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A Lecture in the Club of the Umma Party

Bahithat al-Badiya

in Modernist Islam, 1840-1940

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154672
Published online November 2007 |
 A Lecture in the Club of the Umma Party

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Malak Hifni Nasif (Egypt, 18861918), who used the pseudonym Bahithat al-Badiya (Seeker in the Desert), was born in Cairo into a literary family. Her father, who had studied at al- Azhar with Muhammad Abduh (see chapter 3), encouraged his daughter's education. She graduated from the first teacher training school for women in Egypt, the Saniyya School, where she later taught. On Fridays she gave women's lectures at the Egyptian University and elsewhere, which she published along with feminist essays in 1910. The present selection was one of these lectures, delivered to hundreds of upper-class women, and addressing some of the most sensitive social issues of the day: changing gender relations, the symbolic and practical implications of women's garb, and the need for legal change in women's status. The program listed at the end of the lecture formed the kernel of the more extensive set of demands that she sent in 1911 to the Egyptian Congress in Heliopolis, a meeting of (male) nationalists. Her life then took an abrupt turn when she married a Bedouin chief, gave up teaching, and went to live with him in the Fayyum oasis west of Cairo. She discovered he already had a wifehis cousinand a daughter he expected her to tutor. Some of the sufferings she experienced and observed were expressed in her writings. In 1918, at the age of 32, she died of influenza. Her eulogy was the first feminist speech delivered by Huda Sharawi (18791947), founder of the Egyptian Feminist Union.1

Chapter.  5204 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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