There is no better way to describe Women in The Qur’an by Asma Lamrabet then thoroughly educational. The writer delves deep in to the representation of women in the Qur’an. She re-reads the Qur’an while giving her female perspective on how women are portrayed in it and what limitations are given in Islam. This is book is something that I’ve never encountered before but reading it was truly an eye-opening experience.
Admittedly, before reading the book, I was someone who did overlook female representation in the Qur’an. It was just instinct to do so. How many of us share Islamic stories with others? How many of us focus on the men in these stories? How many of us don’t give the women behind these stories enough acknowledgement? How many of us forget to mention them at all? Too many.
Asma Lamrabet doesn’t accept this. She doesn’t accept the idea that women are portrayed as being oppressed and treated dishonourably in Islam. She gives us a true understanding of how women should be treated in Islam and what the Qur’an dictates this to be.
She covers various topics throughout the Qur’an where the real interpretation has been skewed, usually by a male interpreter. Examples include; divorce, inheritance, mistreatment, equality, polygamy etc. Stories about Prophets are also mentioned, such as Isa, Ibrahim, and Musa. However, Lamrabet portrays these from a female perspective, for example she concentrates on Maryam (mother of Isa) and the struggles she faced with giving birth and her hardships. Also, Lamrabet doesn’t just pick out random topics and gives her opinion on them, she backs up every statement with a quotation from the Qur’an and a lengthy glossary at the back.
The writer talks about Western Muslim values and how many people regard this as the only way to free Muslim women from oppression. She mentions that when people defend Islam and explain that it does treat women equally and fairly, their arguments are often very weak. They have nothing to back up their views with because they don’t focus on women when reading the Qur’an! That’s why Western ideology is often regarded as freedom for women. But it’s not. Being from a certain part of the world doesn’t entitle you to freedom. However, doing your research on Islam and what women are entitled to, gives you a greater chance of getting freedom. If you have no valid reasoning behind your opinions, even though they are correct, then why don’t you read up on female representation in the Qur’an?
While this book was extremely informative, it did come with some negative aspects. Firstly, it felt like Lamrabet wrote this book with a thesaurus at hand. Every paragraph, every sentence, every word, was made complicated for no reason, making the book very hard to understand. For example, Lamrabet writes, ‘We note in fact a patent anachronism between these two discourses and the lived reality which aims towards and claims to be respectful oh Islamic values and in which the worse discrimination against women are justified…’ What does that even mean? Unfortunately, the entire book seams to follow suit. I do think this is a real shame, because the most influential generation is regarded as the younger one. How are they expected to learn about women in the Qur’an when nothing makes sense to them?
It is an amazing book, because of the things it covers, but it’s not well written. Honestly, after reading the first few pages in the book I had to stop and think, then read them again… and again. It takes far too long to wrap your head around the topic.
I also wouldn’t recommend this book as a ‘light read’, if anything it’s the complete opposite. Reading Women in The Qur’an is like reading a dictionary or an encyclopedia, full of information and endless amounts of it. Now, I’m not trying to put anyone off from reading this. I just want everyone to be aware that it is a very challenging book to read and requires a great deal of thinking. Based on that note, this book wasn’t for me. I feel as though a book, no matter whether it’s fictional or not, shouldn’t require me to re-read pages because I don’t know what’s going on. Also, the book isn’t very long, around 177 pages, which I would usually read within half a day, however this book took me almost a week!
My final piece of advice, if you decide to read this book, would be to keep a dictionary at hand because you’re certainly going to need it.
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Review by Haleema