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Fighting Hislam: Women, Faith and Sexism by [Carland, Susan]
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Fighting Hislam: Women, Faith and Sexism Kindle Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Length: 147 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English

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Product Description

"The Muslim community that is portrayed to the West is a misogynist’s playground; within the Muslim community, feminism is often regarded with sneering hostility.

Yet between those two views there is a group of Muslim women many do not believe exists: a diverse bunch who fight sexism from within, as committed to the fight as they are to their faith. Hemmed in by Islamophobia and sexism, they fight against sexism with their minds, words and bodies. Often, their biggest weapon is their religion.


Here, Carland talks with Muslim women about how they are making a stand for their sex, while holding fast to their faith.


At a time when the media trumpets scandalous revelations about life for women from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia, Muslim women are always spoken about and over, never with. In Fighting Hislam, that ends."

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3836 KB
  • Print Length: 147 pages
  • Publisher: Melbourne University Press Digital (1 May 2017)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B06Y59WXNZ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,123 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Susan Carland asks the serious questions of women of Islamic faith who in turn reflect on and from their experiences and path-finding ways to uncovering the true scriptural supports for their voices to be heard alongside men of Islamic faith- not banished to the back-room or to within the home alone. Her work reminds me of the ground-breaking understanding which came from female anthropologists such as Diane Bell in her book Ngarrindjeri - shifting the focus formerly reflecting male anthropologists and their total lack of understanding that Indigenous women had different but equal sacred/secret roles within those societies here in Australia. I was also put in mind of the stereotypical ways in which women in Japan are incorrectly viewed by men AND many women, too in Australia. Women in Japan manage household and family budgets (the entire salary handed over by husbands) encourage their children through the educational stresses and look after their in-laws! They are the true backbone of that nation! (I say this from having lived nearly two decades in Japan.) Susan Carland's work reminds us that stereotyping and bigoted assumptions need to be discarded - that we need to see beyond the garments - to not be fearful of the differences - to look for the human in each other.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I was intrigued by the title of this book, interested to read what Susan Carland has to say about sexism and faith. But first, a little about Dr Susan Carland. Susan converted to Islam when she was aged 19. She had explored other religions, but felt an intellectual connection to the Islamic faith. Dr Susan Carland is a sociologist and lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne, and ‘Fighting Hislam’ began life as her PhD thesis. Susan Carland married Waleed Aly in 2002: they are arguably the most recognised Muslim couple in Australia.

In this book, Dr Carland draws together the experiences of twenty-three Muslim women, of their individual fights against sexism. Sixteen of the twenty-three women involved are from North America, the other seven are from Australia. While these are well-educated, articulate women, their experiences are different as are their approaches to dealing with sexism. Two of the women involved have since died.

What I found most interesting about this book is the diversity of the views expressed. While none of the Muslim women I know personally are either oppressed or part of a harem, the clichés persist. Muslim women are often identifiable by the way they dress (as were, I recall, Catholic nuns in the 1960s and earlier). And I’m old enough to remember when most Christian women covered their heads in church. The point of my digression? Simply that we ‘other’ people based on assumptions we make which are often based on clichés or partial information. Many assume that no woman would choose to cover her hair and, if she does, it is because she is forced to. And this assumption becomes for many of us the basis of our ‘knowledge’ that (all) Muslim women are oppressed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars ‘The wider community thinks the Muslim community is a monolith… ‘ 19 May 2017
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith - Published on Amazon.com
I was intrigued by the title of this book, interested to read what Susan Carland has to say about sexism and faith. But first, a little about Dr Susan Carland. Susan converted to Islam when she was aged 19. She had explored other religions, but felt an intellectual connection to the Islamic faith. Dr Susan Carland is a sociologist and lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne, and ‘Fighting Hislam’ began life as her PhD thesis. Susan Carland married Waleed Aly in 2002: they are arguably the most recognised Muslim couple in Australia.

In this book, Dr Carland draws together the experiences of twenty-three Muslim women, of their individual fights against sexism. Sixteen of the twenty-three women involved are from North America, the other seven are from Australia. While these are well-educated, articulate women, their experiences are different as are their approaches to dealing with sexism. Two of the women involved have since died.

What I found most interesting about this book is the diversity of the views expressed. While none of the Muslim women I know personally are either oppressed or part of a harem, the clichés persist. Muslim women are often identifiable by the way they dress (as were, I recall, Catholic nuns in the 1960s and earlier). And I’m old enough to remember when most Christian women covered their heads in church. The point of my digression? Simply that we ‘other’ people based on assumptions we make which are often based on clichés or partial information. Many assume that no woman would choose to cover her hair and, if she does, it is because she is forced to. And this assumption becomes for many of us the basis of our ‘knowledge’ that (all) Muslim women are oppressed.

‘There is a saying among Muslims: you don’t read the Qur’an, the Qur’an reads you.’

This saying goes a long way towards explaining the different ways in which the Qur’an can be interpreted by individuals as diverse as the Persian poet Rumi, and the leader of the Islamic State. These different interpretations also a part of the reason why Muslim women need to fight against sexism. The important point Dr Carland makes is that the sexism arises from different interpretations of Islam, that sexism is not an inherent part of the religion.

Dr Carland describes the different boundaries that Muslim women need to negotiate when trying to address sexism: if they speak out, do they give the Islamophobes more fuel against Islam? How will they be viewed within their own communities where, frequently, feminism is seen as a western influence (and therefore probably suspect)? Is faith enough?

I finished this book wondering about the future. Some of the fight against sexism in Islam is similar to battles fought (and still being fought) in the community more broadly. Equality may have been achieved in some societies in relation to some aspects of life, but the battle continues. And the answer? Alas, there is no single answer: the community is too diverse for a single, simple answer. But I can hope that the conversation continues. This is a book to read and reflect on, to discuss with others. For my own part, I saw many similarities between the roles of Muslim women and the roles of women more generally over the past four or five decades. Far more similarities than differences.

Note: My thanks to Melbourne University Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith