Although each of these books cover
different genres (a memoir, a sociological novel and an academic text)
they all have something in common. Each has been instrumental in opening
up a new range of concepts and ideas to me. I read these books either in
the time just before my conversion, or in the first year of being Muslim.
Today I would list these among my favourite books.
|‘Into the Wadi is the compelling
and intensely personal story of an Australian woman and the Jordanian
family into which she marries. Michèle Drouart writes about marriage,
female friendship, and the preciousness of culture and community.’
the stereotypical tale of patriarchal-dominated angst, Drouart presents an
in-depth account of her attempt to understand a new way of life and bridge
the cultural gap to become part of a new community.
||‘As a child in a Harem, I
instinctively knew that to live is to open closed doors. To live is to
look outside. To live is to step out. Life is trespassing.’
Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a
Harem Girlhood is a memoir by Fatima Mernissi that describes her youth in
a Moroccan harem during the 1940s. The young Mernissi narrates her
childhood in a walled harem in Fez. She tells us of her grandmother who
warns that the world is unfair to women and, in the end, the young girl
decides that sensuality must be a part of women's liberation. With much
folk wisdom, Mernissi weaves her own memories with the dreams and memories
of the women who surround her in the courtyard of her youth—women who,
deprived of contact with the world outside, recreated it in their
My first introduction to gender
studies in Islam, Qur’an and Woman by Amina Wadud, contributes a
gender inclusive reading to one of the most fundamental disciplines in
Islamic thought – Qur’anic exegesis. I remember reading this book in
one sitting in the university library, transfixed by its structure and
logic. Wadud breaks down specific texts and keywords that have been used
to limit women's public and private roles, even to justify violence toward
Muslim women, revealing that their original meaning and context defy such
interpretations. Her analysis clarifies the lack of gender bias,
precedence, or prejudice in the essential language of the Qur'an.
Despite much Qur’anic evidence about the significance of women, gender
reform in Muslim society has been stubbornly resisted. Wadud's reading of
the Qur’an confirms women's equality in Islam and constitutes legitimate
grounds for contesting the unequal treatment that women have experienced
historically, and continue to experience legally, in Muslim communities.