Ayaon Hirsi Alvi is a Muslim woman, and not a feminist.
In her new book, The Muslim Woman: My Journey, Hirsi-Ali discusses her own identity and feminist beliefs, and why she has chosen to remain a Muslim.
Hirsi- Ali says the concept of a Muslim women’s identity is a complex one, and that it’s often misunderstood.
“There is a lot of cultural baggage that’s woven into it, and I think it is very important to speak to those cultural baggage, because that is a much more complex concept than what is portrayed to us in the media,” Hirsi says.
Hirse says she chose to write The Muslim Women because she wanted to bring a different perspective to the issue of women’s rights in the Muslim world.
She was also inspired by the work of other Muslim women in her country, like Saba Asimuddin, a writer and activist who is the co-founder of the Muslim Women’s Forum, which is the official body for women in Pakistan.
“The idea of a feminist voice has been very much a focus for me in my work.
I think that if we can find that voice, then we can create a better future for women and men in the Middle East,” Hirse says.
Asimuddin has been an outspoken advocate for women’s issues, as well as advocating for the rights of women.
In the years following the 2009 revolution in Pakistan, she was arrested for advocating for women.
“In this country, you are subject to violence, sexual harassment, harassment, rape, and all of these things,” Asimuda told the BBC in 2010.
In the same interview, Asimudas views of the role of women in society changed, as did her view of feminism.
“I realised that the term feminist was something that I had never been comfortable with, and it was a word that I was quite unfamiliar with.
I felt that it was the wrong word,” Asminudas statement read.
“So I changed it to Muslim Women, because I realised that it had a different meaning.”
Hiri- Ali’s book is filled with feminist and feminist-influenced conversations about women, their place in society, and the role women can play in the larger Muslim world today.
“In a lot, many Muslim women are living in a society that they think of as patriarchal and that they see as their oppression, so it was very important for me to write about the issues that we face in a very authentic way, because Islam has always been about the liberation of women and the liberation from oppression,” Hirssi Ali says.
“This book is not about feminism, but rather about the struggles of women as a whole, and of Muslim women specifically, because this is what I believe is happening.”
As the title suggests, The Muslims Woman is an attempt to unpack a lot that’s been left out of the debate about feminism in the Arab world, and to show that it is a universal issue.
“The issue of feminism is something that is always present in the Qur’an,” Hiri says.
“When it comes to feminism, Islam is a very positive religion and it is about being a feminist.”
Read more about feminism at the BBC The Muslim Woman, which comes out on March 15, is available from Amazon.