Monday, October 13, 2008

Book Review: Did You Know?

Did You Know? Refuting Rigid Interpretations Concerning the Position of Women in Islam and Muslims’ Interactions with Non-Muslims
Author: Aziza Abdel-Halim AM
Publisher: Muslim Women’s National Network of Australia Inc. (2008)

Did You Know provides easy to read, accessible answers to common questions from Muslims and non-Muslims about the rights of women in Islam and relationships with non-Muslims. It is divided into parts including ‘Islam and its Sources’, ‘Did You Know’ which sets out information under clear headings such as Women and Education, Women and the Mosque, and Violence Against Wives (presenting evidence that violence against wives is unIslamic), ‘Interactions Between Muslims and Non-Muslims’, and ‘Muslims in Australia’. The part on ‘Contemporary Influential Islamic Thinkers’ may be of particular interest to readers who wish to explore these areas further.

Readers who know the author, Aziza Abdel-Halim, will sense her presence throughout the book. As well as clear, concise answers to common questions and misconceptions, she has included poetry, anecdotes and observations which reflect her love of Islam.

This is a great book for young Muslims who are looking for “back to basics” inspiration and reassurance that Islam truly offers an enlightened and compassionate way of life. It is especially valuable for Muslim women because the carefully documented Quranic passages, sayings and practices of the Prophet (PBUH) clearly show that he practised enlightened attitudes to women in his lifetime. There are accounts of him debating theology with women, defending their rights to education and to attend mosque, and even doing housework. Exactly for these reasons, hopefully men will read the book too. Finally, for non-Muslims like me, it gives a sense of connection that what we have in common is most important. It offers an inspiring vision of Islam and demonstrates practical ways in which we can all lead enriching lives in Australian society.

Jan Zwar

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