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Do Muslim Women Need Saving?

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Today in American culture it is apparent some people have antagonistic thoughts and view of Islam and Muslims. Hate crimes against Muslims have scaled in the United States, prompting the presentation of the term ‘Islamophobia’ into the ordinary vocabulary of Americans. Today in American society we can see that American Muslim women are battling to address the generalizations and misguided judgments related with the role of women in Islam. Muslim women involve a wide assortment of positions in American life like medicinal specialists, engineers, legal counselors, scientists… Etc. “Some are immigrants, from nations extending from sub-Saharan Africa to Indonesia, while many others are American-conceived; some American Muslim women were brought up in Muslim homes, while others held onto Islam. Some Muslim women use to cover their head just during praying; other use to wear the hijab; still others may cover their head with a turban or an inexactly hung scarf” (Curtis, Edward: 2009). In the book “Do Muslim women need saving? Lila Abu-Lughod is an American Anthropologist; investigates how the worldview of sparing Muslim women from what she has named ‘Islamland’ has picked up force especially in the fallout of 9/11. Her main argument focusing on the problem that Muslim women are facing. She illustrated that the issues of Muslim women gendered inequality not leaning on their religion only. It also, related to poverty, the miserable life they are living in, and the worldwide interconnections that embroil the West to increasingly definitive. The impulse for composing her book rose mainly from interviewing a decent variety of Muslim women. In this way, Abu-Lughod means to deconstruct well-known characteristics of Muslim ladies through a procedure of ‘composing against culture’, by which she attempts to bring powers and impacts other than culture to the fore. The talk of feminism serves to establish out why women specifically face many mistreatments. It feels shock when women are given rights, these alleged ‘rights’ are still uncomparable to the privileges of their male partners (Abu-Lughod: 2013). Therefore, this paper will explore the mistreatment that Muslim women faced through their religion, by looking at scholarly articles and how scholars conceptualize the misunderstanding of Muslim women. Moreover, I will analyze the separation among Islam and the laws that present today.

Abu-Lughod stated, “gendered orientalism has taken on a new life and new forms in our feminist twenty-first century” (Abu-Lughod: 201: 2013). Put differently this means that gendered orientalism has taken a new shape of conceptualizing the present form of feminist. More in depth, looking at the chapter, three “Authorizing moral crusades” Abu Lughod features how the most fundamental states of these women’s lives are set by political powers that are frequently worldwide in beginning regardless of whether they are adjacent in fact. She stated.“people around the world must learn how to be just and to measure up in a universal metric of humanity that is defined, in part, by aspirations for gender equality and women’s freedom” (Abu-Lughod: 81: 2013). In these terms of what seems to be ‘tradition’ it further cause to be a conflict, war, and political change. For instance, in the case of Afghanistan Lila Abu-Lughod argues, “if by liberation one means freeing women from a culture based on the importance of family and religion. In Afghanistan, as in many Muslim societies, there is a clear separation between the women’s world, which is most often focused on the family and household, and the more public role assumed by men” (Abu-Lughod: 208: 2013). This demonstrates the ideas of abuse, decision and opportunity are heavy handed instruments for catching the elements and nature of Muslim women’s lives in these countries.

In addition, Abu-Lughod examinate the legislative issues and the morals of the universal flow of talks about ‘the persecuted Muslim women’. She discussed the example of debating about women wearing the veil and how society view these women. She states; “western perspective seems ethnocentric as a result. The meaning of burqa was complicated in Afghanistan by its extension under Taliban rule to all women living in multi-ethnic Afghanistan, despite its original use only by Pashtuns. Some Afghan women may have adopted its religious meaning.It’s not surprising that many women, motivated by its usual significance, continued to wear” (Abu-Lughod: 208: 2013). This means that in terms of critique the Muslim women wearing the veil, Western argues that women don’t wear the veil by their own decision, and they are frequently forced to cover their heads and bodies. Interestingly, many Muslim women migrants in the West argue the cover symbolizes commitment and devotion and that veiling is their own decision. To them it is a representation of strict personality and self-articulation. Looking at the Western argument, we can see that not only people who live in the United States mistreated the idea of Muslim women wearing the hijab but also in other countries like France and other European countries. For example, arguing over France banning Muslim women of wearing veils. As France’s new law “prohibiting face veil became effective on April 11th, 2011, in excess of twenty veiled ladies and many others have been arrested in protest” (Susie of Arabian: 2011). Looking at the debate “Banning of face veils’burqa – niqab’, Mona Eltahawy and Hebah Ahmed both Muslim women, debate France’s decision to ban face veils (niqab) in public. Each one of them has a different point of view toward the banning law. “Hebah Ahmed‘wearing Niqab’ is a writer for the blog Muslim matters who’s against the ban law. Mona Eltahawy a columnist on Arab and Muslim issues who wants to see the ban extended everywhere” (Eliot Spitered, CNN: May 15, 2015). Mona believes Muslim women are not allowing do dress the niqab or veil in public, she stated, “as a Muslim woman this represents an ideas that does not believe in Muslim women rights to do any thing but to choose to cover her face … she believes niqab dangerously equates piety with the disappearance of women. Therefore, she supports banning it everywhere because it’s not an obligation for Muslim women to cover her face. She also believes the human face is central to communication” (Elthaway: 2012). Hebah respond to what Mona believes by saying “banning is a bad idea because I think it’s another example of men informing women how to dress, how to live their life, it’s another way to try to control women. Take this to a government level and try legislating the way that women dresses is not just wrong and against human rights but it really violates the whole basis that the democratic democracy and democratic countries are based on this is a free choice… She disagrees it’s some rights ideology. It is something that permitted in Islam” (Hebah: 2012). Through this debate we can see Mona with a misshaped feeling of reality attempt to constrain her closely held convictions all around the world, and it is extraordinary to see she is totally overwhelmed by a woman wearing a niqab. Also, Hebah Ahmed dispels every last bit of her arguments, in addition she raises some significant focuses that plainly make her in a stronger position to go forward with the issue. Mona perspective is Muslim women should not cover their face in terms of identity protection, and she believes that women who are wearing the niqab are forced by their men to wear it. While Hebah believe that wearing the niqab is something that women have the freedom to choose to wear or not. She believes all women who wear the niqab are unforced to wear it. Therefore, in terms of somebody doesn’t accept it that does not mean there should be a law to prevent these women of wearing it and violate people’s freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

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In addition, connecting this with what Abu-Lughod concluded; she stated.“instead of saving Afghan women from their own cultural customs and values, Western feminists should concentrate their efforts on helping to promote justice to women’s lives by preventing war and increasing education and freedom of want” (Abu-Lughod: 209: 2013). In other words this demonstrates the idea of protecting Muslim women rights. Regardless to the countries that pass ban niqab, I think that these counties guarantee freedom of expression, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Therefore, in one hand I do not support the idea of controlling the Muslim women, and think there should be a law that protect Muslim identities instead of putting them under control and ban their freedom. On the other hand, I understand that wearing a niqab can sometimes be a security issue and the privilege of a resident is to see each other’s faces especially if it related to security like in the airport, bank… Etc. This is something that most of the Muslim women who’re wearing the niqab understood and they always is welling to show their faces anytime they ask to do, if they needed to show their identities.

Despite the event 9/11 attack we can see that Muslim women who are wearing hijab are the most people that are facing discrimination and violence. According to “discrimination against Muslim women fact sheet”, “Muslim women who wear hijab face particular exposure to discrimination and have increasingly been targets for harassment in the aftermath of September 11. While it is difficult to gain accurate statistics about discriminatory incidents, reported instances of discrimination appear to be on the rise” (ACLU). This means that discrimination against Muslim women who are wearing the hijab had increased after 9/11. Proving this with some statistics by looking at Council on American Islamic Relations it shows that “Civil rights complaints filed with one Muslim advocacy group rose from 366 in 2000 to 2,467 in 2006, an increase of 674%.”Also, the same group reported that“in 2006, there were 154 cases of discrimination or harassment in which a Muslim woman’s head covering was identified as the factor that triggered the incident. The most common complaint in these cases was being prohibited from wearing a head covering, which accounted for 44 incidents” (CAIR: 2006). This shows that 9/11 crystallized the picture of Muslims as terrorists, turning into the focal picture of Muslims women in American society and bringing forth Islamophobia. Another statistics shows that Muslim women who wear the hijab are more likely to face discrimination than the Muslims that are not wearing the hijab“69% of women who wore hijab reported at least one incident of discrimination compared to 29% of women who did not wear hijab” (Alyssa E. Rippy: Elana Newman: 2007).

Muslim women’s lives through the structure of rights as fortifying generalizations. Abu-Lughod does not clearly analyze the media perception toward Muslim women but her assertion with the lives of individual ladies she has known as an approach to influence through the homogenized classification the Muslim women. She states.“intimate familiarity with individuals anywhere makes it hard to be satisfied with sweeping generalizations about cultures, religions or regions” (Abu-Lughod: 17: 2013). She tries saying it is hard to satisfy the stereotypes against muslim women, is it becasue of the culture or religion believes. In addition, Muslim women in America today perceive many oppression against their religion, this because people in America do not see Islam and Muslim as part of the society. Looking at the Findings from Pew Research Center’s 2017 survey of U.S. Muslims “half of Muslim Americans says it has become harder to be Muslim in the U.S. in recent years. And 48% say they have experienced at least one incident of discrimination in the past 12 months.” “And while Muslims say they face a variety of challenges and obstacles in the U.S., this too is nothing new. The share of U.S. Muslims who say it is getting harder to be a Muslim in America has hovered around 50% over the past 10 years. Over the same period, half or more of Muslims have consistently said that U.S. media coverage of Muslims is unfair.” (Pew Research: 2017). This shows that the Muslim populace in the U.S. is developing and exceptionally differing, make up to a great extent however, they all live in fear and feel that they are not welcome into this country.

Consequently, returning to the question of title “does Muslim women need saving?” Abu-Lughod work expects to put culture and sexual orientation in a more extensive financial setting. She demonstrated the role of class over culture in encircling impression of Muslim women. She talked about essential points that indicates how women’s liberation in the Muslim world and even political resistance to Islamists qre being unreasonably rejected on the off chance that they can just related with the West. Therefore, it is very significant to figure out ways that can protect these women identities, they should have their right to do whatever they want. We can not judge them about what they should/not wear. Moreover, the book gives a lavishly prove and simple to peruse deconstruction of oversimplified culturalist clarifications of any marvels which relate to Muslim women in the entirety of their assorted variety. Abu-Lughod speaks to a valuable explanatory to investigate contemporary claims about the encounters of the Muslim and Other women in the world. In addition, she explored different perspectives of muslim women from different countries. She emphasized the significance of recognizing Muslim women’s, instead of diminishing them to emblematic elements rendered weakly imperceptible by their hijabs or niqabs. This view stands out unequivocally from many contemporary frames of mind in regards to the condition of women in Muslim group, and in this sense speaks to an invigorating counter-culture point of view.


  1. AbdelAzim, M. (2016, March 13). Saving Muslim Women. The Cairo Review Global Affairs. Retrieved November 6, 2019, from
  2. Alyssa, R. E., & Elana , N. (2007, February 24). Perceived Religious Discrimination and its Relationship to Anxiety and Paranoia Among Muslim Americans. Retrieved November 6, 2019, from≠edAccess=true&.
  3. Arabia, S. of. (2011, April 12). Arguing Over French Law Banning Veils. Retrieved November 6, 2019, from
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  6. Discrimination Against Muslim Women – Fact Sheet. (2010, December 14). American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved November 6, 2019, from
  7. Lila Abu-Lughod. (2014, November 11). Book Review: Do Muslim Women Need Saving? The London schools of economics and political science. Retrieved November 6, 2019, from
  8. Review: Do Muslim Women Need Saving? (2013, November 27). Muslimah media watch. Retrieved November 6, 2019, from
  9. Spitzer, Edward. (2011, April 23). CNN: French Niqab Ban Debate between Hebah Ahmed and Mona Eltahawy. Retrieved November 6, 2019, from
  10. U.S. Muslims Concerned About Their Place in Society, but Continue to Believe in the American Dream. (2017, July 26). Pew research center religion and public life. Retrieved November 6, 2019, from

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Do Muslim Women Need Saving? (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from
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