Few policy topics arouse as much contention as those at the nexus of women, Islam and western liberalism. The issues involved are amorphous and prone to misunderstanding and entrenched positions. As a result contemporary public debate too often postulates its own set of beliefs about what constitutes liberalism and what Islam represents. To date this has rarely proved to be a good topic for sober assessment. Women and Islam is a new collection of essays which brings together leading thinkers among British Muslim women to consider the convergences and challenges between liberalism and Islam on the topic of women. The contributors discuss a wide range of issues, from the status of women in Islam and Muslim women's involvement in public life, to forced marriage, polygamy and domestic violence. For Muslim women, these are living, not abstract, questions. Too often these issues are discussed by people speaking for Muslim women. Women and Islam attempts to help redress that by allowing Muslim women to speak for themselves about the challenges, as they see them, of living in a liberal society. No one collection can provide straightforward answers in such a complex discussion.
But they can contribute to sharpening the questions, focusing them into a form that can stimulate analysis and lead to more informed debate. That is the goal of this collection.
Faisal al Yafai is a journalist, columnist and travel writer. Faz Hakim is the Managing Director of Faz Hakim Ltd. Sarah Joseph is the CEO and Editor in Chief of emel, the Muslim lifestyle magazine. Gina Khan is a Birmingham based activist on Muslim issues. Alveena Malik is a Principal Associate at iCoCo with lead responsibility on Education and Cohesion policy as well as Intercultural Dialogue. Zohra Moosa is currently Women's Rights Adviser at Action Aid. Dr Saeeda Shah is currently teaching on Educational Leadership and Management programmes in the School of Education, University of Leicester.
Introduction - Faisal al Yafai Are Liberalism and Islam Compatible? - Sarah Joseph Conflict that Exists between the Public and Private Lives of Muslim Women in Britain - Faz Hakim Religious Symbols and the Notion of Public Faith in Britain Today - Alveena Malik Muslim Women in the West: Understanding the Challenges - Saeeda Shah Gina Khan: 'My Experiences of Islam in Britain' - Eleanor Rogerson Western Liberalism's 'Problem' with Muslim Women - Zohra Moosa Notes