Revealing Reveiling

Islamist Gender Ideology in Contemporary Egypt

By Sherifa Zuhur

Subjects: Middle East Studies
Series: SUNY series in Middle Eastern Studies
Paperback : 9780791409282, 207 pages, July 1992
Hardcover : 9780791409275, 207 pages, July 1992

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Table of contents


1. New Images or Continuous Archetypes?

2. The Process of Listening

3. Her Story: Archetypes and Arguments of Middle Eastern Women

4. Studies of Self-Image

5. Construction of the Virtuous Woman

6. Unveiled Women Reply

7. Dreaming the Myth, and Veiling It






Explores the history of Muslim women and debates over gender, which have developed since the golden age of Islam.


In modern Egypt, the pace of Islamic resurgence has increased as in other Muslim societies. Throughout the twentieth century, Egyptian women have fought fiercely for political participation and for legal and educational reform to improve their status. To many of them, the adoption of a new form of the veil seemed retrogressive and ominous. This book explores the history of Muslim women and the debates over gender, which have developed since the golden age of Islam. It considers the opinions, goals, and ideals of fifty Egyptian women, veiled and unveiled, and compares their views to the gender ideology of the contemporary Islamists. Women's social backgrounds are examined in the context of the Egyptian state and its social policies.

Sherifa Zuhur is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


"It provides an important look at the very contemporary phenomenon of veiling in Egypt through the first-hand reports of the women whom Zuhur has interviewed. Her subjects come across as real people and their discussion in relation to the various questions asked provide quite compelling views of the reason why they favor—and oppose—veiling. " — Jane I. Smith, Iliff School of Theology

"In order to come up with the meaning of veiling and unveiling in contemporary Egypt, this book combines discussion of archetypal figures in the history of Muslim womanhood with self-perception, discussion on femininity, and what it is to be religious. " — Valerie Hoffman-Ladd, University of Illinois at Urbana