Fatema Mernissi

Last updated
Fatema Mernissi
2004 Al Azm Mernissi Soroush Mernissi laudatio.tif
Fatema Mernissi (Erasmus Prize 2004)
Native name
فاطمة مرنيسي
Born(1940-09-27)27 September 1940
Fez, Morocco
Died30 November 2015(2015-11-30) (aged 75)
Rabat, Morocco
OccupationSociologist
NationalityMorocco
Alma materUniversity of Paris
Brandeis University
Literary movementFeminist
Notable awards Prince of Asturias Award

Fatema Mernissi (Arabic : فاطمة مرنيسي, romanized: Fāṭima Marnīsī; 27 September 1940 – 30 November 2015) was a Moroccan feminist writer and sociologist.

The romanization of Arabic writes written and spoken Arabic in the Latin script in one of various systematic ways. Romanized Arabic is used for a number of different purposes, among them transcription of names and titles, cataloging Arabic language works, language education when used in lieu of or alongside the Arabic script, and representation of the language in scientific publications by linguists. These formal systems, which often make use of diacritics and non-standard Latin characters and are used in academic settings or for the benefit of non-speakers, contrast with informal means of written communication used by speakers such as the Latin-based Arabic chat alphabet.

Moroccans or Moors, ancient names Spanish: Moros and English: Moors and Moorish People are a Maghrebi ethnic group inhabiting or originating from Morocco that share a common Moroccan culture and Maghrebi ancestry. The overwhelming majority of Moroccans are of Arab-Berber descent; however, many identify as Arabs or Arabized Berbers.

Contents

Biography

Fatema Mernissi was born in Fez, Morocco. She grew up in the harem of her affluent paternal grandmother along with various female kin and servants. [1] She received her primary education in a school established by the nationalist movement, and secondary level education in an all-girls school funded by the French protectorate. [2] In 1957, she studied political science at the Sorbonne and at Brandeis University, gaining her doctorate there. [3] She returned to work at the Mohammed V University and taught at the Faculté des Lettres between 1974 and 1981 on subjects such as methodology, family sociology and psychosociology. She became known internationally mainly as an Islamic feminist. [4]

Fez, Morocco City in Fès-Meknès, Morocco

Fez or Fes is a city in northern inland Morocco and the capital of the Fas-Meknas administrative region. It is the second largest city in Morocco after Casablanca, with a population of 1.4 million (2014). Located to the northeast of Atlas Mountains, Fez is situated at the crossroad of the important cities of all regions; 206 km (128 mi) from Tangier to the northwest, 246 km (153 mi) from Casablanca, 169 km (105 mi) from Rabat to the west, and 387 km (240 mi) from Marrakesh to the southwest which leads to the Trans-Saharan trade route. It is surrounded by the high grounds, and the old city is penetrated by the River of Fez flowing from the west to east.

French protectorate in Morocco 1912-1956 protectorate in Northern Africa

The French protectorate in Morocco, also known as French Morocco, was a territory established by the Treaty of Fez. Though the French military occupation of Morocco began in 1907 with the bombardment of Casablanca, the protectorate was officially established on March 30, 1912, when Sultan Abd al-Hafid signed the Treaty of Fez, and lasted until independence and dissolution in 1956. It shared territory with the Spanish protectorate, established and dissolved the same years; its borders consisted of the area of Morocco between the "Corridor of Taza" and the Draa River, including sparse tribal lands, and the official capital was Rabat.

Political science is a social science which deals with systems of governance, and the analysis of political activities, political thoughts, and political behavior. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics which is commonly thought of as determining of the distribution of power and resources. Political scientists "see themselves engaged in revealing the relationships underlying political events and conditions, and from these revelations they attempt to construct general principles about the way the world of politics works."

Mernissi was a lecturer at the Mohammed V University of Rabat and a research scholar at the University Institute for Scientific Research, in the same city. [5] She died in Rabat on 30 November 2015. [6]

Mohammed V University, in Rabat, Morocco, was founded in 1957 under a royal decree (Dahir). It is the first modern university in Morocco after the University of al-Qarawiyyin in Fez.

Rabat City in Rabat-Salé-Kénitra, Morocco

Rabat is the capital city of Morocco and the country's seventh largest city with an urban population of approximately 580,000 (2014) and a metropolitan population of over 1.2 million. It is also the capital city of the Rabat-Salé-Kénitra administrative region.

Scholarship and recognition

As an Islamic feminist, Mernissi was largely concerned with Islam and women's roles in it, analyzing the historical development of Islamic thought and its modern manifestation. Through a detailed investigation of the nature of the succession to Muhammad, she cast doubt on the validity of some of the hadith (sayings and traditions attributed to him), and therefore the subordination of women that she sees in Islam, but not necessarily in the Qur'an. [7] She wrote extensively about life within harems, gender, and public and private spheres. [8]

Islamic philosophy

Islamic philosophy is a development in philosophy that is characterised by coming from an Islamic tradition. Two terms traditionally used in the Islamic world are sometimes translated as philosophy—falsafa, which refers to philosophy as well as logic, mathematics, and physics; and Kalam, which refers to a rationalist form of Islamic theology.

Succession to Muhammad Overview and history of the succession to Muhammad, the original split between Shias and Sunnis

The succession to Muhammad is the central issue that split the Muslim community into several divisions in the first century of Muslim history, forming the Shia and Sunni branches of Islam. Shia Islam holds that the Islamic prophet Muhammad designated Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor at Ghadir Khumm. Sunni Islam holds Abu Bakr to be the first leader of the community after the Prophet on the basis of the decision at Saqifah.

Hadith collections of sayings and teachings of Muhammad

Ḥadīth in Islam refers to the record of the words, actions, and the silent approval, of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Hadith have been called "the backbone" of Islamic civilization, and within that religion the authority of hadith as a source for religious law and moral guidance ranks second only to that of the Qur'an. Scriptural authority for hadith comes from the Quran which enjoins Muslims to emulate Muhammad and obey his judgments. While the number of verses pertaining to law in the Quran is relatively few, hadith give direction on everything from details of religious obligations, to the correct forms of salutations and the importance of benevolence to slaves. Thus the "great bulk" of the rules of Sharia are derived from hadith, rather than the Qur'an.

As a sociologist, Mernissi mainly did field work in Morocco. On several occasions in the late 1970s and early 1980s, she conducted interviews in order to map prevailing attitudes to women and work. She did sociological research for UNESCO and ILO as well as for the Moroccan authorities. [9] In the same period, Mernissi contributed articles to periodicals and other publications on women in Morocco and women and Islam from a contemporary as well as from a historical perspective. Her work has been cited as an inspiration by other Muslim feminists, such as those who founded Musawah. [10]

UNESCO Specialised agency of the United Nations

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration in education, sciences, and culture in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter. It is the successor of the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.

Musawah is a global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family, led by feminists "seeking to reclaim Islam and the Koran for themselves".

In 2003, Mernissi was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award along with Susan Sontag. [11] In 2004 she was awarded the Erasmus Prize, alongside Sadik Al-Asm and Abdolkarim Soroush. [12]

Susan Sontag American writer and filmmaker, professor, and activist

Susan Sontag was an American writer, filmmaker, philosopher, teacher, and political activist. She mostly wrote essays, but also published novels; she published her first major work, the essay "Notes on 'Camp'", in 1964. Her best-known works include On Photography, Against Interpretation, Styles of Radical Will, The Way We Live Now, Illness as Metaphor, Regarding the Pain of Others, The Volcano Lover, and In America.

Erasmus Prize Annual award for an exceptional contribution to the humanities or the arts awarded by the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation

The Erasmus Prize is an annual prize awarded by the board of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation to individuals or institutions that have made exceptional contributions to culture, society, or social science in Europe and the rest of the world. It is one of Europe's most distinguished recognitions. The prize is named after Desiderius Erasmus, the Dutch Renaissance humanist.

Sadiq Jalal al-Azm Syrian philosopher

Sadiq Jalal Al-Azm was a Professor Emeritus of Modern European Philosophy at the University of Damascus in Syria and was, until 2007, a visiting professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. His main area of specialization was the work of German philosopher Immanuel Kant, but he later placed a greater emphasis upon the Islamic world and its relationship to the West, evidenced by his contribution to the discourse of Orientalism. Al-Azm was also known as a human rights advocate and a champion of intellectual freedom and free speech.

Works

Mernissi's first monograph, Beyond the Veil, was published in 1975. [13] A revised edition was published in Britain in 1985 and in the US in 1987. Beyond the Veil has become a classic, especially in the fields of anthropology and sociology on women in the Arab World, the Mediterranean area or Muslim societies in general.

Her most famous book, as an Islamic feminist, The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Islam, is a quasi-historical study of role of the wives of Muhammad. It was first published in French in 1987, and translated into English in 1991. The book was banned in Morocco, Iran, and Arab states of the Persian Gulf. [14]

For Doing Daily Battle: Interviews with Moroccan Women (1991), she interviewed peasant women, women labourers, clairvoyants and maidservants. In 1994, Mernissi published a memoir, Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood (in the US, the book was originally titled The Harem Within: Tales of a Moroccan Girlhood, and is still known by that title in the UK). [15] [16]

She contributed the piece "The merchant's daughter and the son of the sultan" to the anthology Sisterhood Is Global: The International Women's Movement Anthology (1984), edited by Robin Morgan. [17] [18]

Bibliography

Edited by Mernissi:

See also

Related Research Articles

Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah Pakistani diplomat

BegumShaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah was a Pakistani Bengali politician, diplomat and author. She was the first Muslim woman to earn a PhD from the University of London. She was Pakistan's ambassador to Morocco from 1964 to 1967, and was also a delegate to the United Nations.

Amina Wadud is an American Muslim philosopher with a progressive focus on Qur'an exegesis.

Harem Womens quarters in the traditional house of a Muslim family

Harem, also known as zenana in the Indian subcontinent, properly refers to domestic spaces that are reserved for the women of the house in a Muslim family. This private space has been traditionally understood as serving the purposes of maintaining the modesty, privilege, and protection of women. A harem may house a man's wife — or wives and concubines, as in royal harems of the past — their pre-pubescent male children, unmarried daughters, female domestic workers, and other unmarried female relatives. In former times some harems were guarded by eunuchs who were allowed inside. The structure of the harem and the extent of monogamy or polygamy has varied depending on the family's personalities, socio-economic status, and local customs. Similar institutions have been common in other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern civilizations, especially among royal and upper-class families, and the term is sometimes used in other contexts.

A combination of Islam and feminism has been advocated as "a feminist discourse and practice articulated within an Islamic paradigm" by Margot Badran in 2002. Islamic feminists ground their arguments in Islam and its teachings, seek the full equality of women and men in the personal and public sphere, and can include non-Muslims in the discourse and debate. Islamic feminism is defined by Islamic scholars as being more radical than secular feminism and as being anchored within the discourse of Islam with the Quran as its central text. As a "school of thought", it is said to refer to Moroccan sociologist "Fatema Mernissi and scholars such as Amina Wadud and Leila Ahmed".

Asma Barlas is a Pakistani-American writer and academic. Her specialties include comparative and international politics, Islam and Qur'anic hermeneutics, and women's studies.

<i>Dreams of Trespass</i> 1994 novel written by Fatima Mernissi

Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood is a memoir by Fatima Mernissi. It describes her youth in a Moroccan harem during the 1940s and brings up topics such as Islamic feminism, Arab nationalism, French colonialism and the clash between the traditional and the modern. It is a fictional work, although this fact is only noted in the French version, not the English.

Sayyida al Hurra,, real name Lalla Aicha bint Ali ibn Rashid al-Alami, Hakimat Titwan,, was a queen of Tétouan in 1515-1542 and a pirate queen in the early 16th century. She is considered to be "one of the most important female figures of the Islamic West in the modern age".

Thumal the Qahraman was a Muslim woman appointed in 918 as a judge in a maẓālim court during the reign of Caliph al-Muqtadir. She was not a Qadi, for she only dealt with secular law. She was put in charge of rescripting the petitions which petitioners brought to the court. Her position was an extraordinary unique position for her sex. She was appointed by Umm Jafar Muqtadir, the mother to caliph Jafar al-Muqtadir-billah, the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad.

Fatima Sadiqi linguist

Fatima Sadiqi is a senior professor of Linguistics and Gender Studies at Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, in Fez, Morocco.

Sa'id al-Afghani was a professor of Arabic language and literature at the University of Damascus. He was regarded as one of the 20th century's leading scholars in both fields.

Women in Morocco

The history of women in Morocco includes their lives from before, during, and after the arrival of Islam in the northwestern African country of Morocco. In 622 AC, as Islam arrived in Morocco, the women of Morocco received three basic rights under the Muslims' religion: the right to live, the right to be honored and to be respected as a mother, and the right to own business and be able to work. From the 1940s until the Moroccan declaration of independence from the tutelage of France in 1956, Moroccan women lived in family units that are "enclosed households" or harem, wherein extended families live as one unit together and where women are secluded and require permission from the men before leaving a household that is protected by a gate keeper. In addition, during that time, married women were treated better than women who were divorced. The hierarchy and importance of women were further categorized according to age and status in the family and community. Among their activities during that period were performing household chores, embroidery, and crafts, attending Koranic schools, and going to a Moroccan bathhouse known as the hammam. The tradition of the harem lifestyle for women gradually ended upon Morocco's independence from France in 1956.

Huda Shaarawi Egyptian feminist and journalist

Huda Sha'arawi was a pioneering Egyptian feminist leader, nationalist, and founder of the Egyptian Feminist Union.

Eugénie Le Brun Egyptian Feminist

Eugénie Le Brun also known as Madame Rushdi was a French-born early Egyptian feminist intellectual, influential Salon host, and close friend of Huda Sha'arawi.

Kalima was a French language monthly women's magazine and news magazine published in Morocco between 1986 and 1989. The magazine was a feminist publication.

Asma Lamrabet is a Moroccan doctor, Islamic feminist and author.

Lalla A. Essaydi is a Moroccan-born photographer known for her staged photographs of Arab women in contemporary art. She currently works in Boston, Massachusetts, and Morocco. Her current residence is in New York.

Al-hurra or al hurra was an Arabic title historically often given to, or used to referred to, women who exercised power or had a position of power or high status.

Feminism in Pakistan is considered to be a set of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women in Pakistan It is the pursuit of women's rights within the society of Pakistan. Like their feminist counterparts all over the world, feminists in Pakistan are supposed to seek gender equality: the right to work for equal wages, the right to equal access to health and education, and equal political rights. Feminist and women's rights consciousness in Pakistan has historically been shaped in response to national and global reconfiguration of power including colonialism, nationalism, dictatorship, democracy and the Global War on Terror. The relationship between the women's movement and the Pakistani state has undergone significant shifts, from mutual accommodation and a complementary ethos to confrontation and conflict.

References

  1. Fatima Mernissi obituary, The Guardian
  2. Mernissi, Fatima (1987). Beyond the veil: male-female dynamics in modern Muslim society. Indiana University Press. p. 6.
  3. "Featured Alumni" . Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  4. "Mernissi, Fatima" . Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  5. "Muslim Women: Past and Present". Fatema Mernissi. WISE. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  6. Fox, Margalit (9 December 2015). "Fatema Mernissi, a Founder of Islamic Feminism, Dies at 75". New York Times.
  7. "Mernissi, Fatima" . Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  8. "WISE". Fatema Mernissi. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  9. "Notable Feminist Fatema Mernissi" . Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  10. "Honouring Fatima Mernissi". Musawah: Equality in the Muslim Family. Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  11. "Notable Feminist Fatema Mernissi, Susan Sontag - Literature 2003" . Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  12. "Former Laureates". Praemium Erasmianum. Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  13. Khaleeli, Homa. "Fatema Mernissi". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  14. Evita Saraswati, Raquel (2014-10-16). "Fatima Mernissi: going beyond the veil to fight misogynist interpretations of Islam". Aquila Style. Retrieved 2016-06-21.
  15. Mernissi, Fatima (1994). The harem within (Bantam reprint. ed.). Toronto: Bantam Books. ISBN   978-0553408140.
  16. Mernissi, Fatima (1995). Dreams of trespass : tales of a harem girlhood. Photographs by Ruth V. Ward (26. printing. ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus Books. ISBN   978-0201489378.
  17. "Table of Contents: Sisterhood is global :". Catalog.vsc.edu. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  18. Valentine M. Moghadam (2003). Modernizing Women: Gender and Social Change in the Middle East. Lynne Rienner Publishers. pp. 76–. ISBN   978-1-58826-171-7.