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Paperback Believing Women in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an Book

ISBN: 1477315926

ISBN13: 9781477315927

Believing Women in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an

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Book Overview

Does Islam call for the oppression of women? Non-Muslims point to the subjugation of women that occurs in many Muslim countries, especially those that claim to be Islamic, while many Muslims read the Qur'an in ways that seem to justify sexual oppression, inequality, and patriarchy. Taking a wholly different view, Asma Barlas develops a believer's reading of the Qur'an that demonstrates the radically egalitarian and antipatriarchal nature of its teachings...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Barlas another voice to listen to

There's an old arabic saying, loosely translated, which says that the heart is a mirror. Usually this is taken to mean that we love those who love us but here I'm reminded of the rendering because Dr. Barlas not only brought her considerable intellect to bear on her reading of Qur'an but from the text of her book it's also clear that she brought her heart along as well. Though there are admittedly those who believe that their reading should stop at the end of tafsir (an extended qur'anic commentary completed around a thousand years ago) and the ahadith (or extra qur'anic sayings of the prophet which was also completed about a thousand years ago), that should not prevent those, like Barlas, who wish to continue to write and reflect with their hearts on Qur'an.

Wishing to see more publications to reveal the real face of Islam

I enjoyed reading the book. It was written after a detailed investigation about the religion of Islam and how God's revelations were interpreted over many centuries. It is clear from that book that Islam does not dictate the Arabic customs as the principles of Islam. God's ayets about women should be carefully read and interpreted, as this book has explained so. I see this book as a valuable contribution to humanity.


This book is the most excellent attempt to explain and differentiate the inconsistencies that have led to large-scale mis-interpretation and abuse of Quranic precepts. Ms. Barlas has done a brilliant job in writing to both Muslims and Non-Muslims. To those of you who are eager to dismiss her as an 'apologist', this book is not meant to make excuses: it simply presents a very valid view point that is defensible, even in the most rigorous academic discourse.

A powerful and convincing case for Muslim women's equality

"Believing Women in Islam" is a must read for every individual, Muslim or non-Muslim, who labors under the misapprehension that God has spoken to the Muslims in patriarchal terms, or that Islam's holy book, the Qur'an, sanctions gender inequality. For Muslim women who already trust in their equal status before God, "Believing Women" is a tremendously satisfying read. In thoughtful and convincing tones, Asma Barlas has rigorously examined and meticulously documented the radically egalitarian text of the Qur'an. Reminding us that the Qur'an itself instructs us to read it for its best meaning and in light of its thematic whole, Dr. Barlas turns misogynistic interpretations rather definitively on their head. With this book, Dr. Barlas has performed an invaluable service to Muslim women and their struggle both within and outside of the Muslim community. Passage by passage, sometimes even word by word, she confronts patriarchal exegesis of the Qur'an and reclaims an egalitarian reading. Skeptics who argue that Islam in practice too often fails women, as well as those who sincerely believe in misogynistic interpretations of Islam will be hard-pressed to engage Dr. Barlas' argument on its own terms--in light of a Qur'an framework and with the premise that, while people are fallible and often self-interested, God is infallible and always just. As a Muslim woman, the journey through "Believing Women" was self-affirming and empowering. I also believe it would be of great value to my cherished and well-meaning non-Muslim friends and family who, in honest moments, no doubt still wonder how a feminist and an attorney like myself could convert to Islam. For the same and sound reason many Muslims prefer that the Qur'an be interpreted and taught by Muslims, Muslim women have the right to hear their own voices in the ongoing discussion of what the Qur'an says about and to women. Dr. Barlas' book is an excellent place to start, and I urge everyone interested in Islam and women to buy this book.

A Must read for all muslim women and men

This book by Asma is a liberating phenomenon for Muslims who have suffered from misinterpretation of the Quranic text. Beyond liberating women, Asma also shows the magnificence of Islam as a liberating religion for the human race. Translating this work to other languages, especially Arabic, should be a priority. The book's only setback is its academic language which will make it hard to follow by the layperson. I believe that a simplified version of the book will help spread its message to the masses. Thank you Asma.
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