- DBQs attached (American Revolution and Islamic Women’s Rights)
- Women's History Web Sites
American Women: A Gateway to Library of Congress Resources for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States
This Library of Congress site contains digital materials, an introduction to research in American women's history, tips on searching for women's history resources in the catalogs, and more
American Women's History: A Research Guide (Mid TN State)
Is intended to assist researchers by providing primary source collections and other materials on the internet
Digital History: Women
Digital History features resource guides by topic and period. Reference resources include classroom handouts, chronologies, encyclopedia articles, glossaries, and an audio-visual archive including speeches, book talks and e-lectures by historians, and historical maps, music, newspaper articles, and images. The site's Ask the HyperHistorian feature allows users to pose questions to professional historians.
Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1775-2000
This website is a project of the Center for the Historical Study of Women and Gender at the State University of New York at Binghamton and includes roughly 900 documents, 400 images, and 350 links to other websites. There are twenty comprehensive lesson plans with over a hundred lesson ideas mounted in the Teacher's Corner.
DBQ: Islamic Women
Directions: The following question is based on the accompanying Documents 1-11. Some
of the documents have been edited for the purpose of this writing exercise.
The question is designed to test your ability to work with historical documents. As you
analyze the documents, take into account both the sources of the documents and the
authors' points of view. Write the essay on the following topic that integrates your
analysis of the documents. Do not simply summarize the documents individually. You
may refer to relevant historical facts and developments not mentioned in the documents.
1. Has the rise and expansion of Islam broadened or restricted women's rights?
Based on the following documents, discuss the changes and dilemmas posed to women
at different time periods and in varying Islamic communities. What kinds of additional
documentation would help assess the impact of Islamic practices over time on women's
Source: The Message: Selected Verses from The Holy Qur'an. Mohammed Keramat Ali.
And thus does their Lord answer their prayer: I shall not lose sight of the work of any of
you who works ( in My way) be it man or woman. You are members, one of another.
Surah Al-I-Imran 3:195
Source: The Holy Qur'an: Text ,Translation and Commentary. Abdullah Yusuf Ali.
O Prophet, say to thy wives and daughters
and the believing women, that they draw
their veils close to them; so it is likelier
they will be known, and not hurt. - Surah 33:59
Source: World Civilizations: The Global Experience. Peter Stearns.2001
The prophet's teachings proclaimed the equality of men and women before God and in
Islamic worship. Women, most notably his wife Khadijah, were some of Muhammad's
earliest and bravest followers. They accompanied his forces to battle (as did the wives of
their adversaries) with the Meccans, and a woman was the first martyr for the new faith.
Many of the hadiths, or traditions of the prophet, which have played such a critical role in
Islamic law and ritual, were recorded by women. In addition, Muhammad's wives and
daughters, played an important role in compiling the Qur'an.
Source: The Human Record: Sources of Global History. Vo. I. Andrea Overfield.2001
Men are appointed guardians over women, because of that in respect of which Allah has
made some of them excel others, and because the men spend their wealth. So virtuous
women are obedient and safeguard, with Allah's help, matters the knowledge of which is
shared by them with their husbands. Surah: 4:35
Ibn Umar relates that the Honorable Prophet said: Every one of you is a steward and is
accountable for that which is committed to his charge. The ruler is a steward and is
accountable for his charge, a man is a steward in respect of his household, a woman is a
steward in respect of her husband's house and his children. Thus everyone of you is a
steward and is accountable for that which is committed to his charge. ( Bohkari and
Abu Ali Talq ibn Ali relates that the Honorable Prophet said: When a man calls his wife
for his need, she should go to him even if she is occupied in baking bread.
(Tirmidhi and Nisai)…
Umm Salamah relates that the Honorable Prophet said: If a woman dies and her husband
is pleased with her, she will enter Paradise. (Tirmidishi)
Source: The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History. Richard Bulliet. 1997
Slave Girls from Samarra.
This early 9thcentury wall painting is from the harem quarters of the Abbasid palace in Samarra. Unveiled slave girls commonly sang, danced, and played instruments at parties. Islamic law prohibited wine but wine songs feature prominently in Arabic poetry in this period. (Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz).
Source: The Human Record: Sources of Global History,V.II,2001. Andrea Overfield
Women in Ottoman Society. Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq,TURKISH LETTERS
To Ogier de Busbecq (1522-1590), the European diplomat who resided in sixteenth-century
Istanbul for six years, the role of women was one of many extraordinary aspects of Ottoman
The Turks are the most careful people in the world of the modesty of their wives, and
therefore keep them shut up at home and hide them away, so that they scarce see the light
of day. But if they have to go into the streets, they are sent out so covered and wrapped
up in veils that they seem to those who meet them mere gliding ghosts. They have the
means of seeing men through their linen or silken veils, while no part of their own body
is exposed to men's view. For it is a received opinion among them, that no woman who is
distinguished in the very smallest degree by her figure or youth can be seen by a man
without his desiring her, and therefore without her receiving some contamination; and so
it is the universal practice to confine the women to the harem. Their brothers are allowed
to see them, but not their brothers-in-law. Men of the richer classes, or of higher rank,
make it a condition when they marry, that their wives shall never set foot outside the
threshold, and that no man or woman shall be admitted to see them for any reason
whatever, not even their nearest relations except their fathers and mothers, who are
allowed to pay a visit to their daughters at the Turkish Easter.[ A reference to the festival
of Bairam, which follows Ramadan]. …
The Turks are not forbidden by any law to have as many concubines as they please in
addition to their lawful wives. Between the children of wives and those of concubines
there is no distinction, and they are considered to have equal rights. … Concubines are
entitled to their freedom if they have borne children to their master. … A wife who has a
portion settled on her [brought dowry to the marriage], is the mistress of her husband's
house, and all other women have to obey her orders. The husband, however, may choose
which of them shall spend the night with him. He makes known his wishes to the wife
and she sends to him the slave he has selected. Only Friday night, which is their Sabbath,
is supposed to belong to the wife… On all the other nights he may do as he pleases.
Divorces are granted among them for many reasons easy for the husbands to invent. The
divorced wife receives back her dowry, unless the divorce has been caused by some fault
on her part. There is more difficulty in a woman's getting a divorce from her husband.
Source: Women in Islam. Marjorie Wall Bingham and Susan Hill Gross.1980
In 1899, Qasim Amin published a book called The Emancipation of Women. In the book
he called for such mild reforms as:
1) some basic education for women
2) somewhat more physical freedom though not outlawing the veil
3) changes in the divorce laws to make them fairer to women
Though these suggestions no longer seem radical, his book caused violent opposition in
Egypt. Articles, books and pamphlets were written against his idea. He, however,
continued his campaign for the liberation of Egyptian women. … He is credited with
starting the Egyptian movement for rights of women.
A religious ruling denied women the right to vote because they were too "swayed by
emotions and, therefore, of incompetent and unstable nature." For ten more years the
"Daughters of the Nile" and other groups fought to get women the vote.
Women received the right to vote. The first woman minister was appointed.
In the charter of 1962 (after the Revolution of 1958 brought Nasser to power) was the
Women must be regarded as equal to man and she must therefore shed the remaining
shackles that impede her free movements, so that she may play a constructive and
profoundly important part in shaping the life of the country.
Source: Women in the Middle East: Tradition and Change. Ramsay M. Harik.1996
A popular Islamic leader and television personality in Cairo explains the resurgence of
veiling during the mid 20th century in this way: the sight of a woman's beauty- especially
her hair- is so alluring that it can be intolerably distracting to men. It turns their
thoughts away from pious, proper behavior: an adolescent youth suffers from frustrated
sexual desire, and a middle aged man thinks of discarding his wife and finding a much
younger woman. To prevent men from experiencing this agitation, which makes them
uncomfortable and can even lead to social disorder, it is the duty of all women,
regardless of age or condition, to conceal their hair and shape of their bodies. Women
must behave in such a way as to remove temptation from men's paths. In this respect,
women are held responsible for men's emotions and conduct.
A woman's freedom to leave her home and do what she needs or wants to may thus, in a
given situation, depend on her wearing the veil (hijab). Assertion of her religious and
cultural identity, in a time of fast-changing values and practices, may impel her to put on
the veil. The social setting in which she lives may require the veil. But the ultimate
meaning of "covering" still raises disturbing questions.
Source: The Iranians: Persia, Islam, and the Soul of a Nation. Sandra Mackey. 1997
Reza Sha Pahlevi ruled from 1921 to his abdication in September 1941.
Of Reza Shah's moves against the institutions and practices of Shiism, none elicited the
same level of public response as did changes in the status of women. In an act pregnant
with symbolism, Reza Shah put women on the front line of his social revolution against
Islam. His motives rested in nationalism rather than in an engagement with the questions
of religions and patriarchy. Illiteracy among women denied skills needed for nation
building. Child brides and the practice of muta, or temporary marriage brushed Iran with
the stain of backwardness. Finally, the chador of funereal black that enveloped women
spoke not only of the subordination of females but the subordination of Iran. By tearing
away the veil, an emblem of religious traditionalism, Reza Shah announced his intentions
to enlist women in the resurrection of Iran. But the unveiling of women enraged the
The confrontation between Reza Shah and the clergy over the veil began almost by
accident. In March 1928, the Shah's wife came to Qom to pray at the shrine of Fatima.
While in an upper gallery, changing from a heavy chador designed for the street to a
lighter one for prayer, she momentarily exposed her face. A mullah happened to see her.
With a chorus of students behind him, he poured shame upon her. The next day, Reza
Shah pulled up in front of the gold-domed shrine accompanied by two armored cars and
four hundred troops. He strolled through the gate in his heavy military boots and across
the graves of Shiism's holy men. Finding the offending mullah, he knocked off his
Turban, grabbed him by the hair, and thrashed him with a riding crop. Then he turned and
left, leaving Qom and Iranian Shiism stunned. …
Throughout 1928, hints surfaced that the chador would be banished to the trash heap of
the past. Although angry demonstrations did nothing to deter Reza Shah from his chosen
path, he proceeded with caution. Women's groups composed of educated, middle-and
upper-class women organized to beat the drum of support. In 1934, government policy
first allowed, and then ordered, women teachers and female students to appear in school
without the chador. At the same time, cinemas, restaurants, and hotels, on pain of heavy
fines, unlocked their doors to both sexes. Finally, a 1935 government decree banned the
Source: Tumblr/The Punch
Prior to the rise of the Taliban, women in Afghanistan were protected under law and increasingly afforded rights in Afghan society.
Source: Faces in a Mirror: Memoirs from Exile. Princess Ashraf Pahlavi.1980.
In this memoir, the twin sister of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi [1941-1979], tells the
extraordinary story of her life and of her country. She narrates her own fiercely determined rise to
independence and the political activities of her family. The book offers inside information - as
only she could know them- on the events that surrounded the removal of her brother, the Shah,
the take-over by the Khomeini regime and the international furor that resulted from her brother's
treatment at a New York City Hospital.
Seeing my brother again,  seeing what life was like in Switzerland, made me
desperately want to stay. I knew that it would be difficult to get my father's permission,
and I was too afraid to ask when he telephoned Le Rosey from Turkey. (He had gone to
see the man who had inspired so many of his plans for Iran, Mustafa Kemal, and he took
advantage of the international phone system, which we didn't have in Iran.) I sent a
telegram, asking if I might remain and study in a European school.
His answer was a short, harsh cable: " Stop this nonsense and come home at once." There
was no explanation; but this too was typical of Reza Shah. I was furious and disappointed
and hurt when I realized that no matter how much education my father might allow at
home, I would always be denied the opportunities he gave my brothers. Disappointed and
angry though I was, I didn't dream of disobeying. In the Middle Eastern world, fathers
were obeyed even if they weren't kings.
My father's answer closed the door forever on a dream that had become for a little while
more real and more compelling than the life that was chartered for me. For a brief,
tantalizing moment I had seen the reality of a world where a woman could develop her
capabilities, could shape and form her own life. In Europe I had seen it, touched it,
experienced it, but now the moment was over for me. I vowed that in the years to come I
would find a way to make contact with Europe and the Western world.
Source: The Washington Post. Friday, 10-19-2001 " 'Small Steps' for Afghan
Women's Rights." Lois Raimondo
KHODJA BAJAHUDDIN, Afghanistan-
The silent shapes slide quickly and efficiently down the street, clothed from head to
toe in bulky garment called burqas. They do not talk to strangers. They rarely stop to
talk to other women. If approached, they turn their veiled faces and walk the other way
From a distance, the bright white, pastel blue and green burqas seemed to flutter
lightly across an otherwise hard and dusty landscape. Up close, the heft of the heavy
folds of fabric becomes noticeable when a husband beats his wife with a stick for
standing still as a foreigner comes near.