Islamic Feminisms: Rights and Interpretations Across Generations in Iran, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Islamic Feminisms

Rights and Interpretations Across Generations in Iran, 1st Edition

By Roja Fazaeli


156 pages

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Paperback: 9781138363588
pub: 2018-08-14
Hardback: 9781472489159
pub: 2016-11-10
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This book explores the contentious topic of women’s rights in Muslim-majority countries, with a specific focus on Iran and the Iranian women’s movement from 1906 to the present. The work contextualizes the authorial self through the use of personal narrative and interviews. A new critique of Islamic law is produced through an in-depth study of the Iranian Constitution, civil and criminal codes. The work presents a novel reconceptualization of the term "Islamic feminism" by revisiting the arguments of various scholars and through analysis of interviews with Iranian women’s rights activists. It is contended that the feminist movements can play a critical role in Islamic law reform and consequently the eventual implementation of international human rights law in Muslim-majority countries. What emerges from this study is not only a feminist critique of two major regimes of law, but also the identification of possibilities for reform in the future. The study transitions from the Iranian national context to the international by way of a comparative legal study of international human rights laws and Islamic laws. The book will appeal both to academics and human rights practitioners.


This book is an important contribution to the study of Iranian women’s struggle for legal equality since the early twentieth century. With a fascinating personal account of the aftermath of the 1979 revolution that brought clerics to power, Fazaeli chronicles the coming of age of an indigenous feminism that has challenged the official interpretation of ‘Shari‘a’. Ziba Mir-Hosseini, SOAS University of London

A child of revolution and a martyr’s daughter, Fazaeli situates herself in the ongoing resilient political activism of Iranian women in their pursuit of legal and political equality, despite the relentless state obstruction and harassment. She has written a highly engaging, intelligent and readable book. I recommend this book enthusiastically. Shahla Haeri, Associate Professor, Boston University.

At a time when the discourse on Islam and women's rights is increasingly characterized by polemics and one-dimensional debates that generate more heat than light, Roja Fazaeli's fascinating study offers a measured, nuanced, and lucid account of the complex interrelationship between the forces that shape the struggle for gender equality in Iran and the wider Islamic world. By focusing on the critical role that feminist movements can play in pushing for domestic legal reforms that will pave the path towards the full realization of human rights, Islamic Feminisms is a much needed reminder that the ultimate agents of change in that struggle are Muslim women themselves.--- Ahmed Shaheed, United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran (2011-2016) & on Freedom of Religion or Belief (2016-).

Table of Contents


Introduction: Situating the Self


Chapter 1. Iranian Women’s Movement: Narratives of Dissent


The Iranian Women’s Movement: A Brief Historical Account 1872-2012

Iranian Women’s Movement through: Offline and Online Media

Pahlavi Period (1925-1979)

1979- 2009: the Rise and the Fall of Women’s Print Media

Chapter II. Contemporary Feminism in Iran: Definitions, Narratives and Identity


The Struggle to Define "Islamic Feminism"

Chapter III. Women’s Rights in Islam: An Iranian Case StudyIntroduction



Chapter IV. Human Rights, Islam and the debate around CEDAW


A Brief Background to CEDAW

International Debate: CEDAW and Muslim-majority countries

Iranian Debates on CEDAW

Conclusion: A Personal Account


About the Author

Dr Roja Fazaeli is Lecturer in Islamic Civilizations, Department of Near and Middle Eastern Studies, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. She has published widely on the topics of Islam and gender, Islamic feminism and human rights.

About the Series

Gender in Law, Culture, and Society

Gender in Law, Culture, and Society
Gender in Law, Culture, and Society will address key issues and theoretical debates related to gender, culture, and the law. Its titles will advance understanding of the ways in which a society’s cultural and legal approaches to gender intersect, clash, and are reconciled or remain in tension. The series will further examine connections between gender and economic and political systems, as well as various other cultural and societal influences on gender construction and presentation, including social and legal consequences that men and women uniquely or differently encounter. Intended for a scholarly readership as well as for courses, its titles will be a mix of single-authored volumes and collections of original essays that will be both pragmatic and theoretical. It will draw from the perspectives of critical and feminist legal theory, as well as other schools of jurisprudence. Interdisciplinary, and international in scope, the series will offer a range of voices speaking to significant questions arising from the study of law in relation to gender, including the very nature of law itself.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Gender & the Law
RELIGION / Islam / Law