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Publisher's Summary

A classic pioneering account of the lives of women in Islamic history, republished for a new generation.

This pioneering study of the social and political lives of Muslim women has shaped a whole generation of scholarship. In it, Leila Ahmed explores the historical roots of contemporary debates, ambitiously surveying Islamic discourse on women from Arabia during the period in which Islam was founded to Iraq during the classical age to Egypt during the modern era. The book includes a new foreword by Kecia Ali situating the text in its scholarly context and explaining its enduring influence.

"Ahmed's book is a serious and independent-minded analysis of its subject, the best-informed, most sympathetic and reliable one that exists today." (Edward W. Said)

"Destined to become a classic... It gives [Muslim women] back our rightful place, at the center of our histories." (Rana Kabbani, The Guardian)

©1992 Yale University (P)2021 Tantor

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Incoherent Logic, a Painful Listen

The author puts forward a contorted, cartoonish version of reality. She does this to fit feminist sentiments: that the West is evil and misogynistic and that Islam is really not the root of problems for women in the Middle East. The way she twists history and condemns the West is enough to give the reader a headache. Apparently, concern for women in Islam is cover for a racially derived desire to conquer. Further, she tries to make the claim that no one interpretation of Islam is absolute. Okay, but that does not mean any interpretation is accurate, let alone that Islam somehow favors gender equality. This book also pits women amd men against each other in typical feminist fashion. The zero-sum mentality is both inaccurate and unhelpful for understanding history or simply describing Islam as it is rather than as one might wish it to be.