Sultana's Dream

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Sultana's Dream
May 2011


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Book Reviews

What a Muslim Woman Looks Like aims to dispel myths and stereotypes about Muslim women by telling the real stories of twelve women who participated in the 2010 Brimbank City Council Muslim Women Leadership training, and distributing their stories and images to schools, community organisations, service providers and government departments and agencies.


What a Muslim Woman Looks Like
Amra Pajalic and Demet Divaroren
Free Publication

For more information about the project visit the website:  

‘The energy that is radiated and reflected in these stories is an important lesson for all of us’
Helen Szoke - Commissioner, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

Islam Dreaming: Indigenous Muslims in Australia
Peta Stephenson
UNSW Press $49.95

While Anglo-Australians who convert to Islam often do so out of personal need, conversion for indigenous Australians has a broader social meaning. It is understood as a way of ‘repairing the deep psychological scars they suffer as a people,’ says Peta Stephenson. Untainted by the colonial associations of Christianity, Islam is embraced as a religion of liberation and decolonisation. But the story of indigenous Muslims in Australia is about more than converts. There have been three main ways of Islamic immigrants—the Makassans harvesting trepang on Australia’s northern cost in the 18th century, the Afghans who came as cameleers and helped open up the interior, and the Malays employed in the pearling –shelling industries. Islam Dreaming takes the reader all over Australia, into the homes and lives of descendants and converts, exploring what it means to be an indigenous Muslim.

Fionna Capp 
Saturday Age,
27 November 2010



Did You Know?  Refuting rigid interpretations concerning the position of women in Islam and Muslims interactions with Non-Muslims

Aziza Abdel-Halim AM
Muslim Women’s National Network of Australia Inc. (2008)


This book written by Aziza Abdel-Halim never seems to date.  It’s just as relevant today as it was when was first published in 2008.  I’ve often thought it’s the kind of book that Australian journalists should wake up to find in their Xmas stockings. I also think that many of our shaykhs, resident in Australia, would find the author’s interpretations and arguments ‘interesting’ reading.

Sydney-based Aziza Abdel-Halim is a leading Arabic language scholar. The clarity of her explanations and interpretations, based on her expert knowledge of Arabic are a joy to read and reflect upon.

In her introduction, Aziza identifies two important issues that have corrupted the thinking of some Muslims and affected the way they interpret Islamic injunctions. As she reminds us in her style that informs, but never lectures, ‘Many superstitions and innovations have entered into Islamic practices of which Islam itself is completely innocent and can easily be refuted by Islamic evidence.’

Her second argument is equally compelling: ‘Mixing up cultural beliefs and practices with Islamic teaching and allowing these beliefs to take precedence, has led to the distortion of some Islamic practices….’

Sister Aziza argues against weak and fabricated Hadith and lists numerous examples that affect women. Readers may find the following sections particularly enlightening:  the misuse of the term kafir; the origin and status of An-niqab, which she argues came about as a temporary requirement at the beginning, when Islam was first introduced; women’s attendance at mosques, shaking hands, and rules pertaining to polygamy. The above represent just a small selection of the seventy commentaries that are made with clear explanations in a non-polemical tone that go back in history to the beginnings of Islam.

There is also a chapter on contemporary influential Islamic male and female Islamic thinkers and a chapter on Australian Muslims including a brief history of Muslim women in Australia.

In the words of Aziza Abdel-Halim: ‘I hope this book will encourage readers to understand the enlightened message of Islam’.

This book I heartily recommend to Muslims and non-Muslims alike—and wonder of wonders—it’s a free publication.

Hanifa Deen

The entire book is available for free online here from the Muslim Women’s National Network Australia.