Fatima Mernessi, Muslim Feminist Author and native of Morocco passed away in Rabat on November 30th, 2015. Mernissi was born in Fes, Morocco in 1940 and became known as one of the Arab world’s leading literary authors who challenged the Islamic establishment by focusing on feminist issues along with human rights and democracy. A graduate of the Sorbonne University in Paris, her education was grounded in political science. Later she obtained her doctorate at Brandeis University. Mernissi was a pioneer of her time. She researched and analyzed Islamic thought and the relation of succession to the Prophet Mohammed. As an Islamic feminist her goal was to facilitate ideas and an open discussion about women challenging their traditional roles along with its relation to the West.
Mernissi returned to her native country of Morocco after receiving her doctorate and taught at the Faculté des Lettres on the subjects of sociology and psycosociology. She also worked on sociological research for UNESCO and the ILO. Deep comparisons between the East and West was the topic Fatima Mernissi focused on most. Various interpretations of Islam, the Koran and the deconstruction of Islamic ideology on women permeated her written works.
By questioning Islamic thought she attracted a following of young Muslim women and also Westerners. In 2003 she was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award which was established by Felipe Prince of Asturias to encourage and promote scientific, cultural and humanistic values that form part of mankind’s universal heritage.
Mernissi’s best known works are Beyond the Veil, The Veil and the Male Elite, A Feminist Interpretation of Islam and Dreams of Tresspass.
“Feminists, women and men alike: we stand on the shoulders of giants like Fatema Mernissi.” – Laila Lalami, Moroccan American Author
Recommended Reading – Books by Fatima Mernissi:
Beyond the Veil
The Veil and the Male Elite
Dreams of Tresspass
Tales of a Harem Girlhood
Women & Islam
Democracy & IslamSheherazade Goes West
The Forgotten Queens of Islam
Women’s Rebellion & Islamic Memory