Feminism in the Middle East: The Influence of Religion and Nationalism on Women’s Narrative

Asma Jahamah, Aseel Alshbeekat, Bara' Yousef Alrabee


The issue of women’s rights in the Middle East remains a topic of high controversy between a western and Middle Eastern rhetoric. The influence of the colonial discourse during the 19th century created a space that reimagined Arab women as inferior sexual figures that need saving. Whereas, in a postcolonial era, women became symbols of resistance to the western culture and the colonial rhetoric, in which their Islamic identity is highlighted. Hence, the reformation of women’s status was restricted and overpowered by the authoritative national political discourse and patriarchal religious culture. These factors have created various challenges to Arab feminists in their struggle to reclaim their voice and advocate their rights within patriarchal structures. Within this context, the aim of this research is to examine the impact of the socio-political rhetoric and Islamic culture on the development of women’s narrative along with its intersection with feminist movements. To achieve this end, the development of Arab women’s literature (19th century to early 20th century) will be scrutinised. Using feminist studies as an analytical lens and exploring Michel Foucault’s theory re-power and knowledge, the main question this research tackles is how the concept of women’s religious identity and its interference with the patriarchal national discourse have impacted women’s writings. The contention of this research is that the impact of feminist movements in the Arab World – whether secular or Islamic– on women’s narrative is reciprocal. The challenges and awareness gained by feminists are reflected in both women’s writing and feminists’ discourse, in which nationalism and religion are essential factors in impacting these narratives.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/wjel.v13n1p29

World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

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