An expanded and updated edition of this classic study includes a new introduction on Muslim women and fundamentalism, in which Fatima Mernissi argues that the present conservative wave against women in the Muslim world is a defence against recent profound changes in sex roles and in perceptions of sexual identity. Sexual inequality is a prominent feature of both Western and Islamic societies but underlying concepts of female sexuality in Christian and Muslim traditions are very different. The Islamic view of women and active sexual beings resulted in stricter regulation and control of women's sexuality, which Muslim theorists regarded as a threat to civilized society. But the requirements of modernization are incompatible with traditional Muslim strictures, and the ensuing contradictions provide nearly all Muslim countries. Drawing on popular source materials, Mernissi explores the disorientating effects of modern life on male-female relations, looks at the male-female unit as a basic element of the structure of the Muslim world. A list of suggested supplementary reading enhances the value of this edition for students and general readers.
Fatima Mernissi, formerly Professor of Sociology at Muhammad V University, Rabat, Morocco, holds a research appointment at Morocco's Institute Universitaire de Recherche Scientifique. She is author of Le Maroc raconte par ses femmes, Le Harem politique, and numerous articles about women in the Third World.