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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 Redemption of Women's Liberation

The Redemption of Women's Liberation

Reviving Qasim Amin

(p.70) Chapter 2 The Redemption of Women's Liberation
Soft Force

Ellen Anne McLarney

Princeton University Press

The concept of women's liberation has become an integral part of a transnational Islamic discourse, deployed in contexts as diverse as debates over the freedom to wear the headscarf in France, in the writings of exiled Muslim Brothers in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and in the rhetoric of the Ennahda Party in postrevolutionary Tunis. The idea of women's liberation, identified as growing out of colonial feminism and an imperialist secular liberalism, has now become part of a popular Islamic discourse reiterated by activists and scholars alike. This chapter charts the origins of a discourse of women's liberation in Islam during the nineteenth-century awakening known as the naḍda and its revival for the late twentieth-century ṣaṭwa. The concept of women's liberation was vilified in the naḍda, with Qasim Amin's Liberation of Woman being called a “sermon of the devil.” The later ṣaṭwa, however, would appropriate the concept and language of women's liberation, making it a most potent ideological weapon.

Keywords:   Islamic discourse, women's liberation, Qasim Amin, Muslim women

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