
  • Howland, Courtney W. (ed.): Religious Fundamentalism and the Human Rights of Women, St. Martins Press, New York, 1999
  • Jawad, Haifaa A., The Rights of Women in Islam: An Authentic Approach Palgrave Macmillan. 2004
  • 'Llah Murtada Mutahhari S.A.: I diritti della donna nell'Islam, Centro culturale islamico europeo, Roma, 1988.
  • Noor Chehata M.: Etendue de la capacité juridique en droit privé et public de la femme dans les pays arabes, Union des Avocats arabes, Centre d'études et de recherches juridiques, Le Caire, 1985
  • Mayer, Ann Elizabeth. Islam and Human Rights. Tradition and Politics. Westview Press, Boulder, 1995
  • Mutahhari, Murtada: Droits de la femme en islam. Relié 2000
  • Pacini, Andrea (ed.): L'Islam e il dibattito sui diritti dell'uomo, Edizioni Fondazione Giovanni Agnelli, Torino, 1998
  • Sait, Siraj; Lim, Hilary: Land, Law and Islam: Property and Human Rights in the Muslim World. Zed Books. 2006
  • Sedghi, Hamideh: Women and Politics in Iran: Veiling, Unveiling, and Reveiling. Cambridge University Press. 2007
  • Silverman, Helaine (Editor); Ruggles, D. Fairchild (Editor): Cultural Heritage and Human Rights. Springer. 2007
  • Sonbol Amira El-Azhary, Women of the Jordan: Islam, Labor, and the Law (Gender, Culture, and Politics of the Middle East), Syracuse University Press, 2003
  • Syed, Mohammad Ali: Position of Women in Islam, a Progressive View, State University of New York Press, 2004
  • Svensson Jonas: Women's Human Rights and Islam. Lunds Universitet 2000. Lund, Sweden
  • Welchman, Lynne. Islamic Family Law: Women's Rights and Perspectives on Reform. Palgrave Macmillian 2004.
  • Welchman, Lynn: Women's Rights and Islamic Family Law: Perspectives on Reform. Zed Books. 2004
  • Yamani, Mai: Feminism and Islam, Legal and Literary Perspectives, New York University Press, 1996
  • Younos, Farid: Gender Equality in Islam. First Books Library. 2002.

Gender issues and Islam

Islamic Law has mainly been implemented in patriarchal societies and thus an analysis of these and of the factors at play that concern the spaces women have in society is very important. This section includes works which are mainly sociological and works on society and gender. Feminism in Islam has dealt both with new reading of the Quran and the Shari'a (see session on interpretations) but also with women's spaces, sexuality and religion within the Muslim cultures. Thus such themes will also be found in this session.

  • Afzal-Khan, Fawzia: Shattering the Stereotypes: Muslim Women Speak Out. Interlink. 2004
  • Alam, S (ed. Altri): Gender, Politics and Islam. University of Chicago Press, 2002
  • Anwar, Etin: Gender and Self in Islam RoutledgeCurzon. 2005
  • Amin, Q., The Liberation of Women. The New Woman. American University in Cairo Press, Cairo, 1992
  • Ask, Karin and Tjomsland, Marit (Eds.): Women and Islamization: Contemporary Dimensions of Discourse on Gender Relations, Berg Publishers, 1998
  • Badran, Margot: Feminism in Islam: Secular and Religious Convergences. Oneworld Publications 2008
  • Badran Margot: Feminists, Islam and Nation: Gender and the Making of Modern Egypt, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1995
  • Baker, Miriam: The Feminine Face of Islam. Godfield Press 2004
  • Cooke, Miriam: Women Claim Islam: Creating Islamic Feminism Through Literature, Routledge, 2000
  • Chatty, Dawn and Rabo, Annika - Eds.: Organizing Women: Formal and Informal Women's Groups in the Middle East (Cross-cultural Perspectives on Women), Beg Publishers, 1997
  • Deeb, L.: An Enchanted Modern: Gender and Public Piety in Shi'i Beirut. Princeton University Press. 2006
  • El-Solh, Camilla Fawzi and Mabro, Judy: Muslim Women's Choices. Berg Publishers 1994. Oxford UK. Printed by Short Run Press, Exeter
  • Esposito, John L & Yazbeck Haddad, Yvonne - Eds.: Islam, Gender, & Social Change Oxford Universiiy Press, 1998
  • Falah, Ghazi-Walid (Editor); Nagel, Caroline (Editor): The Geographies of Muslim Women: Gender, Religion, Space Guilford Press. 2005
  • Golley, Nawar Al-Hassan: Arab Women's Lives Retold: Exploring Identity Through Writing. Syracuse University Press 2007
  • Ilkkarakan, Pinar (ed.): Women and Sexuality in Muslim Societies, Women for Womens Human Rights, Istanbul, 2000
  • Husain, Sarah (Editor): Voices of Resistance: Muslim Women on War, Faith and Sexuality. Seal Press. 2006.
  • Larocque, Lyne Marie De l'inévitable écart entre la logique religieuse et La réalité sociale: Le viol en islam.
  • Mernissi, Fatima: Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in a Modern Muslim Society, Indiana University Press, 1987
  • -, Fatima: The Veil and the Male elite, Perseus Publishing, 1992
  • -, Fatima: Women's Rebellion and Islamic Memory. Zed Books Ltd 1996. London UK
  • Moghissi, Haideh: Women and Islam: Critical Concepts in Sociology. Routledge 2004
  • Morin, Karen M. (Editor); Guelke, Jeanne Kay (editor): Women, Religion, and Space: Global Perspectives on Gender and Faith. Syracuse University Press. 2007
  • Sabbah, Fatna A.: Women in the Muslim Unconscious. Pergamon Press 1984. New York USA
  • Sabbagh, Suha: Arab Women - Between Defiance and Restraint, Interlink Publishing Group, 2002
  • Saadawi Nawal: The hidden face of Eve, Zed Press, London 1980
  • Saïah-Baudis, Ysabel; Renoux, Henri: Haram : itinéraire d'une femme arabe. Relié. 2003
  • Sakr, Naomi: Women and Media in the Middle East: Power Through Self-expression. I.B Tauris. 2004
  • Schimmel, Annemarie, My soul is a woman: the feminine in Islam, The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo (Egitto), 1997
  • Suad, Joseph (Editor): Family, Body, Sexuality and Health (Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures S.). Brill 2005

Women in Non-Islamic States

A question which becomes more and more relevant with increasing migration movements is how Islam and Islamic law (again as if this was one homogenous thing, which it is not) is integrated or not into states which have a different legal system and history. The proposed books in this section describes mainly how Muslim women live in non-Muslim states.

  • Amara, Fadela; Zappi, Sylvia; Chenut, Helen: Breaking the Silence: French Women's Voices from the Ghetto.University of California Press. 2006
  • Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck et al: Muslim Women in America: The Challenge of Islamic Identity Today, Oxford University Press Inc, USA. 2006
  • Layish, Aharon: Women and Islamic Law in a Non-Muslim State: A Study Based on Decisions of the Shari'a Courts in Israel.Transaction Publishers, U.S.; New Ed edition. 2006
  • Sookhdeo, Rosemary: Stepping into the Shadows: Why Women Convert to Islam. Isaac Publishing. 2007


Fundamentalism is a response to contemporary issues, that are conceived as corrupting the present society, by selectively using the past as a model of how things should be. The way Islam has been interpreted throughout times by the male elite, makes the fear of change here, even bigger, because the modernist and feminist movements threaten a fantasy of unlimited power, and also the identity that has been build upon it. The women violating the male space, awake an ageless collective memory, and the wish to bring back female threats and competition to defined spaces, breaks out violently. This section gathers books that analyse how fundamentalism uses and abuses women and how women's rights are threatened or can be used in a context of fundamentalisms. It would be wise to recall that not only Islam has its cases of religious fundamentalism which target women ì, but so does other world religions.

  • Al-Ashmawy, Muhammad Said; Fluehr-Lobban, Carolyn (ed): Against Islamic Extremism: The Writings of Muhammad Said Al-Ashmawy. University Press of Florida. 2003
  • Ben Mansour, Latifa: Les mensonges des intégristes. Editions du Rocher. 2004.
  • Gerami, Shahin: Women and Fundamentalism, Islam and Christianity. Garland publishing Ltd. 1996. London UK
  • Kazemzadeh, Masoud.: Islamic Fundamentalism Feminism Pb. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. 2002
  • Moghissi, Haideh: Feminism and Islamic fundamentalism: the limits of postmodern analysis, Zed Books, Londra (UK), 1999
  • Shehadeh, Lamia Rustum: The Idea of Women in Fundamentalist Islam. University Press of Florida 2007
  • Van Nieuwkerk, Karin: Women Embracing Islam: Gender and Conversion in the West University of Texas Press. 2006

The Veil

Little has made a bigger fuss among western feminists - and indeed not just among them - than the question of the Islamic veil. The veil is seen as the ultimate expression of Islamic suppression of women. In Europe attempts have been made to forbid Muslim girls to wear their head-garments in the name of Integration and The Combat for Equal Rights. The question here is not just if it is up to non-Muslims to dictate what Muslims may or may not wear, as if it is up to anyone to decide what someone else should or should not put on in the morning, but in this context more important if the veil is an obligatory garment according to the Shari'a. Furthermore there is the aspect of the way it has been interpreted and how it has ended up by being linked to the honour and pride of the whole family. Of course the question of the veil as the most visible part of the segregation is also discussed as a possible way of maintaining the male power over women, and over society as a whole.

Today the reason for wearing the veil is not only a religious one. Most women may believe they are obeying to a religious command, but the veil is also used as a political manifestation with different contents. Further the veil has been used by the Westerns for a long time as the categorical sign of the degradation of women - but not only that, it has been used to illustrate the backwardness and inferiority of Islam by the colonial powers in the ending of the 19'th century and the beginning of 20'th, as a political justification for the assaults on this strange different culture. It is noteworthy that the bloom of this case as a defence for the colonial occupation is just when the feminist movements in Europe gained their first important grounds. But also quite contradictory when considering, that the establishment which so wanted to fight women's oppression in the colonies did its best to fight feminism within its own boarders. This underlines how much the female combat for more influence is used for political purposes.

  • Adeney, Miriam: Lifting the Veil: The World of Muslim Women. Gabriel Publishing. 2003
  • Amdouni, Hassan: Le hijab de la femme musulmane: Les règles juridiques de l'habit et de la toilette de la femme musulmane. Brochè. 2005
  • Babès, Leïla: Le voile démystifié. Bayard Centurion. 2004.
  • Bezard Alain: A propos du foulard islamique, in "Les Petites Affiches. La loi", 1994, vol. 383, n. 143
  • Bowen, John R.: Why the French Don't Like Headscarves: Islam, the State, and Public Space. Princeton University Press. 2006.
  • Djavann, Chahdortt: Bas les voiles ! Editions Gallimard 2006.
  • Djitli, Leïla; Troubac, Sophie: Lettre ouverte à ma fille qui veut porter le voile. Editions de La Martinière. 2004
  • Dubreuil, Sophie: Sous le voile. Seuil. 2005
  • El Guindi, Fadwa. Veil: Modesty, Privacy and Resistance. New York University Press. 1999
  • Gole, Nilufer: The Forbidden Modern: Civilization and Veiling, University of Michigan Press, 1996
  • Scott, Joan Wallach: The Politics of the Veil. Princeton University Press. 2007
  • Taarji, Hinde: Les voilées de l'Islam. Balland. 2006-12-22