Getting God's Ear
The circumscribed role of women in orthodox religious societies has long intrigued scholars and general readers alike. How these roles evolved and how women today reconcile feminism with traditional religious practice is a subject of controversy both within the academy and in religious communities. Getting God's Ear considers this subject by examining the role of religious worship and spiritual affairs in women's lives in the twentieth-century Arab world.
The meaning of women's exclusion from the "sacred precincts" of the mosque and their limited access to religious learning as well as the effects of this exclusion on women's lives is the focus of the book. Exploring both their role as midwives, healers, and ritual participants in spite of such exclusion, Eleanor Doumato examines the ways women strive for agency and sacralize their own space in an effort to experience community, to heal and be healed, and to find ways of getting God to hear them.
Focusing on the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula region during the first half of the twentieth century, the book weighs the influence of Wahhabi Islam on women's religious experience against the experience of women in the Sunni and Shia towns of Kuwait and Bahrain. At the same time, the author incorporates the voices of American missionaries and others who wrote about women of this region and whose writings form the informational core of the book. Connecting doctrine and practice in pre-oil Arabia to current sociopolitical developments, she raises an intriguing question: Is there something in the historical experience of women under Wahhabi Islam that can help us understand the persistence of women's separation in Saudi Arabia today?