Female Power and Religious Change in the Medieval Near East

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


This book engages with two levels of scholarly discussion that are all too often dealt with separately in modern scholarship, namely the Islamization of the Near East and the place of women in pre-modern Near Eastern societies. The book is premised on the assertion that these two lines of inquiry can, and should, be read in an integrative manner. Put differently, an adequate assessment of major historical themes, such as conversion to Islam, Islamization, religious violence, and the regulation of Muslim-non-Muslim ties must attend to the relatively hidden, yet highly meaningful, role of women. This book is not about the history of women in Islamic-dominated lands, but about the history of Islam from the perspective of female social agents. Women, it is argued here, irrespective of their religious affiliation, possessed crucial means for affecting, or hindering, religious changes, not only in the form of religious conversion, but also in the adoption of practices and the delineation of communal boundaries. A focus on the role and significance of female power in moments of religious change within family households offers a historical angle that is relatively absent from modern scholarship. Rather than locating signs of female autonomy or authority in the political, intellectual, religious, or economic spheres, the present endeavor is concerned with the capacity of women to affect religious communal affiliations thanks to their kinship ties.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages263
ISBN (Electronic)9780192871251
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Uriel Simonsohn 2023.


  • Eastern Christianity
  • Islam
  • conversion to Islam
  • kinship
  • medieval
  • rabbinic Judaism
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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