Essay about A Look At the Contemporary Muslim Woman and the Challenges She Faces

Essay about A Look At the Contemporary Muslim Woman and the Challenges She Faces

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In her newest book, Velvet Jihad: Muslim Women's Quiet Resistance to Islamic Fundamentalism, Faegheh Shirazi brings together a multitude of sources and observations to create an informative look at the contemporary Muslim women as well as the challenges she faces. This book is a scholarly look at many aspects of life for Muslim women with emphasis on contemporary struggles. Shirazi focuses on six main topics, separating them into the chapters for her book. She aims to prove that Muslim women's resistance against patriarchal policies has been historically present and is currently gaining momentum against fundamentalist Islamic practices.
Chapter One of Velvet Jihad brings up the issue of honor and virginity as it is seen in the Muslim world. After providing a historical background for the importance of virginity in patriarchal societies, Shirazi moves on to more current problems. She details the concept of honor killings, which still occur regularly in more conservative Islamic countries. Sometimes, when a woman shames her family or tribe in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan, she is killed to reestablish the families honor. Shirazi provides a recent example where children were forced to watch as their aunt was murdered. The violence and startling brutality of the act were surprising in their contemporary setting. Next, Shirazi writes about virginity and its importance to Muslim women. Many Muslim women (along with Christian and Jewish women) are getting hymenoplasties to restore the hymen and become biological virgins again before getting married. Doctors performing these surgeries in the Middle East and elsewhere receive death threats similar to abortion doctors in the United States. Shirazi highlights the expecte...


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... excellent read and an even better source of information. Not only was her style effective at conveying her message, she did not write in an academic vocabulary leaving her message accessible to anyone. She covered a great variety of subjects but still kept a balanced level of detail. Her use of contemporary examples and her ability to provide global context make this book an excellent example of research in the field of Islamic women's studies. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a brief, yet thorough introduction to the field. I will close with a quotation found at the end of her book, where Shirazi summarizes her idea of the velvet jihad:
“The velvet jihad, then, is a response to the Qur'anic call.
Let there arise out of you
A band of people
Inviting to all that is good
Enjoining what is right,
And forbidding what is wrong.”
[Shirazi, 226]

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