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Soft ForceWomen in Egypt's Islamic Awakening$
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Ellen Anne McLarney

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691158488

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691158488.001.0001

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The Liberation of Islamic Letters

The Liberation of Islamic Letters

Bint Al-Shatiʾ’s Literary License

(p.35) Chapter 1 The Liberation of Islamic Letters
Soft Force

Ellen Anne McLarney

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on Bint al-Shatiʾ, whose writings crystallize some of the most salient themes of the modern Islamic public sphere and illustrate the power of adab in formulating modern Islamic ethics and politics. A public intellectual, political activist, chaired professor, journalist, and adēba (woman of letters), Bint al-Shatiʾ synthesized discursive trends for a broad spectrum of readers that included both intellectual elites and popular audiences. Her Omdurman lectures reinterpreted the concept of “women's liberation” for an Islamic politics, nearly seventy years after Qasim Amin first ventured his interpretation of “women's liberation” in Islam in 1899. Like Amin, she has unmitigated faith in the power of education and knowledge—scientific, Islamic, and literary—to elevate the political community from its political chains. But she also surpasses Amin in imagining the force of women's literary voices in transforming the umma, just as she surpassed him in literary accomplishment, stature, and recognition.

Keywords:   Muslim women, Bint al-Shatiʾ, Qasim Amin, women's liberation, Islam, adab

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