In a world driven by misconceptions and misinterpretations, Ms. Nashat and Ms. Tucker have sought to examine how women throughout Islamic history have faired. Via the book, Women in the Middle East and North Africa: Restoring Women to History, these authors have carefully analyzed over the centuries how Middle Eastern and North African society has treated women and how women in those societies have been affected by their external circumstances.
Within this paper, I shall be evaluating the section’s thesis, how the author argues her points, and finally how poignantly the author is able to convey her information while allotting key pieces to historical documentation and various authors. From the get-go, Ms. Nashat introduces her conceptual thesis that women’s roles had changed from social to seclusion by the end of the first century of Islam. In analytically approaching this work, we must first look at the authors’ manner of approaching this subject.
I noticed that the work begins by point blank stating that Islam was revealed in c. e. 610 in Arabia, Muhammad is the founding figure, and that he was alive til 632 where he witnessed the submission of Arabia to Islam. The author appears to want to introduce to the reader early on the timelines and timeframe in which we are to examine the changes that occurred within those first four centuries. It appears that the author also felt it vital to emphasize that older cultures were “preserved under an Islamic veneer. ” To the average reader this implies that older traditions, ethnic ideas, and cultural traditions were orchestrated with an Islamic appearance and acceptance (Nashat 35-36).
This also implies that the cultures were indoctrinated or adopted by Islam or into Islam while taking into consideration their cultural traditions and expectations. As an analytic reader, I would tend to say that the author felt it wise to present this position as early on as possible. This introduction also steadfastly emphasizing that Muslim women, during the time of Muhammad’s prophecy, were active members in their society. In addition, it iterates that women were well respected for this active involvement in religious and social circles.
The introduction moves on to point out that there were many changes that occurred that made their contact with the “outside world” limited and secluded. This seclusion is apparent in the key differences between Muhammad’s teachings and treatment of his wives and women versus the Shari’ah teachings. This transformation is a means of showing how the Shari’ah was a means of legitimizing seclusion. This early introduction also formally states that material has been derived from various sources including biographies, legal and theological literature by caliphs, literary and artistic works, and court documents and letters.
It is apparent that the writer deems it vital to articulate that their analysis is a combination of both informal and well as formal works. In addition, Ms. Nashat is informing the readers that the jist of the works can be considered subjective in cases of biographies and artistic works. As such documents are created based upon the assessment of an individual with bias or societal driven belief set, it is not easy to draw conclusions from documents that are obviously subjective in merit (Nashat 35-38).
It is fair to say that the author is approaching the situation explicitly in the initial section in order to include these works in the body of the text. In general, the author clearly states that the focus of this work is on the first two centuries of women’s evolution in Islam. She also states that she will look at the role of women before Islam, the early teaching of Islam on women, and how the teachings themselves underwent changes over these centuries.
This introduction may be a bit long-winded but it carefully organizes how the work is going to flow and from a logical structure it makes it very coherent. It is apparent from introduction that the authors desire to present the information in a timeline journey. This coordination of information enables the reader to comprehend which century the events are occurring and hazard a general understanding of the fundamentals behind the changes occurring in womanhood life-style.