Beaman's Reviews > Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate

Women and Gender in Islam by Leila Ahmed
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Apr 28, 2007

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bookshelves: islamic-history
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Which is worse, having no book on a subject or having a flawed one? This is the dilemma Ahmed's book faces us with. The book suffers from factual errors and methodological shortcomings. Nevertheless, it's the first book to attempt the ambitious task of offering a historical survey of the topic.

To mention but one mistake:

Ahmed asserts that the case of Khadîja (the Prophet's first wife) shows that before Islam women in Mecca inherited property. To back this statement about women in pre-Islamic Mecca inheriting property, she writes, "Other women besides Khadija are mentioned in the texts as trading in their own right, for example, 'Aisha bint Mukharib (Ibn Sa'd, 8:220. 255, no. 26)." The presumption is that inherited money can serve as capital for trade.

Consulting the source she cites, Ibn Sa'd 8:220, one notices a few things. (1) The woman's name was Asmâ, not Â'isha. (2) She was indeed Meccan; however, she is only reported to have engaged in trade in Medina during the reign of 'Umar, i.e. after the death of the Prophet. Clearly, the report has no bearing on the pre-Islamic era (nor on Mecca in that period).
(3) Furthermore, she sold perfume that her son sent her from Yemen. So the report does not bear on the question of inheritance at all. That's three mistakes in one citation.
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Nouranapps she says on page 68 that " women other than his wives... even in the last years of Muhammad's life they were not veiled". She does not provide a source for that statement... can anybody link me with a source?

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