Women in The House of Islam

Leonela Gonzalez, Journalism Undergraduate, University of Roehampton

Ed Husain.jpg

What is it really like to be a woman in the House of Islam?

In his book The House of Islam, author Ed Husain suggests “there is an underlying attitude and a set of male assumptions, cultural impositions and interpretations of scripture that hold women back and deny them the freedom to prosper and flourish fully in the Muslim world.”

In this talk at Wimbledon BookFest, Husain explained that he’d seen this attitude first-hand when his wife was beaten with a stick for wearing a long dress that showed her ankle.

He also drew attention to the fact that women in Saudi Arabia were only given the right to drive last year and only then with the proviso that they get approval from a man to do so first.

Extremism and misinterpretation of the scripture also led to the death of 15 schoolgirls in March 2002. Earlier that day the students at an all-girls school had removed their headscarves in the heat of the day. When a fire broke out in the grounds the girls were not allowed to exit, and the firefighters weren’t allowed to enter the school to come to their aid. The girls lives were seen as less important than adherence to an extremist interpretation of Islamic law.

However, while these examples seem to acknowledge slow progress, Hussain acknowledged that increasingly Muslim women’s voices are starting to be heard.

We only have to look to American politician Ilhan Omar as a role model for progress, let’s hope there is more to come.