Fatema Mernissi, prominent Islamic feminist scholar

Fatema Mernissi, a Moroccan feminist sociologist noted for her work on the sexual politics of Islamic scripture, passed away on November 30th, aged 75. 

The New York Times reports:

Throughout her work, Professor Mernissi, who favored a moderate, inclusive Islam, emphasized that her deep study of religious texts had turned up little support for women’s long subordination. That reading, she argued, sprang from centuries of misinterpretation by male leaders intent on maintaining the sexual status quo.

“Not only have the sacred texts always been manipulated, but manipulation of them is a structural characteristic of the practice of power in Muslim societies,” Professor Mernissi wrote in “The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women’s Rights in Islam” (1991, translated by Ms. Lakeland). “Since all power, from the seventh century on, was only legitimated by religion, political forces and economic interests pushed for the fabrication of false traditions.”

This would be a timely moment for Mernissi’s important work to receive fresh attention.

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