Fatima Mernissi

Fatima Mernissi was one of the best-known female intellectuals in the Arab world, whose trailblazing work on the role of women in Islam illuminated previously neglected elements of the religion’s historical development. Brought up in Morocco under French rule, she taught for many years at Mohammed V University in Rabat. Her early ethnographic work in Morocco was concerned with mapping dominant conceptions of gender relations, research which led to her subsequent attempts to dismantle the supposed evidence in Islamic sacred texts used by many imams to support their conception of women as inferior, in particular showing how many of the texts used to enforce patriarchy were later accretions unconnected to the actual teachings of the Prophet. Her later writings brought attention to historic female Muslim leaders, analysed life within harems, and considered questions of public and private in Islam. Polity has published her book The Forgotten Queens of Islam.