Nimat Hafez Barazangi: Book Reviews

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This collection consists of four reviews, mainly in the field of Muslim women studies. Three of these reviews that are listed under this collection are available on this site as PDF files. The forth is also available online as part of another website.

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Now showing 1 - 4 of 4
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    Book Review of: The Rights of Women in Islam by Asghar Ali Engineer
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Oxford University Press, 1994)
    Engineer's book though not unique in its purpose, the defense of women's rights in Islam, is different from other books that deal with the same subject in its approach to the "question of women." By attempting , in this book, "to separate what is contextual from what is normative" and to "recapture the original spirit of Qur'anic laws with regard to male-female relationship," the author hoped to equip Muslim feminists with a powerful weapon in their fight for equal status with men (p. vi). The author is to be commended for this unprecedented courage to contradict what has been the customary views on women's rights in Islam, whether by Muslims or non-Muslims. His documentation from the Qur'an, Hadith and early Islamic history of issues like sexual equality, marriage, divorce, and others that have been only presented from the Muqallidun's (those who follow the foot-steps of ancestors) points of view is a major step by a Muslim male scholar.
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    Book Review of: Qur'an and Woman by Amina Wadud-Muhsin
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Oxford University Press, 1994)
    Wadud-Muhsin's book is a welcomed addition to Islamic studies scholarly work as well as to the list of readings in Women's Studies and Islamic Studies courses. The media and the popular culture literature in America and Europe are not the only biased group in portraying women in Islam as "oppressed" and that their liberation can take place only outside Islam. Contrary to my trust in the impartiality of educational institutions, I am finding that such institutions are more inequitable when it comes to scholars who address the "Muslim woman question" from within the framework of Islam. I was surprised, for instance to find that only one theological seminary library in the entire United States has obtained this book, even though many universities, including my institution, have a long list of recent publications on Muslim women.
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    Book Review of: Claiming Our Rights: A Manual for Women's Human Rights Education in Muslim Societies by Mahnaz Afkhami and Haleh Vaziri
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Association for Middle East Womens Studies, 1997)
    The purpose of Claiming Our Rights: A Manual for Women's Human Rights Education in Muslim Societies by Mahnaz Afkhami and Haleh Vaziri (Bethesda, MD: Sisterhood Is Global Institute, 154 pp., 1996) is "to facilitate transmission of the universal human rights concepts inscribed in the major international human rights documents to grassroots populations in Muslim societies." It is an invaluable contribution of the Sisterhood Is Global Institute (SIGI) and a much needed beginning to educate Muslim women's of their rights in Islam. Its themes, derived from the mission statement of Platform for Action of the Beijing Conference (iv), are necessary for individuals who are already aware and started to question the discrepancy in the practice concerning their human rights. What is needed in the methodology, therefore, is a section that will facilitate awareness-raising as the initial step that will instigate women to start questioning and dialoguing about the different themes. This methodological adjustment would have been addressed intuitively had the authors, as well as the scholars and practitioners who were consulted, considered an important element in their explanation of the meaning of "Shari`ah" under the section "Major Premise." The authors, despite their utmost care not to "impart the truth" but to "facilitate dialogue" (Mahnaz Afkhami's letter of introduction) have over-looked the fact that human knowledge and action are affected by the human belief system. Whether we call it "religion," "faith," or "worldview", such a belief system composes an important component of one's prior knowledge. This prior knowledge either makes an individual aware or dormant concerning abuses of her human rights. It also makes an individual either accept or reject the "central premise of this human rights educational model that there is no contradictions between human rights and Islam." (v)
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    Book Review of: Gender and Human Rights in Islam and International Law: Equal Before Allah, Unequal Before Man? by Shaheen Sardar Ali
    Barazangi, Nimat Hafez (Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy, 2003)
    The objective of this book is "to engage in a conceptual analysis of human rights in Islam and international law, and application of this analytical discourse to explore women's human rights in the Islamic tradition" (p.3). Sardar Ali is responding to the question "of whether Islam is opposed to women's human rights and equality" that has assumed a special significance in the post United Nations era.