This essay draws on several talks and
conversations: Brandeis University, 17 March 1998; Harvard University, 19
November 1998; and American Association of Religion, 23 November 1999. 1 would
like to thank the organizers of each event for giving me the opportunity to
present these ideas, and other panel participants and the audience for critical
comments. Special thanks to Camron Amin, Janet Jakobsen, Irena Klepfisz, and Ann
Pellegrini for many thoughtful conversations.
The implementation of the Shari’a
and the institutionalization of gender inequality in the aftermath of the
revolution led to the disillusionment of the gender-sensitive Islamist women and
triggered their discontent. Through their involvement in politics they attempted
to present a different reading of Islam and Islamic laws which would be more
attentive to the condition of women.
Women migrants in Europe or North America have long started to
denounce the dangerous softness with which oppressive laws, customs and
practices against women, imported from our countries and cultures, are tolerated
or encouraged in the host countries, - in the name of tolerance, of respect of
the Other, of the right to difference, of putting at par different cultures or
own governments, governments of the countries of immigration are prepared to
sell out the well being, the human rights and the civil right
Women’s issues are now an integral
part of modern Islamic discourses, as evidenced in the plethora of ‘Women in
Islam’ titles in religious publishing projects all over the Muslim world. In practice, this
has entailed re-readings of the old texts in search of solutions - or more
precisely, Islamic alternatives - for a very modern problem, which has to do
with the changed status of women and the need to accommodate their aspirations
for equality and to define and control their increasing participation in t
The Islamic ideology regards women with a mixture of fear and paternalism, and sees
them both as the source of evil and as the most vulnerable member of the
household, in need of constant surveillance and protection. the policies of the
majority of Muslim states are accordingly framed, often equating women with
children and the insane.
which literally translated means total submission, is not merely a belief
system, but also a way of life and Muslims are expected to run their lives
according to the Qur’anic injunctions.
Iran's reformist-controled Majlis, or parliament, has adopted a proposal expanding women's rights regarding divorce less than two months after winning a protracted battle with conservatives over a more limited reform.