Paradise Beneath Her Feet by Isobel Coleman
How Women Are Transforming the Middle East (Council on Foreign Relations Book)

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Now with a new Preface and Afterword by the author
“Outstanding . . . [Isobel Coleman] takes us into remote villages and urban bureaucracies to find the brave men and women working to create change in the Middle East.”—Los Angeles Times
In this timely and important book, Isobel Coleman shows how Muslim women and men across the Middle East are working within Islam to fight for women’s rights in a growing movement of Islamic feminism. Journeying through Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, Coleman introduces the reader to influential Islamic feminist thinkers and successful grassroots activists working to create economic, political, and educational opportunities for women. Their advocacy for women’s rights based on more progressive interpretations of Islam are critical to bridging the conflict between those championing reform and those seeking to oppress women in the name of religious tradition. Socially, culturally, economically, and politically, the future of the region depends on finding ways to accommodate human rights, and in particular women’s rights, with Islamic law. These reformers—and thousands of others—are the people leading the way forward.
Featuring new material that addresses how the Arab uprisings and other recent events have affected the social and political landscape of the region, Paradise Beneath Her Feet offers a message of hope: Change is coming to the Middle East—and more often than not, it is being led by women.
Praise for Paradise Beneath Her Feet
“Clearly written, deeply moving, and wonderfully enlightening.”—Reza Aslan, author of No god but God 
“[An] engrossing portrait of real Muslim women that reveals how Islamic feminists . . . are working with and within the culture, rather than against it . . . to forge ‘a legitimate Islamic alternative to the current repressive system.’ Coleman doesn’t diminish the enormity of the struggle, but she argues convincingly that it might yet rewrite Islam’s future.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A nuanced view of Islam’s role in public life that is cautiously hopeful.”—The Economist
“Eye-opening . . . Deeply religious, profoundly determined and modern in every way, these are twenty-first-century women bent on change. Hear them roar and see a future being born before our eyes.”—Booklist

About Isobel Coleman

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Isobel Coleman is a senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, where she also directs the council's Women and Foreign Policy program. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Financial Times, the International Herald Tribune, USA Today, and The Christian Science Monitor. She is a frequent speaker at academic, business, and policy conferences and a guest commentator on networks including CNN, the BBC, Al Jazeera, and NPR. She lives in the New York area with her husband and children.
Published April 12, 2010 by Random House. 368 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Religion & Spirituality, Gay & Lesbian. Non-fiction

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Tribal customs and patriarchal traditions run deep, while “women’s empowerment” is viewed as “nothing more than a slippery slope toward Western decadence and godless secularism, toward widespread adultery and prostitution and the end of family life.” The author believes that significant changes i...

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The Washington Post

After Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, women were barred from working as judges or attending soccer matches, forced to wear hijab, and declared unequal to men in the realms of inheritance, testimony and divorce -- all under the pretext of hewing to Islamic tenets.

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Christian Science Monitor

The Carter Family of country music fame, in their 1928 hit, reminds us all to “Keep on the Sunny Side of Life.” This is welcome advice for those who run into life’s pettier misfortunes: stepping in a puddle, depositing lunch on one’s trousers or, say, believing in Tiger Woods’s steadfast family v...

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Muslimah Media WatchLooking at Muslim women in the media and pop cultureFollow Patheos Muslim:Isobel Coleman’s recently-released Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East presents a case-study of sorts, highlighting the work of Muslim women who are engaged in combating...

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