Evolution of the Status of Women in the Islamic History

Evolution of the Status of Women in the Islamic History: 

Methodological Problems in Light of the Islamic Umma Characteristics in the Current International System(*)

By: Prof. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa (**)


            The focus of this current study about the evolution of the Muslim women status in the Islamic history is not merely historical or chronological, but it is rather one of the components of an integrated methodological process that combines the deep-rooted orthodox vision altogether with the historical analysis, by diagnosing and defining reality, showing its requirements and shaping an outlook of the future, for the purpose of crystallizing a universal vision of the way to change the status of women in accordance with the Islamic cultural perspective.  The Islamic perspective – as we shall see – is not limited to some situations or partial analysis, or searching for excuses to defend the Islamic Shari’ah law or some historical epochs of Islam. 

This study is divided into two parts:

 the first explains the motives behind the increasing care of the modern social sciences towards both the Islamic history, and the position of women in the Islamic nation current development stage in the international system. And then how far studying the position of Women in the Islamic history has become an urging necessity and essential from the Islamic cultural perspective that does not only focus on the issue of women as an international issue, but even as an indicator of the Islamic nation status itself within the international systems as a whole.

The second part of the study: deals with the methodological problems that prompt during the examination of the status of women in the Islamic history, the map models, their implications, and the factors of interpreting the evolution of the women status through the Islamic history. Finally: How to look at the dimensions and consequences of the current situation and the possibilities for change, in light of all of the above.

Part I: Why the study of women in the Islamic history?: the requirements needed for understanding reality, problematic issues and concerns about the status of women and the Islamic nation in the international system. History and Women are two basic fields in my academic interests.

On one hand: The International Islamic history is the field of my study in the project about the islamic international relations [1] on a theorizing level[2], or on the level of the successive eras of the Islamic History[3], or rather on the level of the historical extensions of the international contemporary Islamic issues (on top of which are the regional – global transformations’ issues and the areas of armed conflict[4]).  In general, ‘History’ has attained an essential position in the international relations’ studies (under the traditional curriculum), and interest in studying it has been renowned at the current stage of the  international relations’ studies under the positivism and behavioral criticism[5].

If part of the secular trends in this area of study has renowned the interest to the study of History yet from various perspectives[6], the scholar who studies the International Science from an Islamic perspective will initially find that history – of Islam and Muslims – lies at the core of the theoretical and applied studies.  This is because Islam does not regard History as a mere narration of the past, or as a narrow limited heritage, but – as the Scholars of Islamic History say[7] – History is an arena for wisdom thinking, understanding, contemplation and for learning laws of Allah in His Universe, Man and Sociology.

The wise intellects of the international relations say[8]:

History is a laboratory for testing the hypothesis, or to discover the repeated patterns of interactions as a basis for extracting the rules and laws that govern or interpret the international phenomenon  evolution.

Scholars of History can be divided into two parties, where each has its own methodology that differs from the other: the Muslim Scholars who study Islamic History on one side, and the western scholars who study the international relations and who renewed the call for the importance of studying ‘History’ on the other side.  Whereas studying the international relations from an Islamic perspective would definitely carry a methodology that is different from those two prior sides.  For it is not a descriptive study of (The Islamic History) of a partial detailed methodology[9], nor does it study the Islamic interpretation of history from a unilateral vision (Fatalism)[10], and it does not limit itself to the western scholars who study International Systems development[11] from western views[12], nor about the different western schools’ perspectives that interpret History.

Thus we can say that studying the international relations from an Islamic perspective that focuses on the interaction between the Islamic history and the Western history is an effort that combines two strands that aim to amend the methodological shortcomings found in the two prior-mentioned groups through the following[13]:

First: Overcome the details and particularities to totality and thematic pattern, by using the tools of modern social sciences’ analysis.  Second: Overcome the excessive degree of materialism in interpreting the evolution of relations and interactions’ patterns, and in interpreting the major global transformations, by using the Ad Valorem dimensions (religious – cultural) altogether with the materialism dimension, and  by focusing mainly on two major issues in the international history of Islam: the Umma unity, and  its transition to plurality then partiality, and the issue of Jihad and the relationship with the Others, and its transition from advocacy and islamic conquest to defense, colonization, then  independence  under dependency.

In brief, understanding the situation of the Islamic nation in the international system, in order to change   the future, is inseparable from understanding the evolution of this historic situation, on one side, and from understanding the factors, the challenges and threat forces on the other side, and from   understanding the map of problems, constraints, opportunities and possibilities of the current situation on the third side.  It is worth noting here that after several developments over the past three decades, the Islamic Nation has become in the heart of the International interactions, particularly since the end of the cold war and after the eleventh of September[14].

On another aspect, Studies of Woman’s issue jumped a quantum leap over the past three decades, reaching its peak in the globalization era. It has also become a top priority topic in the international human rights agenda, entrances of social change and sustainable development, especially in the Islamic world.

Over three decades, reaching the momentum of globalization, the international dimensions of the issue of woman has become the subject of debate between diverse perspectives and visions; Islamic, feminist, and others. they debate the causes of the current situation of Muslim women, and the ways to change these conditions[15].

In the heart of this debate emerged problems related to the status of woman in Islam and in the Islamic history, and then crystallized the famous debate about the gap between the status of woman in Islam (theoretically) and the deterioration that afflicted such status? Had the Islamic civilization prosperous ages witnessed and mirrored a similar prosperity in the status of women?, and what are the indicators? And what are the reasons that led to her deterioration later? Finally what is the relation between the deterioration in  the woman status and the current deterioration in the Umma ?.

The immense literature that dealt with these questions can be divided to 3 trends:

One is attacking the status of woman in Islam describing it as a “male” religion that is biased against woman. This vision is represented by the secular and traditional feminist movemen[16], which intellectual and practical arguments relied on both the current deteriorating reality of Muslim woman, and a part of the traditional Islamic jurisprudence that presented an extremely conservative vision of women claiming it as the “purely Islamic”. 

The second group is the Islamic deep rooted renovater, grounded on the fundamentals, and giving an original classic vision that highlights the rights of woman in Islam, in response to the challenges and refuting the charges generated by the first trend[17].

The third group is the Islamic   socio political approach, grounded on a cultural vision that is wider than the doctrinal ones, whether traditional or modern.  This is the trend that mostly addressed the status of Muslim woman from a self-criticism vision yet at the same time sticking to the Islamic references as opposed to the United Nations reference, and therefore the possibility of change from the islamic civilization perspective, not from the secular feminism one[18].

 The previous rapid analysis of the study of the “Islamic History”, and woman”, automatically evokes the following question: What is the link between these two dimensions?.  The answer can be summed up in a brief sentence which is the slogan of the association of women’s studies and civilization, carved by Professor Mona Abul Fadl – President of this association and professor of political theory in the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University- and the fundamental originator of the cultural perspective concept in political science and in women’s studies. This sentence is: “The Mother and the Umma go hand in hand and between them a tie that pulls the fundamental origin to the branch, and on this token the framework of the cultural spirit is being constructed”[19].

This meaning is in the heart of a culture perspective for diagnosing, interpreting and solving the problems of woman without separating them from society and nation. A perspective which is based on the fact that the issue of woman is inseparable from the issue of the Nation; its history and successive achievements, its challenges and threats. Therefore, reviews of the history of woman are in themselves reviews of the history of the nation from different and various angles. Thus, the initiatives of changing the status of woman is inseparable from the initiatives of changing the current situation of the nation as a whole.  For example: when saying that the intellectual and political debate on reform in the nation raises the problematic relationship between Islam and democracy and human rights, tolerance and extremism, jihad and terrorism and resistance, underdevelopment and development, social and cultural change, we will find that the status of woman is being studied far from all these contexts, ignoring the fact that woman – from the cultural perspective – is inherent in the heart of these contexts.

On the other hand, we find that history is called upon from different approaches. Invoking the problematic relationship between the fundamentals, history and reality, to an extent that moved one to ask: how can history become the judge on the original revealed text?  And why there is a gap between reality and the original revealed text? And how can we justify the existence of this gap?.

It is around such recall of history and problems that perspectives of studying the situations of woman vary.

 What is the map of this current situations of woman? And how far does it reflect the situation of the nation, both in its interpretation or identifying ways of remedy? And what does its study give to history?

In light of my experience of a decade (1997-2007) of search, discussion and dialogue on woman, and as a Professor of International Relations, I can draw a map of the Muslim woman position on the international relations network of the Umma. This map includes the following themes[20]:

A) Woman and the Armed Conflicts:

* Protecting woman as one of the pretexts for military intervention (i.e. Afghanistan, Darfur).

* Woman as one of the tools for achieving the goals of wars: Rape as a deliberate and organized process (i.e. Bosnia and Herzegovina): Raping a nation, civilization and a whole code of values.

* Woman as a suicide bomber martyr: i.e. Palestine under the settlement occupation.

* Woman and resistance in Lebanon.

* Woman and quasi-civil wars under the occupation: (Afghanistan, Iraq).

* Woman and the rebuilding of war-torn states (Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya…).

B) Woman and codifying the principles of globalization by the United Nations:

The international agreements and treaties as a method for external intervention in the socio-cultural changing process under the slogans of freedom and equality (Human rights).

 In return, the violence against women’s rights: the issue of veiling in France, Tunisia and Turkey, employing the so-called: Oppressed Muslim women; the negative-witnesses of the Islamic ruling.

C) Woman in the Global Civil Society:

Woman and the anti-globalization movements, woman and the voluntary work in fighting poverty and violence, the Iranian- woman Nobel Prize winner, the global attention given to  the former women-artists becoming preachers , women and endowment .

D) Woman in the Dialogue of Religions and Cultures:

Rights of woman in Islam and the misconceptions aroused around this issue, and comparing the status of woman in the Islamic World (juxtaposition between the meaning of progress and the networks of trafficking of women in advertising, propaganda and Arts, and between the patterns and causes of violence directed towards women in the east and the west).

E) Woman and the need for renewing both the religious and secular discourse:

Muslim woman as an Imam, percentage of children from customary marriages or illicit relationships, Mesyar Marriage, evangelizing Muslim women and Christian women convert to Islam.

F) Woman in theories is a discovery field for exploring the significance of the opposing epistemological modes:

between the theories of gender, cultural perspective, the Islamic feminism, and the feminist theory of the international relations.

The previous map explores some features of the Islamic nation’s reality in international thinking and   international movement as well. If we looked carefully at the detailed aspects of this map, we will see “woman” in the middle of its core, among the challenges that face the Islamic nation under the rising alerts of the external challenging threats, and the cultural dimensions (in their interaction and intermingling with their political, economic and military counterparts); these challenges witness the amount and kind that the external penetration has reached.  All these problems and challenges raise controversy between the different cultural approaches (secular and Islamic); a debate that recalls: the history and the problematic relationship between text, history and reality, as previously mentioned, that’s in fact when dealing with the secondary issues prompting from the aspects of this map; issues related to the status of woman as a human being in her family and community context, can be classified into the following categories:

Rights: right of education, work, ruling and judge.

Duties: jihad, endowment, voluntary work, and political participation.

Challenges: Violence, evangelization, marginalization, flesh-trafficking.

In addition to the normal issues related to her as a female: marriage, divorce, inheritance, court-witnessing, man-guardianship (qowama) and beating.

Examining both sets of issues –Woman as a human being and woman as a gender– we will find that there are enormous Islamic legal rulings and stances that had been subject to criticism, scepticism and disintegration, not only from the traditional orientalist studies that are loaded with misconceptions against Islam’s attitude towards woman, but also from the modern Orientalism. All of these studies not only criticize the practices of Muslims and their understanding of Islam, but even went further to create suspicious and misconceptions about their religion, the properness of their Shari’ah and the credibility of their Qur’an. All these Oriental studies, international efforts and political stances had led many centers of researches and opinions in the Arab and Islamic world to the following[21]:

Firstly, warning against the organized non-ending efforts in the west in this direction.  Secondly, raising alerts against the development of contemporary studies on woman in Islam and the Islamic world; whether done by western or Muslim writers, or on the scope of the woman’s movements, or on the academic intellectual wing, that are concentrated outside the Muslim Communities and rise from non-Islamic theoretical and intellectual approaches. Thirdly, to call for the development of woman’s academic studies in the Islamic world, proceeding from the domicile problems and from a cultural perspective.

The cultural perspective is one that opens to the historic heritage and awareness, which plays an important role in the formation of contemporary ideas about women, and confirms on the linkage between the past and the present, the values and the concrete materials, the Revelation and Science. In this context, the cultural vision acquires a special importance in the analysis and interpretation of the contemporary problems from one side, and in determining the identity and future path on another.  Whereas this vision has a double aim; giving justice for woman, and protecting the family and the social building, given that reforming the reality of woman is one of the basic conditions needed for fixing the reality of the whole nation, because woman is an essential entrance for change, development and social reform[22].

This cultural perspective seeks to elaborate how the role of woman in the glorious times of Islam was strongly established, winning and prevailing, then the downfall and retreat started during the Islamic expertise under the influence of different factors.  And then stating the reality of the flagrant paradox in the West calling for reform and modernization – taking the liberalization and reform of the status of woman in its heart – while one of the objectives of the west, if we referred to its history towards woman in the origin of the modern Western civilization; we will find that women’s role was totally absent.

 In other words, the desired goal goes beyond just the need for partial answers to partial issues relating to the vision of the West towards the position of woman in Islam, but it is larger than this, where there is an urgent need to build an Islamic perspective that is both corrective and orthodox at the same time[23].

Part II: Functioning of the Islamic history: Methodological problems, Models mapping and Explanatory factors:

How can we benefit from the Islamic history -whether by recalling and summoning its expertise or by exposing it to critical reading- in the controversies between the western perspective, and the cultural perspective that deal with the status of Muslim woman as one of the gates of change?.  Dealing with the theoretical connotations’ dimensions of studying the woman status evolution in the Islamic history requires a set of methodological observations that can be briefed in the three groups of questions:

The first group:

How can history provide a macro vision of woman issue escaping from the micro vision of the western studies? And how can history provide a proof ground for a complete re-definition of the “the Woman issue”?

The second group:

  • How to properly read, evaluate or self-criticize the historical facts and events related to woman?.
  • How to link between the revealed sources (the Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah) and the changing practices across history? Or in other words what is the proper way to read the evolution of reality in light of the revealed texts?
  • How to apply the results and indications on real life?

The third group:

 How to describe and explain the evolution path of the woman status in the Islamic history? Putting an eye on the special era of the Prophetic stage until the Abbasid Caliphate?  And what’s new in the Islamic History later eras?

The first group: the necessity of historical reference (Jurisprudence, institutions, and practices) as an integral component for building a comprehensive macro vision about Woman from an Islamic cultural perspective.

History was always present in the Islamic intellectual and theoretical efforts aiming to provide a cultural perspective of woman opposed to the western perspectives, and based on the Islamic epistemological framework. Characteristics of the western perspectives about the traditional feminism and the woman liberation movement can be summed up as follows[24]:

  • Positivism (separating religion from the public domain as a whole) prevailing the physical, financial and individual over the spiritual, moral, valued and collective.
  • Partial reductionism (lack of attention given to woman as a complex human social phenomenon).
  • Globalization according to the western model (isolation from environment, socio-cultural traditions). This is clearly expressed in the western definitions of freedom and equality. The previously mentioned characteristics’ code can be found in the globalization expressions concerning woman like (the extremist, the inhuman and the rights-denying):

    • Religion as a hindrance to woman’s growth; considering the hijab in particular as a marginalizing and isolating factor.
    • The absolute Individualism, the laissez faire freedom, and refusal of mentioning the roles of woman as a mother, wife, sister or daughter.
    • Underestimating the role of woman in the family or rather in doing the “unpaid work “; where the remunerative work outside the house has become the basis of autonomy and social status.
    • The formal definition of the ‘equality’ slogan in the poor communities. How can equality be reached, or with whom can it be reached amid the underdeveloped and deteriorated quality of life of all the community’s components?!
    • Similarly, the participation in the political life is in reality nothing but a narrow limited concept that reduces the liberty of women in achieving the rights of nomination, election and filling the supreme positions in the business life, at the time when our societies are suffering from a deep structural political participation crisis that prevails and dominates the whole community’s components not only women. Nevertheless, “participation” could take a wider sense that includes the participation in the civil society and non-governmental activities, and to all the different aspects of public scope in general, and not to the political system only.
    • The emergence of new “volatile”, hostile terms that are unknown to the Arab and Islamic world, such as: the reproductive rights, the sexual education… Terms that slowly lead to the freedom of sex and body, that produce the disintegration of the family as the backbone of the cultural and social entity structure.

The Western intellectual and official views are based on these previous characteristics in their political and intellectual battles on woman against the Islamists in the Islamic word.  These characteristics that reflect the western epistemological model in general and the issue of woman in particular, verily adopt the issue of woman as a case of modernity in face of traditionality as Professor Mona Abul Fadl says in her valuable research about the second thoughts on the issue of woman from an Islamic perspective[25]; to mean an issue of liberating women from the systemized tyranny that make her under the aggression of men, aided by a community system that empowered the domination of man.  Accordingly, the issue of woman has turned to an issue of modernity, according to Dr. Mona Abul Fadl, it is an issue connected with ‘individualism’, by working to increase Woman’s awareness of her individuality, and thus increasing her community demands to reach the peak.   

On the contrary, the existence of an Islamic cultural perspective of woman as established by Dr. Mona in this study will logically refute its modern characteristics, based on the fact that the woman’s role in society is essential, therefore determining the position of woman in a given society is not measured by the degree of acceptance or refusal, but by the source origin of the role, rights and legitimacy, as well as the prevailing concepts of equality through a specific time or place. Thus, the approach of Dr. Mona Abul Fadl, in the same study, and based on examining the nature of the Islamic societies historically compared to the different expertise of others, and while recalling the monotheistic perspective led her to the conclusion[26]: The issue of woman is not an individual liberalist one, but it is vast and extending issue that include all types of social community where the “family” is at its top. Thus, the extensive role of women trespasses this nucleus or restricted field and should be addressed within the concepts of reciprocity and continuity.  Dr. Mona has worked on this approach for two decades[27].

Another similar scientific effort that’s not less in seriousness and importance of Dr. Mona Abul Fadl’s achievement, is the proposal that came at the beginning of the 1990s by the promising young researcher, Dr. Heba Ra’ouf, whose study on “Woman and political work from an Islamic perspective”, is based on the Islamic epistemological framework. She studied this issue from   the Umma circle to the family one.  She presented a vision of the political role concept not limited to the traditional circles of elections and so, but also focused on the role of the family and community. She did’nt fall while studying woman’s rights in the individualisme, but has rather founded her view on basis of the established institutional configuration framework of the community, and on the legitimate rights and social functions allowed to women[28].

These are two examples of researchers who belong to the field of political Sciences, yet derived their thoughts from the Islamic epistemology, and from a cultural perspective model that combines between the islamic sources, history and reality in the best integration. 

The first researcher presented a discourse that targets the West, interacts and criticises its issues of interest, in light of the intellectual and theoretical project that targets reading and criticising the ‘Western’ project.

 The second female researcher, has been described by Dr. Tarek al-Bishri in the preface he wrote for her book: “Despite the fact that she has been closely acquainted with the western literature, yet she offers a kind of a self or an internal–dialogue in the Islamic discourse that is intentionally prepared and written to address an audience who see Islam as their intellectual reference origin, regardless of how far their western knowledge is”. That’s why El-Bishri said: “Heba Ra’ouf is one of the proactive interaction-stimulating researcher of the Islamic thought rather than a border safe-guard.”

This is the reason behind the scientific value of Ra’ouf’s study.  It adds to the inter controversy argument in the Islamic thought; between the traditional and the renewal (modernity) currents.  The theoretical studies of the two researchers were not confined to the legal jurisprudence side only but extended to rely upon the social theory, thought and History; the historical practices, rulings and institutions, starting chronologically from the Prophetic and the rightly guided Caliphs era in the beginnings of Islam,  all along the Islamic eras that came after, believing that renovation always need a re-conceptualization of the established definitions and reformulation of the cultural – heritage question, both in thinking and application, since heritage is not limited to thought only but extends to the practices through history as well.

Undoubtedly, other models can be added, from the same field, or from other epistemological fields, that had worked on a macro vision of the status of woman. Yet these two researchers mentioned here are satisfactory examples that represent a rich current in our field of study, though variable in their approaches and entrances[29].

The second group: Methodological Problems in recalling the History of Woman:

When we say that recalling the historical fields is a necessity for building a universal Islamic vision of the status of woman, and for its integration and interaction with the status of the nation, we have to ask the “how” can we do this? And does this “know-how” of the process has any distinctive speciality compared to the attempts to re-read History, in general or in a specific area (i.e the international relations)[30]?  And what is the methodology and problems of reading the Woman problematic issues?

 These questions raise several problematic issues:

First: The objective: Does woman has a definite history that is separated or integrated with the other historical incidents of the nation?

Second: What are the reasons behind ignoring the major Islamic historical incidents of “women”? And how big is the amount of this oblivion?

Since these questions are the nuclues of comprehensive works, so it is sufficient in this context to refer to some women studies in this area, while concentrating on the basic connotations and not the details, noting that discussing some of the methodological problems must lead us to the woman-models map.

The first methodological problem:

The Method and Objective of studying the history of Woman:

 Here we must mention Dr. Omaima Abu Bakr’s contribution in this concern[31], discussing the following question: Are we targeting the re-reading or re-writing of History from the Woman point of view?, or Does Woman has a separate distinctive history in which we should start searching to add the missing links in the historical narrations?, both for the reconstruction of the Woman role as an active agent that complements all the elements of human history? Or the required aim is something else?.

In fact, Dr. Omaima Abu Bakr’s approach depends on a hidden hypotheses.  It states that if we want to confront the secular and feminist suspicions, we may repeat the same mistake of focusing on the history of women separated from its total context; the history of families and communities on the Umma level?

 Dr. Omaima Abu Bakr refuses the approach of focusing on woman history only, and provides a universal construction vision on how to recall the history of woman.  She started by some western works models that re-read the history of the western woman to completely abolish the common sayings and traditional perceptions, hence these western works had a significant influence on the theoretical development of the issue of history of women on one hand, and the re-writing of history from the point of view of women on the other. The general aim of these studies – according to Dr. Omaima Abu Bakr- is an attempt to correct the belief that the majority of women were outside the European medieval history, and to get rid of the traditional references of the historical narrative, analyzing the women’s experiences in the society or the family that are unique to woman and do not have any similar examples in the masculine life.   Hence, the need for different standards in monitoring, classification and evaluation other than those followed in the cases of men and political histories, due to the difference of the dynamics of public and private space of women in the Middle Ages from the Renaissance, where the first is flexible as opposed to the dichotomy that took place between the two spheres after that since the renaissance, and all the factors that are related to this epoch of restrictions imposed on women (compare later on with the vision of Dr. Roqaya Elwany about the history of  the Muslim woman).

Dr. Omaima then moves to draw the studying of the woman history directions’ (or stages) map.   She classified them into the following four:

 A direction that examines the forgotten role of women who assumed supreme authoritative and governing roles in the history, similar to the most famous men figures. This direction is based on the traditional hypotheses that claim that woman never created or participated in making a political or military history. Works refuting this misconception and add her to the collective memory: (i.e. the works of Kadreya Hussein, Zainab Fawwaz, then  Fatema Al-Marnisi).

The Second Trend: Looks at the reasons that led to forget or deliberately neglect the historical documentation on women and therefore wiping her from the memory of the society.   Reasons are relating to the determination of what is important (general and official) which deserves codification, and what is not important (the private family work) and not worth to be codified. Therefore, we never find in the major historical events any highlight on women figures except only those who were directly related to the circle of power, authority and the upper class elites.

The Third Trend: Classified by Dr. Omaima, focuses on studying the areas of activities that are limited to women only without men, on purpose of enforcing its importance and uplifting its value in a way to refute the traditional male perspective.

Finally, the previous three trends represent negative responses to the challenges imposed by the traditional negligence perspective of the ordinary roles of women, whether done deliberately or not, therefore emphasizing the secular or feminist view of the history of the Muslim woman. Yet the fourth trend provided by Dr. Omaima Abu Bakr is the one that translates the assumption underlying her study previously mentioned. She sees that the trend that correctly embodies the objective of studying the history of women is the one that seeks  “integration” and not just affiliated addition, and it is also that seeks to show that there are vast working and efficient areas in the public sphere, and in practicing the legitimate legal rights in the Arab Islamic communities shortly before the age of modernity and which shrank by the beginnings of the modernization in the Arab and Islamic communities that accompanied the rise of the national State as an imitation of the western modern state institutions model, and influenced by the British colonial intervention.

In other words, this trend, which focuses on female figures in the older ages, according to Dr. Omaima Abu Bakr’s examination of some of the figures who represent this trend (i.e. Amira Sonbol, Afaf Lotfy al-Sayed, Hoda Lotfy), is amending two shortcomings:  the scarcity of women studies during these ages in favor of the modern ones, and refuting the false assumptions and generalizations resulting from the perceptions of “western” modernity as opposed to “the traditional Islam”. These assumptions are the result of applying the criteria of the “western” modern societies on the Arab and Islamic communities, which has led to many errors, especially in the area of understanding the history of women, where some studies show that women in the traditional Islamic community was highly active, in the legal, social, commercial or financial and business investment activities.  It also proves that the historic modernist transformations in the 19th and 20th centuries had caused the deterioration of the social activity powers, especially for women.  Thus, we can say that the Islamic Arab national culture had acquired all the factors for development available before the advent of the West. 

In other words, according to Dr Omaima Abu Bakr, this trend achieves the following:

First: it draws a complete comprehensive picture of the nation’s history through the intermingling between the history of women with the general history.  Secondly: Integrating the social and cultural history’s questions and problematic with the formal political history. Thirdly: a critique of modernity or at least reconsidering its given hypotheses particularly those concerning the women lives in the Islamic communities and the cultural discourse about them.

 The Second Methodological Problem:

  Deals with the reasons of neglecting all what’s related to the history of Woman and also the amount of this neglection. We will refer to the following trends to understand this problem in writing the Islamic History[32]:

The First Direction:  sees that “the huge areas of absence – except for the women of the caliphs and sultans female slaves and Jawari – is attributed to the fact that the Islamic History is a masculine history, that reflects the attitudes of the traditional Islamic juristic mainstream concerning the status of women.  

The Second Direction: sees that there are some Islamic history books – such as those of As-Sakhawi, ‘Ibn Saa’d and Azarkashi, contain over than 700 female figures.  Whereas the reason behind the absence of women from the Islamic chronicles in general lies in the fact that history is concerned mainly with narrating the incidents of conquests and wars rather than being a history of civilization and community. In addition to the fact that practicing the social public work in the ancient times was limited, and that History focused mainly on the chronicles of the ruling families and crowns.

It’s worth noting that one of the most important criticisms of the general Islamic political and military chronicles is that it’s focusing always on political and military history only and not social, economic or cultural one. These criticisms are brought by the scholars of the Islamic history who study it from different non-Islamic epistemological approaches, not only women studies, as in the field of the international relations[33].  There are calls for re-reading the Islamic history with the aim of theorizing other issues, i.e. equality, freedom, justice and pluralism in our Arab and Islamic societies through history[34].

The Third Direction: tries to overcome the bilateral dual between the first and the second directions, by providing a new reading for the reasons behind the limited space given to the status of woman in writing the Islamic history.

Examples of this direction is a research project on women in the Islamic history prepared by the association of women’s studies and civilization[35].

The first paper of this project tries to test the validity of the saying that the sources of Islamic history neglected the mention of women, which   is a result of a masculine tendency. This requires an epistemological necessity of identifying the   reference framework that contributed in formulating the Muslim Historians, and the aim of the historical process, as well as to stand on the methodological standards in recording the Islamic history.  According to this direction, this study doesn’t aim to valid the correctness of this assumption or that, despite of its importance, but extends primarily to shed light on the principles that governed the mental perceptions which leads the historical incidents in the Islamic eras.  In this context, we can identify the area in which the Muslim women were active, and we can estimate the proportion of her contribution in terms of the history of the nation/ community as a whole. As well as identifying the restrictions that governed the work of woman in the Arab history and which made the Muslim historian embarrassed to mention some specific dates in history. This direction also sees that without referring to this general framework the Muslim woman History will be a reduced study for a certain social category in isolation from the economic, social and cultural contexts which will deep root the partitioning vision of the Islamic history and denies its complete organic unity.

Thus, this project records a group of characteristics of the cultural perspective of history in general, which should be reflected on the status of women in the historical record in accordance with this perspective.   

First: this approach links between the concept of history adopted by the historians, and the methodology of the historic recording at the time, and hence sees that all of them had been influenced by the idea of History as shaped in the Holy Qur’an and which is founded mainly on the concept of assigning Man as a successor to the Divine (istekhlaf), and on the divine rules that regulate the human choices and determine their framework to avoid going in a random way.  Thus, the essence of the historical process according to the monotheistic epistemological vision includes the intermingling between human effectiveness and the Divine rules[36]. So History is not sacred, as seen by the medieval Christian thought (the City of God, St. Augustine).

Second: If the emphasis was on the effectiveness of the human factor as one of the most prominent characteristics of the monotheistic civilization perspective, it is also featured by highlighting the moral component of the historic event, where the Qur’an confirms the organic correlation between the ethical principle and the successful historic act. So the lack of ethical principle means the fail of historic act, no matter how much it’s supported by the material force.

On the other hand, the moral goal of the Qur’anic stories contradicts with pessimism and absurdism tendency which totally contradict with what the civilization perspective believed, that History is governed by an obvious ameliorative tendency.  The moment obedience to Allah increases and disobedience decreases, the more humanity prospers and their conditions improve[37].   This fact is stressed by the Qur’anic stories which leave no doubt that the trend of history is continually going towards the righteousness and goodness.

Third: Another characteristic gives the cultural perspective its uniqueness and distinctiveness:   Religion not politics is the focus and axis of the History movement.  This means two things: first, the continuity of history which is derived from the fact that Religion is eternal and ideological united with the human existence on earth. Second, the annulation of the single championship   idea in history, desacralizing the single hero and his exaggerated heroic role which means provide more space to a collectively-made history, because Religions are a collective idea, and are formulated and practiced by a group of people, and all Religions have been established by the strong support of the believers to their Prophets; This approach has been translated in the visions of the Muslims’ historians, whose History is the History of the whole Umma.

The paper -we are referring to- sees that the historical chronicling of the non-ruling social classes   has always been done within this mentioned circle (the non-heroic collectivities), and it is within this circle that we could measure the effectiveness and vitality of these groups and their interaction with the national issues. And within this circle the roles of women in the socio-cultural life has been cited and traced. The fact that the areas given to Women were so vast refutes the misconception that claims that the mention of women in the historical chronicles was deliberately marginalized. If this claim was true, women would’t have been mentioned in the books of castes as well.

Fourth, the historical writing methodology is affected by the unseen Revelation, since Revelation is the foundation source of the whole Islamic Sciences. So the Qur’anic method has penetrated the woman studies made by the muslim historian, and he did that with deep understanding and enlightened insight.  One of the characteristics of this method is proving the existence of a classification of the patterns of the female figures, in terms of their conformity or disobedience to the divine commandments.

The Muslim historian has used the Qur’anic approach in dealing with women issue, from this approach he was able to derive a methodological rule that governed the historical writing process. Believing that there is always a relation between Religion and the Umma all along the history movement, he chose among the many patterns of the Muslim women figures the ones who were most pious, religious and knowledgeable, or the ones who donated their money for community. Encyclopedias, biographies and the books of castes narrated abundantly about these pious and honorable women figures, while neglected the misguided ones except in very minor brief reference statements.

In this context (according to the paper), the civilization perspective is obvious.  For the historian was wisely careful not to fall into the trap of mentioning the positive good social sides only and neglecting the bad negative ones.   He was totally aware that History narrates human reality not a platonic sacred perfection, and at the same time he highlighted the moral component as it’s the main aim of the historical process as shown in the Qur’an.

Fifth: On another side, the methodology of History writing has been highly influenced by the Qur’anic discourse which is divided into two sections[38]: The general discourse: Found in most of the Qur’an.  Verses under this category always start by the call “O People”, or “O Believers”.  Whereas the qualitative discourse is an exception in the Qur’an, and comes while dealing with particular issues. 

The reason why most of the Qur’anic discourse is of the general one is because the Qur’an does not classify the community on qualitative distinction but on the basis of the doctrinal position. The general address was delivered to the “Muslims” in reference to the believing community as a whole without gender particularization.  This fact must always be clear that we must not stop at the apparent meaning of the discourse and falsely think that Women were excluded from History, for women’s contributions were recorded under the general address speech “Muslims”.

Declaring or denying Women’s participation depends on the narrative kind of the historical facts, whether it was generalized or in detailed, or on the choice of the historian, if mentioning her was clear to the reader in the context so the historian may choose not to elaborate what is logically understood and that does not need emphasis or stress.   On all cases, when the historian focuses on a specific incident or a particular city history, he becomes more oriented and responsive to granting the reader full details, and then the readers will naturally sense the effective presence of the Women role that did not acquire the same degree of clarity and prominence in the general books of History, which acquires researchers to exert efforts in tracking the incident or event in the different historical books, tracing and citing the positions where woman interacted with the issues of her nation, highlighting such contributions and working and applying them onto the current living reality.

To sum up: Examining the dimensions of this methodological problem that deliberately or undeliberately women were omitted from History, reflects the masculine inclination, requires extensive search in the various sources, among them unpublished and non popular documents.  Formulating the theoretical framework of reading, taking into account the nature and reality of every era of the Islamic history, and not to approach what’s Islamic from the basis of other cultures and civilizations’ standards, or from the traditional modern orientalist criteria is the most important issue. Approaching the history of women must be done by an explanatory discovery method that leaves the documents speak for themselves with an awareness of the cultural perspective characteristics.

 Therefore, what is the map of these models? And what is the significance of reading through it?

 It is not our objective here to talk in details about these models which were elaborated in details in many pioneering studies, but our aim here is to draw a map of these models and comment them, in an attempt to shed light on some of the most important methodological problems that face one while reading about these models, and to support the women’s studies within the Islamic cultural perspective as opposed to the colossal existing western studies.

Here I will focus only on two studies, without dropping the importance of further studies in this regard. I chose those two studies specifically because they do not only mention the historical models as examples or showing some opinions about them , or in the margin of explaining a hadeeth or wise saying[39] or narrating a certain historical era[40], but they rather concentrate on classifying them.

We shall find that Dr. Omaima Abu Bakr[41] classified models and cases of the history of women in the Islamic communities into these categories: the female scholars of Jurisprudence and Fatwa making, the Physicians, the ascetics, and the soufis. What is more important in Dr. Omaima study is not the details or chronological extension along the Islamic ages, but it is the connotations she presented, which imposed the necessity of re-examining and reconsidering a lot of issues about the status of Woman, historically and currently.

Examples of these issues are:

– Involvement of women in the area of teaching religious sciences without a problem.

– Woman teaching to men without embarrassment, with the acknowledgment of the qualities of reason, knowledge, understanding and acknowledgeable credibility to the female teachers.

– Women making fatwas (producing the legal rulings officially) even before the establishment of the official institution of ‘Iftaa’ that was founded in the Ottoman times.

– Involvement of women working with men in the professional and working fields, and giving her confidence as compatible, efficient and capable.

– Accepting the situation of women working in the scientific field without showing astonishment.

– The falsification of the claim that women haven’t worked outside home except in the modern times.

– The incorrectness of the claim that conformity to the Islamic traditions entails woman must stay at home.

 – The worshipping ascetic woman haven’t isolated herself from society, but she did contribute with the public life.

All these connotations raised by Dr. Omaima Abu Bakr rely on two main things:

  • The misconception that claims that the Islamic histories are mainly masculine, and dominated by man.
  • Rereading the history of Woman in the new documentaries should not be cut off out of their public social context.

Moving to another study by Dr. Roqaya Elwany, that is more comprehensive and extensive as it covers longer periods in the history of Islam, from the advent of Islam all along till the modern times.  Dr. Roqaya Elwany[42] who is specialized in the Islamic Legal Sciences, provided a classification on basis of the “development” approach. She examined the role of women in the following fields of development:

  • The Cultural growth: teaching, learning and jurisprudence.
  • The Economic growth: Inheritance, the right to work, as partner in the divine succession on earth, as long as she is confining to the illegible legal rules of religion and fulfilling her family and social duties.
  • The welfare and development of the family: marriage, conjugal rights.
  • The political growth: allegiance, migration and Jihad.

Even when Dr. Roqayya did not state the significances of these roles of women in a direct way, yet she focused on discussing the factors of development of the status of women, as related to affectivity and activation, from the Prophetic era until the eras that follow it successively.

Reading Dr. Roqayya raises a group of questions relevant to how much the major Islamic history events are masculine, since the women royal figures are the only one mentioned in it. So:

  • What is the importance of the political compared to the social?
  • Why did History focus only on the famous women figures related to Caliphs, Sultans and slaves? Where is the woman of the ordinary classes?
  • Does the role of the ordinary woman appear only in education field and work more than in Politics, Economics and War?
  • What is the intensity of the ordinary women’s roles?
  • Does examining the roles of Women come in the context of talking about the women rights? and if so, then what about the duties and obligations?
  • Isn’t the civilization perspective unite always between the right and the duty? And between the value and the tangible?

The third group

The Evolution of the Status of Women between the materialism and the Religious interpretation:

 This third group of problems tries to explain the evolution of the status of women through the Islamic History, according to different perspectives.

Women’s studies have focused on the status of Muslim women in the modern era. Thus, the history of women in the previous medieval Islamic ages did not receive an equal attention, except the Prophetic era.  Therefore, it is only the overall picture of the Muslim women in the modern age that provided the proofs for the issue of Woman considered as one of the cases of modernity in the face of traditional.

That’s why we find pioneering studies providing modern interpretations to the Muslim woman status, in terms of its methodology or problems or goals.  The studies focused on the national state and its institutions and concepts, on separating between the public and the private fields, whereas the status of the Muslim women in some Islamic eras (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries A.D.) does not live this full separation between the public and private fields both in the personal or commercial business activities[43]as claimed by the orientalist.

  We must note here that the distinction between the public and the private field in the modern European history has always been attached to restricting the role of women inside the private domain, and attaching man to the public domain[44].

 We shall focus now, in our study of the Muslim women history, two levels in our analyses: the first is the cultural level, and the second is the jurisprudential level.

It was very early (1990s) when Dr. Mona Abul Fadl presented a revision of the modern concept of the Woman issue, based on an Islamic cultural perspective (a monotheistic perspective)[45]

As much as the cultural perspective concept has been exposed to criticisms and amendments[46], the Woman studies in the West also has been exposed to amendments related to the definition of the Feminism concept, and how far it is conformed to the Arab and Islamic communities.  According to Dr. Hoda As-Sadda[47], from a feministic tendency awareness of the influence of the privacy challenges, its relation with the actual living reality, and the role of identity and belongings and how all this intervene in identifying the questions and agenda, and in directing the answers, or in formulating the research style.

That’s why another term or concept appeared and raises a lot of discussions; “the Islamic Feminism”. If some had rejected this concept confirming on the appropriateness of the cultural perspective, others saw that the “Islamic feminism” means advocating the women rights from an Islamic reference, and on the basis of a Western Modernism review and critique. Thus, this concept goes beyond the two opposite extremes: the Modern Feminism, and the traditional Islam. Furthermore the West’s use of the term “Islamic Feminism” means that Islam does not represent any danger or threat to the West[48].

In contrast, other studies had mentioned the religious dimensions, but mainly from a legal jurisprudential perspective. They compared between the status of women in the three monotheistic religions, to emphasis the evolution of the status of Muslim women through the Islamic history, and combined the evolution of the characteristics of the surrounding social and political framework with the comparative religious dimensions[49].

It is important here to mention briefly the significance of Dr. Roqayya Elwany’s study, about the relation between the Jurisprudent and the social dimensions in interpreting the status of the Muslim woman, with a comparing view of the status of women in Islam and Christianity.   Reading this voluminous study arouses a set of observations:

  • The underestimated and deteriorated status and image of women in Christianity and Judaism is responsible for what happened to her situation in the Christian ages prior to modernity, at the same time modernity is responsible for the deterioration of women in the West but from another aspect.
  • The status and rights given to women in Islam are the reason behind the big and prosperous role women played in all areas within the advent of Islam and the rightly guided Caliphs eras. That’s why we can say that according to my reading to Dr. Roqayya, that the advent of Islam is considered the era that set the foundations of the women rights, and the rightly guided Caliphs era is an extension to the advent of Islam and an embodiment of responses to its call, can be described as being a qualitative leap compared to the pre-Islamic era.

But, when did the deterioration start? And what are its manifestations? And how was the so-called “traditional jurisprudence on women”?

Dr. Roqayya sees[50] that if the rightly guided Caliphs era did not witness a wide change in the position of the Muslim women, who maintained her personality, and continued in practicing her role, however, the Islamic conquests movements introduced some changes due to the interaction between the non-Arab women and female slaves along with some of the Persian and Byzantine traditions. that’s why our Master Caliph Omar “…in his desire to preserve the genuine traditions of Islam, and to avoid a sudden and rapid shift in society and environment which may cause far-reaching implications on the community…- imposed a range of actions, such as compiling the conquers soldiers and their families in certain centers which have later became big cities”.  Dr. Roqayya says also: “Omar has founded a very important social base, which has been examined by the contemporary Sociologists: Were transformations and social changes must always take revolutionary forms of actions? Or can they be done peacefully and gradually?

Dr. Roqayya’s approach of the starting point of development of the status of Muslim women through the Islamic ages show three things: 1- Woman is a gateway for social change, 2- the interaction with the others “from the cultural and civilizational aspects” is considered a fundamental factor of this change, 3- Vision and self-power are considered main factors of controlling the direction of this change and in determining the degree of impact and pattern type of this interaction.

Consequently, reading Dr. Roqayya’s presentation of the role of woman along the Umayyad, Abbasid and Ottoman empires then the modern time, we can deduct that the increase of the external influences without the ability to control and adjust its results along with the prevailing atmosphere that is accepting these influences without resistance, had negatively impacted on the  Muslim women reality, and in the legal Jurisprudence level, especially under the influence of the Israelites literature.  Dr. Roqayya says in her introduction to the Umayyad age[51]:

“.. The vast openness to the populations of the other nations, civilizations and religions – resulting from the movement of the Islamic conquests – played an important role in speeding up the process of change in the Muslim community. Social traditions and conventions of the opened countries have not been abolished completely. The new populations passed their cultures and traditions, and imposed their tastes on the residents of the hosted countries.

Accompanied these new phenomena, other new social traditions appeared, like blocking and isolating women. “Karen Armstrong”, the well known fair writer, in her book “Gospel according to women” says: “We find that women at the advent of Islam enjoyed high degree of freedom.  Muslims did not practice the “harem blocking” system except after they were exposed to the Byzantine Christianity which used this system in treating their women …”

Dr. Roqayya says about the Abbasid Caliphate time[52]:

“…Cultural mixing phenomena emerged clearly between the Arabs and others who embraced Islam in the Abbasid first era (132-232 H).  People of the opened countries who embraced Islam, have participated effectively in constructing the new civilization.  Even those who remained on their Judaism or Christianity have been allowed to participate in playing significant political and administrative roles.

Muslims did not try to change the prevailing systems established in the opened countries.  Women in Persia in particular lived mainly in isolation, and were viewed by men as inferior.

The situation remained the same after the Islamic conquests; the isolation of women, banning women’s mixing with men in general, limiting the role of women at the house and children affairs. Also in this era specifically, the spread of the Israeli narrations had leaked to the books and documentaries of Exegesis through the Jewish and Christians who embraced Islam.

The false Israeli tales and narrations entered the Exegesis books and continued to promote untruthful details about woman within these publications through the ages.…”

The spread of women salves non-Arab Jawaris, the openness to different traditions, the civilization prosperity, luxury and pleasures, and the spread of the Israeli tales, all these factors influenced gradually the status of women.

Dr. Roqayya went on citing the growth manifestations of the roles of women yet pointing out in some brief instances that they did not take the same degree or nature.  We also realize that the women figures’ roles examples of the Abassid and Ottomon periods were limited and concentrated only on the famous figures. All these influencing factors linked according to Dr. Roqayya’s view with “The major transformations in the recorded models of the religious thought, this model transformation from the rightly guided model which acted as what we can call as “The Age of Conformity and Unity) to the second model “The Age of Diversity and Multiplicity of approaches and attitudes”.  This has led to the appearance of the religious sects and groups, it was the era of the intellectual polarizations which formulated and led to the intellectual richness and prosperity…[53]

Dr. Roqayya’s has followed in her research the periods from the Ottoman era reaching the era of colonization then independence era and the transfer of the Western modernism. She has shown how the external influence increase with the luxury and openness phenomena and then   deterioration happened. It also showed how all this had led to the increase of the conservative tendencies in the Islamic Jurisprudence concerning the rights and duties of Woman which was far from the true spirit of Islam.  In this concern Dr. Roqqaya mentions once more the influence of the Israeli literature on this branch of Jurisprudence, as well as the comparative religions science (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) [54].

Conclusion: The Impact of the Israeli literature on the one hand, and the bilateral self-force and interaction with the external cultures, facing the self-weakness and external intervention, had both affected the evolution of the status of women intellectually, and in the jurisprudence and reality. Such evolution has taken the twentieth century woman (in light of the Islamic awakening then the globalization), towards the heart of the intellectual, epistemological and political debates about the different views and perceptions of the following dualities: modernity/traditionality, authenticity/contemporary, privacy/Global, the general/the particular, the religious/ the civil, the internal/ the external[55]. Discussion of these dualities had summoned the Islamic history: the history of Jurisprudence, Thought, Institutions, and practices.  When the advent of Islam and the rightly guided Caliphs era had gained the greatest interest, the other historical paths that followed did not gain much interest and had been passed upon swiftly in short glimpses.  Also the modern era (the Ottomon then the Colonial to our current time) has gained the interest of the contemporary Feminist studies.  Studies about the status of women in the Islamic History faced various methodological problems.  It goes without saying that Islam, compared to the other divine religions, has caused a positive revolutionary shift in the position of the Muslim woman.  Rights and duties of women had been founded during the age of the advent of Islam, then extended in the age of the rightly guided Caliphs through the responses faced whoever tried to violate these rights.  Constructing, founding and responses of these rights impacted the situation of women in the Umayyad and Abbassid eras, yet this situation started to face new challenges in light of the openness and interaction with the outer world’s circumstances.  It is well known that these challenges had been enforced in light of the latest deteriorating circumstances of the whole Islamic nation due to the coercion and decay of the self-powering force and the increasing of the external foreign interventions.

In summary, studying the evolution of the status of women in the Islamic history – going up and down – is strongly associated with the ups and downs of the Muslim nation around the world and through History[56] reaching to its current suffering due to the foreign intervention, interweaves between the religious and the cultural/ civilization, and between the intellectual/ political in an amazingly successful way.  This breakthrough has reinforced the divisioning, and increased the threats which face the wished changing processes (from an Islamic civilization perspective)[57], the fact that imposes a strategy of contemporary reactions that recalls the expertise of History, contemplating it and studying its development patterns and influencing factors.  The most important responses that we are hoping to achieve is what is related to the topic of Woman and the position of the contemporary Muslim woman, for the mother and the nation are branches of the same body, also along the previous stages of history or the contemporary one, woman has always been a main gateway of change used by the foreign interventions.

Translated by: Hala Aly***


* A research submitted to the Conference: “Women across the Islamic history from time of the prophetic mission to the Abbasid era”, Yazd – Iran, 17- 18 November 2007 / 08 September 9-10, 1428 hijri.

– A research Published in AL-Mislim Al-Muassir Magazine. Vol. 32. Issue127. P P. 121- 159.

** Professor of Political Sciences – Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences, Cairo University.

[1] Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa (supervision and editing): The international relations in Islam Project, Cairo: The World Institute for Islamic Thought, 1996, Part 12.

[2] Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: the motives and objectives and references of the project (in) Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa, supervision and editing): general introduction to the project, ibid. part 1.

– Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: the Methodological entrance to studying the evolution of the status and role of the Islamic world in the international system, (i): ibid. part 5.

[3] Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: the Mameluke era: from liquidating the Crusader presence to the beginning of the second European Attack, (in): ibid. part IX.

-Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: the Ottoman age: from strength to the beginning of the eastern issue, (in): ibid. part X.

[4] Like studies on: the development in the Arab region in the international system after the end of the cold war, the second Gulf crisis and the international order, Transformations in Central Asia after the fall of the Soviet Union, conflicts in the Balkans and Chechnya after the end of the cold war.

[5] Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: A Methodological entrance …, (in): The draft international relations in Islam, op. cit.

[6] See for example: J. Lewis Gaddis: International Relations theory and the end of the cold war, International Security, Vo 7, No. 3, Winter 1992/93.

[7] Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: the entrance to the platforms …, op. cit.

[8] Ibid.

[9] See Criticism of this methodology and perception for a universal methodology for History’s utilization in: ibid.

[10] Ibid

[11] See arrangement and detailed explanation: J. Lewis Gaddis: op. cit.

[12] Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: Methodological entrance …, op.cit.

[13] See the outcome of the studies and teaching, among the international relations perspectives and its employment for history (and other dimensions) compared to an Islamic perspective in this field (in): Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: the problem of research and teaching in international relations from a comparative cultural perspective :Dr. Abdul Wahab Al Meseiri (preparation and editing): Proceedings of the Second International Conference of bias: various paths of knowledge and dialog of civilizations, Cairo: The Program of civilization studies and cultural dialogues, Cairo University, the Center for Epistemological studies in Cairo (2007), under print.

[14] Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: the external political challenges of the Islamic Nation (in) Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa (Supervision and Introduction): The Nation in a Century, a special issue of the annual book: my nation in the world, Cairo: The center of civilization and political studies, Dar al-Shorouk Al Dawlia, 2001, Book 6: collapse of the challenges, responses and concerns for uprising towards the future.

[15] Dr. Amani Saleh: the codition of women in the Islamic world, my nation in the world (Yearbook of Islamic World issues): The second issue, Cairo: The civilization center for political studies, 1999.

– Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: the Islamic nation in the globalization era and the issue of women between the challenges and responses (in) (group participants) women and changes of the new era, Damascus: Dar El-Fekr, 2002.

[16] See for example: Farida al-Nakkash: the rank of women between the philosophical and religious thought, (in): ibid.

[17] See for example: – Abdel Halim Abu Shoqqa: The encyclopedia of women liberation in the age of the Islamic Message (a comprehensive study for the texts of the Qur’an, Bukhari and Muslim), Cairo: Dar el Qalam, 1990.

 – Dr. Mohammed Emara: Islamic liberation for women: answers to the misconceptions of the fanatics, Cairo: Dar Al-Shorouq, 2002.

[18] See for example: – Dr. Mona Abul Fadl (Supervision and Introduction): Women and the Arab community in a Century, Damascus: Dar el Fekr, Lebanon: Dar el Fekr el Mo’aaser, 2001.

– Dr. Amani Saleh: Muslim Women between two centuries: Achievements and Challenges (in) Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa) (supervision and introduction): Nation in a Century, a special issue of the yearbook “My nation in the world, Cairo: The Civilization Center for Political Studies, Al Shorouk International house, 2001, Book II (Experience of the Muslim Mind: experiences, developments and dialogs).

– Group of participants: liberation of women in Islam (the work of the conference organized by the International Islamic Committee for women and children, Dar es Salaam and Dar el Qalam, held at al-Azhar University: February 2003), Cairo: Dar el Qalam,2004.

– Dr. Aly Leila (editing and supervision): women in our societies amid the varying cultural frameworks, works of the conference, organized by the Department of Sociology – Ain Shams University Epistimological Studies Center in November 2006, Cairo, (under print).

[19] See the ASWIC Society’s definition: its basics, objectives, intellectual framework, activities, and the scientific publications issued by it, on the Society Web site on the link: http://muslimwomenstudies.com/aswic/

[20] Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: Women on the map of international relations among comparative civilization perspectives, (in): Dr. Aly Leila (supervision and editing), women in our societies on the varying cultural frameworks…, op. cit. (

.[21] See for example: a group of participants: women and transformations of a new era, op. cit.

[22] See: – The Founding chart of the Women and Civilization studies Society, op. cit.

– Dr. Amani Saleh: the experience of women’s studies and civilization unit: between the organizational and intellectual dimensions, (in) Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa, Dr. Saif al-Din Abdul Fattah (eds.): The Islamic Methodology in the Social Sciences, Political Sciences as an example, Cairo: the Civilization Center for Political Studies, the World Institute for Islamic Thought,2002.

[23]. See: The Founding Chart of Zahira Abdin Chair for Feminist studies, the University of Islamic and Social Sciences in the United States of America.

[24] See for example: Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: Succession (‘Istikhlaf) on Earth and its Development a Comprehensive Development based on the male and female, (in): Get to know each other, the works of the intellectual cultural forum held in the city of Tripoli, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in 2003, Tripoli: The World Islamic Call Society, 2004.

[25] Mona A. M. Abul-Fadl: ‘Revisiting the Woman Question: An Islamic Perspective,(in) Perry D. Lefebvre (ed.): Register, The Chicago Theological Seminar, Winter – Spring 1993, No.1, 2, pp 28.52.

[26] Ibid. pp 51-52.

[27]See for example: – Mona Abul Fadl: Preface, (in): Mona Abul Fadl (Supervision and Introduction): the Arab Women and Society in a Century, op. cit., pp.9-17.

– Mona A. M. Abul Fadl.: “Islamization as a Force of Global Culture Renewal: The Relevance of tawhidi Episteme to Modernity”, the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, Vol.2, 1988

– Mona Abul Fadl: Expertise of the development of cultural perspective of the women’s studies, (in): Dr. Amani Saleh (Editor), a review of the contemporary discourses on women, Cairo: The Dialog Between Civilizations Program,Cairo University) Epistemological Studies Center, 2007.

– Mona Abul Fadl: Endowment and the Architecture of Women in Islam: An Epistemological reading in the historical expertiseand its contemporary significances as regards the role of women in development (in): Nadia Mahmoud Mostafa Refaat Al awadi (Eds., supervisors): The Nation and the crisis of culture and development, workings of the International conference organized at Cairo University (2004), in cooperation between: the Dialog of Civilizations Program (Cairo University), the International Institute of Islamic Thought, Islamic Research and Training Institute, Cairo: Dar El Salaam Publishing, 2007.

[28] Heba Raouf Ezzat: Women and political work: an Islamic perspective, Cairo: The World Institute for Islamic Thought, the University Theses Series (18) Issues of the Islamic Thought, 1995.

[29] See references in each of:

– Dr. Mona Abul Fadl (Supervision and introduction), Arab women and Society, an Islamic Vision…, op. cit.

– Dr. Amani Saleh, op. cit.

– Dr. Roqayya Elwany: the role of Muslim women in development: a study across the historic path, Bahrain, 2007.

[30] See this expertise in: Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: A Methodological entrance…, op. cit.

[31] See the following:

– Dr. Omaima Abu Bakr: Documentary and historical exploration and rebuilding of the Woman history, (in): Dr. Amani Saleh (Editor), Revision in contemporary letters about women, op. cit., p. 319-326.

  • Works and Publications of the Women and Memory Forum in Cairo (which include the detailed studies on which Dr. Omaima Abu Bakr based her works).

[32] See the discussions on the study of Dr. Omaima Abu Bakr (in): Amani Saleh (editing), a review of the contemporary discourses about women, op. cit., p. 327-348.

[33] Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: Ibid.

[34]. See for example: Dr. Abdul Hamid Abu Suleiman: “The problem of corruption and despotism in the Islamic Thought and History,” a symposium held in 15/11/2006, Cairo University: The Dialogue of Civilizations program.

[35] Paper prepared by Fatima Hafez and supervised by Dr. Amani Saleh and Dr. Mona Abul Fadl, were discussed in a round circle headed by Prof. Taha al-Elwani. The paper entitled “The Resistant Woman .??..reading in the heritage of the Mamelukes and Ayyubids” Cairo: Association for Women’s studies and civilization, 2004.

[36] About reading in the schools of the Islamic interpretation of history: See: Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: a methodological entrance …, op. cit.

[37] See: reading about a comparision between the Ah’arites and Mo’tazilites tendencies about History, and the Jurisprudence of the Recommendable and Conditional in|: Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: History and the international system: a comparative view, a research submitted to the Egyptian-French Ninth forum” Political and Social Sciences: Prospects and expectations, Cairo: The Center for Studies, social, legal and economic Studies, and the Political and Researches Center – Cairo University, February 2000.

– Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: Thoughts on the Khaldonic contribution in the international heritage and the international theory: a study in the methodological problems (in): The works of the International Conference on occasion of 600 year anniversary of the death of Ibn Khaldoun, cooperation between the Alexandria Library, and the Supreme Council for Culture, Sciences and Arts in Cairo and Alexandria, December 2006 (under print).

[38] See: Dr. haytham Al-khayyat: Lisaan al Arab between Masculine and Feminen, (in): Dr. Nadia Mustafa, Dr. Saif al-Din Abdul Fattah (preparation and supervision), Amjad Jibril (editing), the works of  the “language, identity and the dialog of civilizations” Conference, Cairo University: Dialogue Between Civilizations Program, 2006.

[39] See for example:

– Dr. Mohamed Emara: Ibid.

– Dr. Heba Raouf: Ibid.

[40] See for example: –

 Dr. Mona Abu Fadl (and Supervision): Ibid.

 – Dr. Amani Saleh: Muslim Women between the two centuries: Ibid.

[41] Dr. Omaima Abu Bakr: Ibid

[42] Dr. Roqayya El- elwani, Ibid

[43] See for example: Results of the comparative reading between the works of Amira Sonbol, Hoda Lotfi, Afaf lotfy El Sayyed, Nelly Hanna, (in): Omayma Abu Bakr: Ibid, p. 322-324.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Mona A. M. Abul- Fadl: ‘Revisiting the Woman Question: An Islamic Perspective, op. cit.

[46] See for example: Discussions and comments on the research of Dr. Omaima Abu Bakr (in): Amani Saleh (editing) Review in contemporary discourses about women, ibid.

[47] Ibid. p. 334.

[48]As stated in interviews: Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa, Hoda Es-Sadda, Dina al-Khawaja, Amani Abul Fadl: (in): “Islamic Feminism and Islamic perspectives between the visions of the past and the present”, a panel discussion in the seminar “Kadreya Hussein and the issue of belonging.” Prepared and organized by the Women and Memory Association, the Greater Cairo library, 2004.

[49]Dr. Roqayya Elwany, op.cit.

[50]Ibid. p. 135-138.

[51] ibid. p. 140-142.

[52] ibid. p. 147 – 151.

[53] Ibid. p. 153

[54] Ibid.

[55]See for example:

– Amani Saleh (Editing): a review of the contemporary discourses about women, op. cit.

– Amani Saleh: Muslim Women in a century, op. cit.

– Mona Abul Fadl (supervision and acknowledgment): The Arab Women and the Society in a century, op. cit.

– Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa: the Islamic nation in the globalization era and the issue of women, op. cit.

[56] See for example: Results of the study of international relations in the Islamic History, (in): Dr. Wadooda Badran: The Status of the Islamic  countries in the international system after the Ottoman Empire fall (1924 – 1991), (in) Dr. Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa (supervision and editing): Project of the international relations in Islam, op. cit., part (2).

[57] See for example: Nadia Mustafa, Refaat Al Awadi (prepared and organized): “the nation and the crisis of culture and development”, op. cit.

– Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa (supervision and editing): Encyclopedia of the nation in a century, op. cit., Part VI entitled: collapse of the challenges, responses and concerns for uprising towards the Future.

– See the First and Second issues of: The Yearbook of my nation in the world, issue no. 1: Globalization and the Islamic world, and the 2nd issue: The Variable Islamic Contemporary relations.

*** Egyptian Researcher and Translator.

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