We are dealing with an influential fundamentalist international that has a clear strategy. In order to secure women’s rights, we need a democratic international of women otherwise we have absolutely no chance of conquering this beast. Not only Algerian, but Sudanese, Iranian, and Afghani women know what I am talking about. They know the horror of God’s State all too well. But alone, without your support, without the women’s and human rights movement of the countries of the West, we are losing this battle of life and death.
– Khalida Messaoudi, Algeria
In a world where the strident demands of Islamic extremists capture the media’s attention, the courageous protests of Muslim reformers barely receive any notice. These include a surprising number of women who are prepared to challenge institutionalized persecution, risking derision, arrest, physical harm, and even death.
In this inspiring compilation of Muslim women’s stories from around the world, the voices of these long-oppressed women ring loud and clear as they question ideology and culture, patriarchal and religious beliefs, and demand the social and political rights women lack in many Muslim countries. The reformers speak out with passion, humanity, and sometimes humor in these compact and often poignant biographies, bringing alive the harsh realities for women in many parts of the world.
By surveying a wide range of Muslim reformers, not only in the Middle East but also in Europe and North America, author Ida Lichter uncovers some significant emerging trends. For example, she notes that the majority of Muslim feminists would like to see reform contained within Islam. Many criticize their patriarchal culture for suppressing egalitarian views that they believe the Koran expresses and so they advocate a reinterpretation of the holy text. Some demand changes to discriminatory Sharia-based laws. Others campaign openly for political and educational reforms.
Complete with a glossary and a list of helpful Web sites, this vibrant anthology makes use of reliable translations from original languages to demonstrate the groundswell of grassroots change that promises eventually to bring even the most conservative sectors of Islam into the twenty-first century.
11 Israel & the Palestinian Territories…215
20 Saudi…Arabia 277
26 United States of America…359
28 Male Muslim Activists…371
29 Organizations That Support Muslim Women’s Rights…389
Appendix: Arab Human Development Report:
The Plight of Arab Women for Equality…403
Reform Web Sites and Conferences…501
“Based on wide research and an expansive definition of reform that includes everyone from soft Islamists to ex-Muslims, Ida Lichter compellingly tells the stories of over one hundred women, organizations, and even a few men who in some way dissent from the conventional Muslim understanding of the role of the female. By bringing together this large and diverse group, the author succeeds in her important goal of amplifying the voices of dissident Muslims on whose slender shoulders hangs so much.”
– Daniel Pipes, Director, Middle East Forum
“Ida Lichter provides a comprehensive and original view of the struggle that Muslim women are putting up to obtain equal and natural rights in the face of traditional exclusion. It is a report from the front line, so to speak. In their day-to-day courage and commitment, these women are contemporary suffragettes and the outcome of their struggle is certain to determine the future of the Muslim world.”
David Pryce-Jones, Senior Editor of National Review and
author of The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs
“Muslim Women Reformers: Inspiring Voices Against Oppression is a scholarly yet heart-rending anthology of portraits of Muslim women who dare to speak out against discrimination and violence perpetrated against women in Islamic communities in nations all over the globe, from Afghanistan to Bangladesh, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, and many more—even some Muslim communities in more western or modern nations such as France or Egypt. “Background” sections briefly summarize the severity of each nation’s local religious policies where women are concerned; in extreme cases are incidents of “honor killings,” where women are murdered by male relatives—allegedly for bringing dishonor to the family, but in practice often for the slightest ill rumor, or even as a cold-blooded means to steal an inheritance. The women who dare to speak out and take action in Muslim Women Reformers risk slander, attack, or even murder for daring to take a stand; yet even as they struggle against an entrenched, misogynist, theocratic power base, they hold out hope for a better tomorrow. Muslim Women Reformers deserves the absolute highest recommendation, and a place on both public and college library … shelves.”
– Midwest Book Review