Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Language, Literature, Culture and Education 2015
ISBN 978-967-13140-3-6

Using Islamic Feminist Discourse to Unfold Gender Issues in Qaisra Shahraz’s The Holy Woman (2001)

Normazla Ahmad Mahir, Norhaili Massari

Islamic Sciences University of Malaysia


The The 9/11 attack on New York World Trade Centre has somehow popularized the term ‘Islamophobia’ and contributes to the marginalisation of Muslims in America and Britain. Being minority in Britain, the Muslims find it hard to be accepted among the western societies. It is hard to be a Muslim in Britain and even harder for its Muslim women. Placed in a double bind situation, the contemporary Muslim women writers have yet to counter lopsided and inaccurate notions about their perceived gender oppression. In a climate of mistrust and marginalisation of Muslims, British Muslim women writers have played a significant role in informing the mainstream society about their religion and identity. One of them is Qaisra Shahraz (1958- ). In The Holy Woman (2001), Shahraz explicates the gender question according to the teachings of Islam and locates the fine differences between Islamic teachings and culturally inflected practices; such as the impositon of the unislamic, ‘barbaric’ ancient traditon of Shahzadi Ibadat (The Holy Woman) by the feudal class. Within the setting of a traditional patriarchal society in Sindh Pakistan, Shahraz has finely crafted her work revolving around the internal conflicts as experienced by her protagonist, Zarri Bano. Following the death of her brother, Jaafar (the sole heir), Zarri Bano’s bleak kismet is cruelly set upon her by her feudal lord father. Using the discourse of ‘Islamic feminism’, this paper shall highlight some instances where the status of women in Islam have been justifiably elevated. 


Islamophobia, Holy Woman, kismet, Islamic feminism

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