Do Muslim Women Need Saving? by Lila Abu-Lughod - review by Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak

Lifting the Headscarf

Do Muslim Women Need Saving?


Harvard University Press 324pp £25.95 order from our bookshop

When I was six years old my parents got divorced and in order to offer me a fully fledged egalitarian holiday they asked me to spend half the summer with my paternal grandmother and the remaining half with my maternal grandmother. In the former’s house, I learned to fear Allah. Grandma N opened my suitcase and regarded with distaste every dress and pair of shorts that I had brought, finding them inappropriate for girls. She told me that because of my sex I had to be extra-careful and pray night and day so as not to err and end up inside the boiling cauldrons of Hell. By mid-July, more pious and timid than before, I returned to Ankara, where my maternal grandmother was waiting for me. Grandma F took a look at the new clothes I had brought along and found them too thick and too long. ‘In this heat, you should be wearing dresses and shorts, for God’s sake!’ When I questioned her about Hell and what particular torments awaited us there, she said, ‘You shouldn’t be thinking of such things. Think about God’s love instead. He is rahman and rahim. The words mean merciful and womb. So it

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