... eminently readable ... Here in all their gutsy glory are women whose voices have not received the prominence that is their due within the story of Islam ... an act of reclamation on several fronts. For Muslim women, it provides an empowering and exhilarating genealogy of strong forebears whom they can connect to their contemporary journeys of empowerment. For Western readers, it exposes the untruths that have characterized Muslim women as deferential beings in need of rescue ... provides the substance of a feminist narrative that has always existed within Islam. The question remains: Will Kamaly’s book will be relegated to the margins, shelved away under 'other' feminisms, or will it be integrated into the larger history of feminism, now dominated by white and Western women?
Each profile is clearly written with a stated conscious effort to avoid controversies as much as possible. The result is a straightforward history-in-portraits, one man’s list of prominent women in one of largest religions in human history.
Each chapter explores the tenor of Islam during a given subject’s lifetime and geographic location. Given the biographical focus, however, the broader coverage on Islam is somewhat disjointed. For some of the women mentioned, religion figures only tangentially into their recognized achievements ... Overall, a solid starting reference for those interested in women and Islamic studies, accessible and well-suited for both high school and college-level readers.
Though some of the stories are intriguing, and most make for worthwhile reading, only one or two of the women have had a significant impact on Islam. Most are female rulers who happened to be Muslim. Readers must wait until the text reaches the 19th century before encountering a woman who was not a ruler or of the ruling class, leaving a void regarding what it meant to be an average Muslim woman through most of history. Even most of the modern women Kamaly profiles tell little about the story of Islam but instead just happen to be Muslim ... The author also tends to understate misogyny in modern Islam ... Since Kamaly concentrates on early Muslim political figures, many readers will be disappointed that such groundbreaking figures as Benazir Bhutto are left off the list ... A well-intentioned but unsuccessful attempt to frame Islam through the lives of women practitioners.