Gender in Judaism and Islam

Common Lives, Uncommon Heritage

384 pages

1 halftone

December, 2014

ISBN: 9781479801275



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Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet is Robert I. Williams Term Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where she currently serves as Director of the Middle East Center. Kashani-Sabet’s most recent book is Conceiving Citizens: Women and the Politics of Motherhood in Iran, which won the 2012 book award from the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies

All books by Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet

Beth S. Wenger is Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where she currently serves as Chair of the History Department. Her award-winning books include The Jewish Americans: Three Centuries of Jewish Voices in America and New York Jews and the Great Depression: Uncertain Promise.

All books by Beth S. Wenger

Jewish and Islamic histories have long been interrelated. Both traditions emerged from ancient cultures born in the Middle East and both are rooted in texts and traditions that have often excluded women. At the same time, both groups have recently seen a resurgence in religious orthodoxy among women, as well as growing feminist movements that challenge traditional religious structures. In the United States, Jews and Muslims operate as minority cultures, carving out a place for religious and ethnic distinctiveness. The time is ripe for a volume that explores the relationship between these two religions through the prism of gender.
Gender in Judaism and Islam brings together scholars working in the fields of Judaism and Islam to address a diverse range of topics, including gendered readings of texts, legal issues in marriage and divorce, ritual practices, and women's literary expressions and historical experiences, along with feminist influences within the Muslim and Jewish communities and issues affecting Jewish and Muslim women in contemporary society. Carefully crafted, including section introductions by the editors to highlight big picture insights offered by the contributors, the volume focuses attention on the theoretical innovations that gender scholarship has brought to the study of Muslim and Jewish experiences. At a time when Judaism and Islam are often discussed as though they were inherently at odds, this book offers a much-needed reconsideration of the connections and commonalties between these two traditions. It offers new insights into each of these cultures and invites comparative perspectives that deepen our understanding of both Islam and Judaism.


  • "Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet and Beth S. Wenger are to be congratulated for assembling a compelling collection that illuminates a wide range of issues around gender in Judaism and Islam drawn from discussions of Muslim and Jewish law to analyses of contemporary feminism to crimes of passion and 'honor killings' in the modern Arab world. Written by eminent scholars in accessible prose, these powerful pieces carry us beyond stereotypes and politics toward mutual understanding and shared knowledge."

    —Deborah Dash Moore, Frederick G.L. Huetwell Professor of History, University of Michigan

  • "A long overdue volume exploring commonalities and differences among Jewish and Muslim women along with gendered aspects of their religious and cultural experiences. Path breaking in its range and scope, with outstanding chapters by leading historians in the field, this work puts Islamic and Jewish Studies into a rich dialogue. By emphasizing shared histories and intersecting paths, it delivers on its promises, opening new vistas for understanding complexities in the lives of Muslims and Jews, past and present."

    —Beth Baron, Director, Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center, CUNY

  • “While this collection of essays is most useful for those with some background on the topics, it will also appeal to scholars hoping to expand their knowledge on many different aspects of Judaism and Islam. The essays do a great job of bridging ideas of the past with those of the present, making this volume valuable for scholars of history and current cultural trends as well as for researchers in anthropology, sociology women’s health, media studies, Middle East studies, legal studies, literary studies, and more.”

    Feminist Collections

  • “This volume is a solid beginning to a serious scholarly treatment of the topics surrounding gender in Judaism and Islam, It fills an important gap in the scholarship and promises to open the field to further critical studies. It addresses similarities and differences in women’s issues and experiences within Jewish and Islamic national, religious, and ethnic identities.”

    Reading Religion

  • “The book could be helpful for graduate students hoping to think theoretically about gender in religion and history. With its succinct and compelling introductions for each part as well as an afterword by Scott and a glossary, the book is also made highly useable for undergraduates or novices.”

    Religious Studies Review