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A Quiet Revolution: The Veils Resurgence, from the Middle East to America Hardcover – April 29, 2011
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"A Quiet Revolution is an important book.It provides a thorough history of the resurgence of the veil both in the Muslim world and in the U.S. and adds significant nuance to the complex issues that surround the veil. Ahmed's work will no doubt continue to inspire a new generation of Muslim feminists."—Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles Times)
About the Author
Leila Ahmed is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School. She is the author of Women and Gender in Islam and A Border Passage: From Cairo to America—A Woman's Journey. She lives in Cambridge, MA.
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In the latter part of the book the focus shifts to America. Here again the veil is put in the context of a much larger development of Muslim society in America - if one can speak of "a" Muslim society.
My one concern with this book is that she refers to the leadership of the largest Muslim organizations in America, generically, as Muslim Brotherhood. I see the point that she is making. The form of Islam that has become normative in the Islamic Society of North America has an intentional piety that might be associated with the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt. I question how accurate it is to carry that description over to America, as if somehow various American Muslim organizations are extensions of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. They are not, even if some of the practices look similar.
This book is rigorous in its research but at the same time personal and sensitive.
The fact that the resurgence of the veil is partly driven by Muslim women wanting to make a statement of a proud identity is not a surprise to me. It is also not a surprise that it is for some women in the Muslim world, influenced by Muslim men and their particular strain of belief and politics. Muslim women are no different to us in this way they are influenced by their men. No-one can deny that we western women dress to please our men, but we focus on getting their attention and many of us in the wrong way. It is fascinating though that the motivations are so opposed.
The Hijab appears extreme to us and it is in comparison. Although since I have been learning and opening my mind, the more beautiful I find it. Just for the record though, I am one who does not approve of our young women presenting themselves in society like Las Vegas Hookers from a very young age, but that's just me.
The history of the resurgence of the veil is an efficient reflection of recent Middle Eastern history, coupled with Muslim women's now growing rejection of many elements of the western lifestyle. In my opinion this is very understandable given that western dress was an influence virtually forced upon their societies through unwanted colonisation, agressive annexing and brutal warfare. This was all the time fuelled by a stream of callous greed and strategic alliances forged for the protection of western interests with no regard for the safety, rights or sensitivities of the local people.
Whilst the book is completely non-political in its intent, once you read and reflect upon what has happened in the last century alone, one cannot help sympathise with the innocent mainstream of people in the Middle East and what they have endured at the hands of the rest of the world and that it has built understandable mistrust and resentment.
The Middle East have rarely had any respite from outside power and influence and when they have they have shown, in my opinion, that they simply want what the rest of us do, peace, freedom and the right to worship as they wish.
This book highlights the resurence of one of the most arresting and confronting visible identities of Islam as a "ladylike" show of pride in their identity and a stand for their right to firstly please their God and then themselves.