Fighting Hislam

Author: Susan Carland34100196

Publisher: Melbourne University Press

Publication Date: 1. May 2017

Rating: 4./5. Stars

TW: short descriptions of spousal abuse

Summary: The Muslim community that is portrayed to the West is a misogynist’s playground; within the Muslim community, feminism is often regarded with sneering hostility. Yet between those two views there is a group of Muslim women many do not believe exists: a diverse bunch who fight sexism from within, as committed to the fight as they are to their faith. Hemmed in by Islamophobia and sexism, they fight against sexism with their minds, words and bodies. Often, their biggest weapon is their religion. At a time when the media trumpets scandalous revelations about life for women from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia, Muslim women are always spoken about and over, never with. In Fighting Hislam, that ends.


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Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


This book started out as a thesis on feminism in Islam and is now being published. Written by an Australian woman, this book mostly focuses on other women in Australia and North America. Fed up with the western belief that Muslim women need secular western feminism to save them, and with Muslim men’s belief that feminism means their faith is invalid or not needed since sexism doesn’t exist in Muslim spaces, despite the fact that it very much does.

This book very well described the various boundaries Muslim women have to walk if they want to work on women’s rights. Are they giving non-Muslims another scapegoat to use as justification of their islamophobia (which often shows itself in misogynist islamophobic attacks, especially of women who chose to wear the hijab)? Are they not loud enough to be heard in western spaces? Are they too loud for Muslim spaces? What will their own faith-based communities think of them, when feminism is often seen as a western colonization? Can they root their feminism in faith and see their faith as inherently feminist or do they also need to look beyond that?

All of these questions and more are dealt with in this book. In the introduction, the author talks about the reactions she faced by non-Muslims and her amazement at how few published work was there of Muslim women talking about their faith and women’s issues, so she decided to help change that.

This book features a diverse collection of Muslim women, young and old, from Australia and North-America, those that converted and those that were born in the religion, white, of Middle-Eastern descent and black, married and unmarried, even one woman in a same-gender relationship, some that wear the Hijab and some that don’t, some happy to be identified, other wanting pseudonyms, some that call themselves feminists, others dislike the term for various reasons, some that work within the context of their faith and some beyond that.

This is a very fascinating and powerful book about Islam and women’s rights and how women navigate their lives in these frameworks. I really liked that the author kept pointing out that despite all the different women she interviewed for this book, that there are still many varying responses to the question how Muslim women deal with misogyny and islamophobia.

This thesis is definitely very well written and it lifts women’s voices up about them dealing with racism, islamophobia, and misogyny every day and makes them heard. All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I’m glad it gives the voice to the women in Muslim communities who deal with the misogyny inside it and outside it. It is definitely a book that needs to be read.


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