The Unforgettable Queens of Islam explores the lives and legacies of several Muslim women rulers from different cultures and historical periods who were at the forefront of the political scene, contesting patriarchal rules of dynastic succession and electoral competition to become sovereign leaders in medieval Yemen and India, and modern Pakistan and Indonesia.
The written history of Islam and the Muslim world is overwhelmingly masculine, having largely ignored women and their contributions until well into the 20th century. Religious and legal justifications have been systematically invoked to justify Muslim women’s banishment from politics and public domains. Yet this patriarchal domination has not gone on without serious challenges by women - sporadic and exceptional though their participation in the battle of succession has been. The Unforgettable Queens of Islam highlights lives and legacies of a number of charismatic women engaged in fierce battles of succession, and their stories offer striking insights into the workings of political power in the Muslim world.
A former director of the Women's Studies Program at Boston University, Shahla Haeri is one of the pioneers of Iranian Anthropology, and has produced cutting-edge ethnographies of Iran, Pakistan and the Muslim world. Her landmark books include her classic ethnography, Law of Desire: Temporary Marriage, Mut’a, in Iran (1989/2014) translated into Arabic and reprinted frequently, highlighting the tenacious but secretive custom of temporary marriage in ethnographic scope to make visible lives of educated and professional Muslim women. Dr. Haeri’s academic and creative oeuvre include directing a video documentary, Mrs. President: Women and Political Leadership in Iran (2002, 46 min.) focusing on six women presidential contenders during the Iranian presidential election of 2001.