A Quiet Revolution by Leila Ahmed
The Veil's Resurgence, from the Middle East to America

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In Cairo in the 1940s, Leila Ahmed was raised by a generation of women who never dressed in the veils and headscarves their mothers and grandmothers had worn. To them, these coverings seemed irrelevant to both modern life and Islamic piety. Today, however, the majority of Muslim women throughout the Islamic world again wear the veil. Why, Ahmed asks, did this change take root so swiftly, and what does this shift mean for women, Islam, and the West? When she began her study, Ahmed assumed that the veil's return indicated a backward step for Muslim women worldwide. What she discovered, however, in the stories of British colonial officials, young Muslim feminists, Arab nationalists, pious Islamic daughters, American Muslim immigrants, violent jihadists, and peaceful Islamic activists, confounded her expectations. Ahmed observed that Islamism, with its commitments to activism in the service of the poor and in pursuit of social justice, is the strain of Islam most easily and naturally merging with western democracies' own tradition of activism in the cause of justice and social change. It is often Islamists, even more than secular Muslims, who are at the forefront of such contemporary activist struggles as civil rights and women's rights. Ahmed's surprising conclusions represent a near reversal of her thinking on this topic. Richly insightful, intricately drawn, and passionately argued, this absorbing story of the veil's resurgence, from Egypt through Saudi Arabia and into the West, suggests a dramatically new portrait of contemporary Islam.

About Leila Ahmed

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LEILA AHMED is the first professor of Women's Studies and Religion at Harvard Divinity School. She is the author of Women and Gender in Islam. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Published April 29, 2011 by Yale University Press. 361 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Quiet Revolution

The Guardian

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During the first half of the 20th century, millions of Muslim women decided to abandon the head coverings their mothers had used;

Jun 03 2011 | Read Full Review of A Quiet Revolution: The Veil'...

The Guardian

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The veil is still the subject of an ideological tug of war – as Ahmed puts it, "a sign of irresolvable tension and confrontation between Islam and the west" – and, she could add, within Islam itself.

May 20 2011 | Read Full Review of A Quiet Revolution: The Veil'...

The Wall Street Journal

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Young American Muslim women have come to view the hijab as a symbol of liberation rather than repression.

Apr 25 2011 | Read Full Review of A Quiet Revolution: The Veil'...

Los Angeles Times

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The author looks at the resurgence in wearing the veil in the Muslim world and the U.S.

Jul 31 2011 | Read Full Review of A Quiet Revolution: The Veil'...

The veil may be the most evocative symbol of Islam for m

May 01 2014 | Read Full Review of A Quiet Revolution: The Veil'...

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