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Recreating Fatima, Aisha and Marginalized Women in the Early Years of Islam: Assia Djebar's Far from Medina (1991)

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When Francophone creative artist Assia Djebar decided to write a semi-fictional work on the early years of Islam, she brought to this endeavor her life experience in the context of Algerian history and French colonial influence. Her writing reveals changing attitudes towards Algerian women and Islam, in response to ongoing events.

Far from Medina was influenced by the chain of modern biographies of the Prophet Muhammad produced in English, French and Arabic. Early Islamic feminist endeavors also informed her work. Most fascinating is the dialogue that Djebar seems to have carried out with classical Islamic texts, revealed in the format and style of the book.

Djebar proposes that the death of Muhammad, and to a greater extent the death of his daughter Fatima six months later, were turning points in women's roles in Islamic society—taking the Muslims "Far From Medina," where women were strong and stood up for their rights.

Affiliations: 1: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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