The following is a review paper which assesses Margot Badran’s Feminism in Islam: Secular and Religious Convergences. After providing an insight into the books main topics and ideas, an evaluation of Badran’s literary skills are provided to asses her credibility and introduce the main argument of the critical response. The reader will be provided with several arguments which prove that there were many male advocates of feminism in Islam which Badran chose not to include in her research. These feminists will be acknowledged and their support of feminism will be highlighted, to show that they truly deserve to be mentioned throughout her research in greater detail. Keywords & terms:
Feminism, ‘Male advocates’, equality, ‘women’s rights’, ‘chain of men’, Islam
Women are the twin halves of men:
Exploring male advocates of Islamic feminism
Margot Badran is a historian who specializes in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies. She takes great interest in women in the Islamic world and this is reflected in most of her work. Badran is currently a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. Furthermore she travels the world giving lectures about her findings and her views about women in Islam. Her work stems from the 19th century to around the 21st century, where she tries to provide an analysis of Islamic societies. Badran has been awarded on numerous occasions for her studies and has been granted and acknowledged by many organizations from around the world. In one of her latest books, Feminism in Islam: Secular and Religious Convergence which was published in 2009 by Oneworld Publications, Badran was able to provide a thorough study of Islamic Feminism. The book consists of her findings and research and tries to distinguish a difference between secular feminism and Islamic feminism. Badran’s work takes the reader across decades of research and centuries of information to provide her views on the highly debated topic of feminism in Islam (WISE, 2012). In her most renowned book Feminism in Islam: Secular and Religious Convergences, the reader is introduced to a variety of Badran’s articles which address the issue of feminism in Islam. Her articles take the reader through issues such as secular feminism in the Arab world. Discovering why feminism existed before the introduction of the Islamic religion. Her studies took her back to the 19th century where she explored this issue in Egypt. This is then compared to Islamic feminism, after the religion became a prominent part of the Middle East. Badran tries to analyze the link between Islam and feminism in the region and creates comparisons between her findings in Egypt to countries such as Turkey, Yemen and Nigeria. This comparison spreads over countries where Islam has taken different forms and importance in the hearts of the local people. Most of her work spans from the 19th century to the 21st century exploring different regions and trying to find the ‘roots’ of Islamic feminism (Badran, 2009). One of her investigations explores the issue of female circumcision in Egypt. She claims that it degrades women, and there are issues of power and politics which surrounds female genital mutilation. Badran describes the control which it portrays and discusses the United Nations conference which took place in Cairo. Nawal al-Saadawi was mentioned as being the feminist who first brought attention to this issue during the “1970s and 1980s” (Badran, 168, 2009). Another chapter which is of great interest to this review paper is chapter 8 ‘Gender Journeys into Arabic’. Badran explores the issues of gender in the Arabic language, by creating comparisons to English and returning to the roots of the word gender. She argues that the Arabic language had already distinguished genders long before the term became universal. Her research introduces her to the word Al-Jin which she discovers is related to sex. By referring to the meanings in...