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Full Access Feminism in Islam: A Critique of Polygamy in Mariama Ba’s Epistolary Novel So Long A Letter*

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Feminism in Islam: A Critique of Polygamy in Mariama Ba’s Epistolary Novel So Long A Letter*

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AbstractThis paper calls for an understanding of feminism in Islam as a unique approach to feminism with potential contributions to world feminism. The paper analyzes Mariama Ba’s epistolary novel So Long A Letter within the context of a feminist approach in Islam. This paper’s primary focus is Ba’s critique of polygamy and her celebration of female bonding in the face of male oppression. Ba explores her themes through an epistolary exchange between two intimate friends who both suffered the abuse of their polygamous husbands and highlights the contrasting reactions of the two women in regard to the mistreatment by their husbands. Within a distorted misinterpretation of religion, the analysis reflects on how Islamic teachings are exploited by some Muslim men in order to gratify and justify their base desires under the guise of a transcendent sanction.

Affiliations: 1: Arizona State University Souad.Ali@asu.edu

10.1163/15692086-12341236
/content/journals/10.1163/15692086-12341236
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AbstractThis paper calls for an understanding of feminism in Islam as a unique approach to feminism with potential contributions to world feminism. The paper analyzes Mariama Ba’s epistolary novel So Long A Letter within the context of a feminist approach in Islam. This paper’s primary focus is Ba’s critique of polygamy and her celebration of female bonding in the face of male oppression. Ba explores her themes through an epistolary exchange between two intimate friends who both suffered the abuse of their polygamous husbands and highlights the contrasting reactions of the two women in regard to the mistreatment by their husbands. Within a distorted misinterpretation of religion, the analysis reflects on how Islamic teachings are exploited by some Muslim men in order to gratify and justify their base desires under the guise of a transcendent sanction.

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1. Abdel-Kader Soha Egyptian Women in a Changing Society: 1899–1987 1987 Boulder and London Lynne Reinner Publisher
2. Ahmed Leila Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate 1992 New Haven Yale University Press
3. Ba Mariama Bopde-Thomas Moudupe So Long A Letter 1989 London – Nairobi Heinemann
4. Badran Margot McAuliffe Jane Dammen"“Feminism and the Qur’an”" The Encyclopedia of the Qur’an 2002Vol 2 Leiden, the Netherlands Koninlklije Brill n.v.
5. Badran Margot Tucker Judith"“Independent Women: More than a Century of Feminism in Egypt”" Arab Women: Old Boundaries, New Frontiers 1993 Bloomington Indiana University Press
6. Barazangi Nimat Woman’s Identity and the Qur’an: A New Reading 2004 University Press of Florida
7. Barlas Asma Believing Women in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Quran 2001 University of Texas Press
8. Bowen Donna Lee"“Islamic Law and the Position of Women”" an article written for the World Bank. Draft 1. March 14, 1992
9. Cham Mybe B."“Contemporary Society and the Female Imagination: A Study of the Novels of Mariama Ba”" Women in African Literature Today 1987Vol 15 London James Currey
10. Felski Rita Beyond Feminist Aesthetics: Feminist Literature and Social Change 1989 Cambridge Harvard UP
11. Fernea Elizabeth W. In Search of Islamic Feminism: One Woman’s Global Journey 1998 New York Doubleday
12. Frank Katherine"“Women Without Men: The Feminist Novel in Africa”" Women in African Literature Today 1987Vol 15 London James Currey
13. Mernissi Fatima Lakeland Mary Jo The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women’s Rights in Islam 1991 Reading, MA Addison-Wesley Publishing Company
14. Minai Naila Women in Islam: Tradition and Transition in the Middle East 1981 New York Seaview Books
15. Ogundipe-Leslie Molara"“The Female Writer and Her Commitment”" Women in African Literature Today 1987Vol 15 London James Currey
16. Yusuf ‘Ali. Abdullah The Holy Qur’an: English Translation of the Meanings and Commentary 1990 Al-Madina al-Munawarah King Fahad Holy Qur’an Printing Press Complex 1410 A.H.
17. Violi Patrizia Van Dijk Teun A."“Letters”" Discourse and Literature: New Approaches to the Analysis of Literary Genres 1985 Amsterdam John Benjamin Publishing Company
18. Wadud Amina Qur’an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred from A Woman’s Perspective 1999 Oxford University Press
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/content/journals/10.1163/15692086-12341236
2012-01-01
2016-12-04

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