Fatema Mernissi, 1940–2015

It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of iconic Moroccan sociologist, feminist and writer, Professor Fatema Mernissi, aged 75.

Seen by many around the world to be one of Morocco’s most prominent cultural and intellectual icons, Professor Mernissi was a leading advocate for women’s rights in the Muslim world. She was one of the first female academics to take up various themes considered taboo around the interpretation of the Qur’an and texts of Islamic tradition, arguing that women’s oppression is not due to Islam as this religion in fact celebrates women’s power. Her best known work, Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in Muslim Society, was published by Saqi Books in 1985 and it remains one of the most pertinent analyses of the position of women in contemporary Islamic society today.

Her writings have been translated into more than thirty languages and other works such as Political Harem, Dreams of Trespass, The Veil and the Male Elite, and Women in Islam, have cemented her position as an authoritative voice for sociological and anthropological work on women in the Middle East. In 2003, she was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature and remained committed to advocating gender equality and women’s rights through numerous workshops and meetings across the world.

It was an honour and a privilege to have worked with Professor Mernissi over the last four decades – she was an inspirational and dedicated scholar whose work reached people of all ages, political backgrounds and schools of thoughts.