This paper calls for an understanding of feminism in Islam as a unique approach to feminism with potential contributions to world feminism. The paper analyzes Mariama Ba’s epistolary novel So Long A Letter within the context of a feminist approach in Islam. This paper’s primary focus is Ba’s critique of polygamy and her celebration of female bonding in the face of male oppression. Ba explores her themes through an epistolary exchange between two intimate friends who both suffered the abuse of their polygamous husbands and highlights the contrasting reactions of the two women in regard to the mistreatment by their husbands. Within a distorted misinterpretation of religion, the analysis reflects on how Islamic teachings are exploited by some Muslim men in order to gratify and justify their base desires under the guise of a transcendent sanction.
The history and modernization of women’s rights and leadership in Kuwait is explored through an introspective from Engineer Sara Akbar, ceo of Kuwait Energy. Akbar gives detailed accounts of her brief history of work and life as a woman in leadership. Through a lengthy ethnographic research, I traveled to Kuwait City as a Fulbright Scholar at the American University of Kuwait (auk 2009–2010) and had my first interview with her at the Engineers Society building. In 2013, on our first study abroad program at auk, I invited Sara Akbar to give a lecture to my asu students as part of a Lecture Series I organized; then I had another interview with her in her office in the new premises of her company, Kuwait Energy in Salmiya. Akbar’s dialogue highlights her theoretical feminist framework for life in Kuwait. In addition to her recounts of oppression and struggle as a woman in her workforce, Sara Akbar gives a call to action for people in all social and occupational hierarchies, men, and women, in Kuwait to broaden their horizons for women in leadership.