Top 33 Quotes of Fatema Mernissi

You find in the Koran hundreds of verses to support women’s rights, and perhaps four or five that do not.

Fatema Mernissi

Women are builders of civil society. We are the ones who are going to build it. You know why? We have no choice. Either you shut up, and you are humiliated, or you do what I’m doing. You scream.

Fatema Mernissi

While Muslim men describe themselves as insecure in their harems, real or imagined, Westerners describe themselves as self-assured heroes with no fears of women. The tragic dimension so present in Muslim harems – fear of women and male self-doubt – is missing in the Western harem.

Fatema Mernissi

To understand the fanatic rejection of women’s liberation in the Muslim world, one has to take into account the time factor. Most of us educated women have illiterate mothers. The conservative wave against women in the Muslim world is a defense mechanism against profound changes in both sex roles and the touchy subject of sexual identity.

Fatema Mernissi

To me, the Quran is a research book.

Fatema Mernissi

There, they tell me to wear the veil. Here, they are telling me to put my hips in a little girl’s skirt, and I am this lovely full woman. You’ve got this Ph.D. and you’re worrying, ‘Am I skinny enough?’

Fatema Mernissi

There has been a terrible hemorrhage of educated women to the West where they can flourish. I understand, but it is terrible. We must stay home.

Fatema Mernissi

The woman with dark hair, wide hips, and a few extra pounds has always been the essence of beauty in Morocco.

Fatema Mernissi

The Western man declares that in order to be beautiful, a woman must look 14 years old. If she dares to look 50, or worse, 60, she is beyond the pale. By putting the spotlight on the female child and framing her as the ideal of beauty, he condemns the mature woman to invisibility.

Fatema Mernissi

The waves of religion based on terrorism in the 1990s are based on the tormented response of a mutilated Muslim society whose progressive forces have been savagely emasculated. Why on earth is the Arab world so hostile to women? Why can it not see women as a force for development?

Fatema Mernissi

The Taliban is the Muslim version of the Salem witch trials.

Fatema Mernissi

The modern Muslim state has never presented itself as secular. Muslim nationalist forces, trapped by a militant and colonialist West unable to share or export its humanism, were driven to build up a rampart, to entrench themselves within the past.

Fatema Mernissi

Someone else is going to read for me or go at my place to the mosque, and/or to tell me you shouldn’t take anything from the West because the West is the enemy and so on. It is to me to decide. I am intelligent enough to be critical towards the West and take what I need and reject what is bad for me.

Fatema Mernissi

So much of Islam is Judeo-Christianity. It’s impossible to divorce them. Islam is 600 years after Christ. Thousands of years after Judaism. Christ, Moses, Abraham – they are all in the Koran.

Fatema Mernissi

Since all power from the seventh century on was only legitimated by religion, political forces and economic interests pushed for the fabrication of false traditions.

Fatema Mernissi

Sharia law does not exist in the Koran. It was created by man.

Fatema Mernissi

One cannot understand what’s happening to women in the Middle East if they don’t realize that the mothers are a strong, progressive force. The mothers push the daughters to get out of the harem, to get the education, to achieve what they could not even dream of.

Fatema Mernissi

Now that Arab women are pouring into the streets by the million, men discover with dismay that they, not women, were the captives of the harem dream.

Fatema Mernissi

No man could have accepted me because I am too rebellious. It would have been catastrophe. I am too into my own thing.

Fatema Mernissi

Morocco is such a beautiful place. It’s incredibly beautiful. And also it is captivating place because for a writer, you feel that you make impact. I mean, when I write something in the press, the day after in the fish market, people will be discussing it.

Fatema Mernissi

In the 1920s, big names in the Arab world spoke of Scheherazade as an example for intellectuals fighting for their rights. She was a fighter for the right of free expression.

Fatema Mernissi

In Morocco, for a woman to earn her own living is the essential concern.

Fatema Mernissi

In Islamic societies, politicians can manipulate almost everything. But thus far, no fundamentalist leader has been able to convince his supporters to renounce Islam’s central virtue – the principle of strict equality between human beings, regardless of sex, race, or creed.

Fatema Mernissi

If, by chance, you were to meet me at the Casablanca airport or on a boat sailing from Tangiers, you would think me self-confident, but I am not. Even now, at my age, I am frightened when crossing borders because I am afraid of failing to understand strangers.

Fatema Mernissi

If women’s rights are a problem for some modern Muslim men, it is neither because of the Quran nor the Prophet, nor the Islamic tradition, but simply because those rights conflict with the interests of a male elite.

Fatema Mernissi

If there is one thing that the women and men of the late 20th century who have an awareness and enjoyment of history can be sure of, it is that Islam was not sent from Heaven to foster egotism and mediocrity.

Fatema Mernissi

I was amazed to realize that for many Westerners, Scheherezade was considered a lovely but simple-minded entertainer, someone who relates innocuous tales and dresses fabulously. In our part of the world, Scheherezade is perceived as a courageous heroine and is one of our rare female mythological figures.

Fatema Mernissi

I go to the hamam and put henna on my skin and hair. Even when I go to New York, I let the shower run hot to create a steam hamam at my hotel. But when I finish with the bath, I put on expensive French creams.

Fatema Mernissi

Growing up, I was taught that a woman should lower her gaze so that men could never know her thoughts. The so-called modesty of Arab women is, in fact, a war tactic.

Fatema Mernissi

Educated women armed with computers have defeated extremists by denying them a monopoly to define cultural identity and interpret religious texts. No extremist can say that women are inferior to men without being made a laughingstock on Al Jazeera. Islam insisted on equality between everyone.

Fatema Mernissi

Contrary to what many Westerners believe, Islam has a rich tradition of secular painting in spite of its ban on images. It is only in religious rituals that the use of pictorial representation is totally prohibited.

Fatema Mernissi

Consumerist ads brainwash us into individualist and egotistic self-love.

Fatema Mernissi

A woman can walk miles without making one single step forward. As a child born in a harem, I instinctively knew that to live is to open closed doors. To live is to look outside. To live is to step out. Life is trespassing.

Fatema Mernissi