Sunday, February 13, 2011

Muslim Women Reformers by Ida Lichter

Title: Muslim Women Reformers: Inspiring Voices Against Oppression
Author: Ida Lichter

Genre: Non-Fiction (Islamic Studies / Current Events / Women's History)

Rating: Loved it!
Did I finish?: Yes -- it's esp easy to dip into and browse.
One-sentence summary: Brief, readable profiles of nearly one hundred Muslim women reformers, representing 27 countries.

Why did I get this book?: I've always been interested in religion, especially the role of women, and given that Islam is such a
Source: OnlinePublicist

Do I like the cover?: Yes -- quite striking!

Review: The size of the book or the scope might seem overwhelming, but this is a wholly readable, easy-to-understand piece of non-fiction that lifts up the work of Muslim women reformers around the world.  Living in the US, there's a great deal of misinformation about Islam and Muslims, and while this isn't an intro to Islam, it is a fabulous book for those unfamiliar with or curious about the work of women in Islam.

Each section -- organized by country -- opens with a summary about the status of women's rights, followed by profiles of key reformers.  The profiles are a mix of biography and commentary; Lichter doesn't sugarcoat or minimize the violence that many of these women have experienced.  Each profile bears witness to the struggle of being a woman, many of whom live in repressive societies, and lifts up their strength, passion, and commitment to reform. 

For those who are afraid to jump in, browse the table of contents for a recognizable name.  (For example, Iran's Azar Nafisi, author of the immensely popular Reading Lolita in Tehran, is one of the women featured.)  This book also contains a glossary and extensive footnotes, as well as over ten pages of websites, annotated.

I've found this book so handy to have as a reference; in the last month, I've reread the section on Egyptian reformers given the current revolution happening there.  The small piece on Suzanne Mubarak is fascinating given the criticisms leveled at her husband; the profile on Dr. Nawal El Saadawi made me even more appreciative of her commentary about the events there.

A timely reference for anyone interested in women, Islam, and activism around the world.  Recommend!


  1. so glad to see you liked this one ;-D

  2. I'm so glad you recommended it -- it's really been invaluable!