A Discussion of Fatima Mernissi’s The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women’s Rights in Islam

Salaam, all!
I’ve just published my latest video on YouTube.

In this episode, we discuss Fatima Mernissi’s book The Veil And The Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation Of Women’s Rights In Islam.I address some of her main points and then in detail discuss some of the specific topics she covers, such as female leadership (turns out, that hadith on nations not succeeding if they let a woman lead is false!), Qur’anic verse 4:34, female inheritance, slavery, the hijab, Abu Hurayrah and why Aisha (r.) didn’t trust him, the Battle of the Camel, and a lot more!

I’m pasting the script below in case anyone needs it. Note that captions are available. I recognize I’m still speaking fast (sighs!) – a reminder that until I fix this habit of mine, you can change the speed of my speech by clicking the setting icon on the video, then “playback speed,” and instead of the default “Normal,” you can change it to a lower one so it’s slower.

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Video – Ramy, the Muslim Community, & Double Standards: rewarding men, punishing women | #WhatThePatriarchy?

As some of you know, I’ve started vlogging lately! It’s been a complete joy, and I’m thrilled about this new adventure of mine!

Here’s my latest one. I’ll probably post a script of this in a couple days as well, but captions are available (they’re originally automatic and I’ve corrected them). If I still speak too fast for you to follow, I apologize! I was trying very hard to speak more slowly in this one. But you can adjust the speed for yourself by clicking “settings” on the video, then playback speed, and change it as you need, as it’s automatically set to Normal.

The rest of the videos are available here.

In this video, I discuss sexist double standards and hypocrisies in our Muslim community, which celebrates actor Ramy of “Ramy” and thinks of him as some kind of a role model for the youth – despite the role he plays in “Ramy” – while in the same breath attacking Muslim women for doing basic things like, you know, existing and having opinions. I say rewarding men like Ramy is also related to rewarding known abusers and sexual predators like Nouman Ali Khan and Tariq Ramadan.

EDIT: In my sacred rage about the whole thing, I totes forgot to add a very important thing: the mosque named here ended up NOT inviting him because parents weren’t accepting it (legitimately so). To me, whether or not the event took place isn’t very relevant; the bigger issue is that any mosque in the universe can think this is acceptable in the first place!

Book Review – Forging the Ideal Educated Girl: The Production of Desirable Subjects in Muslim South Asia, by Shenila Khoja-Moolji

The following review is a (very) long and detailed version of a much shorter one that was just published in Reading Religion, a publication of the AAR. You can find the link to it below. (Short version: this is a fantastic book and would be of interest & relevance to everyone.)

Forging the Ideal Educated Girl: The Production of Desirable Subjects in Muslim South Asia, University of California Press (2018), by Shenila Khoja-Moolji

Forging the ideal educated girlThe current Western discourse around Malala’s fight for education specifically and Muslim women’s perceived inability to go to school calls for a critique of the way education and Muslim women and girls are imagined, as well as of the promise that education is the solution to all sorts of problems. This is precisely what Shenila Khoja-Moolji’s Forging the Ideal Educated Girl: The Production of Desirable Subjects in Muslim South Asia accomplishes. Through an analysis of a variety of texts, linguistic and visual—didactic novels, political speeches, government documents, periodicals, advertisements, television shows, and first-person narratives—as well as through a focus group, the author examines the discourse surrounding women’s and girls’ education, the rationales given for their education, the ideal location for obtaining education, and the ideal curriculum. She finds competing notions of the ideal educated, and the failed, female subject. The book excellently shows that class, nationalism, religion, and patriarchy shape the conversation on girls’ and women’s education. Khoja-Moolji shows the changing nature of the debate, and the fluctuating ideas of the ideal woman, as illustrated in various media, including women’s magazines, periodicals, novels, and television shows. The book relies on both archival research and focused conversations with a community in southern Pakistan about education. These focus group interviews reinforce the arguments she makes throughout the book, particularly those pertaining to class, religion, and the patriarchal family. Khoja-Moolji’s focus is on the debate of women’s education internal to Muslim societies—in colonial British India and postcolonial Pakistan—in three moments of South Asian history: the turn of the twentieth century, the first decades after the creation of Pakistan, and the turn of the twenty-first century. The book is an essential reading not just for academics interested in questions of gender, South Asia, and gender and South Asia, but also and perhaps more importantly for development and education NGOs—and for anyone who believes that Nicholas Kristoff and others like him do noble work.

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Muslims and Islam in the Republic of Georgia (Batoumi and Khulo)

I haven’t blogged in a long while, and I miss it. I am hoping to regain the energy to blog actively again because, God, how I miss it. While I work on producing more actual content, here’s some stuff on my travels last summer. This one specifically on the Republic of Georgia. I’ll talk about Berlin and Prague another time, inshaAllah. Memorable times there, too.

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Interview with Juliane Hammer on “Peaceful Families: Muslim American Efforts Against Domestic Violence”

I’m now a host on the New Books in Islamic Studies podcast. My debut interview was with someone I greatly respect and whose scholarship has had a profound influence on me – Dr. Juliane Hammer.

I read Hammer’s latest book Peaceful Families: American Muslim Efforts against Domestic Violence (University of Princeton, 2019) and then interviewed her for the podcast. Here’s a brief intro to the book and the interview followed by a link to the interview.

More coming up.

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Book Review – The Lover: A Sufi Mystery, by Laury Silvers

The Lover: A Sufi Mystery, by Laury Silvers
Published with Kindle Direct Publishing, 2019
257 pages.

The Lover Image

I recently had the pleasure of reading the historical novel everyone’s talking about – The Lover: A Sufi Mystery by Laury Silvers. Being familiar with Silvers’ academic work, I trusted this book wouldn’t be a disappointment, and I wasn’t wrong. I read it immediately after getting it (in August!), although I had planned to read it slowly and internalize every part of the story so that I could write this review, but I actually got so lost in the story that I forgot I wanted to review it. I was so absorbed in the story I read it for sheer fun the first time around and decided I’ll return to it in order to write this review. I have no regrets. (P.S. I’m always looking for excellent fiction so please feel free to share your favorite fiction. That’s how I take care of myself as an academic. Turns out, bonus points if it’s got religious themes, is historically grounded and credible, and has empowering and strong-willed female characters. No, wait, the last point is an essential; if your recommendation doesn’t cover that, I won’t be able to honor it.)

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menstrual cups are an amazing invention and why I recommend them highly

I’ve been trying menstrual cups since I  wanna say February or March of 2018, and I am so, so glad I gave them a try! I can’t believe I got introduced to them so late. I hear they’ve been around since the 1930s, and I have friends who’ve been using them for over a decade – and some who’ve been using the same cup for many, many years. Me, I’ve been using the same one for all these months. The package came with two cups, one small and one slightly larger, and a pretty little pink pouch you can carry them in. I bought mine from Rebel Kate, and I recommend purchasing only when they have one of their really cool deals going on, like free cups but you just pay a flat $11 shipping fee – to anywhere in the world. So two menstrual cups that you can use for years for $11, when the alternatives are non-reusable pads or tampons that you buy over and over and over, depending on the brand and the type, for at least $5 for just a few of pads or tampons? Yeah, I’m sticking to the menstrual cup, because it’s been working out really, really well for me, and I recognize that it may not work for everyone.

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the homophobic activism of (muslim/other) academics need to end asap.

It’s always ironic when homophobic academic-activists think their homophobic interpretations of Islam are so important for everyone to know that they worry that those with a more egalitarian interpretation of Islam might not be exposing their students to the “true Islamic” (in their opinion) view on homosexuality – i.e., homophobic views.

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