Review by Abbas Jaffer is Associate Editor of Altmuslimah:
The question of what Muslim women’s veiling means in America is a highly politicized, often antagonistic debate on television and in the public sphere. Provocative coverage has appeared innumerable times, including a NPR feature as well as a New York Times piece earlier this year. Altmuslimah has also published a number of articles, including “The politics of fashion,” and a series about women who have chosen to take off the veil (Part 1, Part 2). More recent journalistic and academic discussions have certainly been more nuanced and multifaceted than they previously were.
Leila Ahmed’s A Quiet Revolution is both an important and thought-provoking look at the rising visibility of veiling amongst Muslim women. What lies within is a history of the veil and its political meanings from the mid-twentieth century to the present. Ahmed consciously confronts some of her own preconceptions about what this phenomenon means, how wearing hijab rose to prominence amongst Muslim women in mid-century Egypt, and the ways in which this movement traveled and developed in the United States.
Instead of finding a history of modern veiling that reconciled with her previous thought, Leila Ahmed readily admits complicating her view upon undertaking research for this book.