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Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women Paperback – December 1, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
All of this said, we Muslims need to think hard about her views as we create the surface perceptions she reflects. Rather than condemn her work, we need to ask outselves why we give others such impressions. In return outsides owe us to dig deeper for the truth.
Of course Brooks brings a Western point of view to her subject, and is intensely critical of a system where women are subject to male family members with few personal rights. She is careful to point out that Islamic law does provide for inheritance by women and allows a type of pre-marriage contract that can protect them from the husband's polygamy, give them the right of divorce, establish that their education will be allowed to continue, etc. But one suspects that these privileges are available only to the wealthy as a practical matter.
Brooks is careful to distinguish various Muslim societies from one another, just as one sees huge differences among Christian countries. She along with most authors I've read has little good to say about Saudi Arabia. But interestingly, she identifies Iran as a more progressive society in which women are permitted to work and participate in politics. And Egypt is described as having a lively, sensual culture that she believes will never be snuffed out by fundamentalists.
One of the more disturbing chapters of the book deals with education. The number of women in school is unacceptably low,education often ceases as women are wed at a very early age, and much schooling is focused on the study of Islam. Even more disturbing is the increasing control fundamentalists exert over educational institutions, which results in a student body much more conservative than the faculty who were educated in more open-minded times.Read more ›
Ms. Brooks is a secular feminist. She makes no secret of that. And, as a woman, she was able to gain entry into a the world behind the heavy veils, which she often needed to wear herself. She spoke with many woman, did a lot of research, and moved within this special world as an observer and witness to her times.
Her interviews ranged from the Queen of Jordan to a Palestinian woman who lived in with her husband, his second wife and all their children in a modest hut. Some of the women she talked with were highly educated; others had never learned to read and write. They all accepted their religion and were able to express their point of view in a way I could understand even though some of them were often hostile to westerners.
Ms. Brooks tried to cover a lot in her book -- the treatment of women in different countries, the practice of genital mutilation, education of women, legal status. She even discussed the contradictions about the status of women all the way back to Mohammed's time. That's a big order for a little book. It was not always successful. It only opened my mind. It did not satisfy it, leaving me with a desire to learn more. And especially wanting to read some works written from an Islamic woman's point of view.
Also, since its publication in 1995, much of it is dated. Her interview with Mrs. Khomeini at the time of the Ayatollah's death took place in 1989. And, more recently, Jordan's King Hussein and Syria's Hafez Assad have passed away. But I must say that this book did open my eyes. It's time now to learn more.
Brooks writes honestly and directly about the good and bad of Islam, and how it influences women. She doesn't pull any punches, but also is not writing to denigrate, as she finds aspects of official and folk Islam that both hurt and assist women. She speaks of the positive attitude Islam has towards sexuality, being largely uncorrupted by the Greek dualism that invaded later Christianity, so that, within marriage, Muslims are encouraged to celebrate the gift of God in sex. Indeed, this provides the title of the book, as Ali, the 4th Khalifa, speaks of how sexual desire is 1/10th the man's, and 9/10ths the woman's. Of course, this provides later motive to sequester women, put them in hijab, and restrict them, so that the "ever-devouring vagina", as later Islamic jurists speak of, does not overcome the men around them.
Since Brooks relies primarily on her experiences, with what she's seen with her own eyes and heard with her own ears, she is hard to argue with. This is the plight of many women in the Muslim world. But lest we think these are limited experiences of one Western woman talking with a few Arab and Persian women scattered in a few countries, Brooks has also done extensive research to intersperse between her stories- relying on the Qur'an, Hadith, Ijtihad, and Muslim history.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I didncare for this book. i normally like Geraldine Brooks but the subject matter did not interest me at all.Published 11 days ago by Pat Iannone
Difficult to get into and I found it slow to read but interesting subject matterPublished 20 days ago by Dorene Walters
I gained a lot of perspective from this book and I enjoyed reading it.Published 21 days ago by Christina Zastrow
Very interesting and enjoyable. Terrific insight into status of women in the middle east countries.Published 3 months ago by MMS
With Islam an almost every day occurrence in the news these days. this book captures the lives of women in the Islamic culture. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Lynnie
Masochism in the name of religion is abominable!! As a teacher, I make this required reading.Published 4 months ago by Pamela Moore Peak
If you are choosing this book for depth of understanding behind any religious justification of how Muslim women are treated, this book will give you a good place to start, but it... Read morePublished 5 months ago by T J Ganski