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October 11, 2005


Nur al-Cubicle

A basket of identities!


I have no idea where she fits into your schema, but the comparative lit. professor, poet, feminist, veiled Muslima and sex columnist Muhja Kahf writes a column on Muslim Wakeup! called Sex and the Umma. You may be interested in her critical essays on such topics as The Sweetness of (Written) Intercourse: MWU’s ‘Sex and the Umma’ Column and the Search for Modern Muslim Erotic Expression, or you may just want to buy her book Emails from Scheherezade so you can read all the sex poems. There's alot more to her work than that, of course. I just wrote a paper about her titled "Eros and Exile in the Information Age." She's a firebrand feminist, too - one of my favorite poems is called "Thawra des Odalisques at the Matisse Exhibition", in which the painted nudes rise up, walk out of their canvasses, and go on strike. Kahf has plenty to say about Arab and Muslim women, gender relationships, sex, post-colonialism and power - but when you read her poetry and fiction, you'll have fun with these topics.

Again, don't know how this fits into the political science, constructionist discussion of the Umma and its interests, but I think you ought to know about Kahf and HER interests. Especially since you're always posting pictures of busty, scantily clad ARab girl singers. Go read Wedad's Cavalry.


Here's how Mohja Kahf and the Muslim Wakeup! people are on topic to the interests of the Aardvark: Kahf is an Arab Muslim feminist weighing in with a different take on the Nancy-Haifa culture wars you've been following. Kahf says she's promoting a "gynocentric, sex-positive Muslim discourse", she uses examples from Quran, hadith, and classical Arabic literature to back up her mission, and she's directly challenging the Wahhabis and all the other reactionaries who want to squelch women - and pleasure! - in the Umma.

Now Kahf hasn't written about Nancy or Haifa - she likes American pop culture and calls herself an amateur occidentalist. Most of what she's written in fiction and poetry about women in the Arab world has been from the point of view of Islamist, often hijab-wearing women. Wedad's Cavalry, for instance, is about a pious Saudi woman living in Mecca who is dissatisfied with her 3d husband's lovemaking - in the opening scene, she finishes prayers at the Kaaba and tells her sister that she prayed for an orgasm. "Again?" the sister responds, and starts giving her sex tips. Read further for descriptions of the 2d husband's pious, Quranic sex practices, which are described in language that is religious, allusive, arch, and sexual.

Kahf, her sex column, and the progressive Muslim web zine Muslime Wakeup! deserve a place in your study of the culture wars, IMHO.

the aardvark

Sounds very cool - I'll check it out!

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