Date of Award

Spring 1996

Document Type



Political Science & International Relations

First Advisor

Erik Pratt

Second Advisor

John Hart

Third Advisor

Charlotte Jones


This thesis discusses the relationship between patriarchal attitudes and the interpretation of Islamic text in Egypt. Muhammad supported women's equality and feminists today use his teachings to support their cause. However, feminist interpretations are often ignored for interpretations that favor male dominance and female subjugation. This problem lies not with Islam itself, but in the fact that the Egyptian government bends Islam with the political wind that does not favor equality. This practice dates back to ancient times when men owned harems, practiced polygamy, and collected women as war booty. Egalitarian interpretations, that favored women's equality, threatened these "privileges"; thus these men suppressed them in favor of patriarchal interpretations. This suppression continues today through the policies of the Egyptian government which would supports male interests over female well-being and equality.