What stands out in this narrative is that it stays far away from the overused and tired rhetoric around Pakistani women. That of stereotypes about women who are “oppressed” ( the favourite word used in association with Muslim women), who stay home and wear the hijab. On the other end of this spectrum of stereotypes is the celebration as well as condemnation that follows Malala Yousafzai, her experiences and her work. In short, it deviates from the divide between the ‘good’ Muslim and the ‘bad/oppressed’ Muslim.

Babar brings to us stories of Pakistani women in all their complexity. These are women involved in the political frame of Pakistan and directly/indirectly engage with the nexus of governance in Pakistan that entails the military and the religious community. The women in the narratives are religious, orthodox, progressive, angry and fierce. No binary of characteristics operate here.

[…] Babar does some extensive research on the hijab in the third chapter of the book and what it means to Pakistani women. We gain an insight into organisations Al-Huda which demand that women completely cover themselves. The aim of this chapter is to recognise and accommodate differences beyond the binary of the orthodox vs liberal women who does or does not wear the hijab.

For example, it does conceal women while engaging with the patriarchal notions of modesty. However, one cannot also ignore the fact that the hijab represents an equal and transnational identity for Muslim women. The author weaves in narratives of women who feel empowered, safe and dignified in wearing the hijab. But also does not refrain from highlighting the patriarchal politics of Al-Huda and public figures such as Farhat Hashmi (founder of Al-Huda).

Rest: @feminisminindia (emphasis added)