The Forgotten Queens of Islam

The Forgotten Queens of Islam

3.75 (347 ratings by Goodreads)
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When Benazir Bhutto became Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1988, there were some who claimed that it was a blasphemous assault on Islamic tradition, since no Muslim state, they alleged, had ever been governed by a woman. In this extraordinary new book, Fatima Mernissi shows that those proclaimed defenders of Islamic tradition were not only misguided but wrong. She looks back through fifteen centuries of Islam and uncovers a hidden history of women who have held the reins of power, but whose lives and stories, acheivements and failures, have largely been forgotten. Who were the Queens of Islam? How did they accede to the throne and how did their rule come to an end? What kinds of states did they govern and how did they exercise their power? Pursuing these and other questions, Mernissi recounts the stories of fifteen queens, including Sultana Radiyya who reigned in Delhi from 1250 until her violent death at the hand of a peasant; the Island Queens who ruled in the Maldives and Indonesia; and the Arab Queens of Egypt and of the Shi'ite Dynasty of Yemen. It was the Yemenis who bestowed upon queens a title that was theirs alone - balgis al-sughra , or `Young Queen of Sheeba'.
Mernissi concludes this absorbing historical inquiry by reflecting on its implications for the ways in which politics is practised in the Islamic world today, a world in which women, while generally more educated than their predecessors, are largely excluded from the political domain. This powerful and engaging book, by one of the most original and distinctive voices in the Islamic world, will be of great interest to anyone concerned with Islamic society and politics.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 230 pages
  • 152 x 229mm
  • Polity Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • French
  • 0745609538
  • 9780745609539

Table of contents

Introduction: Was Benazir Bhutto the First? Part I: Queens and Courtesans 1. How Does One Say Queen in Islam? 2. The Caliph and the Queen 3. The jawari or Revolution in the Harem 4. Khayzuran: Courtesan or Head of State? Part II: Sovereignty in Islam 5. The Criteria of Sovereignty in Islam 6. Fifteen Queens Part III: The Arab Queens 7. The Shi'ite Dynasty of Yemen 8. The Little Queens of Sheba 9. The Lady of Cairo Conclusion: The Medina Democracy Notes.
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Rating details

347 ratings
3.75 out of 5 stars
5 31% (107)
4 31% (107)
3 26% (91)
2 7% (26)
1 5% (16)
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