Gender, Tradition, and Religion in Sabriya: Damascus Bitter Sweet and Pillars of Salt

Wafaa H. Sorour
2019 Journal of Literature and Art Studies  
The analysis of women' contribution to Arabic literature brings to light novels written by Arab women novelists whose writings reflect the intricate factors restraining women between the tradition and the codes of Islam. The Syrian writer Ulfat Idilbi and the Jordanian novelist Fadia Faqir delineate such entanglment elequently in both Sabriya: Damascus Bitter Sweet and Pillars of Salt. The paper previews some critical opinions namely of: the Egyptian American Professor of Women Studies and
more » ... en Studies and Religion, Leila Ahmed; the Moroccan Sociologist and writer, Fatima Mernessi; and the Algerian writer and film maker, Assia Djebar. Through manifesting theses critical views along with the two novels, the paper proposes that much of the gender inequalituy practised in the Arab societies and reflected in the two novels, might be rooted in the tradition, not the religion itself. The analysis of women' contribution to Arabic literature brings to light novels written by Arab women novelists whose writings reflect the intricate factors disparaging the Arab women denying them any positive national zest. This has always been claimed as dictated by the tradition or the codes of the Islam. The Syrian writer Ulfat Idilbi and the Jordanian writer Fadia Faqir strove to have their voices heard in the male-dominant culture of the Arab countries. This paper scrutinizes such assumptions manifesting some critcal views followed by examination of Sabryia: Damascus Bitter Sweet by Idilbi and Pillars of Salts by Faquir. According to M. Hilary Lips, "There is in many cultures, including our own, a long history of a hierarchal relationship between the groups: men held more social power than women; men have been dominant and women subordinate" (Lips, 1988, p. 3). Eventually, the stigma of gender equality has almost been settled in western societies, yet, in Arab countries it is associated with both the Arabic tradition and the religion of Islam. Prof. Leila Ahmed is keen on clarifying all the issues between religion and customs. She raises several doubts over the assumptions associated with Islam claiming women as mere impotent and subordinate to men. In her book Women and Gender in Islam, she embarks on a historical exploration into the roots of the early Arab societies ever since the pre-Islamic Middle East. She decides to include specific middle eastern regions in the core of her gender discourses, namely "Mesoptamia, Greece, Egypt and Iran" (Ahmed, 1992, p. 3). Ahmed considers examining the Islamic tradition can not be attained without regarding the prevailing ethnic, political,
doi:10.17265/2159-5836/2019.03.002 fatcat:jwjq6kvhtfcttppqhdamcmr4gq