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Fighting Hislam - Women, Faith and Sexism

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  205 ratings  ·  46 reviews
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 Islamophobi ...more
Published May 1st 2017 by Melbourne University Press
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Start your review of Fighting Hislam - Women, Faith and Sexism
Muslim feminism. An oxymoron? Many people would assume so, because the prevailing view of non-Muslims seems to be that Islam classifies women as something less than men. Well, no. In fact, many of the world’s great religious texts have appeared to favour men, but probably because they’ve been translated and interpreted by—you guessed it—men.

I think the male is usually the default position in language. Things have changed, changed to the point that when I once said something about “A farmer,
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘The wider community thinks the Muslim community is a monolith… ‘

I was intrigued by the title of this book, interested to read what Susan Carland has to say about sexism and faith. But first, a little about Dr Susan Carland. Susan converted to Islam when she was aged 19. She had explored other religions, but felt an intellectual connection to the Islamic faith. Dr Susan Carland is a sociologist and lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne, and ‘Fighting Hislam’ began life as her PhD thesis. Su
Karen ⊰✿
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: uno_2018, book-club
This reads a bit too academically for me. It is basically an extension of her PHD as she interviews 27 Muslim women who are fighting sexism within their religion.

As someone who is not religious I really did struggle to relate as I don't understand why you would remain in, or choose, a religion where you have to fight misogyny like this. Carland is trying to shine a light on the fact that not all men who are Muslim are sexist, and not all women who are Muslim accept sexism, and perhaps that will
This short book is an extension to the author's PhD. It reads a bit like a formal dissertation which is a pity as the topic needs to be understood.
The more examples the book provided of sexism in Islamic communities, the more common the problem seems of men misusing their religion, power, position to get a world in which they can control.
An important emphasis in the book is to show the historical and continuing work conducted by Islamic women in addressing sexism, inequality and domestic viole
Louise Easson Burke
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting read about the way Muslim women are fighting for gender equality within their faith and communities. The book dispels many misconceptions about Muslim women and shares their stories. Many of the battles being fought for women's rights within Islamic communities are similar to those being fought within other faiths and the secular community too. The book is written in an academic style, which I didn't love, but the author has expertise on her side. A thought-provoking read.
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Reading this, I almost felt not quite smart enough to fully grasp it, somehow, but it was still a really fascinating and, I think, really important.

One of the MOST important parts of the entire book was, to me, this:

There is a saying among Muslims: you don't read the Qur'an, the Qur'an reads you. This means that holy texts have a way of drawing out from people what already dwells in their heart and holding up a mirror to them. This is not to say that there aren't valid and invalid interpretation
Oct 28, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was based on Susan Carland's PhD and it definitely read as a very academic piece. The first 40-50 or so pages in particular were a struggle to get through, explaining the methodology and reasoning behind both the research and interviews. In my opinion, this section was not very engaging for the regular everyday reader. There was also a noticable amount of repetition throughout the book. For example, one entire paragraph essentially said that (and I am obviously paraphrasing here to mak ...more
hayls 🐴
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
This book fills a sizable hole in the genres of feminist- and Islamic-related literature by covering ground which has been neglected by other authors in these fields. Where other authors have tackled "women's issues" within Islam from a non- or ex-Muslim perspective, Carland addresses the issue of sexism experienced by Muslim women in a way which gives agency to Muslim women themselves, with respect to both their gender and their religion. This unique way of framing the debate tackles one of my ...more
PathtoMinerva Creator
This book opens an important discussion about women in Islam. While the value of the discussion can't be questioned, the way it is discussed here could be.

For my full review watch on my Youtube channel:
TL; DR: This book made me really, really want to read Carland's PhD - so yay? But as a stand-alone book, I found it unsatisfying.
I was really looking forward to reading this one. Carland has doctorate on the topic, so it wasn't going to be superficial; I am fascinated by the way gender debates are expressed through theology; and best of all, Carland focused on activists within the community, letting their voices speak, an approach which is all too rare on this topic. So my disappointment with th
Gary Dargan
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is one of those rarities, a PhD thesis edited and rewritten for general reading outside the specialised confines of academia. If you think this is just another feminist complaining about the misogynist males running the mosque you are wrong. That is a small part. What Susan focuses on is 23 Muslim women who in various ways cope with both the seemingly inherent misogyny within Islam and the toxic Islamophobia that besieges it. This is not a book about feminists. In fact most of the women bel ...more
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Classical Islamic law affords women the same right and obligation to an education as it does to a male, the right to financial independence (including owning property), the right to keep her name after marriage, the right to sexual satisfaction from her spouse, the option to use contraception, the right to divorce, the right to initiate and refuse marriage, the right to be a religious authority equivalent to men, the right to social and political participation, and the right to financial mainte ...more
Robyn Philip
Oct 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I heard Susan Carland speak at the Byron Bay writers festival, and I was once again impressed with her positivity, intelligence and insight, and her strong drive to make a difference in the world.

I bought her book to gain some insight into what it means to be a Muslim, a Muslim woman, a Muslim woman in Australia, and a Muslim opposing sexism.

Using evidence from her PhD, Carland argues for a nuanced view of Muslim women. The key seems to be to go back to the ancient texts from which Islam is de
Aug 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I bought the book after listening to Susan Carland discussing Women, Faith and Sexism, at my local library last week. She was very engaging and informative. The book is based on her PHD study, and therefore it is more like an academic read. Not a long book, only 147 pages, but you need to read it slowly. Twenty-three Muslim women were interviewed so there are numerous comments attributed to different people, and at times I had difficulty in remembering who was who. Susan Carland concentrates mai ...more
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a convert to Islam myself (through my own personal choice...not because of my now husband), I was very eager to read the research that Dr. Susan Carland had undertaken. I wanted to understand the dynamic between 'feminism' and 'sisterhood' within the Islamic faith as gender roles are quite specific, yet at the same time (for me personally) a relief at not having to constantly strive towards the unrealistic 'Wonder woman' that prevails in Western societies.
I was also interested to read that t
Andrew Doohan
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an engaging account of the struggle of a group of Muslim women to counter sexism within Islam from within Islam itself. It springs from the doctoral research and dissertation of the author, Susan Carland, herself a Muslim woman who struggles against sexism within Islam. There are clear parallels between the struggles of the Muslim women that Carland has extensively interviewed and the wider community beyond Islam, a struggle for equality between the sexes.

I found it interesting that Carl
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
This is such an important feminist book and I am so happy that it has been written. Susan Carland de-bunks some misconceptions about Muslim women and Islam. The key insights were that it's not that the Islamic religion is sexist but rather that the reading and interpretations of the ancient texts/scriptures have been done by men adopting a patriarchal, sexist lens. In fact the sacred texts have within them the ability to free Muslim women from oppression Carland argues, this is why Muslim women ...more
Francesca Pashby
Jul 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism
An interesting but frustrating read for me (an atheist, middle class white woman). The author was examining the issue of sexism in Islam from a pro-faith, pro-feminist perspective, but acknowledged how difficult it is for these two views to overlap easily. I learnt feminism is kind of a dirty word (or should I say, Western concept) for many Muslims. Also, the fact that Carland's interviewees were such a tiny group, and all educated, American/Australian living ... very different lives from the ma ...more
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was absolutely inspiring - a life-changing read for me. As a Muslim feminist living in a non-Muslim society I found I could identify personally with many of the issues Carland explored - the belief that women's rights are inherent to Islam, the concerns with exposing rampant sexism within Muslim communities, experiencing this sexism as males use Islam to justify it, experiencing the pitying attitude of non-Muslims who see Muslim women as oppressed victims.

It's an area that I'm grossly
Lisandra Linde
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dispelling beliefs about Muslim women as hapless and powerless victims of a misogynistic religion, Dr. Susan Carland delves into what it means to be a Muslim woman fighting against sexism on her own faith-centered terms. Through interviews with several Muslim women from North America and Australia, Carland explores stories of activism and the use of theology and media to push for gender reform within Muslim communities.

This is a well-written book which blends the personal experiences of the wom
Yang Ch'ng
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a bold and courageous book that aims to amplify the much-trampled voices of the many Muslim women who are fighting sexism within their religious and cultural communities. Too often, the narrative from secular Western feminist movement strongly condemns the inherent misogyny within Islam while on the other hand, Muslims openly criticises the feminist movement for being incompatible with the values of Islam. This book shows us a third way of seeing the issue: that it is possible to be both ...more
Mathilde Loujayne
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book and it struck the right cord for me. I love the fact that the women who were interviewed were from 4 different categories, from theologians, writers, bloggers and activists. I feel like they truly represented the full spectrum of Muslim women, from born Muslims to reverts and non-feminists etc. Their stories are fantastic and so inspiring - I even wished I could learn more about them.
I was already familiar with the works of Laleh Bakthiar who translated the Qu
Kass Hall
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a very readable, thought provoking book on what seems on the surface to be an incompatible pairing - Islam and Feminism. As Carland outlines, in fact there are similarities and parallels between the two. Several times I stopped and gave thought to the contentions - some things I had not given thought to in my thinking on either issue. There is much to think about and possibly shift ones thinking on within this book. Highly recommend.
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Exploring the interplay between Islam, feminism, fighting sexism, Islamophobia and rejection from within the respective Muslim communities of its protagonists, the author analyses the main obstacles, from the outside and from within, that these courageous women are facing in their activism. It tackles multiples facets of Muslim feminism, as well as the issue of constant stereotyping on Muslim women in Western media, in academia etc.
Rania T
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting insight into how a group of Muslim women negotiate their 'feminist' identities within their own religious group as well as to broader society. Good to see a mention of bell hooks, second and third wave feminism and the Monash University old guard (Peter Lentini, Gary Bouma etc) still plugging away at the School of Political and Social Inquiry. Chapters of this may probably be required reading in some subject or other, and will be referenced in some presentation or student essay.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: electronic, own
I really appreciate the perspective this book has to offer. There was definitely quite a bit of new information for me in this one and I enjoyed the opportunity to expand the scope of my understanding of feminism. The main thing I disliked about this book was the way the writing made the experience of reading this book very boring. I can't quite pin down what I didn't like about the style of writing, but it made reading this book un-engaging and slower than it needed to be.
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent read! Carland gives readers and understanding of the sexism women feel under Islam. She shares with readers the stories of those she interviewed in USA and Australia. This book was compiled before she wrote her PhD. I enjoyed the last paragraphs of each chapter as Carland brings together her narrative to reinforce her thesis of this story. The 'Changing the Narrative' chapter is most impactful.
toria (vikz writes)
This book was written to quash to (un)truisms about Muslim women: the first, that women are always oppressed by their religion; and, secondly, that women’s liberation can only come through the rejection of Islam. The writer, a western convert to the faith, speaks of people’s reactions to her research, outlining how they would inevitably think that, when she told them that she would be researching women and Islam, she would be talking of victimisation and oppression. They would assume that any ac ...more
Zee Monodee
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Felt disappointed by this book, mainly because it read like a school paper with so much crammed in and everything then ending up not making much sense. It was also very dry and academic, making it hard to follow, and the actual examples of women fighting hislam seemed buried in the middle of a lot of extrapolation and the view of an 'outsider' looking in.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like the the book. It was a quick and easy read with some challenging thinking. I do think that Dr Carlson under-identifies, by omission mostly, the violence that prompts the need to fight Hislam. This is most likely deliberate, given the intent of the text though. Overall, really interesting and I"ll be encouraging my students to read it.
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