About This Project

Fatima Mernissi, Simorgh 1987
Fatima Mernissi is a well-known feminist scholar. She has contributed to the discussion on women in Islam both in the Arab world and internationally. This book, originally delivered as a conference paper, addresses itself to a series of related questions

  • Who is the fundamentalist?
  • What are his motivating impulses?
  • Why is he obsessed with women’s morality?

According to Western media, the fundamentalist is an “unscrupulous, uneducated, uncultured, archaic, blood-thirsty, woman-hating, economically deprived, politically frustrated… terrorist, loaded with guns and bombs.”

In Muslim societies, the image of the fundamentalist is very different. In Pakistan, for instance, there is a tendency to see him either as the hair splitting dogmatist, so consistently castigated by the sufi, or to align him with the lecherous ‘halwa eating’ buffoon of the popular jokes and local myths.

Neither image, as Mernissi’s analysis shows, defines the reality.

The book is important because it breaks with the stereotypes and locates both fundamentalism and the fundamentalist within the social, economic and political imperatives of the developing world. The book is enabling in that it shakes our complacency and compels us to find our own answers