The “Modern” Muslim Woman in the Arab Peoples’ Revolution of Freedom and Dignity

  • Nathalie Grima
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan’s Postcolonial Studies in Education book series (PCSE)


In this article, I question the discourse and perceptions that place Arab women within the traditional-modern dichotomy. In the case of Muslim women, this is very often associated with whether they are following the Islamic dress of hijab or niqab , or whether they have rejected these garments. Apart from the simplistic association with tradition, Islamic dress is very often equated with gender oppression. My fieldwork with Arab Muslim women living in Malta has shown me that their situation is a much more flexible situation, which can be understood by looking at their perspectives rather than sticking to a rigid view. My respondents’ narratives reveal that in general they tend to reject the idea that the only solution for gender equity is the one that is based on a Western, feminist, and apparently secular model. They rather tend to project the idea of a “modern” woman that can also be a practicing Muslim.


Fair Trade Gender Equity Muslim Woman Arab World Arab Woman 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abu-Lughod, L. (2002). “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and Its Others.” American Anthropologist, 104, 3, pp.783–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anon. “Declaration to the Nation.” Kifaya. Available at: Accessed on November 15, 2011.Google Scholar
  3. Anon., Kifaya (The Egyptian Movement for Change). Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Available at: Accessed on November 15, 2011.
  4. Anwar, E. (2006). Gender and Self in Islam. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Cherribi, S. (2006). “From Baghdad to Paris: Al-Jazeera and the Veil.” The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, 11, 2, pp.121–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Crossley, N. (2005). Key Concepts in Critical Social Theory. London : SAGE Publications Ltd.Google Scholar
  7. Entwistle, J. (2002). “The Dressed Body.” In M. Evans and E. Lee (eds), Real Bodies: A Sociological Introduction. New York: Palgrave, Chapter 9.Google Scholar
  8. Espostio, J. L. and Voll, J. O. (2001). Makers of Contemporary Islam. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gilsenan, M. (2005). Recognizing Islam, Religion and Society in the Modern Middle East. 2nd ed. London, New York: I. B.Tauris & Co Ltd.Google Scholar
  10. Lynch, M. (2007). Voices of the New Arab Public: Iraq, Al-Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Martin, D. (2008). Differences between Pentecostalism and Fundamentalist Islam. Available at: Accessed April 30, 2011.Google Scholar
  12. ——. (1978). A General Theory of Secularization. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  13. Mayo, P. (2007). “Gramsci, the Southern Question and the Mediterranean.” Mediterranean Journal of Educational Studies, 12, 2, pp.1–17.Google Scholar
  14. Moghissi, H. (1999). Feminism and Islamic Fundamentalism: The Limits of Postmodern Analysis. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  15. Power, C. (2011). “Silent No More: The Women of the Arab Revolutions.” Time World, March 24, 2011. Available at:,8599,2059435,00.html. Accessed on November 28, 2011.Google Scholar
  16. Roald, A. S. (2001). Women in Islam: the Western Experience. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Roy, O. (2004). Globalised Islam: The Search for a New Ummah. London: C.Hurst & Co.Google Scholar
  18. Ryan, Y. (2011). “How Tunisia’s Revolution Began.” Aljazeera, Januar y 26, 2011. Available at: Accessed on June 16, 2011.Google Scholar
  19. Sabry, M. (2011). “Egypt’s Women Protest Despite Brutal Military Attacks.” Truthout, December 24, 2011. Available at: Accessed on January 25, 2012.Google Scholar
  20. Shirazi, F. (2003). The Veil Unveiled: The Hijab in Modern Culture. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.Google Scholar
  21. Sussman, A. L. (2011). “Prominent dring Revolution, Egyptian Women Vanish in New Order.” The Atlantic, April 13, 2011. Available at: Accessed on April 15, 2011.Google Scholar
  22. Torriello, F. (2010). “Lettera a una Professoressa Aktar minn Erbgħin Sena wara: Interpretazzjoni Interkulturali.” In C. Borg (ed.), Lorenzo Milani: bejn Ilbieraħ u Llum. Malta: Horizons.Google Scholar
  23. Treacher, A. and Shukrallah, H. (2001). “Editorial: The Realm of the Possible: Middle Eastern Women in Political and Social Spaces.” Feminist Review, 69, pp. 4–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Woolley, J. T. and Peters, G. (2001). Radio Address by Mrs.Bush. The American Presidency Project. Available at: Accessed on January 14, 2011.Google Scholar
  25. Yuval-Davis, N. (1999). “What Is ‘Transversal Politics’?” Soundings, 12, pp.94–98.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Carmel Borg and Michael Grech 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathalie Grima

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations