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Beyond the Veil, Revised Edition: Male-Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society 2nd Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0253204233
ISBN-10: 0253204232
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  • Beyond the Veil, Revised Edition: Male-Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Required reading ... " Elizabeth Fernea, University of Texas at Austin "If a reader were to select only one book in order to gain insight into women's status and prospects in Islamic society, this study should be the one chosen for its clarity, honesty, depth of knowledge and thought-provoking qualities." Arab Book World

About the Author

Fatema Mernissi is a professor of sociology at the University of Mohammed V in Rabat, Morocco. An Islamic feminist whose books have been published in twenty-six countries, she is the bestselling author of "Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood, The Veil and the Male Elite, " and "Beyond the Veil. "

Fatima Mernissi studied political science and sociology at Mohammed V University where she is now a researcher. Her many previous books include" Beyond the Veil."
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; 2 edition (April 22, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253204232
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253204233
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It is not easy to be a Muslim female and to read FatimaMernissi's book "Beyond the Veil". This book was simplyenlightening and it helped me a lot in finding many of the answers that I simply dared not ask without been regarded with scorn. It also led me to inquire further on the subject of women and Islam. The greatness of this book is in the fact that Mernissi tried to erase many of the misconceptions about women's rights in Islam as a doctrine. According to her, when it comes to women's rights, the practice of Islam in the Arab and Islamic world is not necessarily compatible with the doctrine of Islam. Rather, it is influenced by the patriarchal tradition that was born far before Islam, and which also influences the practice of religions such as Christianity and Judaism.
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Format: Paperback
The topic of male-female dynamics in Muslim society is one of the main issues covered in the book, Beyond the Veil, by Fatima Mernissi. Mernissi covers a wide range of categories, all of which pertain to the female position in a Muslim society. Though much of the data comes from Moroccan society, the general subject matter attempts to describe all Muslim society. This book has two parts, one of which focuses on the traditional view of women, and the second, which focuses on a more modern and changing view of women¡¯s place in society. A fascinating look at women in Muslim society, this book pushes the reader to question previous biases, and take a look at women in a Muslim society from a Muslim perspective.
Beyond the Veil starts out by contrasting views on female sexuality. One view is that of Imman Ghazali, and the other view is that of Sigmund Freud. Ghazali claims that the female sexuality is active, and equal to the male sexuality. Therefore, females need to be restrained in order to prevent fitna (chaos) in the social order. Freud, on the other hand, sees female sexuality as passive, and therefore masochistic. Ironically, both theories attempt to prove the same point: that women, as uncontrollable beings, are destructive to the social order and need to be restrained.
Part two of the book starts out with interviews and data collection from Moroccan society. This information is mostly focused around sexual desegregation. Mernissi¡¯s conclusions basically say that the traditional/older generation is more sexually desegregated, while the more modernized/younger generation encourages desegregation. She also points out that rural societies are more sexually traditional than urban societies.
This book reveals much about Muslim society in a simplified manner.
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Format: Paperback
Despite a fair amount of attention given to this book in the popular press a few years ago, it is not a book for a general audience. It reads like a long term paper, using terms like "symbolic capital" for "ideas", for example (although to be fair, this English version is a translation). It is also out of date, since even though the publication date is 1985, most of it was written in 1970. As for how well it covers the subject stated in the title, I was disappointed. Many times in the text, Mernissi writes "I will now examine (a topic)" yet at the end of the section, I didn't feel that she had. Especially missing in my mind was information on what the "liberated" muslim women are saying about themselves, about being educated to the same level as men, and working outside of the home for wages. Mernissi reports having had unstructured interviews with six such modern women, but except for listing their ages, marital status, and occupations in a table, never mentions them again. These are women who were breaking new ground in male-female relations in 1970 but we don't get to hear what their experience was. Instead we get a series of basically philosophical discussions on the roles of women, men, and the heterosexual relationship in Morrocan Islamic society based on Islamic texts hundreds of years old. This book is really for political science or religious studies majors only.
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Format: Paperback
Wow! This book really raises some serious, thought-provoking questions regarding female sexual status, and sexual self-determination in Arab-Muslim societies. If I had read this book in the 70s - when it was first written and published - I would have really thought of it as a classic work, but I wasn't born then.

Yet, the book is incredibly outdated. Mernissi does a good job in questioning the general notions (and misconceptions) widespread in her days about religion and the inferiority of women. However, she is out of touch with the contemporary revolutionary ideas that claimed Islam back from the selfish authority of the benighted "Mullahs," who misinterpted Islam out of ignorance, or to fulfill their own political agendas (as still happening in some Muslim countries, wherein Muslim women are subjugated and denied basic rights, such as education.)

Working at the courts in my conservative Gulf country, I witnessed cases in which women "self-determinedly" divorced their husbands, who could not satisfy them sexually. (Lol, awww! I can't believe I'm saying this!)

Even with some historical and Islamic inaccuracies (for instance, many hadiths - Prophetic traditions - quoted by Mernissi have been outruled as inauthentic by contemporary Islamic scholars, thus invalidating many of her arguments and theories), I found this book to be very interesting, and it sheds light - though indirectly, and perhaps unintentionally - on Moroccan history and culture. The chapter on Mothers-in-Law was especially amusing!

It is unfair to criticize the book without taking into consideration the fact that it was written decades ago, and until the latest edition (1985), it must have been current. Instead of complaining about the book and its outdated content, I think I'll just go ahead and write a well-researched book on the same topic!
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