"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 decade, there has been an increasing number of middle and upper-class urban Pakistani women actively turning toward Islam via Al-Huda, an Islamic school for women aiming 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 how Al-Huda is fostering a new generation of educated, urban, middle-class women to become veiled conservatives. She offers an engrossing and sensitive account
of how the school’s aggressive recruiting methods through informal religious study groups and a one-year degree program combined with the school’s techniques of persuasive teaching methods have turned Al-Huda
into a social movement. 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. She reveals that although
Pakistani women are better educated than ever before they still face social barriers that limit them from working or pursuing further education.
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.
Sadaf Ahmad is assistant professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Lahore University of Management Sciences in Lahore, Pakistan. She has published articles on the subjects of gender, religion, and culture in South Asia.
Series: Gender and Globalization
6 x 9, 240 pages