Faith and Feminism in Pakistan: Religious Agency or Secular Autonomy? (Hardback)
  • Faith and Feminism in Pakistan: Religious Agency or Secular Autonomy? (Hardback)
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Faith and Feminism in Pakistan: Religious Agency or Secular Autonomy? (Hardback)

(author)
£50.00
Hardback 224 Pages / Published: 30/11/2017
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Are secular aims, politics, and sensibilities impossible, undesirable and impracticable for Muslims and Islamic states? Should Muslim women be exempted from feminist attempts at liberation from patriarchy and its various expressions under Islamic laws and customs? Considerable literature on the entanglements of Islam and secularism has been produced in the post-9/11 decade and a large proportion of it deals with the Woman Question. Many commentators critique the secular and Western feminism, and the racialising backlash that accompanied the occupation of Muslim countries during the War on Terror military campaign launched by the U.S. government after the September 11 attacks in 2001. Implicit in many of these critical works is the suggestion that it is Western secular feminism that is the motivating driver and permanent collaborator -- along with other feminists, secularists and human rights activists in Muslim countries -- that sustains the Wests actual and metaphorical war on Islam and Muslims. The book addresses this post-9/11 critical trope and its implications for womens movements in Muslim contexts. The relevance of secular feminist activism is illustrated with reference to some of the nation-wide, working-class womens movements that have surged throughout Pakistan under religious militancy: polio vaccinators, health workers, politicians, peasants and artists have been directly targeted, even assassinated, for their service and commitment to liberal ideals. Afiya Zia contends that Muslim womens piety is no threat against the dominant political patriarchy, but their secular autonomy promises transformative changes for the population at large, and thereby effectively challenges Muslim male dominance. This book is essential reading for those interested in understanding the limits of Muslim womens piety and the potential in their pursuit for secular autonomy and liberal freedoms.

Publisher: Sussex Academic Press
ISBN: 9781845199166
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 496 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
This sophisticated, sharp analysis of womens activism in Pakistan, brings home the crucial relevance of secular womens movement and working-class womens activism, under religious militancy. An essential read for those interested in better understanding the many dimensions of the sensitive subject, womens political actions in Muslim contexts. - Haideh Moghissi, York University, Toronto, author of the award-winning Feminism and Islamic Fundamentalism
Through a critical feminist theorization of the relationship between Islam and feminism in Pakistan, Afiya Zia takes on the provocative questions of Are secular politics, aims and sensibilities impossible, undesirable and impracticable for Muslims and Islamic states? Should Muslim women be exempted from feminist attempts at liberation from patriarchy and its various expressions, which include Islamic laws and customs as they are practiced in the present time? Her compelling response to these questions incites us brilliantly to read the religious challenges facing feminist studies and womens movements beyond Pakistan. This book is a layered analysis of the retreat of secular and liberal feminist spaces while it also critiques the limits of liberal secularism. - Shahrzad Mojab, University of Toronto, co-author of Revolutionary Learning: Marxism, Feminism and Knowledge
Every once in a while there comes a book that is guaranteed to make its readers sit up and take note of the power of its argument, the clarity of its expression and the sheer audacity of its claims. This is that book. Indispensable for any understanding of the pernicious effects of an Islamically informed faith-based politics on women in Pakistan, it puts paid to the idea that such politics could ever serve as the engine of feminine agency. This is a rare and much-needed corrective against the present sweep of insidious currents hostile to the promise of a secular future for Pakistan and its women. - Farzana Shaikh, author of Making Sense of Pakistan
In this book Afiya Zia brings into play all her skills in incisive analysis and her ability to go to the heart of the matter without fear or reservations, for which she has built a solid reputation over the many years of advocacy of womens rights. Faith and Feminism in Pakistan should not fail to shorten the journey to salvation of not only Pakistans Muslim women but also of women in all Muslim majority countries. - I. A. Rehman, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan; recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award and the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award
This is a superb and much overdue study of the history of feminism in Pakistan and its involvement in the question of Islam in state and society. Afiya Zia brings a keen analytic eye to the task, without sentimentalizing any of the actors or ideas concerned. But her own lifelong involvement in the feminist movement in the country adds a richness of texture to her discussion. This is a brave new contribution to the extensive discussion of Islam and gender across the disciplines, insisting that we view the womens rights movement as a legitimate part of contemporary Muslim societies. It will make waves in the academic world and in politics, and rightly so. - Aamir R. Mufti is Professor of Comparative Literature, University of California, Los Angeles and author of Forget English! Orientalisms and World Literatures (Harvard University Press)
Pakistani women have been at the forefront of struggles for democracy and secular human rights. From her vantage point as member of the women's movement, Afiya has documented the multiple challenges that we have faced as women activists during the "War on Terror". Those who want to understand the tensions between faith and feminism in Pakistan should read her account in this book. - Asma Jahangir, Lawyer, co-founder and chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan; United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion; recipient of the Hilal-i-Imtiaz, Right Livelihood Award; Ramon Magsaysay Award

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