POLITICAL SCIENCE SEMINAR
Fairmont State College
Islam is one of the most rapidly growing religions in the world now claiming the allegiance of one-fifth of the world's population. Whereas in the past, the West paid little or no attention to the Muslim world, in recent decades Islam has attracted the attention of the West and has become an important force in international and domestic affairs. The recent revival of religiously centered or theopolitical ideologies has become a major concern for world policy makers in the twenty first century in light of events of history altering proportion on September 11, 2001 and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the war on terrorism. The causes of this revival are complex and their manifestations numerous. Perceiving threats to the traditional Islamic order by the forces of "western imperialism" and subsequent "w estoxification," many Islamic theopolitical movements have emerged and are challenging the forces of secularization and modernization. This seminar will study the important question facing the Muslim world today: can Islam and democracy mix? The seminar will focus on the study of Islam as a vehicle for political action and will analyze various issues and areas of confrontation between those who want a return to traditional Islam and the forces of democratization.
The purpose of this seminar will be to give the students an understanding of politics in the Islamic world as well as experience in independent study and research. The course will consist of lectures giving factual and interpretative information on Islam in general and on the politics of Islam. A series of documentary films on Islam will be shown during the course of the semester. Students will also be asked to read a number of articles to be provided by the instructor. Following the lectures and film presentations, students will be asked to discuss their content based on their knowledge and understanding of Islam acquired in their readings. In addition, students will be encouraged to explore the vast amount of literature available on Islam.
Students must remember that in order to understand Islam it is important to attempt to disregard the western view of the world and seek to understand Islamic politics in the context of the Islamic mind and experience.
CLASS ATTENDANCE AND PARTICIPATION:
The seminar will meet once a week from 3:00 to 5:50 p.m.. There will be a ten minute break. Students will be required to attend the entire class and will be evaluated on their participation in class discussions in addition to evaluation of their written work. Students who miss a three-hour class without a valid excuse will have their grade for the course lowered by one letter grade for each unexcused absence.
Students will be required to read assignments in the following textbooks:
John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Mir Zohair Husain, Global Islamic Politics. New York: Longman, 2003
Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and John L. Esposito Eds. Islam, Gender, and Social Change. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
In addition students will be required to read other articles provided by the instructor or placed on reserve in the library.
There will be one mid-semester examination and a final. The final will be given in order to test the knowledge derived from the lectures and reading assignments.
The final is scheduled on May 4, 2004 at 3:00pm.
Students will be required to write a research paper. The topic of the research paper must be one that deals with an aspect of one of the major issues or problems confronting Islam today. Students will start reading about Islam and the politics of Islam during the first half of the semester after which they will have had enough time to have developed an interest in a particular topic that they will wish to explore in greater depth. Students will consult with the instructor and obtain approval of the topic. It is hoped that students not only learn a great deal about their topic but that they will also find their research exciting.
A research prospectus must be submitted by March 19, 2004. This prospectus will include the following: 1) a statement briefly describing the topic to be researched and thesis; 2) a research design; and 3) an initial bibliography.
Term paper will be approximately 15 to 20 pages long and will include footnotes and extensive bibliography. References will include both primary and secondary sources. Note that the paper must not derive its information solely from Internet sources. Of course, occasionally some references may be made to sources derived from this electronic medium.
Students are encouraged to communicate with the instructor and discuss the progress made on their research projects.
Completed term paper in its final format will be due on April 28, 2004 and will be returned to the student on May 4, 2004.
ORAL PRESENTATIONS OF RESEARCH BY STUDENTS:
Students will be required to make a thirty-minute presentation in class on their research at the end of the semester. Presentations will be followed by class discussion of the paper. Presentations will be scheduled by drawing straws. At least three presentations will be given during each three-hour class. The number of days set aside for presentations will be determined by the number of students enrolled in the course. (Seminars usually have an approximate maximum of ten students).
CURRENT EVENTS ASSIGNMENTS:
Students are encouraged to keep up with news from the Islamic world. In addition to reading or watching the western news media they may access news reports from the foreign media on the internet. In this way, students will be exposed to an interpretation of events from the point of view of the non-American media. Students, however, will have to use their judgement in assessing the validity of the information and its interpretation.
My office is located in room 110D in Hardway Building.
My office hours are:
T 8:00-9:00 and 2:00-3:00
Office Tel #: 304-367-4163
Fax # 304-3674785
I. Introduction to Islam
- a. Monotheistic Abrahamic background and the prophetic traditions
- b. The Prophet Muhammad
- c. The Qur'an
- d. Basic beliefs and values
- e. Historical development: the growth and spread of Islam
- d. The sects of Islam
- e. The Hadiths
- f. The Sunnah
- g. The Shari'ah
- h. Islamic philosophy
- i. Comparisons with Christianity and Judaism
Readings : John Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path
Additional readings on reserve in the library and in special handouts.
II. Contemporary Islam
a. Islam: a vehicle for political action
b. Islamism past and present
c. Islamism and Islamic revivals
d. Fundamentalists, Traditionalists, and Modernists, secularists ...
e. Crises in the Muslim states:
- Global Islamism: The nation state vs. the Islamic Umma
- Identity crisis
- Legitimacy crisis
- Penetration crisis
- Distribution crisis
- Participation crisis
Readings : Mir Zohair Husain, Islamic politics.
Additional Readings on reserve in the library and in special handouts.
III. Example of Crisis in Contemporary Islam Fundamentalism vs. Feminism
a. Women in Pre-Islamic Arabia
b. Women and the Prophet Muhammad
c. Women in the Qur'an
d. The Shari'ah and women
e. The Veil and seclusion
f. Islam, Gender and social change
g. Feminist movements in Egypt
h. Islamic women of influence and power
i. Successes of the feminist movement in Egypt
j. The feminist movement since the 1952 Egyptian revolution
k The representation of women in modern literature, the press, and films
l. The feminist movement's confrontation with Islamic fundamentalism
m. Current struggles of the feminist movement
Readings : Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and John Esposito, Islam, Gender, and Social Change. Additional readings on reserve in the library and in handouts.
IV. Research Paper Presentations
Presentations will be scheduled for the last three weeks of the semester.
WOMEN IN ISLAM
FUNDAMENTALISM VS. FEMINISM
Example of Crisis in Contemporary Islam:
Fundamentalism vs. Feminism
1. Students will examine the role of women in the context of the Qur'an and other Islamic Texts, traditions etc.
2. Students will read about the evolution of women's rights in the vast Islamic world.
3. Students will acquire an understanding of the process of interpretation of the women's rights provided in the Qur'an and Islamic law and the resulting deterioration of the status of women.
4. Students will focus on the emergence of a movement for the liberation of women in the late nineteenth century and twentieth century particularly in Egypt.
5. Students will read some of the writings by philosophers, lawyers, and journalists on the question of emancipation of women and their rights in a modern society.
6. Students will engage in the study of the Women's liberation movement in Egypt, the oldest in the Arab world, and will read two essays by Qasim Amin: The Liberation of Women and The New Woman. Qasim Amin, the best known advocate of women's emancipation in Egypt , initiated a major debate that promoted the question of women's issues from side issues to major political concerns.
7. Students will examine his views that women's liberation was essential to the liberation of Egypt from foreign occupation thus merging nationalism with feminism.
8. Students will examine his argument calling for the improvement of women based on Islam while openly espousing a western model.
9. Students will examine the characteristics of emerging women's associations, their leadership, agenda, and tactics.
10. Students will become familiar with the life story, writings, speeches, and actions of some prominent feminists such as Hoda Shaarawi and Doria Shafik and others.
11. Students will examine the current the representation of women by contemporary writers such as Nawal el Saadawi, Alifa Rifaat, Salwa Bakr, Sherif Hetata, and Sonalla Ibrahim.
12. Students will evaluate the successes or failures of the Egyptian feminist movement in its struggle for freedom, human rights, change in personal status laws, equality, and democracy in Egypt, the Arab world, and the Islamic world.
13. Students will attempt to assess the feminist role in response to the growth of Islamic fundamentalism particularly after the Iranian revolution of 1979 and its impact on the struggle to ameliorate the status of women in the Muslim world.
WOMEN IN ISLAM
CRISIS IN CONTEMPORARY ISLAM: FUNDAMENTALISM VS. FEMINISM
First, the seminar will explore the development of the Egyptian feminist movement, the oldest in the Arab world in its search for political power. The seminar will consist of lectures to supplement readings in the texts.
Second, the purpose of the seminar will be to give students experience in independent study and research. Students will not only be required to read the assigned textbooks; but will also be required to explore the vast literature about Islam including, articles, short stories, novels, and autobiographies relevant to the topics under examination. In addition to materials available in the FSC library, a large number of articles and books acquired from the FACDIS Seminar on Women in Islam will be made available to students in the office of the instructor.
Third, students will be encouraged to view a number of films to be acquired through an interlibrary loan from the FACDIS collection or rental from other sources. Films will be discussed in class.
Fourth, arrangements will be made for students to meet Muslim women and men from the local community. A visit to the local mosque in Morgantown will also be arranged..
The purpose of this seminar is to give students a better understanding of politics in the Islamic world, a world which is neither confined to one geographic area nor a homogeneous entity. Today, the Muslim world is spread over all continents and its people belong to a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The one binding tie among these people is their religion. The heart of this sprawling Islamic world is the Arab world, where Islam was born many centuries ago. As Islam spread it brought about many great upheavals in the thought and actions of the people it affected. Many customs and traditions underwent complete transformation, while some persisted in their original or in new modified forms. This explains in part the non uniform patterns of social behavior in the different parts of the Muslim world. As time went on, due to various external and internal social and political pressures, some Muslim communities drifted apart from the general trend of development in the Muslim world. As a result, it is difficult and rather misleading to make generalizations about the Islamic world today. The Islamic world is both a mosaic of unity and of diversity.
For centuries, the Islamic world seems to have been somewhat misrepresented and misinterpreted in the West because of reliance by the West on fables, commentaries on Muslim culture by western orientalists and Hollywood productions. For example as regards the status of women, the Western conception is that women's voices are rarely heard. This conception seems to have conveniently reduced the dialogue on the status of women to a simple triangle: harems, veils, and polygamy. Certainly women in the contemporary Muslim world are far removed from the atmosphere of fables and are not always passive victims of a terrible system.
The topic of Women in Islam being so vast, the seminar will attempt to deal with it in the following manner. First, members of the seminar will examine the condition of women prior to the advent of Islam in Arabia and the moral and legal gains that were bestowed on women by Islam. Second, the seminar will look at the links between Islamic traditions that developed following the death of the Prophet Muhammad and the status of women.
Third, the seminar will examine the role assigned to women in a patriarchal Islamic society where life is divided between private and public spheres with women being assigned and confined in the private sphere while men were assigned to both. Men viewed themselves as the protectors and providers. Whereas, traditionally, the worlds of politics, warfare, and commerce were all male domains, with the advent of "bourgeoisification" of some Islamic societies in the nineteenth century, this domination by males in the public spheres became challenged. The use of the veil as a device to make women invisible in the public sphere was also challenged.
The seminar will study the process of emancipation of Muslim women which began in Egypt in the early nineteenth century when in 1832, under the rule of Mohamed Ali, a school to train women medical assistants opened its doors in Egypt. In 1873, after Ali Pasha Mubarak and Sheikh al Tahtawi published two books pointing to the need to educate women, the first school for girls was opened. Others including the Muslim reformer, Mohammad Abdu, called for the education of women. While other nineteenth century Egyptian writers addressed the question of the changing status of women, Qasim Amin (1863-1808) was the only reformer who invested most of his energies in this topic. His two books, The Liberation of Women and The New Woman began a major debate on the rights of women in Islam at the beginning of the twentieth century and continue to be a source of debate and controversy in the Arab world to this day.
Amin realized that raising the social status and living condition of women was one of the most urgent social question facing the Islamic world. All his efforts would come up against traditionalists who found his propositions to be offensive to Islam. Undaunted, Amin continued to press for reforms using Islamic, legal, and emotional arguments. Feminists like Malak Hefni Nassef, Hoda Shaarawi, Doria Shafik and numerous other Muslim women took on the feminist cause, and entered the public sphere. They removed the veil, became educated, formed women's organization, published, became involved in the nationalist cause, sought and obtained the right to hold public office, and joined the work force even taking on professional jobs in many fields which were perceived as male in the West. Many Egyptian Muslim women carved for themselves an important place in the fight for independence from the British and in the process of national development after independence. By the time of the Egyptian revolution in 1952, Egypt had become viewed as the most liberal society of the Middle East. Yet all these early achievements putting women on an equal footing with men in certain instances, did not eliminate much of the legal discrimination against women or violence against women.
Today, many women in Egypt are still illiterate despite the granting of free education at all levels, including university level. In the wake of resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism in the Muslim world particularly after the Iranian revolution of 1979, many fundamentalists pressed for greater Islamization in Egypt. Fundamentalists deplored the "modern laws because they enshrined the triumph of women over men" resulting in the granting of fewer human rights to women. In 1980, a constitutional amendment to the Egyptian constitution made Islamic law the source of all legislation. Today women activists encounter many difficulties in defining their movement in Egypt and throughout the Muslim world. The women's movement, however, continues to move ahead inspite of the pressures caused by the resurgence of fundamentalist Islam which rejects globalization and all things western and views feminism as espousing the cultural values of a corrupt West. Women activists find themselves in a dilemma as conservative forces within Egypt accuse them of adopting western agendas and of being a threat to Muslim values and culture. Many feminist activists emphasize that feminism does not necessarily accept all of the agenda of western feminists and that their agenda is compatible with Islam. This seminar will analyze the political challenges facing women today and the feelings women have about the emergence of political Islamic movements. Students will explore the current agenda of women activists in their search for power, equality, and human rights. The activities of the National Council for Women (NCW created by the first lady of Egypt, Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, to serve as a policy bridge between government bodies and non-governmental organizations NGO's involved in women's issues), the Arab Women's Organization (AWO an agency of the Arab League), and other women's associations will be examined. In addition, writings by prominent Egyptian writers and journalists (male and female) will be analyzed. An attempt will be made to make meaningful comparisons between the status of women in Egypt and other Muslim countries throughout the discussion of the topic of women in Islam.
Finally, the seminar will conclude with the viewing of the film Four Women of Egypt. An attempt to order the film is being made at this time.
The film Four Women of Egypt is an award winning documentary by Egyptian-born film director Tahani Rashed, who now lives in Canada. The film chronicles the tale of four friends against the backdrop of tremendous political and social change in Egypt that began with the ascent of Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1950's. These four women differ greatly in their views and in their religious expression. Amina Rashid, a university professor was raised in a non-religious, Westernized, aristocratic household, a political leftist embracing socialism and fighting for social justice who lived in Paris for years. Shahenda Maklad , a Muslim, was a student demonstrator in Egypt's national movement and is an advocate for peasant rights whose husband was assassinated. Wedad Mitry, a devout Christian and retired teacher, is a militant nationalist leader, trade unionist, women suffragist and author. And Safinaz Kazem, the fourth star of the film, is an accomplished theater critic who advocates strict adherence to Islamic law, including wearing of the veil. But the women have something in common-they are strong believers in social justice. This documentary is regarded as an impressive exploration of opposing religious, social, and political views in modern-day Egypt.
Khaled Fahmi, an assistant professor of Middle Eastern studies, said that this is a film about "friendship and tolerance" and that this film "helps to break through stereotypes that Westerners may have about Muslims, especially women who adhere strictly to Islam's rules." Further, he said that this film "challenges the conceptions about Arab women on more than one level."
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Amin, Qasem. The Liberation of Women and the New Woman: Two Documents in the History of Egyptian Feminism. Translated by Samiha Sidhom Peterson. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2000.
Badran, Margot. Feminist, Islam and Nation: Gender and the making of Modern Egypt. Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press, 1994.
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WOMEN IN ISLAM UNIT
The following is a list of films on Muslim women in the Arab world and Egypt in particular. Occasionally, a film listed may explore the status of Muslim women in the non-Arab world. Some of the films are available through the FACDIS film loan program while others are available for purchase or rental through the Filmakers Library ( www.filmakers.com ), Films for the Humanitites ( www.films.com), and Women Make Movies ( www.wmm.com.)
A FEMALE CABBY IN SIDI BEL-ABBÈS
First Run Icarus Films. 2000. ½" video. 57 min. Arabic with English subtitles.
After the death of her husband, Soumicha becomes the only woman taxi driver in Sidi Bel-Abbes (Algeria). The film shows her working conditions in a job normally reserved for men, and in a city where political and religious violence rages.
ALGERIA: WOMEN AT WAR
Women at war offers a rare insight into the key role Algerian women played in their country's liberation struggle from the French and their equally important place in politics. 1992
A TAJIK WOMAN
A picture of an unknown woman found in a Russian book encourages video maker Mehrnaz Saeedvafa to reflect on issues of exile and cultural conflict for Muslim women from Afghanistan and Iran living in the United States.
Films for the Humanities & Sciences. 2000. ½" video. 50 min.
In the Arab world, women are fighting a two-front war against repressive internal constraints and intrusive Western interference. In this program, a feminist delegation composed of author Nawal El Saadawi and other activists from the Middle East and North Africa gathers at the UN, on college campuses, and in church basements to speak out about deterioration of women's rights in the Arab states in an effort to heighten awareness of the Arab feminist struggle for equality-and the effects of US foreign policy on their efforts.
BEHIND THE VEIL: AFGHAN WOMEN UNDER FUNDAMENTALISM
For women living in Afghanistan under repressive Taliban rule, beatings, rape, and enslavement were commonplace occurrences. This program describes the massive human rights abuses that escalated since the withdrawal of Soviet forces, as seen through the eyes of women. Resistance activities carried out by women are documented.
BEYOND BORDERS:ARAB FEMINISTS TALK ABOUT THEIR LIVES
A Feminist delegation composed of Nawal el Sadawi and other renowned activist from the Middle East and North Africa gathers at the UN, on college campuses, and in church basements to speak out about the deterioration of women's rights in the Arab states in an effort to heighten awareness of the arab feminist struggle for equality- and the effects of theUS foreign policy on their efforts .
BEYOND THE VEIL: THE MANY FACES OF ISLAM
This thought provoking series provides a deeper understanding of the diversity of the Muslim viewpoint about Islam. Muslims from many countries speak out about what they perceive as the menace of the West. Attitudes about the veil become a metaphor for other spiritual and political convictions.1997.
BEYOND THE VEIL: ARE IRANIAN WOMEN REBELLING?
Films for the Humanities & Sciences. 1997. ½" video. 22 min.
A female reporter, Anna Maria Tremonti, dons the hijab and goes undercover to find out how Iranian women feel about the government-enforced dress code and about their diminished role in Iranian society.
CONVERSATIONS ACROSS THE BOSPHORUS
Conversations across the Bosphorus intertwines stories of two Muslim women from Istanbul - Goksen, from an orthodox Islamic family who takes off her veil after years of struggle; and Mine, from a secular family, who discovers her faith as an immigrant in San Francisco. This film provides a deeper understanding of Turkish society and the current tensions between fundamentalist and secular forces. 1995.
COVERED: THE HEJAB IN CAIRO, EGYPT.
Just over the last two decades it was hard to find women on the streets of Cairo who veiled, a custom that their forebears struggled to overthrow at the beginning of the twentieth century. Today many women in Egypt wear a head scarf called the hejab, and in more extreme cases they cover their entire faces. This documentary offers a rare opportunity to examine the restoration of veiling and the reasons for its pervasiveness through the eyes of Egyptian women. "Covered" reveals that Islamic tradition, Islamic fundamentalism, and growing nationalism are not solely responsible for decisions to wear the Hejab. Diverse social, economic, and political factors as well as persona; preferences, often play prominent roles. The film shows how complex causes account for a phenomenon that is poorly understood outside the Muslim world. 1995.
CRIMES OF HONOUR
First Run/Icarus Films. 1998. ½" video. 44 min.
The story of women in Islamic culture who are killed by their male relatives because they are thought to have dishonored their families by engaging in unacceptable relationships with men, or running away.
DAUGHTERS OF THE VEIL
Frontier Productions. 1997. ½" video. 13 min.
Depicts the plight of modern Pakistani women, most of whom are bound by ancient customs to lives of poverty, ignorance and servitude and suggests that increased education is the key to liberation.
FACTORIES FOR THE THIRD WORLD: TUNISIA
Icarus Films. 1979. 16 mm. 43 minutes.
Until recently the role of most Third World countries was to serve as suppliers of raw materials for the industrialized countries. Now the governments of many poor countries see in foreign investments a chance to create new industrial jobs, and for their countries to escape from the status of underdevelopment. Thus they have adopted policies to actively encourage this investment--establishing free trade zones, granting tax concessions, and "guaranteeing" labor peace. Analyzes the reality of the new factory life for the Tunisian people, and some of the responses of the Tunisian working class. Looks at elements in the Islamic reaction to the growing influence of Western culture and Western economic forces. (FACDIS)
FEMALE CIRCUMCISION: HUMAN RITES
Films for the Humanities & Sciences. 1998. ½" video . 41 min.
Documents the ritual of female genital mutilation (female circumcision), practiced among some African groups. This video also explores its roots in myth and discusses movements underway to ban the practice.
DAUGHTERS OF ALLAH
Modern Palestinian women face dramatic choices. Trapped between a stalled peace process and an increasingly strong Islamic movement, many of these women find themselves confronted by a host of new challenges. Film in Gaza and in the West Bank, the documentary penetrates deeply into a facet of Palestinian life that has hitherto been concealed. It includes interviews with militant but heavily veiled female activists, one who speaks out on what she sees as the role of women in a free Palestinian homeland. At Birzeit University we hear a group of intellectuals who likewise support the Islamic front. They too for ideological and symbolic reasons chose to wear the veil. But this Islamic wave is also a source of conflict. To Immrandah, a grandmother, politics are of no concern, but she insists on her right to worship her God in her own way. In Gaza, young Reem has to resort to subterfuge and compromise in order to be allowed to pursue her chosen career. And two sisters found the pressure so unbearable that they finally fled. 2001.
FOUR WOMEN FROM EGYPT
A Film by Amina Tahani Rashid (1997). Today's women need their past for empowerment. History is a source of inspiration for emerging women's movements, allowing them to reformulate their agenda in relation to a rich heritage with its moments of glory and despair. Amina Rashid was raised in a non-religious, westernized, aristocratic household embracing socialism and fighting for social justice. Another deeply committed activist, Shahenda Maklad, a Muslim, was a student demonstrator in Egypt's national movement who lost her husband to a political assassination before pursuing political office herself. Her mentor, Wedad Mitry, a Christian, is a militant nationalist leader and author. Their friend Safinaz Kazem, is a political journalist and strict Muslim. These four women are the subject of an impressive documentary exploration of opposing religious, social, and political views in modern-day Egypt. This film is essential viewing for all interested in the political history of Egypt and women's lives in Egypt.
New Yorker Films. 1996. ½" video. 75 min. Persian with English subtitles.
Gabbeh tells of a young girl's frustration as she is prohibited from marrying by her father. Her marriage is postponed by incidents in the life of her tribe: migrations, other marriages, births and deaths. This is how Makhmalbaf, the premier film maker in Iran, examines the "fabric" of the lives of these wandering weavers. It is a strongly feminist movie. Weaving is a woman's job, and the director stays with the women throughout
Media Guild. 1992. ½" video. 25 min.
The role of women in India, Africa, and South America is examined, focusing on the gender inequalities that are endured by women in developing countries.
GIRLS AROUND THE WORLD
Women Make Movies. 1999. ½" video. 169 min.
A collection of 5 documentaries that focus on 17 year-old girls from around the world. Each section spot-lights one girl, her hopes, dreams, world and world view. Directed by women filmmakers in Peru, Pakistan, Benin, Germany and Finland, a mosaic emerges that not only depicts the great diversity in the lives of the girls, but also the perspective of an international roster of contemporary feminist film makers.
A fascinating portrayal of women's lives in Muslim society. In this documentary, Safaa Fathay, a young Egyptian woman living in Paris, returns home to interview the famed writer and activist, Nawal el Saadawi, but becomes disillusioned with her. Illuminated by passages of el Saadawi's work, the film follows Fathay's journey to her family home and discovers similar complex frictions between modernity and tradition. Her mother's decision to return to the veil after twenty years and her cousins' clitoridectomies reveal a disturbing renewal of fundamentalism. This documentary broaches the contradictions of feminism in a Muslim environment.
IN MY FATHER'S HOUSE
Moroccan film maker Fatima Jebli Ouazzani investigates the status accorded women in Islamic marriage customs and the continuing importance of virginity. 1997.
IN MY COUNTRY: AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE ON GENDER
U.S.V.C. 1993. ½" video. 85 min.
Respondents from thirteen different countries offer a personal perspective on life in their cultures with regard to gender. Countries represented include: Sweden, Taiwan, Mexico, Fiji, India, St. Vincent (Caribbean), Jerusalem, Lebanon, Zaire, England, China, El Salvador, and Japan.
IN THE NAME OF HONOR
(Kurdistan, Iraq) In English and Kurdish with English subtitles. Marriage for most Kurdish brides promises freedom and respectability. But for others, it can bring isolation. Cruelty and even death. The program explores how oppression of the minority Kurds in the disputed enclave of Northern Iraq has unleashed a chain of violence often directed at its women.
Iranian journey is a fascinating documentary portrait of a remarkable woman who is the first female bus driver in the Muslim world. It follows Masoumeh Soltan Bolagie as she drives her bus on a 20-hour journey from Tehran to the port city of Bandar Abbas on the Gulf coast. This documentary explores the change in the lives of women in a period of transition in Iran. In a country where women's choices, including what they wear, are restricted by legal and religious doctrine, Masoumeh is a symbol of determination for changes to take place in society. 2000
LA NOUBA DES FEMMES DU MONT-CHENOUA
A classic film from acclaimed novelist and film maker Assia Djebar. This film is essential viewing for an understanding of women in Algeria. Taking its title from the "Nouba," a traditional song of five movements, this haunting film mingles narrative amd documentary styles to document the creation of women's personal and cultural histories. 1977.
MRS PRESIDENT: WOMEN AND POLITICAL LEADERSHIP IN IRAN
(Iran) In Persian with English subtitles. Interviews with six educated, middle class, professional Muslim women who nominated themselves for the presidential election of 2001. A gender ambiguous term in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran provided the opportunity for the challenge these women posed to the official reading of the constitution. Although women were allowed top register for the presidency, of the forty seven women who did so, the qualifications were not approved by the Guardian Council, an exclusively male body. The film includes commentary from well-known female journalists, scenes from the women's political campaigns and election day in Tehran.
MY HEART IS MY WITNESS
A film by renowned French-Canadian film maker, Louise Carré, investigates the status of women in Islam through interviews with men and women from Mali, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. This documentary shows the diversity of Muslim women, informed by both religion and culture. 1996.
NOT WITHOUT MY VEIL
The Western view of the Muslim women is that she is oppressed and confined. This film on the women of Oman shows a different reality. It introduces us to independent, educated women who dress in the traditional way, yet are moving into new areas for women. 1994
OUR HONOUR AND HIS GLORY
In some areas of North Africa, the Middle east, and Asia, honor is deemed of such importance that a father, a brother, or a cousin is entitled by tribal custom to kill a women, often a young girl who is suspected of having sullied the family moral standard. Legislation now exists in countries such as Egypt and Jordan prohibiting such "honour killings" but the incidence of this practice continues and is rarely acknowledged openly. This film documents two cases in Palestinian villages.
SHACKLED WOMEN: ABUSES OF A PATRIARCHAL WORLD
Films for the Humanities. 1999. ½" video. 41 min.
Program assesses second-and third-world abuses of women's rights by the male establishment and examines how female collaboration sometimes contributes to their perpetuation.
SILENCE OF THE PALACE
Film depicts daily lives of women in a Tunisian palace in the 1950's. Deals with issues of female suffering and suppression (Arabic with English subtitles).
SISTERS AND DAUGHTERS BETRAYED
Univ. of California Extension Center for Media and Independent Learning. 1995. 20 min.
A report on the Southeast Asian practice of selling women into virtual slavery for prostitution.
STILL READY: THREE WOMEN FROM THE MOROCCAN RESISTANCE
New York: A. Baker. 1998. ½" video. 51 min. In French and Moroccan with English subtitles. Three women relate their experiences in the Moroccan resistance against colonialism and the oppression of women in their own society.
STORIES OF HONOUR AND SHAME
First Run/Icarus Films. 1996. ½" video. 58 min.
The Gaza Strip endured 27 years of Israeli occupation and a prolonged Palestinian uprising. It is now partially administered by the Palestinian National Authority. This behind-the-scenes film reveals the hidden lives of the Palestinian women who live there. Fifteen women reveal their roles in a patriarchal Islamic society where men dictate most aspects of life. Shows the resilience and courage of women who, despite very difficult circumstances, all speak with enormous dignity and grace.
THE VEILED HOPE: WOMEN OF PALESTINE
The Veiled Hope explores the personal and political challenges facing Palestinian women through a series of portraits of women living in Gaza and the West Bank. The women explain how in their daily lives as doctors, school teachers and activists they are working to rebuild Palestinian cultural identity. They also provide a rare insight into the complex feelings women have surrounding the emergence of political Islamic movements and how they juggle women's and national liberation struggles.(1994).
UNDER ONE SKY: ARAB WOMEN IN NORTH AMERICA TALK ABOUT THE HIJAB
Films for the Humanities. 1999. ½ " video. color/black & white. 44 min.
A discussion of the hijab or veil worn by Arabic women. Muslim women living in North America describe the ideologies behind the veil and tear away the labels imposed by both East and West.
(Morocco) Arabic with English subtitles. It all began with a controversial kiss of the hand. Fatiha, a yong Moroccan woman, is on the verge of her impending arranged marriage. Her fiancé's disturbingly extreme views, however, cause her to embark on a journey through Morocco in search of answers to questions about virginity, sex, and Islam. Inevitable, this defiant quest Fatiha undertakes with her close friend (the film maker) produces few answers and a lot of trouble. Things skid out of control when Fatiha does the unthinkable and falls in love for the first time. Fatiha's encounter with a charming stranger suddenly pits duty against desire.
Women Make Movies. 1993. ½" video. 54 min. English and French with English subtitles.
Documentary about female genital mutilation in Africa. Includes interviews with victims, circumsizers, and activists against female circumcision
New Yorker Video. 2001. ½" video. 105 min. Arabic and French with English subtitles.
For two teenagers living in Lebanon, the simple day-to-day pleasures of their world consist of biking, making home movies and contemplating life. But as their city splits following the stirrings of war, school is shut down and the two friends suddenly find themselves on a permanent vacation in a dangerous playground. When one meets a girl from the neighborhood, falling in love creates more of a challenge than expected, as religious division threatens their romance .
WOMEN AND ISLAM
Films for the Humanities & Sciences. 1994. ½" video. 30 min.
Using examples from history and the role played by women in contemporary Muslim society, Leila Ahmed argues the case for the revision of the widely-held western views of the role of women in the Islamic world. She explains the origin of the veil and discusses the issue of marriage and women's rights within marriage.
WOMEN OF HIZBOLLAH
First Run Icarus Films. 2000. ½" video. 49 min. English and Arabic with English subtitles.
Film maker Maher Abi-Samra returns to the neighborhood of his youth in Beirut settled in the 1950's by the mostly Shiite community from southern Lebanon and now the stronghold of the Islamic Party of God, the Hezbollah. This films is a portrait of two Lebanese Muslim women who are activists in the Hezbollah. It examines the personal, social and political factors that undergird their commitment, presents the activities of the Islamic political party and examines its place in Beirut society and in Lebanese politics.
WOMEN SERVING RELIGION
Films for the Humanities & Sciences. 1995. ½" video. 29 min.
This program traces women's roles in religious tradition and what it means to be a woman in the three great religions today-Christianity, Judaism and Islam. It also explores the cultural influences of feminism upon religious traditions and the beliefs regarding the ordination of women.
ZINAT: ONE SPECIAL DAY
First Run Icarus Films. 2000. ½" video. 54 min. Arabic with English subtitles.
To work as a nurse, Zinat became the first woman from the Island of Qeshm in the south of Iran to remove the traditional veil. A health care worker for 13 years, she eventually gets involved in social and political activities. Because it is forbidden to film in public the day of an election, filmmaker Ebrahim Mokhtari shot his film inside Zinat's house, where her family and neighbors debated the role of women in society. The following day, with the elections over, Mokhtari showed the daily life of the village inhabitants, while Zinat presented her intentions as a newly elected representative, to improve the living conditions of her fellow villagers.
http:///www.mwlusa.org (Muslim Women's League, MWL)