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The Veil And The Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation Of Women's Rights In Islam [Paperback]

Fatima Mernissi
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 21 1992
Convinced that the veil is a symbol of unjust male authority over women, in 'The Veil and the Male Elite', Moroccan feminist Fatima Mernissi aims to investigate the origins of the practice in the first Islamic community.

Frequently Bought Together

The Veil And The Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation Of Women's Rights In Islam + Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate + Believing Women in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Muhammad was a chief of state who publicly acknowledged the importance of affection and sexuality. He was a polygynous husband whose wives were not just background figures but often shared decision-making with him. According to Moroccan sociologist Mernissi ( Beyond the Veil ), the founder of Islam asserted the equality of women, rejected slavery and envisioned an egalitarian society. Mernissi further claims that successive Muslim priests manipulated and distorted sacred texts, from the seventh century onward, in an effort to maintain male privileges. Her close textual analyses of the Hadith , or stories of words and deeds attributed to the Prophet, support her far-reaching reinterpretation of the historic roots of Islam and its modern tendency to reduce woman to a "submissive, marginal creature."
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Mernissi, an internationally known Moroccan sociologist, endeavors to show that discrimination against women, so common in the Muslim world today, is not a fundamental tenet of Islam as many contemporary male Muslims would like us to believe. Her basic premise is that Islam is inherently egalitarian and, using extensive documentation from the Koran, the Hadith, and other Islamic historical commentary, Mernissi successfully proves her hypothesis. While doing so, she teaches the reader a great deal about Mohammed (the man as well as the prophet), his wives, his companions, and early Islamic society. Like Mernissi's other books ( Beyond the Veil , Indiana Univ. Pr., 1987; Doing Daily Battle , Rutgers Univ. Pr., 1989; Women in Emergent Morocco , Flame Internat., 1982), this fascinating, well-written, and well-documented work is an excellent addition to scholarship on Muslim women. Recommended for academic libraries and others with women's studies or Middle East collections.
- Ruth K. Baacke, Bellingham P.L., Wash .
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Muslims suffer from a mal du present just as the vouth of Romantic Europe suffered from a mal du siecle. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Brian Griffith TOP 500 REVIEWER
Fatima Mernissi's careful research is fascinating and challenging. Here is a brilliant Muslim woman on a quest to separate the wheat from the chaff in her tradition. Like the great scholar Al-Bukhari, she exposes cases of fraudulence, where self-interested parties tried to impose their own prejudices as articles of faith. But at the same time Mernissi reveals an inspiring earlier version of Islam, where devotion to real partnership and equality prevails. I think Mernissi's work is at least as important as any recent writing by Christian scholars toward uncovering the historical Jesus and the original face of Christianity.

--author of Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story
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4.0 out of 5 stars Eminently Readable Dec 17 2002
By A Customer
Dr Mernissi tackles a difficult subject with scholarly insight and a writing style that is eminently readable. The subject she has chosen to write about is incredibly difficult and involved (as she herself acknowledges) sifting through tomes of text in order to find answers. She makes no bones about her slant ...it is evident from the very first page. She believes that the verses of the Quran pertaining to the "Hijab" were revealed in a given context and have since been unfairly interpreted (by a male elite) resulting in centuries of the exploitation of women. Having established these parameters she then proceeds a systematic process of contextualisation - sociological, linguistic, historic etc. The process is fascinating and the evidence compelling even if you are inclined not to follow her conclusions. This book is not written in standard 'scholarlese' thus allowing her to retreat to charming vignettes of her own upbringing as a woman in a deeply conservative Islamic society. I suppose the book requires some (but not a great deal) of background knowledge of Islam. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and learned, but really for muslims Oct. 11 2002
Fatima Mernissi's book is a fascinating excursion through her own journey of discovery. She takes us from a man's put-down of her with the Hadith "those who entrust their affairs to a woman will never know prosperity", to an enlightened understanding of the historical context in which the oppressive traditions of Islam arose.
After explaining her background in the introduction she deals with the above hadith and how it came about, she analyzes the role of women in early Islam and especially the prophet's apparent view of women and a very in-depth and detailed discussion of how the veil, or hijab, came into being for Muslim women.
She shows that the denial of women's rights was not the intention of Allah, as the source of Holy Law, nor of Mohammed, but arose in the context of the pre-existing social values of the Arab world of the time, and of the vested political interests and power struggles of the period following Mohammed's death.
The study is very detailed and quite arcane, and although Ms Mernissi takes a lot of care to explain terminology and context, it really requires some background knowledge of Islam and Arabs. The book's main target audience is Moslem women, to show they do have rights within Islam, and possibly Moslem men. I believe westerners can learn from it, but are probably better served by reading more general books on Islamic history and culture. In particular non-Moslems need to understand that Islam is not a single culture, but in reality many traditions under one umbrella, in much the same way that Christendom encompasses many religious and cultural traditions.
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By TiaM
salaam alaykum, to all my muslim sisters, I think this is an excellent book. There are so many differences of opinion in terms of hadith and practice of the religion, i.e. acceptability of this vs that in practicing islam, that one can get truly lost in delving into specifics. (A point which the author makes early on in the book) Mernissi takes us along on her journey through knowledge to show us what she found and allow us to make our own decisions. Everything is documented (as it would have to be to stand up to criticism on such a touchy subject!) I would not suggest this book for non-muslims, just because it is so directed towards the muslim female. (I think a little background knowledge really helps when reading this book.) As a muslim convert, I thought this book was invaluable, if not just to show that there WERE differences of opinion on hadith.
anyway, I do suggest you read it, and I DO think the other people who gave this book one star were a little too narrow minded. Allah is a god who values thought and introspection, even where religion is concerned.
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By A Customer
If a non-muslim were to read this book, they would think that Islam claimed another miracle for our Prophet Muhammad(saws):that he was able to foresee what the ideology of Christian women in the 20th century would be, and modify Islam accordinglyt Almost any Quranic verse or hadith that conflicts with it must submit to feminism in one way or the other:hadiths and Quranic ideas in conflict with feminism can only apply to circumstances long gone, and hadiths can be written off as phony, using the small amounts of evidence that point towards the possibility of its fraudulence and ignoring the massive amounts of evidence that point to its truthfulness. Hadrat Umar(the 2nd Caliph) falls victim to a vicious character assasination:it is said that he completely disagreed with Muhammad(saws) on his view of women.If he disagreed with Muhammad (saws) on an issue affecting 50% of the population, why would Muhammad (saws) befriend him and think highly of him?Also, why would Allah agree with him thrice, as stated in Sahih Muslim Vol.4 Hadith #5903? If you're looking for a true depiction of women in Islam, look on.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
A fascinating look into the world of men and women in Arab and Muslim cultures. Unique perspective... Read more
Published on July 19 2007 by Summar
4.0 out of 5 stars Liked it
I liked it. Mernissi gives you an understanind of how hadiths work, shows you proof that Hadith may have been well contaminated with personal bias as well as cultural bias. Read more
Published on March 27 2004 by "aarif1"
2.0 out of 5 stars Promising but unsuccessful
I had to read this book for an anthropology class taught by an intelligent but uberfeminist professor. Read more
Published on May 2 2003 by thefrelk
3.0 out of 5 stars An informative book
I found the first half of this book to be very well researched, with her logic based on solid foundations. Read more
Published on March 25 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars could not put it down!
I originally bought this book for my thesis. I read it from cover to cover and could not put it down. Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2001 by Hala Innab
5.0 out of 5 stars Badly needed reading in this time of fear and ignorance
I used this book 6 years ago for my thesis on Islam and feminism. It cleared up many preconceptions I had about Muslim women and the religion of Islam itself. Read more
Published on Sept. 30 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly and well researched
Fatima Mernissi's book is well-written and thoroughly researched. It also draws on great works of the Islamic past. Read more
Published on Oct. 22 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars Exactly
Exactly the title for this book "A feminist Interpretation"
If you are a feminist in the real stretch of the word and you want to sell something to make money from... Read more
Published on Aug. 16 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars powerfully written and well researched
like few other current muslim scholars, mernissi goes back to old sources such as tabari to proove her point. its a wonderful look at what has been lost in the message of islam. Read more
Published on Jan. 10 1999
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