Many versions of comments and debates have been taking place in regard to Islam and Muslims right from their religious radicalism to their stringent laws regarding marriage and many other aspects like the roles of women in their society. Regardless of all these there has been divided opinion and views depending on who has lived and worked with Muslims and those who hear about them. In this book review, Geraldine Brooks who has lived and worked with many Muslims especially women has a different view about Islam and Muslims in regard with roles of women in their communities or families. Therefore, this paper analyzes the important roles women play and have played in their society and their future prospects.
Nine Parts of Desire
In any society women have played a major role in families regardless of the way they are undermined and sometimes oppressed. Muslim women have as well played important roles around the world despite some Muslim extremists degrading their roles especially countries where they have not been given various freedoms and rights like rights to education. A good example is when the Taliban were ruling Afghanistan, a time when women were totally enclosed and they had no rights to basic education. However, behind the scenes they have brought up strong families. In the book Nine Parts of Desire, women have been portrayed as having a bigger responsibility and surely they have done great things even though many have not been recognized. Leaders in many Muslim countries nowadays have realized the potential of women in almost every field and they granted and guaranteed them their rights. In the Muslim world, religion has been closely associated with their cultural practices which portray them as strict or authoritarian rulers who suppress and discriminate women.
In recent times, things have changed in many Muslim countries but the perspectives of people from outside especially the west have not changed, i.e. they have maintained the status quo. The notion that women from the Middle East or the Muslim world are under oppression is not true since there have been many changes to the constitutions and or laws of these countries concerning women and their rights. Geraldine Brooks is one a writer and or reporter who has directly interacted with Muslim women of every level and class and hence tries to correct the notion of other people in particular people from the west. Many people from western countries up to date believe that Muslim women are under oppressive and repressive rules but which is not the case. There have been so many books that have been written about Muslims whereby some have been very controversial to an extent of threats issued and writers have been targeted to be assassinated by Muslim radicals but this book has been very different and many people have liked it and its view of the Muslims world. Even though up to date many people may think that the book is Islam friendly, which is not the case but it touches the core and important roles many women have played.
The book highlights many advances that the Muslim countries and their leaders have made regarding women and their basic rights and freedoms which include rights to education, voting, political contests, sports and many others. Geraldine in her book and experience looks more into women sports which have been banned for many years which are now back into the programme. She singles out Iran which has been a radical state suppressing the rights of women. Cases of abuse of women have been reduced and they are very minimal. The book also points out that there are few abuses of women in the Muslim society unlike the beliefs of many people outside these countries. It is ironical but true that there are a few divorces in the Muslim world compared to thousands and thousands that are taking place on a daily basis in western countries. Sexual harassment and domestic violence are minimal unlike the western countries. Geraldine confirms in her book Nine Parts of Desire that, many Muslim women are content with their roles in family and they enjoy cordial relationships with their husbands and other family members unlike the people of the west. Moreover, Brooks cites Iran as a country that has positively identified roles of women and has granted them the rights to demonstrate their abilities even in sports. Brooks has gone further and said about the hijab which is a strict adherence in the Muslim world but women have been allowed to remove and play games which have been for long prohibited in particular in Iran.
There has been wind of change throughout the Muslim world except a few Muslim nations and Brooks herself says, “There is the brightest hope of change among the hijab wearing Iranian women and are getting equal rights to employment and the political voice”. This book is an eye opener to the western world to come out of their beliefs about the Islam and Muslim women. Many other rights included the right to inheritance and the right to divorce. "I looked everywhere for examples of women trying to reclaim Islam's positive messages," Brooks writes. Their negative views have been disapproved by Brooks who for many years has been in the Muslim world working with various Muslim groups in particular women. Furthermore Brooks has demonstrated respect for the Muslims that why even though her book title is sensitive, it does not raise hairs of radicals. Last but not least, the moral are in the Muslim world are better and upright compared to the western world and Muslim women are a notch higher.