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TitleWomen in Lebanon: Living with Christianity, Islam, and Multiculturalism
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size1.3 MB
Total Pages247
Table of Contents
                            Cover
Contents
List of Figures
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part I: Saghbine, a Christian Village: Women, Religion, and Society
	1 Geography and Religious Spaces
	2 Childhood and Adolescence of Young Girls
	3 Marriages and the Condition of Married Women
	4 Adulthood, Married Life, and Women’s Work Outside the House
	Interview—Individual Perspectives: Christian Discourse
Part II: Muslim Lebanese Women and an Islamic Modernity
	5 Islam in Lebanon: An Overview
	6 Struggle in Modern Islam
	7 Veiling and Divergent Feminist Voices
	8 Personal Status Laws in Islam: Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah’s New Tafsir (Exegesis)
	Interview—Individual and Communal Perspectives: Muslim Discourse
Part III: Transformation within a Multicultural Lebanon
	9 Modernity, Multiculturalism, and Lebanese Women
	10 Christian-Muslim Relations, Women, and Religion
	11 Lebanese Women in All Their Diversity: Convergence and Divergence
	12 En Route toward a More Inclusive Civil Society
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Women in Lebanon

Page 123

118 ● Women in Lebanon

the man’s fault . . . It is men’s moral character that stands in need of improve-
ment . . . Must be wary of men and not assume that all men who write about
women are wise reformers.”3

Huda Sha’rawi founded the Egyptian Feminist Union (EFU) aiming not
only at educating and raising the intellectual and moral levels of women
but also at reforming laws related to polygamy, divorce, and age difference
between spouses. She kept strong connections with Western feminists, send-
ing delegates to international conferences, and the organizational skills that
developed as a result were able to help create and promote Arab feminism. She
and a delegation of women formed by Saiza Nabawati and Nabawiyya Musa
attended the International Women’s Alliance conference in Rome in 1923.

Upon their return, in a “symbolic act of emancipation,” they removed
their veils and revealed their unveiled selves to the public and their radi-
cal actions brought on a more liberal attitude toward women. The act of
unveiling was significant; it meant supporting gradual reforms toward the
adoption of a Western cultural path and political secular institutions. Women
expressed their freedom and became a dynamic force capable of participat-
ing in Egyptian political life, fighting and winning campaigns for suffrage.
Women demanded equal education and a minimum marriage age for young
girls. Moreover, women rallied for Egypt’s independence. The Western affil-
iation they promoted was criticized and interpreted as “validation of the
western ways as more advanced and more ‘civilized’ than native ways.” In her
analysis, Leila Ahmed claims that type of feminism “the colonization of con-
sciousness . . . in short, would complicate feminism in the Muslim world.”
Upon Huda Sha’rawi’s death in 1947, Ibtihaj Qaddus of Lebanon succeeded
her as president of the EFU.

Another feminist, Zeinab al-Ghazali, continuing in the same vein as
Nassef, sought to create a “path of female subjectivity and affirmation” within
the terms of indigenous culture. As an Islamic feminist, she challenged
patriarchal laws, ideas, and jurisprudence from within a grounded Islamic
framework to reclaim identity and faith in an egalitarian context. She wrote
vividly on the evils of polygamy, forced marriage, and marriage with too
large of an age gap. Her political influence helped establish charities to help
advance awareness on women’s issues.

Two kinds of movements became visible, and the difference between the
two feminist voices derived from a difference in identity perception and sense
of self, as well as psychological and political views, which are still making their
presence known today. One movement is accused, because of being imported
from abroad, of representing a sect, which had different traditions than the
locals, and thus not being accepted by the whole nation. The conflict between
Western and Islamic narratives complicated the issue of veiling, which became

Page 124

Veiling and Divergent Feminist Voices ● 119

more significant as time progressed, revealing an issue of identity. The general
tendency in the last few decades has been the return to something native, a
national dress expressing loyalty to religion.

Similarly, in a video titled “Veiled Revolution: Changing lives of women
in the Arab world,” which mainly depicts how women are coping with the
“religious, political, and economic upheavals now transforming the Middle
East,” Elizabeth Fernea speaks of two kinds of movements. One, imported
from abroad, represents different traditions than others and is not accepted
by the whole nation, perhaps because Westernization did not really bring the
desired result expected in development.

For the last 50 years, women have dressed themselves in a Western style;
the short skirt, the uncovered head, and this type of clothing distinguished
them from traditional women who continue to wear long full dresses and
headscarves. However, today middle-class women are covering themselves up
again in the streets of Cairo and other Middle Eastern cities. It began in early
1970s with the Iranian Islamic Revolution.

Fernea interviewed middle-class women of two age groups, and recorded
their responses. A young 25-year-old veiled women shared that she believed
she was obeying the Qur’an by dressing modestly and covering her head.
Another young working woman replied that now more than ever women
must be careful of their reputation. New economic conditions obligate them
to work outside the home in the company of strangers, particularly men.
This new situation requires women to veil themselves in order to be more
comfortable accomplishing tasks and to signal their moral attitude and their
nonavailability for prowling men. The young girl went on to compare herself
to an apple placed in front of a hungry man, a situation considered potentially
sexually dangerous. Moreover, the traditional dress also protects women who
use public transportation, which places them in constant physical contact
with men. Traditional dress conveys the respectability of those who wear it.
Yet another female university graduate speaks highly of this transformation,
greatly admiring the strong-willed young women who are able to wear the
traditional dress and to keep it up. Overall, these women believed that choice
of dress was an individual preference, and that forcing a religion or certain
type of dress on someone was wrong and “extremist.”

Ironically, the granddaughters of the first feminists seem to be “retreating
behind the veil again.” Fernea interviewed the “old fighters” about their feel-
ings on that retreat and its impact on women’s rights and the change that
has resulted. They replied, “Dangerous . . . Now in this era, every Muslim
woman has to work diligently to face and overcome the challenges,” and “It’s
not the veil that protects a woman, it’s her interior, her strength of character.
We saw the first women of Islam. To make us regress again, it’s impossible!”

Page 246

244 ● Index

Qur’an—continued
individual responsibility and, 129
inheritance and, 147
marriage and, 110, 139–42
modern interpretations of, 104–5,

110, 152, 166
modernity and, 181
polygamy and, 145
secularism and, 104
veiling and, 107, 119, 122–6, 134–5
women and, 11, 107, 121–2, 138,

154, 208

Raafsangani, Akbar Hashemi, 79
religious spaces, Lebanon, 20–5
Rihan, Hélène, 121
Roman Empire, 16, 19, 65, 164,

177, 223
Rouphael, Joseph, 21

Saab, Najla, 121
Sadr el-Din el-Sadr, Ayatollah, 90
Saffar, Zeinab al, 149
Saidat et kherbene, 19
salaries, 67–8, 71
Sanshiz, Khose, 98
Sarkis, Elias, 227
Saudi Arabia, 27, 86, 106, 127, 129,

135, 179, 199
Sayegh, Nasri, 153
serail, 20
Sfeir, Nasrallah, 160, 223
Sha’rawi, Huda, 117–18
Shaery-Eisenlohr, Roschanack, 84
Shari’a, 112, 115, 126, 128, 143,

146–7, 155, 164, 208
Shawn, Landers, 7
Shidyaq, Fares al, 108
Shi’i, 5, 9, 11, 16–17, 20, 39–40, 53–4,

79, 83–94, 97, 99, 106, 110, 121,
127, 132, 133–4, 142–3, 145,
147–8, 151–2, 154–5, 160, 166–7,
170–2, 175–81, 190, 197–200,
216–17

Sistani, Ayatollah, 94
Sister Andrée, 72

sitr, 125
see also veiling

Solh, Riad, 147, 222
Spickard, James, 7
Stowasser, Barbara, 123, 137–8
Suleiman, Michel, 88, 160, 200
Sunnis, 17, 20, 53–4, 83, 85–6, 88–9,

97, 99, 106, 121, 127, 131, 135,
139, 145, 147, 154–5, 159–60,
166–7, 171–2, 216–17

Syria, 16, 23, 84–7, 91, 96–8, 108, 173,
186, 214, 223, 224, 226, 228

Syriac language, 24–5

Ta’amullat Islamiyya Hawla al-Mar’a,
136, 142

Ta’ef Accord (1990), 86, 93
Tabet, Laure, 121
Tahtawi, Rif ’at el, 107–8, 111
Tawk, Strida, 99, 214
terrorism, 93, 98, 128, 136, 148–9,

166, 176
Tigers, 221, 226
Tillion, Germaine, 44–5, 147
Touma, Michel, 90
Trabulsi, Fawaz, 153
Tueni, Gebran, 87, 233
Tueni, Ghassan, 87
Tueni, Nadia, 183–4, 201, 233
Tueni, Naila, 99–100, 214

‘ulama, 89–91, 94, 105, 110, 112–13,
126, 128, 133–4, 165

United Arab Emirates, 27
United Nations

ambassadors, 184, 188
CEDAW and, 67, 69
Hizbullah and, 88
Lebanon’s membership in, 15
Resolution 1559, 87
UNESCO, 31, 196
women and, 67, 211–12

United States
education and, 39, 152
Hizbullah and, 148
Lebanese immigrants in, 26, 57–8,

79, 86, 186

Page 247

Index ● 245

Lebanon and, 79, 86, 133
marriage and, 60
multiculturalism and, 165–7
notaries public, 225
Palestinians and, 86
Syria and, 87
USAID, 186

“Veiled Revolution,” 119
veiling

authoritarianism and, 126–8
Christianity and, 177–8, 180
different meanings of, 122–6
divergent feminist voices and,

117–21
diversity and, 183
Fadlallah on, 135–8
France and, 165–6
globalization and, 179
hajib, 99, 106, 122–6, 135–8, 153–4,

177
Hizbullah and, 100
identity and, 150, 153–4, 161
individual

responsibility/accountability
and, 128–9

Interior Security Forces and, 218
Islam and, 10, 11, 99–101
Laïque Pride and, 217
Lebanon and, 172, 173

modernity and, 4, 129–32
outlawing of, 135–6, 165
Qassim Amin on, 104, 111–15
Qur’an and, 121–2, 135–8
resurgence of, 76, 99–100
study of, 11, 104
symbolism, 99
tradition and discourse of, 106–11
Turkey and, 135–6
Virgin Mary and, 177
as Western creation, 111–15
Western views of, 194

Waddud, Amina, 144
wakil el-waqf, 24
wali el faqih, 90–5
Wali el Sham, 190
Wazzan, Chafiq, 227
Wehbe, Haifa, 199–202
widows, 10, 73–4, 143, 145, 148–9,

175, 213
World War I, 24–5, 27, 188

Yaacoub el-Haddad, Abouna, 159–60,
167–8

Yazigi, Jamil M., 24

Zoghbi, Joseph, 59
Zoghbi, Phares, 59
Zuein, Gilberte, 99, 214

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