He Named Me Malala review

I first saw “He Named Me Malala” when it was released in 2015. I knew very little about Malala Yousafzai at the time, just that she was a young Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban after fighting for her right to go to school. I knew the facts, but I had no idea why she was fighting so hard for an education. After watching the movie, Malala became a great inspiration of mine. I was never a huge fan of school, but after watching the movie, I gained a new respect for the education I am able to receive.
The strength that Malala has throughout the movie brought me to tears. Just thinking about a 15 year old showing so much strength and perseverance should be an inspiration to everyone. We have talked many times in class about how Islam is the religion of peace. Malala represents Islam in every way. She never fought back or got mad. In the film she even says that she never had “an atom” of anger in her towards the Taliban. She uses peaceful protest to show the Taliban that girls in Pakistan do in fact have the right to an education. I feel as though sometimes people (myself included) try and fight fire with fire when they are very passionate about a topic. Malala however demonstrates that we as humans are able to make a difference even if we go about it peacefully. I can honestly say that “He Named Me Malala” changed the way I think about education and protest. It gave me a new interest in Islam, which inspired me to take Gender and Sexuality in Islam. I love this film and I hope that others are able to watch so they can enjoy it and be inspired as much as I was.

The Mosque in Morgantown

The one scene in The Mosque in Morgantown which made me feel very uneasy was the part when they were having a conference with many students and community of WVU. The man speaking was a convert to Islam, and had apparently said in podcasts that he believed women should be abused when not behaving the right way. He also stated that because women menstruated and men did not, they were not equal, which to me makes no sense. Asra tried to address this topic at the end of his speech, but he refused to speak. It was so upsetting to me that this man would say to abuse your wife if she didn’t act a certain way, and it was also upsetting that he wouldn’t explain himself. If he said that in a podcast, then why cant he explain himself in front of the general public? The man made me extremely mad and disappointed that he was representing Islam in that way. Although Asra was very pushy and extreme at some points, I believed it was not okay that the man didn’t address her questions or explain himself.

Thoughts on “To Be Young, Gifted, Black, American, Muslim, and a Woman”

While reading this, one specific quote stuck out to me. It was when Precious was riding in a cab and the driver asked her, “Why do you wear a hijab? Are you from America? Don’t you know you are free here?”(Muhammad,45). This stuck out to me because when discussing the issue of veiling with a family member, they asked the same thing as the cab driver. What i’ve gathered is that many Americans believe that the veil oppresses Muslim women. However, these Americans are close minded and are just trying to “save” Muslim women, instead of looking at the perspective of the Muslim women. Precious explains that she chooses to wear a hijab in order to stand out as a Muslim. She says that wearing the veil gives her a sense of “serenity, security, and elation” (Muhammad,45). Precious explains her reasoning for veiling in a very simple way that helps me to understand why many Muslim women decide to veil. I think that something Americans need to work on is looking at problems with other countries from an insiders view, rather than an Americans view. Not all Americans have an ethnocentric attitude, but hearing that perspective from someone I know makes me realize that some Americans need to be better informed on this topic, because it is so prominent in todays society.

Free write on Living Out Islam versus Tales of the Waria

Devin and I were both discussing how interesting it was that transgender women were widely accepted in Tales of the Waria in Indonesia, but in Living Out Islam in the United Kingdom, Muslim lesbian women were not regarded with respect. We assumed that because the United Kingdom was a far more advanced and Westernized society, Lesbian Muslim women would be treated with respect. While watching the Tales of Waria, I realized that I was being extremely ethnocentric, by assuming that transgender people would be treated with disrespect just because of their location and status. Devin and I also talked about how religious history plays such an enormous role when talking about acceptance of different genders and relationships. In the case of the Waria, part of the reason they were so widely accepted was because before Islam, men who dressed as women were seen as being close to royalty. Devin and I realized that acceptance relies heavily on religion and the history of that religion, rather than location and status in society.

Source review #2

The second text I will primarily be referencing in my research paper, is “What is Veiling?” By Sahar Amer. This book is a scholarly text which was published by Edinburgh University Press. The book explains the basics of veiling while talking about political and social views on veiling. In my opinion, the book is directed towards individuals who are curious about veiling in Muslim Western societies.
Amer focuses splits up the book into three different sections. The first section- Islam, Politics, and Veiling, focuses on understanding the history and basics of veiling, along with political views versus sociocultural practices of veiling. By focusing the first part on basics and political views, readers are able to grasp what Islamic texts and rules state bout veiling, and how politics have shaped the topic of veiling. This helps readers to formulate their own opinions on veiling, while understanding the historical context and political views on the topic. The next section of the book is called “Veiling in Euro-American Societies”. This section looks at veiling in modern day Europe and America. In this section, Amer also examines literature and art that depict veiling. She looks specifically at nineteenth century paintings of veiled women. It is interesting how the paintings with veiled women were supposed to represent “otherness” or “exoticism”- which correlates to how veiling is looked upon today. Veiling and Muslim culture tends to be ostracized from society, so its fascinating to see that the exclusion of Muslim culture and veiling practices also occurred during the nineteenth century. The last section of the book is split up into three parts, which each show the attitudes of Muslim women on veiling. It starts with Amer examining the views of many Muslim women. She discusses the history of Muslim feminists and their ideas of veiling. Amer mentions the ideas of famous Muslim feminists, such as Amina Wadud and Leila Ahmed as well. In the next part of the third section, Amer analyzes the change in the Muslim fashion industry. She talks about how many Muslim women have “adopted fashion as an expression of individuality” in order to rebel against strict Islamic laws concerning fashion and veiling (Amer, 131). The last part of section three reviews the various forms of art, text, and poetry that Muslim women have created that display the various opinions on veiling.
“What is Veiling?” By Sahar Amer examines the history, opinions, and personal experiences on the topic of veiling. The text will provide crucial information for my research paper. The text covers lots of information in short sections, which could be seen as problematic, but I believe these sections will help me to address lots of topics that I want to talk about in my paper.

Source review #1

The source I’ve decided to review is “ A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from the Middle East to America” by Leila Ahmed. This source is an academic text, which was published by Yale University Press. The book questions why the veil disappeared around the 1940s, but is now something many Muslim women wear on a day to day basis. The book is aimed towards readers who are curious about why the veil has suddenly reappeared, and why it is such a prominent symbol nowadays. Ahmed uses academic texts, along with personal anecdotes to explore this question. I found it very interesting that Ahmed describes the conflict over the veil as an “ideological tug of war” between Islam and the West. This is fascinating to me because I’ve heard the same kind of analogy used by Mona Eltahawy, the creator of #mosquemetoo. These two women are explaining that Muslim women and the veil tend to be pulled in two directions- by Islam and the West. Ahmed’s personal connection to this book creates an interesting perspective that helps me understand the first hand struggle experienced by many Muslim women. Although personal experiences may not be the most reliable form of evidence, Ahmed, balances this with her use of other scholarly books and articles.
Throughout the book, Ahmed deciphers and attempts to explain why the veil has suddenly made a comeback into society. Ahmed concludes that one important reason why Muslim women are wearing the veil again is because of the want for a renewed sense of religious commitment because of the lack of religious commitment seen before the 20th century. She also explains how Muslim were seen as a group of people that “needed saving”. The veil contradicts this idea by pushing back against the Western idea that Muslim women need to be saved from oppression. The unanimity of wearing the veil shows strength and personal choice, rather than persecution.
Ahmed’s text contains lots of useful information that I can include in my research paper. The personal narratives and other scholarly evidence create new ideas regarding veiling. Ahmed includes viewpoints from both sides of the argument on veiling, which is another very interesting and useful part of the text. This text, along with a few others, will be my primary source of information for my research paper.

Zina in Ali’s text

While reading Ali’s text, I was completely shocked by how Zina was approached in Muslim society. It was interesting to me that Zina was one of the most serious sexual transgressions and consent was an absolute must. Earlier in the text, Ali explains how concubinage and “temporary liaisons” were permissible on occasion. This to me is ironic, due to the fact that concubinage and prostitution is acceptable, but when two individuals have sex, there MUST be consent from both parties. Isn’t it hard for the concubine to completely have consent if she acts as the man’s sex slave? The concubine is able to express consent, but is that a necessity if she is already acting as a sex slave? These rules stuck out to me the most due to the unusual way of approaching sex. Then again, I may be being ethnocentric due to these ideas partially contradicting Western views.

Annotated Bibliography Essay

Research on Veiling

For my research project, I decided to focus on the topic of veiling in Islam. When talking about veiling I do not want to solely focus on why veiling is or is not an issue. Instead I want to investigate why this piece of cloth seems to have such a crucial impact on society. I want to examine how a hijab in Eastern societies is different from a wedding veil in Western societies. Is there a threat seen in the hijab that Westerners see, but not Easterners? The topic of veiling has been extremely controversial over the past decade. I’m looking to find a basic understanding of why this is.

When beginning my research this topic, I started with using the Muhlenberg Trexler library site. I typed in veiling into the advanced search, and surprisingly, I got many results that had to do with Islam. The next thing I searched was hijab. This search came up with similar results, but this time many of them were about veiling in specific countries. I wanted to also get articles that were written by Muslim women that clearly showed the two perspectives of veiling, whether they should be banned or not. I found two articles by searching “why the hijab should be banned” and “support of veiling”. The two articles are both written by Muslim women, but for two drastically different news sources. The article written about why veiling should be banned is featured in The Spectator, a conservative leaning magazine. The article about why veiling should be embraced on the other hand is included in The New York Times, a fairly liberal news source. Articles and papers which show multiple perspectives will create depth and interesting contrast in my research which will make people think about the topic at hand.

The first one of my sources that I looked at, “What is Veiling”by Sahar Amer rhetorically stated in the introduction, “ Oh, and let’s not forget-we’re also hiding explosives under our clothes”(Amer,1). This quote in particular stuck out to me due to the insanity but reality of the proposition being made. Muslim women are not hiding explosives under their hijabs, so why ostracize them so heavily? Amer is trying to emphasize the fact that veiling is causing issues, but what she actually wants to figure out, along with many other people (including myself), is why are these issues occurring. Why does the veil represent danger or fear?

The next source I looked at was one that caught my eye due to it’s unique set up. The book is “Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women” by Marnia Lazreg. Each chapter is a letter written about Muslim women, to Muslim women. It is fascinating to me that this book was written by a Muslim woman, but every letter talks about how veiling is problem for Muslim women. It is rare that Muslim women speak out agains veiling, which is why this book is so different and interesting. The letters that Lazreg writes provides compelling arguments about veiling that will be very beneficial to my research.

The source that I examined after Lazreg’s was called “A Quiet Revolution: the Veils Resurgence, from the Middle East to America”. This source looked at the differences in veiling oppression before 9/11 and after. There was a clear change in attitude about veiling after 9/11 due to the fear of Muslims that suddenly occurred after 9/11 in America. It is interesting that before 9/11 the veil was seen as a sign of oppression, but after 9/11, politicians and world leaders began to use the “symbol of oppression” as a way to signify the injustice occurring in Islam. The veil became a sign of Islam that people started to affiliate with persecution and terrorism, rather than a representation of Muslim identity and a personal choice of Muslim women.

The sources that I gathered for my research display many viewpoints and ideas on the topic of veiling and its importance in modern society. I’m fairly confident that I can use these sources in my research paper to develop a coherent understanding of why veiling is such a controversial topic.

Annotated Bibliography


Amer, Sahar. What Is Veiling? University of North Carolina Press, 2017.

-I came across this source by using the advanced search on the Muhlenberg Trexler library site. By using this source, I expect to find information pertaining to the basics of veiling in Islam and the criticism that veiling is currently facing. This should be helpful when referring to the basic ideas about veiling.

Grace, Daphne. Woman in the Muslin Mask: Veiling and Identity in Postcolonial Literature. Pluto Press, 2004.

-I came across this source by using the advanced search on the Muhlenberg Trexler library site. This source shows the historical and worldly background regarding veiling. There are chapters based around veiling in different places around the world, which I think will be useful when comparing veiling traditions between societies.

Carvalho, J.-P. “Veiling.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol. 128, no. 1, 2012, pp. 337–370.

-I also came across this article by using the advanced search on the Muhlenberg Trexler library site. This article delves deep into the issues seen with veiling in French schools. After it talks about that, it talks about the symbolic significance of veiling.

Hirschmann, Nancy J. “Western Feminism, Eastern Veiling, and the Question of Free Agency.” Constellations, Wiley/Blackwell (10.1111), 16 Dec. 2002.

-I found this article by using the advanced search on the Muhlenberg Trexler library site. The article focuses on comparing ideas between Western and Eastern societies. One of the topics the author compares is veiling, which will be very useful for my paper.

Ahmed, Leila. A Quiet Revolution: the Veils Resurgence, from the Middle East to America. Yale University Press, 2011.

-I found this book by using Google actually. I researched “symbolism of veiling in Islam” and looked at the search results for Google books. This book completely focuses on veiling and the roles that veiling plays in the Middle East and Western societies. The book is also interestingly split up into two parts: before 9/11 and after.

“Lazreg, M.: Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women (Paperback and EBook) | Princeton University Press.” Princeton University, The Trustees of Princeton University, press.princeton.edu/titles/8986.html.

-I also found this book by researching “symbolism of veiling in Islam” and looking at the book results. This book is very interesting because each of the chapters is a letter to Muslim women about veiling. This piece will provide a different but fascinating component to my project because of the chapters being directly written towards Muslim women.

Ingber, Hanna. “Muslim Women on the Veil.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 27 May 2015, www.nytimes.com/2015/05/28/world/muslim-women-on-the-veil.html.

-I found this article by searching “support of veiling in Muslim culture”. I wanted to get a reliable article that showed support for veiling so that I can use quotes from real Muslim women on their support for veiling. This will help to give credible first hand information in my research paper.

“As a Muslim, I Strongly Support the Right to Ban the Veil.” The Spectator, 16 Mar. 2017, www.spectator.co.uk/2017/03/the-right-to-ban-the-veil-is-good-news-for-everybody-including-muslims/.

-I found this article by searching “Why veiling should be banned”. Just like the previous article, I wanted to get a first hand opinion from a Muslim woman on why they believe veiling should be banned. It will be interesting to contrast these two points of view in my paper.

Kashani-Sabet, Firoozeh. Conceiving Citizens: Women and the Politics of Motherhood in Iran. Oxford University Press, 2015.

-I found this book by searching for “veiling” in the Muhlenberg Trexler library site. I think this will be a useful source to use because of its focus specifically on Iranian Muslim women, rather than Muslim women as a whole.

Shirazi, Faegheh. The Veil Unveiled: the Hijab in Modern Culture. University Press of Florida, 2003.

-I found this book by searching for “hijab” in the Muhlenberg Trexler library site. This will be useful due to the book being focused on how the veil is understood in modern society.

Motherhood according to Islam

Wadud explains in her book that good Muslim mothers are described as women who give birth naturally, raise their children in a stable family, and devote their lives to caring for their children.  Islamic law does not condone single parenting or those who raise their children into poverty. The standards to be an appropriate mother as explained in Islam are very high, and rarely seen this day in age. If Islamic law is expecting all mothers to be perfect and loving all the time, there are very few women who fit that role. This is disappointing because even though a Muslim woman may try her hardest to be a perfect mother, Islam does not accept her as a “good mother”. To me, Islamic expectations and laws such as these make me like the idea of revising the religion itself, rather than introducing a new concept to change the already formed religion. I know it’s fairly impossible to do such a thing, but I feel like when it comes to some extreme ideas such as these, it would be the only way to further accept Islam and its ideas. I hope that eventually there will be a way to change the ideas expressed by Islam, while not actually changing religious texts and ideas.