Saleha Mahmood Abedin (b. 1940) received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1977 for a thesis entitled: “Islam and Muslim Fertility: Sociological Dimensions of a Demographic Dilemma.” Dr. Abedin has been intimately involved with the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (IMMA) in London since its founding in 1979 by her husband Syed Abedin. She is the current Director and Editor-in-Chief of the Institute’s Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (JMMA), a tenure which began after the death of her husband in 1993. Saleha Abedin is also a professor of Sociology at King Abdulaziz University Women’s College, Jeddah, a founding member of Dar Al-Hekma College, Jeddah, and Chairperson of the International Islamic Committee for Women [Woman] and Child (IICWC), in Amman, Jordan.
Regarding the latter, a clearly documented report at Legal Insurrection which simply quotes the IICWC website (in Google translator Arabic-to-English translation of sections from this IICWC post) demonstrates how Dr. Abedin’s organization, as a champion of the Sharia over “manmade law,” vehemently opposes both laws which prohibit child marriage and which ban the misogynistic barbarity of female genital mutilation (FGM) — a horrific scourge in major Muslim countries such as Arab Egypt and far-flung non-Arab Indonesia, where FGM rates exceed 90% because Shafiite Sunni Islamic jurisprudence predominates in these Muslim countries. However, a far more comprehensive elaboration of Dr. Abedin’s traditionalist Islamic Weltanschauung — rigidly compliant with the totalitarian Sharia — can be gleaned from her vigorous efforts to assist in translating into English, editing, and publishing the book Women in Islam: A Discourse in Rights and Obligations.
Saudi academic Fatima Umar Nasseef, the author of Women in Islam, is also a sister of IMMA co-founding Chairman Dr. Abdullah Omar Nasseef. The inner flap of the book cover provides the following erudite discussion of Fatima Umar Naseef’s (b. 1944) bona fides. She is described (quoting verbatim) as:
… An accomlished [sic] and renowned scholaar [sic], speaker, academic, educationist and social worker in contemporary Saudi Arabia. She has made outstanding contribution to the advancement of women’s education in the country. As head of the women’s section of King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah for eight years, and as professor of Islamic Shari’ah, and through her popular public lectures, she has inspired a generation of Saudi women. She has also published a number of books and articles on issues relating to Islamic Shari’ah, the position and status of women in society, and on the subject of their rights and Obligations.
On the back cover, Saleha Abedin, who edited and supervised the translation of Nasseef’s scholarly oeuvre, adds these observations, for context:
The overall objectives of IICWC include the promotion of knowledge regarding women’s issues. It fosters a publication program that is aimed to facilitate the collection as well as dissemination of information on women, family and society. The Committee is, therefore, pleased to launch its Book Series with its very first publication of the translation of the popular and well-received book, Women in Islam: A Discourse in Rights and Obligations, authored by a prominent Saudi scholar, Fatima Umar Nasseef.
This book will be of special interest to students and scholars of Islamic law and women’s studies, as well as to that segment of the general public that is interested in women’s issues. It is a comprehensive study of the rights and obligations of women in society from the Islamic perspective, and also provides a comparison with other cultures, while examining the rights and positions of women in those cultures.
Verbatim quotes from Women in Islam provide res ipsa loquitur, pellucid illustrations of the traditionalist Islamic views being promulgated without any attempt to mollify (i.e., conceal from Western sensibilities) their bellicosity, liberty-crushing supremacism (absence of freedom speech; inequality before the law for non-Muslims), and female subjugating misogyny. Women’s “rights and obligations” to participate in jihad war campaigns are extolled through the prism of Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayid Qutb’s (d. 1966) views on the jihad, which are demonstrated to be in full accord not only with classical Muslim jurists but the assessments of his esteemed contemporary peers at Cairo’s Al Azhar University, including former Grand Imam of Al-Azhar (from 1958-1963) Mahmud Shaltut, (quoted in this section, just before Qutb). These “liberating” views are complemented by insistence upon requisite hijab donning for women, the mandatory acquiescence of women to sexual demands from their husbands, prohibition of social interaction between the sexes, stoning for adultery, and (strongly) recommended female genital mutilation. Nonetheless, Women in Islam concludes this misogynistic litany of discriminations against women by repeating the stock-in-trade mantra of the contemporary apologetic for the traditionalist Muslim Brotherhood worldview:
Islam is the only solution and the only escape … the only religion that affirms their [women’s] humanity, dignity and equality with men.
Two prominent, longstanding members on the Editorial Board of the JMMA accompanying Editor-in-Chief Saleha Abedin, whose tenures both began in 1996, are Zafar Ishaq Ansari (1996 to 2009), and John Esposito (1996 to present). Not surprisingly, these two JMMA Editorial Board members share Saleha Abedin’s — and the Muslim Brotherhood’s — Weltanschauung.
Zafar Ishaq Ansari is a full-throated champion of the 20th century Indo-Pakistani jihadist ideologue (see here, here, and here) Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi (1903-1979). Ansari’s “magnum opus” is a reverent translation of Mawdudi’s Tafhim Al-Quran (“Understanding the Koran”) — one of the most important works of modern Koranic exegesis, or interpretation. Ansari’s Preface notes how Mawdudi’s collective works greatly inspired the mass Muslim phenomenon, “… characterized, mainly by the outside world, as ‘Islamic resurgence.’” Ansari then extols Mawdudi unabashedly for both his personal attributes and authentic — and currently relevant — Islamic vision:
Mawdudi was uniquely gifted for the task he undertook — a systematic exposition of the teachings of Islam. To help him fulfill that task he possessed a clear and penetrating mind as well as a felicitous and vigorous pen … [H]e distinguished himself by arguing and forcefully establishing that the principles prescribed by Islam were intrinsically sound, that they were relevant for, and viable in, every age and clime, that they were conducive to the overall well-being of man.