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Writing on Women's Affairs in the Islamic culture

By: Mahdi Mahrizi
Before introducing and describing some books, it seems useful to refer to some points:

History of Writing on Women
Compilation and writing on women's affairs and issues, in the realm of Islamic culture, goes back to ancient times and to the 3rd and 4th centuries. All the scientific efforts and searches can be divided into two totally different periods:

First Period: From 3rd till 13 Century
Independent and implicit works, in this period are relatively glaring, among which the following:
1. Kitaab AnNikaah, Kitaab AnNisa and Kitaab AlWildaan of Ahmad Ibn Mohammed Ibn Husayn Ibn Hasan Ibn Dowil AlQummi "d.153H."
2. AnNisa AlMa'rufat Fi Quraysh, by AbuMundhir Hisham Ibn Mohammed AlKalbi "d.205 H."
3. Ummahaat AnNabi - Kitaab Munaqadat AshShu'ara -
203. Rijal An-Najashi, pp. 65-66; Adh-Dhari'ah, vol. XXIV, p. 132.
204. Adh-Dhari'ah, vol. XXIV, p. 132.
Akhbar AnNisa, Kitaab Manakih Farazaq - Kitaab AlMakr, Kitaab Man Tazawwjah Min Nisa AlKhulafah and other books written by AbulHasan Ali AlMadai'ni "135225 H.". AtTabaqaat AlKubra authored by Ibn sad "168230 H.", the eighth volume of which is dedicated for women. Kitaab AnNisa WalWalah compiled by Mohammed Ibn Mas'ud Al'Ayyashi AsSamarqandi. Kitaab Ahkaam AnNisa, authored by AlImaam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal "d.241H.", which was printed and published by Daar AlKutub Al'Ilmiyyah in Beirut in 1986. Kitaab AnNisa by Ahmad Ibn Mohammed AlBarqi "d.274H." 'Uyoon AlAkhbar, that was written by Ibn Qutaybah "d.276H.", and the fourth volume of which is dedicated for women's affairs. The book AnNisa Wa Ma Jaa Fihinnah Min AlKhabar, by Ibn AlMunajjim "241300H.". And Sunan AnNasa'i which was written by Ahmad Ibn Shu'ayb AnNasa'i "d.303H.", the seventh volume of which was called "Ishrat AnNisa" and dedicated for discussing women's affairs.
And also the book AnNisa WalWildan that was written by Ali Ibn AlHusayn AlQummi "d.329H.", the father of AshShaykh AsSadooq. Beside Kitaab AnNisa of Ja'far Ibn Mohammed Qulawayh "d.367H.".
The book Adab AnNisa WalFarq Bayna Ahkaamihin, which was extracted from AlKhasa'is of AshShaykh AsSadooq "d.381H.".And Ahkaam AnNisa Wa Risalah FilMahr by AshShaykh AlMufeed "d.413H.", and was published by AshShaykh AlMufeed Congress.
The book Usd AlGhabah compiled by Ibn Athir AlJawzi "d.630H.", a part of the 5th volume of which was dedicated for women. Nisa AlKhulafah Min AlHaraa'ir WalImaa, authored by Ali Ibn Anjab AlBaghdadi "d.674H.", and Akhbar AnNisa of Ibn AlQayyim "691751H.", that was published in 1990 in Beirut.
Beside AlIsabah Fi Tamyeez AsSahaabah, by Ibn Hajar AlAsqallani "773852H.", the eighth volume of which was dedicated for women. And Akhbar AnNisa that was written by Ibn AlMubarrad AlHanbali "840909H.", and was published by Daar AlMa'arif in Hams. Beside many other works.
Beside these books there being other articles and researches appeared in books of hadeeth and Fiqh under the title of Kitaab AnNikaah, dating back to ancient times. Because discussions on marriage "nikaah" are common between women and men, while the aforementioned works be allocated for women. The researches of this long epoch were allocated for four realms: collecting and narrating the traditions, history and communicating the episodes concerning women, Fiqhi rules about women, a dervish's bow "Kashkool" and miscellany like 'Uyoon AlAkhbar which contained miscellaneous writings like narration of hadeeth, history, scoffing... etc. These writings are in common in two particulars:
1. Being mostly devoid of any kind of analysis and decomposition.
2. Being mostly written in the way commonly known on the subject of woman "portraying her as an infirm, weak and seductive creature".
Second Period: From 13 up to 19 Century
This period started with criticism and refutation; that is some were engaged in criticising some of religious and traditional beliefs concerning the woman and religious scholars took efforts in verifying and manifesting religious views. This era commenced in the 13th Hijrah century contemporaneously with Muslims' joining the Western world. In other words it started with sociopolitical movements of women during the first decade of the twentieth century in North America, Europe, Asia and Middle East.
Qaasim Ameen wrote a book in 1899 calling it Tahreer AlMar'ah, in which he analysed and criticised some religious issues concerning women. And his other book which was brought out under the title of AlMar'ah AlJadeedah in the year 1901, following the same course. It is said that 'Itisaam AlMulk translated the book Tahreer AlMar'ah into Persian in 1900, under the title Tarbiyate Niswan. 213
In Iran these conversations turned serious from constitutional revolution up to date, although before it some new questions and issues were set forth for discussion by some women like Bibi Khanum Astrabaadi, the author of Ma'ayib ArRijaal in refutation of Ta'deeb AnNiswah "13121894AD.", and daughter of Nasir AdDeen Shah Taj AsSaltanah the writer of Khatirat Taj AsSaltanah.

Third Period: From 19th Century & Upwards Books
Out from this date upwards the main religious works and articles have been written and compiled in Iran and Arab Muslim countries. As an example, we can name some of these writings that appeared in Iran:
1. Risalah Fi Wujub AnNiqab Wa Hurmat AshSharab, by Mirzah Mohammed Sadiq Fakhr AlIslam "d.1329H/1911AD";
2. IntibahNamah Islami, by Mirzah Riza Shari'atmadari Damghani "d.1336H/1918AD";
3. Hikmat AlHijab Wa Adillat AnNiqab, by Asad Allah AlMusawi AlKhonsari "d.1344H/1931AD";
4. Burhan AlMuslimin, by Mohammed Ali Kashani "d.1346H/1928AD";
5. Kashf AlGhurur of Mafasid AsSufur, by DhabihAllah Mahallati "d.1352H/1932AD.". From other countries a reference can be made to the following books:
AlMar'ah FilIslam WalHijab WasSufur, by Mohammed Hamdi Afandi "d.1329H/1911AD";
Huquq AlMar'ah AlMuslimah, by AshShaykh Nadim AlMallah "d.1346H/1928AD.";
AlMar'ah Fi Nazar AlIslam, by Abd AlQadir Shubbayr AlKirmani "d.1347H/1928AD."
Beside other works of personages like Rashid Riza "d.1354H/1936AD.", such as Huquq AnNisa and Nida AlJins AlLatif, with Sayyid Qutub and Abbas Mahmud AlAqqad and others.

Magazines and Journals
In these epochs, many magazines and journals concerning women's affairs were published and brought out beside the books.
And in Iran more than twenty magazines concerning women were published before the culmination of the Islamic Revolution, like the following:
Danish, Shukufah, Zaban Zanan, Nama Zanan, Namah Banowan, 'Alam Niswan, Jahan Zanan, Jahan Niswan Watan Khah, Majallah Niswan, Majallah Sa'adat, Niswan Sharq, Dokhtaran Iran, 216 Nidai Zanan, 217 Azad Zanan, Ittelaat Banowan, Baano, Banowan Khorasan, Payk Sa'adat Niswan, Jam'iyyat Niswan Watan Khah Iran, Jahan Zanan, Huquq Zanan, Zanan Imruz, Zanan Iran, Alam Zanan, Qiyam Zan, Nam Banowan, Hifdah Dey,... etc.
And after the culmination of the Islamic Revolution, the following magazines have been published and issued in Iran:
Zan Rooz, Zanan, Payam Zan, Nida, Rah Zaynab, Payam Hajar, Farzanah, Gozidah, Rayhanah,... etc.
The writings of this period were mostly characterised with analysis and interpretation, paying attention to criticism and study, with their main axis being rights of woman "all family, political and social rights and others", freedom of woman, employment, Hijab "cover" and other things. In fact the axis of these works has been issues with which all the world is inflicted nowadays.
With elapse of time, investigations and discussions concerning this topic became more and more extensive and profounder, leading to innovating numerous extant and valuable works.

Publications on Publications
Witnessing extension of these researches and writings, bookidentifications and biographies that have been published up to the present time:
1. Kitabnamah Athar Zanan Iran, Tehran, Women Organisation of Iran, 1970, p.89.
2. Kitabshinasi Athar Zanan Dar Panjah Sal Akhir, "Identification of women's works during last fifty years", from 1921 up to 1970, Master thesis of librarianship. Prepared and regulated by Yahyah Asadi, Tehran College of Educational Sciences Tehran University. Group of Librarianship, Academic year 19721974, p.187.
3. Fihrist Manabi Marbut Bi Zan "index of references relevant to woman", in Persian, by Mohammed Hasan Taqawi with cooperation of Jackline Rodolf Tabah, Tehran: Tehran University, College of Social Sciences, Social Studies & Researches Institute, 1979, p.96.
4. Kitabnamah Zan "Treatise on Woman", collected and compiled by Zahra ChihrahKhand and Sadiqah Sultanifar, with collaboration of Society of Islamic Revolution Women of Iran, Tehran: with collaboration of Iftikhariyan publications Foundation, 1980, p.120.
5. A subjective list of books and articles regarding woman, published by Administration of publications and Propagation "department of women", Tehran Ministry of Culture & Islamic Guidance, vol.I, 1984, p.176; vol.II, 1987, p.110.
6. Maqalahnaamah Zan, by Maryam Ra'iyyat AliAbadi, Shahrazad Taahiri Lutfi and Nusheen Imrani, Tehran: Cultural Researches Bureau, 1989, p.248.
7. PezhuhishNamah Zanan Wa Khanawadah "Research on women and family", by UNISCO National Commission in Iran, Social Sciences Department, Tehran. Publications of UNISCO National Commission in Iran, 1992, p.152.
8. Masadir AnNizam AlIslami AlMar'ah WalUsrah FilIslam, by Abd AlJabbar ArRifa'i Kuwait Manshoorat Markaz AlMakhtutat WatTurath WalWatha'iq, 1414H/1993AD, p.564, in Arabic.
9. Fihrist Mushtarak Kitabha "Common Index of books", Articles and theses on women and education, in Persian Published by United Nations Children's Fund "UNICEF", Tehran Bureau, 1984, p.127.
10. Analytic book on role of rural women in development of UNICEF and Bureau of Activities Development of Rural Women, Agriculture Ministry of Islamic Republic of Iran, 1984, p.113.
11. Kitabnamah Zan, Index of books compiled and translated by women "19791985". Published by Investigation Department in AzZahra University, Tehran: AzZahra University, 1985, p.34.
12. AlMar'ah Biloghrafiyyan, by Fa'iq Fuduli, Baghdad: Daar AlAafaq, 1985, in Arabic. Further many other works were published in the form of articles and pamphlets like the following:
1. Chihil Kitaab Piramoon Hijaab, Noor 'Ilm Journal, issue no.20, 1987, pp.116122.
2. Kitabshinasi Hijaab, by Sayyid Muhsin Sa'idZadah; PayamZan Journal, issues Nos. 8, 9, 1992, pp.5964.
3. Kitabnamah Hijaab Wa Libas, Islamic Propagation Organisation Exhibition of Woman's Identity and Status, 1991, p.40.
4. Kitabnamah Hijaab, Baqir AlOloom Research Centre, serial no.128.
5. Maqalaha Wa PayamNamaha Zanan "Articles and theses on women", Bureau of people's Promotion and Participation, Ministry of Construction Jihad.
In these collections, more than ten thousand books, articles, theses, research drafts regarding women's affairs have been introduced, in Persian and Arabic. Further the works published in other languages, and even in Arabic, were more than these. A vivid evidence for this claim, being the news about organising a book fair for Arab women in Cairo with 1500 book titles, in the period 1620 November 1995. In this fair only 24 publication houses and universities participated.

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