- Unknown Binding
- ASIN: B004W3QAPA
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,904,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women Are Transforming the Middle East (Council on Foreign Relations Book) [Hardcover] Unknown Binding – 2010
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Coleman presents the success of Islamic feminism through her travels to five key nations in the Middle East--Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia--and conversations with Muslim men and women working towards the improvement of the status of women. The book's presentation of these individuals alongside historical and political analyses of the region allows for an exceedingly engaging and informative read.
Paradise Beneath Her Feet is an overview of both the history and current state of affairs with regard to women's rights in the Middle East. Each chapter is devoted to one of the major Middle Eastern nations. Issues are complex and progress is slow, but courageous and persistent women in these countries are speaking out for fair treatment and equal rights. They arm themselves with verses from the Quran which call for justice and nonviolence toward women.
The key challenge lies in disentangling cultural traditions from the actual tenets of Islam. Many of the restrictions placed on women in the name of Islam come from primitive beliefs not supported by the Quran. As these women study the Quran on their own, they are able to show that many Muslim family laws are not defensible using holy scripture.
From the back flyleaf: "Isobel Coleman is a senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, where she also directs the council's Women and Foreign Policy program." From one of the reviews (this one by Jeanette) at Amazon.com: "This book is the result of nearly a decade of travel, study, interviews, and writing about women in the Middle East."
Talk about convincing! Wow. Coleman offers direct (sometimes anecdotal, much more often statistical) evidence to prove the value of giving money to women (not men), and educating women (along with men). Here, she writes about educating women: "Due to the central role women play in the domestic sphere, increasing a mother's schooling has a larger positive impact on the next generation than does adding to a father's schooling by the same number of years" (p. 19). The direct, positive correlation between a country's openness to educating women and that country's rise from poverty is clear and well established.
I thought Coleman's comments about promoting women to government positions as a way to counter extremism was insightful and accurate. (Isn't it interesting that in America (between 1848 and 1920) "conservative Christians sustained a consistent rhetoric that giving women rights was against the teachings of the Bible, and would undermine the family" (p. 27), and as recently as 2010: "The Vatican today [July 15, 2010] made the `attempted ordination' of women one of the gravest crimes under church law, putting it in the same category as clerical sex abuse of minors, heresy and schism." Can you believe it? Islam doesn't even allow men and women to pray together (p. 33).Read more ›
Isobel Coleman has written a concise and inspiring account of how individual women are changing the attitudes in the Middle East. Through the use of traditional religious texts, in this case the Holy Qur'an, women are successfully challenging how they are being treated and winning concessions from the male hierarchy. Ms. Coleman has a real gift for presenting these women as vibrant, intelligent individuals. Her ability to mix anecdote with hard fact makes this book a real joy to read. As one who has recently completed studies on a Master's Degree in international diplomacy, I have had to wade through many dry tomes. Paradise Beneath Her Feet does not fall into that category. It is that rare and happy mix of informative and entertaining. It also goes a long way towards dispelling the misconceptions that surround Islam and the Holy Qur'an. Paradise Beneath Her Feet should be required reading for anyone interested in human rights, religion, or international relations.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's getting better!
Isobel Coleman writes well about the plight of women in the Middle East. Read more
Don't buy this book! Unless you want to read a textbook. My entire book club members disliked it! Was hoping to learn something new, but had to quit trying. Extremely repetitive!Published on September 3, 2013 by Rosie Antonecchia
In a world where a male-dominated powerful society routinely ignores and persecutes half of its people, there is hope for a positive transformation. Read morePublished on April 7, 2013 by Scott Haraburda
My partner surprised me with this book and so far its amazing...good info...makes me wanna go out and support and help these women in all of these countries. Read morePublished on February 3, 2013 by Allison
There is a fragile breeze of change in the ME. Isobel Coleman, a member of the US based Council on Foreign Relations, takes a fascinating look at nascent feminism in the Muslim... Read morePublished on February 15, 2012 by L. King
I would highly recommend Paradise Beneath Her Feet to anyone interested in understanding the Middle East today, particularly given the uprisings of the past year that have rocked... Read morePublished on January 10, 2012 by Kitaabi
Isobel Coleman's book has inspired me. As a woman who overcame poverty in the United States, I thought that I had a hard go. I was incredibly wrong. Read morePublished on August 22, 2011 by From Kuwait