"Superbly written, balances open-eyed, incisive analysis with respectful restraint, and offers a powerful antidote to romanticized notions of agency and individual freedom. This path-breaking study reveals the complex reality behind ‘Islamic Feminism.’ Must be required reading for courses on gender, transnationalism, and Islamist social movements."
—Tazim R. Kassam, author of Songs of Wisdom and Circles of Dance
Over the last fifteen years, there have been an increasing number of middle- and upper-class urban Pakistani women actively turning toward Islam via Al-Huda, an Islamic school for women that aims to transform the women who absorb its message into "pious" subjects. Established in the early 1990s, Al-Huda is unique in its ability to attract a following among these women, a feat other religious groups have been unsuccessful in accomplishing.
In Transforming Faith, Sadaf Ahmad deftly explores the multiple reasons behind Al-Huda’s success among a new generation of educated, urban, middle-class women. She presents an engrossing and sensitive account of how the school’s persuasive teaching methods have combined with and built upon women’s faith, and the impact this has on them, their families and the larger society. As a woman of Pakistani origin, Ahmad offers an in-depth look at the students and members of Al-Huda in ways that a cultural outsider would be excluded from doing.
Ahmad’s groundbreaking work demonstrates Al-Huda’s ever-widening teachings and influence in Pakistan and in its recent global extensions. More broadly, this book illuminates how Al-Huda uses the trappings of modernity to engage educated women in a kind of religious study that transforms their ideology, behavior, and lifestyle within a particular Islamic framework. Because of Al-Huda’s teachings, Pakistani society is changing, as is the rest of the Muslim world.
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Sadaf Ahmad is assistant professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences of the School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law at the Lahore University of Management Sciences in Lahore, Pakistan. She has published articles on the subjects of gender, religion and culture in South Asia.
6 x 9, 240 pages, 2 illustrations, 1 table, glossary, notes, references, index