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Velvet Jihad:
Muslim Women's Quiet Resistance to Islamic Fundamentalism

Faegheh Shirazi


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"The originality of Velvet Jihad is in its bringing together a huge amount of data on various aspects of Muslim women’s lives from all over the Muslim world. Shirazi challenges the stereotypes that attribute 'exceptionality' to Islam."--Shahla Haeri, Boston University

There are numerous conflicts ensuing in the Middle East, but not all are being fought with rockets and rifles. While the Internet has proven invaluable to those who wish to uphold a patriarchal society and spread the message of Islamic fundamentalism, Muslim women have used the Web to build a transnational community intent on growing women’s rights in the Middle East.

There is a large disparity between a Muslim woman's role according to the Qur'an and her role as some corners of Muslim society have interpreted it. In Velvet Jihad Faegheh Shirazi reveals the creative strategies Muslim women have adopted to quietly fight against those who would limit their growing rights.

Shirazi examines issues that are important to all women, from routine matters such as daily hygiene and clothing to controversial subjects like abortion, birth control, and virginity. As a woman with linguistic expertise and extensive life experience in both Western and Middle Eastern cultures, she is uniquely positioned as an objective observer and reporter of changes and challenges facing Muslim women globally.

Faegheh Shirazi, associate professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Texas at Austin, is the author of The Veil Unveiled: The Hijab in Modern Culture.

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"For readers seeking religious arguments either supporting or opposing mainstream positions on gender issues such as virginity, Shirazi incorporates interpretations of Islamic law and Quranic verses alongside her own personal commentary. In addition, she makes the legal discussion of virginity more accessible by illustrating how particular international news sources have responded to the topic within their national boundaries. In the rest of Velvet Jihad, Shirazi explores the subjects of infertility, dolls as cultural expression, art, and gender preference. On each subject, her analysis of news media discussions of these social problems remains strong and critical. By showing current grassroots organizations are resisting restrictions against women and promoting their empowerment, and by exposing cultural paradoxes that Iran faces in response to contraception and HIV/AIDS research, she keeps the conversation timely and relevant. The topics explored in Velvet Jihad are quite accessible to a wide range of readers and provide a fascinating cross-cultural survey." --Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources
--Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources

"Discontent can stand strong, even when it isn't vocal. An intriguing dual study of women's and Islamic studies, highly recommended." -- The Midwest Book Review
--The Midwest Book Review

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