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May Her Likes Be MultipliedBiography and Gender Politics in Egypt$

Marilyn Booth

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780520224193

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520224193.001.0001

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May Our Daughters Listen: Readers, Writers, Teachers

May Our Daughters Listen: Readers, Writers, Teachers

(p.109) 4 May Our Daughters Listen: Readers, Writers, Teachers
May Her Likes Be Multiplied

Marilyn Booth

University of California Press

Abstract and Keywords

Constructing exemplarity and community, “Famous Women” biographies inscribed both precedents and potential lives for editors and readers, echoes of, or templates for, these women's unwritten autobiographies. Not that Arabic language autobiography was an unwritten genre. Pre-nineteenth-century men had tackled the writing of the self. As time went on—and with “Famous Women” ensconced in women's journals—Egyptian feminists wrote autobiographies, as did entertainers. Women's magazines—and biographies therein—assume and construct an active, female reader. This chapter unpacks discourse on girls' education as biography displayed it, in conjunction with the textual construction of the female reader. It then asks what biography said about gendered (and generation-specific) norms of public behavior as a symbolic field in which social, economic, and political agendas were contested—and which shaped polemics on education. The chapter explores how public politics as a sphere of female action and ambition shaped life narratives, whether biographies and other material in the women's press articulated a feminist politics, and the messages that the many lives of female rulers conveyed.

Keywords:   Famous Women, biographies, readers, autobiographies, women's magazines, education, public behavior, politics, female rulers

She is an excellent writer in whom it is our right to take pride—and to adorn Young Woman of the East with her portrait. No wonder, for she has distinguished herself by the noblest qualities and most exalted sensibility. To the loveliness of her attributes she has added the beauty of her hard work as she has exerted herself to acquire knowledge…. She spends her time serving humanity, sowing the seeds of learning and refinement in the Coptic Girls’ School of Asyut…. We ask God to reward her well and to multiply her likes among women so the East will advance. For no country ascends except by means of its women.

“Miss Victoria Tannous,” Young Woman of the East, 1912

How wondrous are concealed strengths when stirred by justice’s demand; and how much more wondrous that a woman alone would shoulder this, relying after God on herself and her unswerving courage…. Such was Madame Popp—or wretched, despised worker Adelheid … whose struggle [jihad] was crowned with success; who through resolute ambition acceded to a seat in the Municipal Council of Vienna. Shortly thereafter she won a seat in the Austrian parliament and is now a leading member, one of those whose voices are heard in every session offering apposite opinions, criticizing proposals, and executing projects!

Conceived in destitution, raised in surroundings of hardship, growing up in misery’s embrace, and coping with poverty, this woman reached such a high position, member of Parliament, through her own resolve, self-reliance, and fine patience … after suffering what many men of today would be incapable of bearing. How many have reached a state of despair.

She arrived after heroic struggle on life’s battlefield. She attacked difficulties head on and broached the chasm that separated a poor, feeble, female worker from … centers of influence and authority, such that she could dictate her will to the government…. So to my excellent female countrywomen I proffer these lines, this pure white page full of so many exemplary lessons and sermons from the life of a woman who strove and endured, not letting despair into her heart, until she attained the highest of positions.

(p.110) To every girl and woman I direct my words. Let those words be a guiding lamp…. Will keen ears and alert hearts heed them?

Hasīb al-Hakīm, “SN: Min al-kūkh ilā al-barlamān: Mādām Bawb,” Magazine of the Women’s Awakening, 1927

Constructing exemplarity and community “Famous Women” biographies inscribed both precedents and potential lives for editors and readers, echoes of, or templates for, these women’s unwritten autobiographies. Not that Arabic language autobiography was an unwritten genre. Pre-nineteenth-century men had tackled the writing of the self. Possibly one medieval woman did, too—the scholar cAɔisha al-Bācūniyya, a biographical subject in [oman in Islam (1901) and Young Woman of the East (1908). Zaynab Fawwāz and cAɔisha Taymūr had written autobiographically—if sparely—to explain their immersion in literature. As time went on—and with “Famous Women” ensconced in women’s journals—Egyptian feminists wrote autobiographies, as did entertainers.1 But writing the self openly for publication, like signing one’s name to a printed work, went against elite women’s training. “Famous Women” offered an indirect narrative of self that was more respectable, more veiled (if often quite transparent). Writers could urge readers to consider narratives for their own lives in an un-threatening manner as biography displaced personal destinations onto maps of others’ lives. As Carolyn Heilbrun observes, “Well into the twentieth century, it continued to be impossible for [Western] women to admit into their autobiographical narratives the claim of achievement, [or] the admission of ambition.”2 Writing and reading [thers’ lives were means to imagine “unacceptable” futures.

Situating these biographies in magazines edited by women, and then invoking female interlocutors who might benefit from imagining these lives, created a sort of women’s space and constructed an ideal female reader, paralleling the ideal of active womanhood that biographical subjects embodied. Fawwāz may not have envisioned a mostly female audience for her work; when she wrote, that audience was tiny. But women’s magazines—and biographies therein—assume and construct an active, female reader. In a “women’s press” much of which was authored by men, perhaps biographies of women enhanced the discursive construction of a sense of female community that, as we have seen, some magazines communicated. In any case, magazines and biographies therein assumed a shared context in which (p.111) reading holds the power to change the subject who reads. Textual construction of a readership, coupled with signals that one target audience for magazines was the schoolgirl population, shaped the narrative, implying biography as conduct literature. This built on a tactics of publicity: announcements of new magazines mention the presence of “Shahīrāt al-nisāɔ” columns and solicit biographies by readers, suggesting the genre’s popularity with audiences magazines constructed as desirable.3

Continuing to argue that female biography consistently proposed an exemplary message and that it held much internal variety, this chapter unpacks discourse on girls’ education as biography displayed it, in conjunction with the textual construction of the female reader. I then ask what biography said about gendered (and generation-specific) norms of public behavior as a symbolic field in which social, economic, and political agendas were contested—and which shaped polemics on education. For example, what did biography communicate about female dress as a socially and economically overdetermined arena of discipline and personal expression? Why was a key symbolic issue—whether or not women should veil—mostly absent in biography? Then, how was the issue of women’s paid employment constituted in women’s magazines and in biography? How did public politics as a sphere of female action and ambition shape life narratives? Did biographies and other material in the women’s press articulate a feminist politics? And what messages did the many lives of female rulers convey? For as biography acted out the themes and interests of magazines, it supported and challenged explicit agendas, posing them more ambiguously than did other texts in the same magazines.

The Girl who Reads: Education, Magazines, and Biography

Recall that Malak Hifnī Nāsif “was enamored from an early age with study and reading” and was admired by school authorities.4 An Egyptian of the next generation, Zakiyya cAbd al-Hamīd Sulaymān, daughter of a settled, landowning Bedouin, blazed through the school system, according to a 1926 biography. Her father, “though exemplifying the era into which he was born, absorbed into his being this age’s noblest inclinations, for he saw girls’ education as a religious duty precisely akin to educating boys.” As adults, Nāsif and Sulaymān wrote in the women’s press—the same press that featured them as biographical subjects and constructed their lives as exemplary in the educational paths they trod and in the work their educations led them to perform: educating other females and writing on their behalf. Zakiyya (p.112) was among the first Egyptian females sent on scholarship to England. She returned to a career in the Ministry of Education, setting up preschools, training teachers, and giving public lectures. “No music brought the happy news of her birth, yet her birth itself was the glad tidings of reform.”5 Perhaps Zakiyya, profiled in the Magazine of the Women’s Awakening, was the sort of reader editors envisioned. For these magazines targeted schoolgirls and female teachers as this population grew. That they invoked—and thereby helped to shape—an audience defined by schooling (whether as pupils, teachers, or parents) is itself a sign of how education for girls was expanding. Editors vied for the attention of this audience, and for Education Ministry money. “One reason we are ushering in our new year so cheerfully and with redoubled endeavor,” explained the Egyptian Woman’s Magazine in 1921, “is that our honorable Education Ministry and some provincial administrative councils have decided to subscribe to our magazine for girls’ schools under their aegis.” Both this journal and the Magazine of the Women’s Awakening made formal agreements with the ministry concerning distribution to government girls’ schools. And, thanking supporters in 1923, Young Woman of the East “single[d] out for mention the honorable Ministry of Education which has looked upon Young Woman of the East with sympathy and approval, putting it in the hands of women teachers and female pupils.” The cover of the April 1922 issue of Young Woman of Young Egypt—a magazine founded by and for female teachers, in which Zakiyya Sulaymān wrote—announced that the Education Ministry had decided to subscribe, presumably for its schools. Recapitulating the history of women’s magazines in Egypt, Amīna Rifcat praised Young Woman of Young Egypt (in which her history appeared!) by saying the Education Ministry had stipulated that all its girls’ schools subscribe because of thfe magazine’s emphasis on “moral/literary elevation and a high [level] of education.” A decade earlier, Young Woman of the East praised the governor of al-Gharbiya province, Muhammad Muhibb Pasha, as a paragon among men. After all, he had ordered seventy subscriptions of the magazine for schools in his province “because of the benefits for girls that he saw it to contain.” And a decade before that, members of the Egyptian royal family had shown support for new women’s magazines by buying subscriptions for girls’ schools.6 Such patronage—private or governmental, local or nationwide—suggests converging interests of magazine publishers and school funders in getting the magazines to schoolgirls and teachers. That articles directly address schoolgirls, and describe schoolgirls reading the magazines, implies specific consciousness of (p.113) these audiences (and the financial support they could bring). When Alexandria Avierino visited a girls’ school, a pupil, Bahiyya Farghall, delivered an oration in which she said, “We always read your magazine, as a guiding lamp, a model of excellence and success.”7

Paralleling the attention to a school audience, exhortations to exemplarity in biography often imply as reader the Fatāt, the adolescent girl or young unmarried woman presumably still in formation regarding her outlook, her akhlāq (that ubiquitous term encompassing moral attitude and conduct), and her ādāb (manners, refinement). Indeed, women’s magazines, girls’ schools, and biography were [extually linked. The “Sun of History” series in the Magazine of the Women’s Awakening, featuring Jeanne d’Arc, Zenobia of Palmyra, Catherine II of Russia, and Khawla bint al-Azwar, had been written as a course of history lectures for one of Cairo’s earliest government secondary girls’ schools. Textbooks produced for emerging girls’ schools, such as the popular reader and etiquette manual (a combination of import) the Book of Morals for Girls (1918) by Muhammad Rakhā and Muhammad Hamdī, included—observed Young Woman of the East—“small features on some women of East and West who became famous.”8 Muhammad Effendi Muhammad’s Adab al-bint (1915), explained the Gentle Sex, comprised not only “investigations into public morals … a girl’s duties after school, duties of the wife and mother, proper upbringing for children, moral training among the [ancient] Arabs, and disapproved-of customs in Egypt” but also “attributes of some women of the world and famous Arab women.”9 Exemplary biography was a familiar element in school and conduct books. Whether a schoolgirl or that emerging, problematic figure, the unmarried female graduate with the leisure middle-class life ideally included, the young female consumer of print found “Famous Women” everywhere.

The same issue of the Gentle Sex that praised Adab al-bint carried an article linking the felicitous life to books: “The person who despises books will not be happy, while the one who loves even a single useful tome cannot possibly have a life of utter wretchedness.”10 If magazines were interested in a schoolgirl audience, if they saw their own mission as educative, and if editing magazines went hand in hand not only with advertising conduct books for schoolgirls and how-to manuals for women but also with composing them,11 it is not surprising that editors emphasized the benefits of reading and offered guidelines for what to read. The Young Woman commented that when girls leave school, many of them want to maintain their habits of reading and learning but do not know how to proceed. They (p.114) read novels (romans) that only make them “fall where they wanted to ascend.” Reading is assumed as a means of self-improvement; reading solely for amusement is suspect.12 In The Sociable Companion, Labība Hāshim—one of the earliest Arab women to write and publish fiction—discussed the beneficial nature of novels: for they show the consequence of virtue and vice. She praised Niqūlā Haddād’s (1870–1954) new novel Kulluh nasīb (1901) for representing “the corrupt among women’s practices” while ascribing the problem to parental ignorance and poor teaching methods in schools. “Every Eastern woman must read the likes of this novel,” she asserted, warning that the language “is a bit strong and might wound the female reader, especially she who is ignorant, giving her an aversion to reading further.”13 In the essay “Reading” Hāshim begged girls to avoid complacency about having an elementary school education, to go on reading, “especially the secluded one, for she has no other means to broaden her understanding.”14 In her journal Hāshim gave advice on curriculum, urging school principals to use Yūsuf Sfayr’s new Taraqqī al-cāɔilāt fī tarbiyat al-banāt (The Elevation of Families through the Education of Girls, 1910?) to teach female pupils how to read.15 She praised Adele Jārīdīnī’s novel al-Fatāt al-sharqiyya (The Eastern Young Woman, 1909), pleading with girls to read it for benefit and encouraging women to write similar novels.16 But if novels were still suspect—obliging fiction writers to insist repeatedly on their utility—biography was not. Pleasurable to read, it was also useful, respectable, and indigenous.

As Hāshim and other editors urged girls to read, read, read, biographies offered role models of the reading subject. Like Nāsif’s, many biographies mention a love of reading. Marie Bashkirtseff (1860–84), a Russian painter and memoirist, “read Aristotle, Plato, Dante, and Shakespeare when not yet seventeen.”17 Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1837–1915), an English writer, read all she could find when young. Charlotte Corday shut herself in her room to read Rousseau and Plutarch. Manon Roland “grew up with a passion for books.”18 More detail might imply an approved reading program. “From an early age” Mary cAjamī

loved to read, starting with the illustrated publications that the American missionaries distributed, the novel Genevieve translated by Mīkhāɔīl Jahashān, the newspapers al-Manār, al-Mahabba, and Lisān al-Hāl, the magazines al-Muqtataf and al-Hilāl, and, when she had nothing else, her siblings’ schoolbooks, some of which she found difficult. To fathom them she resorted to dictionaries, as when she read On Natural Philosophy in English…. [H]er brother Iskandar was unable to explain some meanings so she relied on the dictionary, searching for (p.115) every word she didn’t know, spending whole days trying to comprehend certain points. After reading all [her siblings’] books—things she understood and things she did not, histories of the Romans, Egypt, and Syria, books by the Americans, [books on] the art of rhetoric and the science of logic, on literature, religion, and advanced subjects—her great desire to read motivated her to borrow Banī Hilāl tales and entertaining love stories. Then she was guided to the scholar Nucmān Qusātilī’s library. She read the pick of it and was lucky to find Farah Antūn’s al-Jāmica very beneficial to her. Worried about her health, often her family blocked her from going to extremes in her reading. She would flee to the roof with her book, exploiting the light of the new moon.19

Hasīb al-Hakīm, who wrote frequently for the Egyptian Woman’s Magazine from Europe, sent a poignant biography of Austrian labor activist Adel-heid Popp (1869–1939) addressed specifically and didactically to his countrywomen (this chapter’s epigraph). The narrative emphasized reading.

Little Adelheid worked at an age when girls like her played…. She began to love the company of books, … hardly finishing one before beginning another, so that her spirit was nourished with lofty ideas and the fruits of mature minds, and she began to look to the future…. The girl bore every possible misery and hardship in life with astounding patience and rare courage; she worked incessantly and hard, earning barely enough to live as a respectable, honorable, self-respecting young woman.

Later, “Our young woman’s situation improved and so she applied herself eagerly to reading valuable books in belles-lettres…. She came to prefer reading to eating.” As she developed an interest in workers’ rights, she began to read history.20

Early brilliance is emphasized in biographies of scholars such as Maria Agnesi and cAɔisha bt. Muhammad b. cAbd al-Hādī.21 Perhaps these paragons would encourage bright young female readers to pursue their own studies. Maybe, like Manon Roland, they would “learn a great lesson about people, their evils, tricks, and deceptions”; for when she read La Nou-velle Héloïse it was not the “corrupt morals portrayed therein” that “attached themselves to her mind.”22 Perhaps they would follow other role models, novelists celebrated through biography for writing “useful” novels that shaped estimable morals—cAlāɔilī and Alcott, Austen and Avierino.23 Perhaps to focus on academic achievement in the persona of the reading girl was a happy ending that challenged widespread critiques of the existing education system as producing only “finished” girls who played piano and spoke French.

(p.116) Reading in the Classroom

If asserting the utility of reading was key insisting on further expansion of formal education for girls was crucial. The daughters of a socioeconomic transition into a class structure that gave an emerging bourgeoisie dominance, these girls were the beneficiaries of nationalist leaders’ keen interest in expanding a school system constricted by British oversight.24 As Beth Baron explains, early women’s journals devoted much ink to the issue of education. She traces a shifting focus. Magazines had first to make the case for opening girls’ schools. Then they could investigate conditions and curricula in the two-tiered state system of traditional Qurɔān schools (kuttābs) and new elementary schools (for poor and/or rural girls and for middle-class urban girls, respectively), missionary schools, and private schools started by Egyptians. Girls’ education had surfaced as an issue simultaneously with modernizing discourse in Egypt, early in the nineteenth century. The existence of schools funded through private, often religiously oriented initiative and/or foreign aegis was one stimulus for demands that the Egyptian government found girls’ schools; the first was initiated by the khedive’s spouse in 1873.25 While some male reformers urged attention to girls’ schooling on the basis that it was more important than boys’ education—for it was girls who would educate the children—the number of schools grew slowly, in a context where the early nationalist press was complaining of the poor state of boys’ education under the British colonial regime.26 Meanwhile, a few girls attended Qurɔān schools and were educated at home. As Tucker notes, the problem was not lack of interest (among the elite), for in the 1890s demand exceeded supply. Support for the idea of educating girls grew rapidly at century’s end, says Baron, as documented in reports by British officials countering well-justified accusations in the local press that they sought to limit education for both sexes by restricting resources. Perhaps the nationalist press itself is a better source for gauging local opinion. In the 1890s it was urging readers to support girls’ education, through polemics on its benefits, reports on girls’ schools, and announcements of how and where to apply. Al-Muɔayyad reported the founding of a private school by one Maryam Ghabrīl, praising her for “serving the daughters of her nation well [or charitably]. What increases our pleasure is the success of this project in the shortest imaginable period of time, for many girls applied, all daughters of Fayyūm’s notables.”27

Thus, education for girls was already an issue when the earliest women’s magazines appeared. After a year of publishing al-Fatāt, Hind Nawfal contemplated the daughters of the middle and upper classes, worrying (p.117) about the futures of educated girls. “When a girl leaves school, we see her sitting still in her father’s home, looking like nothing so much as a sweet-scented flower.”28 Initiating a complaint that would become common in the women’s press—that upper-and middle-class girls were spending their leisure hours in either lethargy or questionable pursuits—this essay is interesting for its assumption, in 1894, that school already structured (elite urban) female adolescent life. The essay “The Education of Girls” (1898) in Avierino’s Sociable Companion also suggests what a well-established subject this already was: “We do not intend in this essay to speak about the necessity of girls studying, for many pens have articulated this.”29 Another writer in this magazine calls girls’ education (in 1899) “a subject exhausted by researchers, male and female.”30

But it was not “exhausted,” to judge by the women’s magazines. For along with a claim on schoolgirls as audience went a thematic focus on female education as the crux of debate on women’s status. Indeed, girls’ education as a crucial building block of the nation was a leitmotif throughout the women’s and nationalist press and through the entire period I study.31 From al-Fatāt to the magazines of the 1930s, biographies both supported and subverted explicit educational agendas of women’s magazines and were part of magazines’ mission to be “a little school for educated females in the schools.”32 Although by the 1930s more girls from an ever broader social spectrum were attending school, and had won the right to higher education, women’s magazines could not be complacent, for the content and extent of girls’ education remained contested. In 1934, a writer in the Egyptian Woman’s Magazine, agreeing that “educated” girls were a good thing, exclaimed: “But we don’t want her to learn how to sit on a chair, pen in hand, with a notebook, writing a letter of fiery desire or clutching a romantic novel. Rather, we want her to learn correct household management.”33

Exemplary Women and Educating Girls

A hilarious article by Zaynab Fawwāz in al-Fatāt sketches a dispute over exemplary women in the Qurɔān and the Prophet’s family as a site for satirical condemnation of women’s ignorance of their own heritage and the bases of their religion. Its didactic framework positions it as an argument for educating women on both religious and national grounds. Fawwāz sets the scene with an invocation that (given both her temperament and the ensuing narrative) rings sardonic: “We must thank God—mighty and glorious is He—for the men of our age who have granted us the right to build schools for educating girls, so that learned women have graduated from them.” Using the metaphor of the veil to characterize women’s ignorance, (p.118) the author then divulges: “One of the more bewildering sights I have witnessed is those women who know only what nature has taught them.” Visiting an acquaintance, she listens as her hostess expands on the theme of the young female’s inferiority and uselessness, for she “does nothing but eat and drink while the boy works and earns.” Fawwāz protests that if the girl gets an education she can work and earn as he does, whereupon her astonished interlocutor asks, “Are we Europeans such that we educate our girls like men?” This may be acceptable for Christians but certainly not for Muslims, she insists. Arguing from sacred history, Fawwāz attempts to persuade her otherwise: the wife Muhammad loved best was the most knowledgeable one. A funny argument erupts, replicating the gathered women’s speech patterns: was the name of the Prophet’s wife Amina (his mother) or Khadīja (not the wife Fawwāz implied)? The authority of “the effendi” (husband of one present) and a midwife is invoked. “Much dispute arose among them, and voices were raised…. The aforementioned effendi had entered a nearby room, and we learned of his arrival. I thanked the Lord who had brought him so he could solve this … philosophical disputation.” Admitting to uncertainty, the effendi thinks the Prophet’s mother was named Khadīja, whereupon his triumphant wife crows, “Did I not tell you it was Khadīja? Because the effendi knows; it was he who told me that reading is reprehensible for women. When we went to my daughter’s grave, my son Muhammad started reciting the Chapter of Mary but the effendi shushed him. ‘My son,’ he said, ‘do not read the Chapter of Mary in front of the women, because it is not proper for them to hear it.’” What, Fawwāz asked, did “Mary” contain that was so bad for women? “Well, she was a prophet, and she was ours, but the Christians took her and made her their prophet [nabiyya] so it is not right for us to hear her Chapter.” Comments Fawwāz: “When I heard this overwhelming piece of news I stood up and left, praising God who gives us release and has preferred us over so many of his creatures.”34

This dispute over exemplary women might signify that issues of knowledge and women’s sphere were related by women, in their everyday life, to competing models of exemplary womanhood. Or it might imply that knowing the canonically exemplary figures for Muslim women was so irrelevant to most lives that women did not know Amina from Khadīja from cAɔisha! Either way, it depicts a societal resistance to educating girls—and signals a discursive presence that textually constructed and then battled that resistance. Such a critique pervaded women’s magazines. When Labiba Hashim published a speech she had delivered in the Lebanon—“The Education of Girls”—she was reiterating an edgy criticism of men who complained (p.119) that knowledge harms women. The worst harm, she said, was defective knowledge. As an example she criticized “the Lebanese” forjudging people according to religious identity rather than “principles and acts,” concluding that “our girls must learn their duty to God and homeland.”35 Those opposing female education stood in the way of national progress, traitors to the nation above which hovered the specter of religious division. Taking a different tack in his “Word to the Ladies,” Muhammad Munīr defined “the nation’s weapon” as “the training of its young,” an absent army as long as women remained uneducated. Corralling the argument from history, invoking the keyword tamaddun as a process of instituting modernity that recuperated ancient Egyptian history, Munīr declared,

We Egyptians have known the value of woman … we knew the benefit of educating, training, and taking interest in her, after [the period of] tyranny, of stripping away her rights. We are at the start of a new civilizing process…. History relates to us the courage of women, such that [male] readers judge them favorably against many men. And you, O Egypt, cradle of ancient civilization whose traces still draw wonder in our civilized world; is not your soil suited now to yielding women famous for courage and bold initiative in the nation’s benefit, like Cleopatra who sat on dominion’s throne, who made kings and caesars dizzy?

Egypt needs training for its daughters; it needs proper upbringing for them because in their hands will be the men of the future.36

A curious context for Cleopatra as exemplar! Yet her (ambiguous) local-ness made her useful when “nation,” invoked as supreme justification for girls’ schooling, trumped other variables.

West, East, and Education

As essays looked to the West, asserting links between “progress,” national strength, and female education, biographies of Western women depicted achievements gained through girls’ education. Yet a more familiar past also offered precedents. As we have seen, to establish Muslim and/or Arab “grandmothers” as exemplary for modern girls eased editors’ mission of persuasion. Writers elicited unchallengeable precedents for educating girls from Islam’s history, as in a 1901 profile of Sayyida Nafīsa (A.H. 145/762 C.E.-A.H. 208/823 C.E.), descendant of the Prophet, transmitter of religious knowledge, devout ascetic: “A woman who reached this pinnacle of piety and was so learned that Imām Shāficī came to her to hear Hadith deserves to have her name inscribed in history. She is a lesson to those who heed lessons, an example that proves to those Egyptians who remain naive that (p.120) seeking knowledge is everyone’s duty, in which it is possible for women and men to be equal.” If knowledge was “duty,” surely it must be pursued?37 Of course, such a biography lent support to the Islamic modernist position that “Islam” in itself did not preclude “modern” pursuits such as the education of girls. Nafīsa could sanctify nationalists’ insistence that the nation would need knowledgeable women. At the same time, she represented the modest Muslim woman whose knowledge was transmitted from home. As Badran notes, writers sought justification for educating girls in the Islamic and pharaonic pasts,38 paralleling a tactic utilized in biography. This was not a neat divide according to the editor’s ethnicity or religion. Fawwāz’s attack on women’s isolation from knowledge of even the “Mothers of the Believers” appeared in Nawfal’s al-Fatāt, edited by a Syrian Christian.

Reminding readers of multiple precedents for the refined Arab female, biographies celebrated the greater opportunities open to contemporary girls, often through acerbic comparison to the past, recent or remote, geographically close or far. To ridicule narratives of opposition was to lay a rhetorical scaffolding for tales of impeccable achievement and “success.” Futile it was, implied biography, to oppose the movement for girls’ education. Both West and East offered biographical opportunities to contrast present and past. Recall the 1923 sketch of charity worker Rujīna Khayyāt that called her “one of the first Egyptian women to be educated, at a time when that was considered a defect in a female.”39 If Florence Nightingale lived now, commented a 1934 biography, she could have studied nursing, but in England then, it was considered a shameful pursuit for middle-class women.40 Telling the life of physician and medical school administrator Louisa Aldrich Blake (1865–1925) yields an opportunity to contrast the vast difference in numbers of female medical students in England “then” and “now.”41 And Lucy Stone’s “father was wealthy enough to send her to school as he did her brothers had he wanted; but in those days, academic knowledge was not permissible for girls. Rather, it was one of those blessings only boys were given.”42 Hudā Shacrāwī’s recollection in her memoirs of her frustration at being denied an education because she was female echoes repeatedly through these biographies.43 A more subtle contrast structures a “local” history: cAɔisha bt. Abī Bakr “did not receive any of the fundaments of education [usūl al-tarbiya wa-al-taclīm] from which women in this age draw benefit, but she had that practical training that was widespread in the homes of the nobles from among the Bedouins in Islam’s earliest times: training in good morals and virtues.”44

(p.121) Biography offered encouragement when enthusiasm for girls’ education seemed at an ebb, too—for the women’s press elucidates an uneven history of achievement and expectation. An essay by Romantic poet and polymath Ahmad Zakī Abū Shādī (1892–1955) in Young Woman of the East (1909) commented that parents who had rushed to place daughters in school had then pulled them out and into seclusion, disappointedly assuming that the unsatisfactory education they saw their girl children obtaining was the education reformers had envisioned. Perhaps the “awakening” had not come to a full stop, said Abū Shādī, but very few persevered in pursuing its aims. Like others, he based his argument for strengthening curriculum rather than withdrawing girls from school on what he described as the full public role of pre-Islamic Arab women.45 Biographies in these early volumes of Young Woman of the East support and sustain the points Abū Shādī and others make about precedents for girls’ education and its potential. Maryam Makāriyūs, Sabīha, cAɔisha al-Bācūniyya, Mariyānā Marrāsh, Maryam bt. Abī Yacqūb al-Ansārī, Shuhda bt. Abī Nasr, Malak Hifnī Nāsif, Maryam Nahhās, Fatma Aliye, Zaynab Fawwāz, Admā Sursuq, Nūr Jahān: appearing in Young Woman of the East’s first thirteen years, life narratives of them all accented learning as crucial to these Arab and/or Muslim women’s fitness as adults who taught, raised, materially supported, or ruled others. Meanwhile, biographies of early and medieval Muslim women—like Asmāɔ al-cAmiriyya, “one of Andalus’s literary women”—imply links between their learnedness in language and the arts of literature and oratory, and their ability to influence the community. And as the consistent presence of premodern Arab poets and Hadith transmitters among the “Famous Women” implied learning’s significance, it allowed biography to pose the question of how girls should be educated by offering a comparative modality of critique. A sketch of al-Khansāɔ in the Ladies’ and Girls’ Revue contrasted the erudition of ancient Arab women with contemporary experience: “Today they enter a girl in school and spend several years educating her until she can read … or write three words, two of which are wrong.”46

At the same time, biographies of Western women counteracted negative portraits of “the educated European woman” that editors, and writers such as Abū Shādī, sketched.47 As writers made an equation between education, freedom, and license, biographies offered a counterdiscourse that equated education and responsibility. Maria Mitchell, Christine de Pizan, French journalist “Sévèrine,” Louisa Proctor, Queen Victoria: all exemplified educated women of seriousness, probity, and intellectual achievement—even if they were of the West.

(p.122) Agendas in Tension

Tension within a single publication venue between essays that placed limits on the consumption of education and biographies that threatened to explode those limits emerges early and starkly in The Sociable Companion. Men writing in Avierino’s first volume instructed her to make the magazine “an instrument of education,” to constantly demand more girls’ schools from the government, and to get her colleagues in other magazines to write on this topic;48 but they also cautioned against unregulated education for girls. “A woman adorned with knowledge” is certainly preferable to an ignorant one, said Ahmad Muharram. But her knowledge must be “limited and specific,” not exceeding necessity, nothing that would “distance her from her true and specified place … for she was not created to reveal the obscurities of the sciences … or to be a philosopher…. Take the hand of our women, found schools of knowledge and training so that woman will be strengthened to manage her household, to organize it and to raise her children properly.”49 This was no departure from the editor’s rhetoric, to judge by her own response to the question of learning’s impact on “women’s selves.” Finding Muharram’s warning about limits “on the right track,”50 Avierino linked “increasing drunkenness among women in England” to the spread of “unlimited knowledge.” Labeling this an urban problem, she explained a lower incidence of “corruption” and “female licentiousness” in the countryside: in villages and on farms, “girls learn only reading, writing, and a bit of knowledge [sufficient] to push away the harms of ignorance,” whereas cities harbored “many girls’ schools and they were permitted to learn as much as they wanted.” She would be the last to oppose female education, but it must not be “knowledge linked to a craft or profession, that is, engineering, medicine, law or clerking.”

Yet her stance seems challenged by collective “Famous Women” biographies in The Sociable Companion. These portrayals focus on female educators of females, thereby skirting the issue of mixing with the other sex and foregrounding the most accepted profession for Arab females. Yet they do not paint a canvas of strictly limited “knowledge for women.”51 For even as the journal’s polemics privilege restrictions that “ought” to govern the education of “Eastern” girls, a biographical series lauding European women’s contributions to teaching other females cannot help but highlight their own intellectual achievements. Furthermore, the notion that one educates both as teacher and as exemplar of the erudite woman emerges in Avierino’s presentation of biography as didactic medium. Offering portraits of her subjects positioned over their biographies, Avierino couples the role-model motif with a stress on learning: “Perhaps the effect of gazing (p.123) at the portraits will occasion interest in acquiring knowledge, and seriousness in imitation, for often human beings are influenced only by means of the senses”52 This observation (perhaps motivated also by defensiveness about publishing women’s portraits) precedes depiction of other sorts of “influences.” If readers think gains in female education are limited to “one or two countries,” they should look to Finland, where Mieke Freyburg, “known since adolescence for her firm will and great desire to learn, … put her all into serving knowledge and elevating her nation, through teaching and founding a women’s newspaper to work on women’s liberation and other things…. Her great hope is to be Inspector of Elementary Education.”53 One month earlier the series featured German scholars who taught young women and profiled Alice Luce, professor at Smith and Wellesley, and Alice Freeman Palmer (1855–1902), who at Wellesley had “dedicated herself to serving young women. Her work was esteemed so highly … she was appointed Head.” Asks the editor: “When, I wonder, will we see among us the likes of these women? It is a dream difficult to realize in this time of ours. Who knows if it will be achieved in the time of our children or grandchildren?”54 Had local girls followed the restrictive warnings of Avierino’s journals—restrictions to which she certainly did not adhere in her own life—that dream would indeed have been “difficult to realize.”

A few years later The Gentle Sex was more forthright as it employed the argument from “Famous Women” to argue for an education (taclīm) that would make women “equal to” men. Answering a query posed by a Miss J. Girgis on whether women “have the right to equality with men in society,” the magazine calls it a much-asked question; “one of the basic aims of our magazine is to establish this right.” Noting American women’s political demands, the magazine declared,

Whoever has studied history knows women’s excellence and ability to match men in men’s affairs since times remote…. Let us mention some famous women such as Madame de Sévigné, … Madame de Staël who astonished scholars of her age, … Hypatia, … and some who ruled and performed their duties perfectly, like Zenobia of Palmyra and other rulers like Victoria queen of the English. With this, no one can deny that learning makes women equal to men.55

As biography weighed in on one of the time’s hottest topics—whether, why, how, and which girls should be educated—it reiterated dominant themes in the magazines, emphasizing the importance of education to personal happiness, family viability, and national strength—but not necessarily in that order. In the third issue of The Young Woman, an open letter on (p.124) “Knowledge and Work” inscribed to a community of female readers had urged young women to pursue education first because knowledge “gives honor to the society” and then because a girl without knowledge lives without tasting “the pleasure of life.” Acknowledging personal happiness as an impetus to and consequence of education, it yoked girls’ schooling to national progress: success, progress, and advancement depend on “women’s high-minded ambitions and resolutions, and where there is knowledge there is desire to act.” Education must be used, insisted the magazine. In the next issue, the biography of Theresa of Bavaria enacted the same argument. From an early age she devoted herself to reading and learning, and then to writing, “so that her knowledge would be paired with labor.”56 Biography constructed girls’ education as harnessed to the public good. Yet the individualist temper of the genre and the positive tenor of these texts—the teleological notion of a life culminating in “success,” however that was to be defined—might mute the trope of personal sacrifice in favor of personal ambition.

Men’s Roles

Concluding her portrayal of the women’s argument over Khadīja’s identity, Fawwāz voiced a motif that would be dominant throughout the women’s press as she turned from censuring the female audience within the text to addressing a male audience beyond:

So contemplate, men of the East, how neglect leads to ruin. How can you hope for your children’s success and your souls’ repose as you, or some of you, toss on the mat of naivete and ignorance? … Between them, three of those women have twelve daughters. The woman of the house … has four, her sister-in-law who swore by the midwife, three, and her daughter, five. If from one household twelve girls go out and populate twelve homes on a foundation of ignorance—well, let those of intelligence take note.

Fawwāz sent this article to al-Nīl, where many of her essays appeared, “so the generality of folk might read my essay and see the necessity of educating girls.”57

As writers urged men to found girls’ schools and to send their daughters to learn, in biography parents—and especially that popular figure, the supportive liberal dad—received praise for encouraging daughters’ education.58 As writers attacked men for keeping daughters home, biographical fathers foster the desires of intellectually inclined daughters, often against material constraints and social expectations (if they do not die in a daughter’s (p.125) childhood, becoming absences that motivate—and justify—female employment). Jane Austen’s (1775–1817) father, “despite his straitened circumstances, concerned himself with giving her an education not customary for eighteenth-century folk.”59 As de Pizan exemplifies education’s impact, her life history traces the educating father who makes a difference:

She grew up in the fourteenth century, that is, in the age of ignorance and decadence, when woman was a domesticated animal, abased and submissive, driven like sheep…. Indeed, perhaps sheep had higher status and more importance in men’s eyes. But fortune served the subject. Her father … important at the French court, prepared for her education and gave her useful books…. She acquired knowledge that opened her eyes to the humiliating servitude that was women’s lot. Grieved, she applied herself to learn more and practice writing … to push tyranny away from woman and lift her from this ignorance.60

Mariyānā Marrāsh’s mother, wrote cIsā al-Maclūf, was from the famous al-Antākī family, “possessed of excellence and letters—in an age in which Eastern women received no education due to the dearth of girls’ schools and the public’s belief that it was not fitting to educate a girl, ‘so she would not sit in the men’s reception room,’ [they said].” But her father, Fath allāh, with his “passion for knowledge,” put his five-year-old daughter in the Maronite school, having taught her “the basics” at home.61 A joint biography of the Lebanese sisters and writers Anīsa and cAfīfa Shartūnī, who died suddenly and young (1883–1906, 1886–1906), stresses that when their father saw his daughters’ bent for writing he encouraged them and read poetry to them often.62 “Elizabeth bint Daniel Cady” Stanton’s (1815–1902) father “concerned himself with her tarbiya” and entered her in school, where she excelled.63 Suzanne Necker got the basics of knowledge from her clergyman-father. Betsy Taqlā’s (1869–1924) father “lost sleep over her upbringing and that of her siblings to an extent proverbial to this day.”64 Two biographies of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–61) single out her father. In the Egyptian Woman’s Magazine he is unsup-portive, which mirrors negative polemics in that magazine on men’s lack of support for female education.65 In The Gentle Sex, though, he “assumed her education and upbringing himself” when she distinguished herself from other daughters of the elite intellectually. In him “she saw the youthful friend in her amusements, the schoolteacher in her training, and the merciful father” who, “pleased and proud,” paid to print her first narrative poem.66 In another case, elder brother stands in for the benevolent patriarch. Salmā Qusātilī’s brother (whose library Mary cAjamī devoured) “propagated in her the spirit of the nahda, especially after he published his (p.126) novel Anīs wa-Anīsa on that subject. She used to declare and believe, ‘Woman can keep up with man in every sort of deed.’”67 When Warda al-Yāziji “reached the age of twelve and showed signs of intelligence and a longing for knowledge, her father began to train her in grammar until she excelled. Then he tutored her in the sciences of poetic meter and rhyme, and began to read his poems to her until she developed a desire to write poetry. She showed facility, which intensified his admiration and desire to prepare her for poetic composition.”68 This picture, which might encourage a father (not to mention a daughter), contrasts with Warda al-Yāzijī’s own memories at eighty, comforted by seeing today’s “girls of my kind” in a far better state than her own generation. She recalls her father’s refusal when a school head inquired if she would teach. The patriarch (an “enlightened” leader of the early literary nahda) refused on the basis that it was not fitting that a girl leave her father’s house to work. Poetry was one thing; working outside the home for pay, another. And “none of the men,” al-Yāzijī went on, worked to get his daughters educated. “The females who read in those days were fewer than few.”69 Perhaps, then, the educating father was more an ideal to urge than a historical reality, but biography made the ideal discursively real by setting it into women’s lives, as it reiterated magazines’ insistence on the importance of the supportive father.

And times were changing, as al-Yāzijī’s reference to the past hinted. Another Arab poet to benefit from a concerned father was Egyptian Amīna Najīb (1887–1917), dead at the age of thirty and mourned in the “Famous Women” column of Young Woman of the East. Here, though, if the biography called attention to her education at home by her father, the “finest” (male) teachers, and her brother, it also mentioned her mother as a formative educative influence. Amīna “grew up loving literature; she inherited its spirit from her father and mother together.”70 It is both parents, together, who give the child her first education, insisted women’s magazines; a few biographies supplied illustrations. The biography of Manon Roland in The Egyptian Woman’s Magazine stresses parental responsibility for education by contrasting her “strong” childhood education with what might have been expected from her environment and intimating education’s importance by constructing an adulthood of exemplary conduct and courage. Roland knew hardship “of a sort in which children’s upbringing can rarely be good…. Yet the young girl had a fine upbringing and broad education, due to the care and concern of these parents, for they knew the value of training, understood education’s import, and undertook that which the obligations of motherhood and fatherhood demand.” The result was exemplary: “She did not go along with her dreams and fancies but believed only (p.127) what she knew to be right, and where truth resides. This is rare—as rare as the likelihood that her peers would occupy themselves in serving the home with skill and understanding, learning and study. And she perused the biographies of the great.”71

Mothers and Education

“Occupying themselves in serving the home with skill and understanding”: the “Famous Woman’s” mother as educator—and the “Famous Woman” as mother-educator—are ubiquitous yet elusive, more complex figures than the ideal supportive father. The coupling of mothers of “Famous Women” and education is signaled more by elision than by declaration; the educative role of the mother who is herself a “Famous Woman” surfaces overwhelmingly in her domestic role, as we shall see in the next chapter. This gap between the “Famous Woman” as product of her father and the “Famous Woman” as educating mother articulates a long historical moment. “Famous Women” were (with some exceptions) not their mothers. A new education for girls would produce a different female generation, one that would educate daughters, one where educated/educating mothers were not exceptional. The exceptional educated mother who did produce a “Famous Woman” proved the point through her (at least discursive) rarity. In biography the absence of an educated mother keen on her daughter’s education emerges through the emphasis on fathers and more explicitly. Although when Young Woman of the East featured Germaine de Staël-Holstein (1766–1817) it had recently published a life of her mother, Suzanne Necker, in its biography of de Staël it barely mentioned Necker (hardly an “ignorant mother”). It singled out her father as the source of her interest in politics.72

In contrast, singling out the mother as educated educator of her daughter enacts the importance of this educational agenda. As a young woman, Hannā Kūrānī was “safeguarded by the ropes of educated refinement, as happens with the daughters of educated, trained mothers.”73 Maryam Makāriyūs, having benefited from a mother who, although widowed, was determined to educate all her children, raised her own three children herself “and was determined to educate them.”74 A profile of Princess Juliana of Holland, heir to the throne, focuses first on her mother, Queen Wilhelmina, careful and serious educator. The biography hints at an agenda; it was not only the queen’s “precise observations on issues of upbringing and training” that led her to engage “the best professors to teach her daughter, to broaden her mind, and strengthen her emotions”; it was also “the blows (p.128) of punishment by isolation” that Wilhelmina had experienced as a child. Thus, for Juliana she sought a more socially satisfying and instructive upbringing.75

More often it is the “Famous Woman” herself rather than her mother who is the educated educator. Olga de Lébédef (b. 1853), Russian traveler, scholar, and charity patron, “took her daughters along on every trip to instill in them a love of study and increase their knowledge.”76 But de Lébédef’s case is unusual: when it is her own children that a “Famous Woman” educates, most often the emphasis is on sons, the “nationalists of the next generation,” consonant with the concerns of the male-run nationalist press. When it is the children of other women whose education she supervises, she is lauded for educating girls. Women did not teach in boys’ schools in Egypt, but historical reality seems more than convenient to the polemical focus of the magazines.


For if mothers educate sons, teachers educate the mothers of those sons, producing a genealogy played out in biography. If girls’ education was to expand, and especially if it was to be a national (and nationalizing) education, one dependent neither on British administrators nor on European missionaries, a local cadre of female teachers was crucial. It was not accidental that teaching was one of the earliest professions to become acceptable for Arab women. And from the 1920s on, schoolteachers themselves protested the presence of foreign women as school supervisors, to the dismay of some Education Ministry bureaucrats.77 Feminists (among others) who wanted to see women in the professions could draw on nationalist arguments to support their call. At the same time, in this period female teachers in Egypt had to be unmarried. Thus, conveniently, one could champion teaching as a career without broaching the sensitive subject of how a married woman was to divide herself between home and profession. Those who were educating a new generation of girls became subjects of celebratory biography, reprising other material in the press that urged young women to consider teaching careers. An article on “Eastern women’s” advancement in Young Woman of the East singled out women teachers for praise and warned readers that “those who have attained a share of knowledge are duty-bound to use it, to benefit homeland and nation … and not to leave it locked up in their brains … for this is equivalent to the wealthy but miserly person who does not give to the poor.” Knowledge as possession is akin to the religious duty of alms: it must be (p.129) proffered for the general good. Invoking a local and female audience, the author claimed that

we women have not served our society in any way worth mentioning to this day; the manifestation of Western civilization we have acquired is mere imitation derived from proximity, from mixing with the Europeans…. Among us only a few deserve respect and praise: the refined female educators who expend the bloom of their youth within school walls, spending life’s springtime to benefit their sisters…. The great majority of educated women stay aloof from all beneficial work…. Perhaps the remnants of ignorance recite to them verses of disdain for work and women who do it…. Sisters, let us become active … that we may follow the footsteps of those fine Arab women who preceded us and simultaneously walk the path of serious initiative that our female peers in the West tread.78

Such a call worked in tandem with biographies of missionary teachers in the Arab world. The ultimate goal was their replacement, but their efforts were important to this aim. Significantly, it was magazines run by Christian, especially Syrian, women, that featured missionary teachers, for many of the Syrian Christian writers, and Copts too, had been educated in missionary schools and were less sensitive about such schools’ continuing presence in the Arab world. So Louisa Proctor could exemplify the properly educated girl who becomes the properly educating woman. “Brought up in the concerned care of her parents on honorable principles, she grew up showing piety and virtue. She did not arrogantly disregard this blessing or use it for the airs of youth, freeing herself for places of amusement or letting an inclination for whims and passions guide her as they did her female contemporaries.” As a teacher, she was “characterized by great cleanliness, methodicalness, and perfection”; she was “strong of memory” and widely knowledgeable, competent in “all remaining types of female work.”79 The “Famous Woman” as teacher accomplished two representational functions. She supported the agenda of the girls’ education movement, and she offered a respectable example of the career woman, for the task of educating girls could be presented as extended motherhood. When the late Jessie Hogue was praised for educating girls in Asyut’s secondary school to become “excellent ladies,” the products of her labor were categorized typically: “From beneath her hand were graduated refined mothers.”80 These biographies show how missionaries’ agendas could converge partially with local nationalist agendas: not an agenda of conversion, naturally, but one of producing trained mothers, the new domestic woman. The modernity of this agenda sounds clearly through biographies that echoed (p.130) the coupling of al-tarbiya wa-al-taclīm found in the press. In the early 1890s, Fawwāz showed awareness of modern rhetoric around early childhood training when she used this diction. De Staël’s “mother assumed her education [taclīmahā] but was ignorant of the requisites of a guided upbringing [tarbiya], [such as] observing children’s state to discern their moods, inclinations, and the direction of their emotions. For she was stern and hard on her daughter in educating her; severity was her habitual practice in childrearing and discipline.”81

If polemics on teaching in the women’s press echoed a hegemonic male nationalist agenda, naming the female teacher as educator of the next generation of mothers of sons, subjects of biography did not remain neatly within a domesticized articulation of female education. Role models through narration of their own struggles to become educated and their work with the next generation, they also emerge often as scholars and professionals for whom domestic life was clearly secondary (recall The Sociable Companion’s series). And this was not just in the West. Salmā Qusātilī not only produced “many girl graduates” in Damascus; having had an early “inclination to reading and self-reliance,” she also translated and wrote essays for the Alexandria periodical al-Rāwī. For al-Latāɔif she wrote on female education in Damascus, referring to manuscripts on medieval education and documenting the history of existing girls’ schools, in one of which she taught before moving to Egypt to practice as a gynecologist. Thus did she “stand on her own two feet to serve literature and the girls of her kind in Egypt.” The Egyptian Woman’s Magazine’s 1927 biography of Maria Mitchell praised the West because there women were “numerous” in the sciences and “compete with men.”82 Anna Letitia Aiken Barbauld (1743–1825) and her husband opened a school that grew famous “for Mrs. Barbauld’s literary fame and persistence in work.”83 Barbauld was an intellectual raised in Dissenting circles in England, a respected writer on civil rights issues and literary critic, before she was a boarding-school proprietor.84 Yet it is her pedagogy that this biography highlights: her school texts, it says, were among her most valuable writings.

Mitchell and Barbauld fit the agenda, but—pace Avierino—it was important to find local exemplars in history, a biographical constant we have already seen in unpacking the rhetoric of exemplarity. Scholar Zaynab bt. Muhammad b. cUthmān b. cAbd al-Rahman al-Dimashqiyya (A.H. 685/1286 C.E.-A.H. 799/1396 C.E.), a teacher “with more than fifty pupils” in her circle, provides a pretext to mention other premodern precedents: “Many like her from among the women of the Arabs worked in teaching.” Fawwāz, in contrast, had privileged al-Dimashqiyya’s exceptionality: “No woman like (p.131) her has been heard of, who instituted a teaching circle in which gathered students the like [or extent] of hers.”85 With the need for precedents in mind, the debate over girls’ education infused the life narrative of another premodern subject when Young Woman of the East profiled a medieval scholar growing up “in the embrace of learning and literature.” Khadīja bt. cAlī bt. cUmar b. Abī Hasan al-Ansārī (A.H. 788 modern/1386 C.E.-A.H. 873/1468 C.E.) “wrote women’s epistles in which she urged the girls of her kind to read and keep pace with men in their knowledge, thereby attaining high status among scholars of her age and litterateurs of her time.” This echoes nothing so much as the status of Labība Hāshim and her colleagues, women lauded by liberal male intellectuals of their time for urging other women to pursue education.86

A few biographies of premodern subjects incorporate the diction as well as the themes of contemporary writing on early childhood education. Pre-Islamic Arab poet Fātima bt. Ahjam, characterized not by a lengthy paternal nasab but only by that of her immediate family, mother as well as father, “grew up between them with the finest tarbiya and on the firmest of bases.”87 A later biography of Fātima is equally attuned to timely themes: “Her father concerned himself with her acquisition of culture and knowledge [tathqīfihā wa-taclīmihā]. Thus she united adab and cilm.”88 This emphasis shapes a life of the poet and muhadditha Fātima bt. Jamāl al-Dīn Sulaymān (A.H. 620/1223 C.E.-A.H. 708/1308 C.E.), who “acquired knowledge and Hadith from her father.”89 Of Fayrūz bt. cAlāɔ al-Dīn, famous for sound judgment, intelligence, breadth of knowledge, and refined manners, we learn that her father, the Sultan of Delhi, “took pride in her and trained his sympathies and affection on her to the exclusion of the rest of the family.”90

Paying for it all

Not only teachers but also founders and funders of girls’ education feature as “Famous Women,” hardly surprising when nationalists were urging private initiatives in education to compensate for government stinginess, and feminists like Nabawiyya Mūsā were starting girls’ schools. Charitable contributors to and founders of girls’ schools were among the most popular “Famous Women”; when this was but one of many activities in a life, it often received disproportionate emphasis. Of all the doings of Catherine II of Russia, it was her establishment of girls’ schools that received most attention in a 1911 sketch; other biographies also highlighted her support for girls’ education.91 Fātima Haydar Fādil, a princess of the Egyptian-Turkish royal family, was “the democratic Egyptian princess” for her active interest (p.132) in education and support for poor girls, in a profile that took her efforts as a tangible sign of “women’s awakening.”92 “Mrs. Frank Leslie” not only employed many women in her late husband’s business, but “when she saw that there exist many women with vigorous minds who have no means to show their strengths, she opened a school which she put in the hands of learned and energetic women.”93 Affordability was an issue. Leslie and others are praised for starting schools for poor girls, a concern evident also when biographies feature girls and parents struggling to pay for education.94

And on more than one plane, education was a struggle. Biography illustrated the frustrations of those who wrote in support of girls’ education. The Ladies’ and Girls’ Revue had accentuated the unwillingness of Lucy Stone’s father to educate her, and her own determined (and successful) efforts to acquire learning. A sketch of Indian nationalist leader and poet Sarujini Naidu lauded her determination despite difficulties to get an education in England.95 Over and over, biographies of scholars and writers pointedly described the process of gaining knowledge as a struggle, not only for Arab or Indian women but also for other Mediterranean, and European, women, from Hypatia to Maria Agnesi to Marie Curie. This was one way to attack lack of support, material or familial, for female education. In Chapter 3 we saw Jurjī Bāz offer Maryam Jahashān as a model for young women. But what was the content of her exemplarity? She had a “natural disposition” toward the public good, specifically to “serve the girls of her kind.” She also had a religious vocation. When her prominent Beirut family tried to dissuade her from joining a convent, her resolve was such that she fled secretly to another convent. Located by her “family with government help,” she was persuaded to return to Beirut when the family promised her freedom to pursue charity work. Torn between religious and social vocations, she began a career in girls’ education among the Greek Orthodox, her coreligionists, “in greater need than daughters of other communities.” She taught; she ran a school; she founded an organization to educate orphan girls. “It is enough,” concludes Bāz, “that she accustomed women to supporting education at a time when men were stingy with their aid.”96

Unfulfilled or postponed dreams shape life stories, too. Narrating Mary cAjamī’s early life, the same author ended: “She retains a longing of which she has often dreamed, waiting for the right chance. But her father died, the war broke out, and one obstacle after another barred her. She hoped to go to one of Europe’s or America’s institutes of higher education to expand her knowledge and skills, no matter what age she had reached.”97 In a near-identical text appearing almost simultaneously in the Egyptian Woman’s Magazine, (p.133) an added section on her parents describes (unusually) Mary’s mother: “She married illiterate. After all her children arrived she learned to read and began to study the Bible.”98 Indignation, hope, and struggle indexed choices for which young readers and their mothers might strive, indices that reflected and intervened in a wide-ranging discourse on gendered experience. It began with girls’ access to learning, which women as parents, teachers, editors, writers, and translators sought a part in shaping.


Biography not only celebrated girls’ desires to learn and their struggles for knowledge and degrees but also, echoing other writing in women’s magazines, implied specific curricular choices. If magazines were “little schools,” teaching everything from comportment to child raising to what one could properly read to the status of women in the Qurɔān, they discussed what “bigger” schools should be teaching. Early magazines—the Ladies’ and Girls’ Revue, The Young Woman, and the Sociable Companion—made the equation between national strength, family vitality, and educated mothers. The next generation took up specific pedagogical goals and curriculum.

The most sustained example of increasing specialization and a shift from arguing for female education to a focus on pedagogy and curriculum is the content—indeed, the genesis—of Young Woman of Young Egypt. Like earlier magazines, it urged attention to the home as the “first school,” insisting that parents needed to know child psychology and acting as a normal school for mothers. Educator Zakiyya Sulaymān’s first essay for the magazine dwelled on “domestic felicity,” offering practical suggestions to the educating mother: treat your male and female children equally, participate in their studies, discuss with them their observations and games, read to them for half an hour every night at bedtime. Founded as the mouthpiece for a female teachers’ organization, though, the journal articulated women’s changing employment situation and growing confidence as it addressed the needs and interests of professional schoolteachers. Sulaymān’s next essay was on “the history of the science of pedagogy,” and she defended the methods of Froebel while comparing them to the Montessori system.99 In the first few issues alone, female educators filled a column called “Outlooks on Teaching,” writing on teaching geography, the importance of language instruction and learning through play, and techniques for teaching natural history.100 The magazine instructed on “Home Management” too. If it implied a female continuum between mothering and teaching, it addressed “the working woman’s misery” (in Europe more (p.134) than in Egypt).101 “Famous Women” in the first two years of Young Woman of Young Egypt are few but speak to the journal’s interests, although the absence of professional teachers is striking: Lady Astor as mother and politician, Jeanne d’Arc as self-sacrificing nationalist, Marie Curie as prize recipient, “Russia’s former empress as wife and mother.”

Elsewhere, biography becomes a platform for an educational agenda, indeed, for discussing the very terms that ground ongoing debate over education. Writing in the Magazine of the Women’s Awakening, cAbd al-Halīm Sālim of Alexandria offers a biography of Louisa Campan (1752–1822), but three out of its five pages constitute a discourse on al-tarbiya wa-al-taclīm.

We want to convey to the Awakening’s female and male readers something of the history of women’s education, its variety of methods, and the life stories of famous educators in France. We desperately need to become acquainted with the science of female education, its expansion, and how to establish principles for a sound Egyptian training for girls…. The present women’s movement will not advance unless the methods adopted for educating girls change.

That the writer goes on to specify those principles as necessarily suitable for “the Egyptian Muslim spirit and customs” is in line with this magazine’s focus. That he takes France as a model is in tension with other articles in the magazine that reject European models.

The author defines education as “encouragement to follow a model”; no wonder he chooses biography as his medium. The good (and female) raiser of children “impels her children to imitate” good comportment. Maternal competence means making the qudwa concrete, for her tarbiya begins “with the cradle.” It is father’s “influence,” mother’s “guidance,” and teacher’s “instructions” under which the child thrives. Taclīm is one thing, tarbiya another, and the former is set firmly within the home. “The consummate tarbiya is in coupling knowledge with virtue.” Mothers are to inculcate the latter, teachers the former. Proper mothers produce “a sound, refined generation”; and herein lies the justification, and the urgency, of “refining women” (tahdhīb al-nisāɔ). That this disquisition lies within, and introduces, a biographical text demonstrates both the primacy of this issue and the perceived didactic and justificatory usefulness of biography. The life narrative that follows Sālim’s history of the debate on education for girls in France offers predictable themes: the father who goes to great effort to educate his young, “although he had many,” and the early emergence of signs of intelligence and readiness in little Louisa Henriette. After a spell as tutor at court, suddenly obliged to support a number of dependents, she begins (p.135) a school based on the program outlined above.102 Significantly, it is tarbiya rather than taclīm that names her profession and passion: here is the educator as “extended mother.” A maternal trope—which could justify women’s entrance into the profession of teaching even as it professed an educational agenda—shapes many biographies.

Education and Motherhood

“Mme Campan had a natural inclination [kānat miyāla bi-gharīzatihā] for training children. As a young girl, whenever she saw children, she wanted to assume their tarbiya.” And when Napoleon Bonaparte asked Campan what was lacking for the young of France to perfect their education, her response was “Mothers!” The diction of “motherhood” as “natural” is put to use to support teaching the young as a female profession. If maternal metaphors made teacher training for Arab girls a more palatable idea, the slippage between educating and mothering also produced biographies that collapsed women’s education into motherhood, recuperating a dominant theme of some magazines. When the adoptive mother of Rāhīl cAtā (1823–1894) died, “her father undertook her training and her graduation in the literary arts and household management as his wife had intended.” This biography—by cIsā al-Maclūf—is a flawless example of the male reformer’s vision of the perfect educated wife. For Rāhīl was a model graduate of the first Beirut girls’ school, where she “acquired the finest morals” (plus “perfect English”). So, when young Butrus al-Bustānī (1819–97), a major light of the nahda, “became acquainted with her, he saw her ādāb and good management, her knowledge and exalted morals. Thus he fell in love with her—and with her partiality to him, which was because of his learning.” Once married, “managing her home and raising her children [nine, eight of whom lived] did not prevent her from sharing with her husband supervision of the National School they founded, caring for the health of the young pupils, managing the servants, perfecting the food, and offering him some of the views that distinguished her.”103 Note the order: Rāhīl’s domestic skills first define her sphere of work in the school; only then do we hear of her “opinions.” Finally we hear more: “She loved to read works of philosophy in Arabic and English, and books on literature and morals. In her children, male and female, she propagated a love of knowledge and an inclination for reading useful books. She was an exemplar in excellence of character, a genius in perfecting knowledge.” After the deaths of her husband and eldest son, she “concerned herself with raising her children, and helped to complete her husband’s intellectual and literary projects.” What is (p.136) the lesson with which we are left? “May God have mercy upon her, and multiply her likes among our women in household management, perfection of knowledge and excellence of child raising, for these are the finest attributes of the woman in every age.”104

Indeed, what was education for? Betsy Taqlā (1869–1924), widow of al-Ahrām’s founder-editor, took over her late husband’s position at the helm of Cairo’s most important newspaper and its publishing house, “directing their politics in the best possible way. Through her hard work, tirelessness, guidance, vigilance and knowledge she doubled its vitality and integrity … for the sake of serving the nation.” “Frank” in her opinions, Taqlā “did not air a view until she had given it thorough study.” When it came to girls’ education, she published her views “from time to time on the pages of al-Ahrām. She did not think it sufficient that a girl learn to read and write. Rather, limiting education to reading and writing constituted a flaw and deficiency only compensated by learning how to regulate and conduct the home, household management, the rudiments of medicine, economy and how to meet the needs of the family.”105 In other words, a woman at the top of one of Cairo’s prominent establishments, vocally supporting girls’ education, implied its content and aim to lie within the ambit of domestic employment. Biographies praised the Begum of Bhopal not only for capable rule but also for expanding girls’ educational opportunities (a photograph posed her with a granddaughter, “pursuing higher education in the colleges of England”). Yet on the occasion of her retirement, Young Woman of the East noted that the Begum wanted to concentrate on social issues, founding more educational institutes for males and females “and working to improve curricula and expand the sciences of home management for girls.”106 Such emphases echoed a consistent theme throughout the press and period, education for enlightened motherhood and informed domesticity, producing the mother who knows proper child care and can provide her child a “first school.” A man from Damietta put it into a written oration to his spouse on their wedding night:

I chose you over other girls in the quarter because you were famed for your proper upbringing and sound training. Your excellent powers of understanding and foresight led me to hope from my heart that were I to surprise you in our first moment [of marriage] with advice or admonition rather than flattery I could be confident that you would not react with anger…. For when a married pair know their rights and duties, felicity results…. You learned these rights and duties long ago, as a pupil who stood out among her classmates…. You epitomized the drive of your school and its fine production of mothers of the future, mistresses (p.137) of the home…. Yet a girl with this background might think she knows all, when she has yet to learn complex lessons wrought only by life together…. With all due respect for your views and esteem for your knowledge, I desire you to study my moral character. I want to teach you my preferences … so you do not have to learn them over time… and so you come to want only what I want, and to feel antipathy solely toward my dislikes. Enough for this evening. Get some rest.107

This writer echoes the deployment of attributes, the precedence of education and “moral beauty,” the paramount interest in a female education that will be deployed within the family, that biographies propose even as they offer alternative narratives.

Magazines offered templates for the educating mother. The column “Between a Mother and Her Child,” in Young Woman of the East, featured dialogues on the roots of plants, the nature of clouds, plant germination, and the like, enacting both the desired form and a proposed content for a mother’s didactic role.108 Imitatio as learning is acted out in texts that signal a certain class identity yoked to an image of the hands-on mother: “Najīb and his mother sat in the garden of their home. His mother busied herself working a stocking while the boy played with a little toy boat his uncle had given him…. His mother drew near to the water, and her crochet hook fell in and sank.” Why? Because it was metal. A couple of pages later, the listening son comments: “Aah, now I understand how steamships float,” whereupon his mother explains, “This is what we call ‘relative mass.’”109 If the magazine offers a feminized version of The Selected, the mode of transmitting knowledge diverges in its mother-to-child (usually a son), woman-to-woman structure, of which “Famous Women” biographies were an element.

The precise production of an emulative educative curriculum within the magazines reiterates the rhetorical emphasis on the mother as “first school,” which the magazines uphold ad infinitum from the 1890s on. At the same time, biographies in the 1930s especially suggest how girls’ education was changing. Taking for granted the inclusion of “home management” in the female curriculum, they also accepted women’s professional ambitions. Egyptian poet and writer Jamīla al-cAlaɔilī wanted to be a writer from the age of nine. But her mother, her aunt, and everyone else laughed at her—except for the head of her school, Huda al-Haklm, “now head of Hilwan Secondary School [for Girls].” Yet when al-cAlāɔill took a diploma, it was in “household management,” for by then home economics had made it into the Egyptian curriculum for females. She taught at Tanta’s Normal School, “spending her days teaching and her evenings with laundry, ironing, cooking, and baking, (p.138) until she collected a fine treasure in the art of home management, which a year later she presented as Sacādat al-marɔa (Woman’s Felicity).” Noticed by a newspaper editor, she was asked to write, and also corresponded with “our magazine,” but the head of the school where she taught forbade it, and her family treated her ill. Yet “now” (this profile, like others in the 1935 volume of Magazine of the Women’s Awakening, blends biography and interview) she writes stories that aim “to offer a model to men and women unlike the Egyptian story [as it now exists] with its base qualities.”110 Al-cAlāɔilī’s struggle for a professional life entailed working within the domestically oriented female curriculum of the time, a modern curriculum that borrowed a sign of modernity—the “professional” woman of the house—from Europe and Islamized it. Yet she carved out a writing career for herself and became a recognized, published poet.

By the 1920s, support for female education had become complicated by educated girls’ own demands and needs.111 As the EFU and its journals addressed girls’ education, the issue of secondary and university schooling had become pressing, for now the elite harbored a group of elementary school graduates who wanted to continue their education.112 Biographers celebrated local heroines (Durriyya Fahmī, Nacīma al-Ayyūbī) who had gone far beyond elementary school. Again, biographies of graduates, professionals, and serious readers perhaps provided the “happy endings” that parents and educators did not always see around them.

Education for the Nation

How might education strengthen national consciousness? Praising the numbers of educated women in Turkey following the 1908 Young Turk revolution, Fatāt al-sharq had linked educational opportunity for girls to images of women as models of national vitality.113 Specifically, it yoked Turkish constitutionalism’s success to the visible activisms of educated females on behalf of reformist elements in the state, noting “the Ottoman woman’s… strong hand” in the ascension of constitutional politics. Then it summoned biography as an educative tool. It had already presented Fatma Aliye’s history, and here came Saniyya Hānim, “who arose, an orator, among folk of learning and literature.” Such biographies were offered “in service to daughters of the East and out of our pride in their praiseworthy deeds.” Yet if “the Ottoman nation is not devoid of numerous women who have surpassed the West’s women in learning and letters,” it is to the next generation’s education that this accrues. Addressing “excellent learned Ottoman females,” urging them to “walk side by side with the (p.139) men, working to steady them in preserving freedom and independence,” the text instructs them—and its more immediate Arabic-speaking audience:

Know, dear women, that the country’s progress depends more on you than on the men, for you are the basis of the awakening, of building the society…. Rear your children properly, implanting in their hearts that golden rule, ’love of the nation is part of belief … and found national schools … then the folk of the West will know that behind those gauzy hijābs are faces to shame the sun in their splendor, for they incline solely to the beauty of learning; and sparkling eyes that gaze only upon the perfection of virtue and comportment.114

Equating education, morality, inner beauty, modesty, careful child raising, and national strength, the magazine offered its program for women through exemplars across the Mediterranean of which a modern nation could be proud. Published in the decade before the British Protectorate was imposed, when many were looking with interest at Ottoman reformism as a possible model and others were seeking to impress opinion in the capitals of Europe, when the liberal secularist journal al-Jarīda had recently emerged, and in a journal run by an Ottoman subject sympathetic to Egyptian nationalist and feminist activism, this article looked both East and West, and created a local national ethos that could embrace Muslim Egyptians and Ottoman Syrians, without, presumably, alienating nationalist Copts!

But the widespread exhortation to build nations by building loyal little bodies and souls was laced with specific anxieties. If girls were educated, might this dilute national consciousness? In the decades following Young Woman of the East’s celebration of modern Ottoman womanhood, this worry proliferated as girls’ education expanded. Of paramount symbolic and practical concern was the language of instruction, generating mounting anxiety by the early 1920s as intellectuals and politicians worried whether the young “independent” Egyptian state could at least assert a measure of authority over the cultural construction of its citizens. In Young Woman of Young Egypt, Amīna cAwda addressed her peers in the feminine plural form: “In casting off your language, you are casting off your nation.”115 Yet it was not a new issue. In the 1890s, when The Young Woman had urged readers to think about yoking education to work, it warned that if educating girls was a crucial duty, it was equally important to educate them “in the national language.”116

Hāhim’s journal showed more explīcit concern with the issue of foreign education than other early Syrian-run magazines. Perhaps this helped (p.140) to shape her practice (at the start) of featuring Arab biographical subjects—among them poets, no less (cIkrisha in the second issue, Taymūr in the third, and al-Khansāɔ in the fourth).117 Reader Rūz Jalakh of Beirut worried that Arab women had had to subscribe to foreign (“Western”) women’s magazines and asked “the daughters of my kind” how many were competent in reading Arabic and how many would pick up a book or women’s magazine in Arabic.118 In the same issue, noting that the hijāb did not prevent women from acquiring knowledge, “contrary to what many assert,” the editor declared that since most Egyptian girls were educated in foreign schools, their Arabic was poor; the management was willing to correct or translate letters before printing them.119 In line with biographies’ emphasis on fathers’ roles in education, an essay warning that French-language education alone was not appropriate addressed “men of learning,” urging them to teach their daughters; the “few hours they spend in school” were not sufficient.120 Reporting on one of the lectures for women at the new Egyptian University, Hashim criticized the lecturer’s focus on women in ancient history as impractical but was scathing on the fact that it was delivered in French (by a French national). “No more than twenty” Egyptians attended, in contrast to a recent speech in Arabic by Malak Hifni Nāsif for which “the lecture hall was filled with women.”121

Language as trope gave material form to worries that girls would lose their national identity to the extent they were out in the world—but language might mask other, related concerns. Women’s magazines addressed controversies over the sort of education available to girls and the wisdom of sending girls (like Zakiyya Sulaymān) overseas for higher education funded by the Egyptian state (which had sent male students abroad since the early nineteenth century). Then biographies (like Zakiyya’s) assured readers that such overseas experience had not led to the horrors opponents sketched. Other biographies illustrated how overseas educational experience served the nation. Lauding Sarujini Naidu as a nationalist leader in colonized India, a profile linked her political efficacy to the “respect” she got in England “due to her literary status and expertise in their nature and morals.”122

Paragons of Purity

Worries over how national/ist identity and girls’ education intersected arose from—or were rhetorically justified by—concern about the rising generation’s behavior, especially that of its female half. We saw in chapter 3 that female exemplarity was contingent on (narrated) behavior. Anxiety (p.141) over the comportment of contemporary adolescent girls and young women was one impetus for magazines’ rhetorical emphasis on domestic training as the heart of female education. From the 1890s on, crime rates and the consumption of alcohol and drugs, thought to be on the rise and apparently an increasingly visible aspect of the fast-changing urban scene, were certainly on the rise discursively. Daily press reporting, new in Egypt, gave “scandalous” events the permanence and substance of the printed page; perhaps they inflated the anxieties of the elite’s older generation. As one newspaper noted, “Among matters incompatible with moral behavior is the phenomenon we see of women—not men—opening bars for purposes of intoxication, and hashish cafés too. If only those women would limit themselves to that. But no—they imbibe both sorts with the men. This makes them quarrelsome and dissolute, and then they go out into the streets in a state humanity abhors.”123 If newspapers did not express such worries about “quarrelsome and dissolute” men, these reports intimated fear that old social boundaries were disappearing, articulated further in reports on prostitution in the 1890s nationalist press. Prostitutes were moving into “good” neighborhoods, provincial reporters warned. No one could tell the difference now between prostitutes’ “houses” and those of respectable families. The further implication was that (other) women might follow “bad examples”:

One of those women who claim to be pure and virtuous has gotten into the habit of entering a foreign-owned bar at night and drinking herself into a state of intoxication, to the point where she … is much talked about. The police staked her out. After she left the drinking establishment, her good judgment and reason gone, they seized her and wrote the requisite report. We hope the justice system will punish her for her famed dissoluteness, immoral behavior, and corrupt morals; for there is no doubt that her presence among respectable people is anathema to proper comportment, especially since the cunning she employs is more harmful than [the behavior of] those women who know nothing of sly trickery.124

Could such reports—and dialect poetry, cartoons, and articles in an emergent popular press that lampooned such behavior from the 1890s on—have intensified apprehension about the moral effects of sending one’s daughter to school?

A quarter century of “the knowledge movement” in our country, moaned The Sociable Companion in 1899, and youth are more arrogant and lethargic than ever, while the market for foreign clothes has gone wild.125 Was this a class-specific worry contingent on the ascent of a new (p.142) bourgeoisie? In her article “Reading,” Hashim linked the utility of words to the “problem” of leisure, exclaiming that reading is useful to the young female if it “fills her free time so she does not engage in useless pursuits such as gossip, censure, and gambling.” She advised girls to join literary societies. Despairingly, Hāshim concluded (some years before she founded her own journal), “I write these words knowing they will have no further impact, but one must.”126 Perhaps the words had no effect, but writers continued to pen them.

To focus on education offered an opening to criticize the younger generation’s pursuits in the name of channeling them toward the sort of education the magazine supported. To focus on education also offered a strategy to defuse claims made by those opposed to expanded education. Before the turn of the century, a writer in The Sociable Companion was declaring, “It is not knowledge that has spoiled most of the women of France and America … but the type of knowledge … which has brought the daughters of our kind in the West to this corrupt state of utter freedom and competition with men in all desires and whims.”127 Ensuing critiques of education deployed biography alongside essays on curricula, methods, and types of schooling, as the learned eloquence of ancient Arab poets was contrasted with a present-day education that taught Arab girls to read French novels and disdain housework, and as “Famous Women” who took education seriously were contrasted favorably with those about them. This articulated an implicit critique of predominant social behavior among the class making up the magazines’ readership and, in the production of the exceptional/exemplary subject, showed less-than-exemplary comportment as threatening to the prescription for female success that biographies asserted. Marie de Sévigné, educational role model, becomes the foil for her peers. She differed from the many young women and men at the French court “without employment or aim, living a life of ease, which saps people’s sense of decency, freedom of conscience, and strength of will.” This exceptionality makes her exemplary: de Sévigné, “fresh flower” at court and Fatāt cazīma, lived a pure life and so gave lessons in comportment by being an example to others.128 English scientist Agnes Clark (b. 1844) “had astounding patience for observation and calculation. While her female peers were spending their evenings in amusement, parties, and dances, she was making astronomical observations.”129 Manon Roland “was not among those females who amuse themselves of an evening chez great families; she restricted her admiration, and her visiting, to those women of true greatness unconcerned with money or glory.”130 Dutch artist Joanna Koerten (1650–1715), famed for her intricate portraits and scenes cut from paper, “was set apart (p.143) from the other girls in that she paid no attention to amusements but was caught up in portraying everything she saw, animate and inanimate”131 Again, perhaps “local” role models were most impressive, although in some cases one has to wonder whether Egyptian readers found exemplary Syrians “local” enough. Emily Sursuq was sent by her father from Beirut to Alexandria to complete her schooling. Characterized by “the most splendid ornaments of beauty,” she married her paternal first cousin and “appeared to the world crowned by the ornaments of virtue and perfection, and became famous for doing good and rescuing the poor”—representing perfectly the transition from premarriage “beauty” to postmarriage “virtue.” She built a school for girls in Beirut and initiated other philanthropic projects—pursuits, remarked the magazine, “among those matters that so infrequently a young [unmarried] woman thinks of or a [married] woman concerns herself with, especially in this era. For amusement places have become numerous, and among [today’s] people the malady of gambling has spread, so that now [1907] there hardly exists a woman who is not tempted by these harmful pursuits and whose mind doesn’t descend to the abyss of decadence and indolence.” As inhitāt and khumūl (decadence and indolence) became the twinned watchwords of reformers in the press, characterizing both European societies and a local and usually feminized modernity they saw in formation, “Famous Women” represented—sometimes explicitly—their opposite. “We hope,” declared the magazine, “for [Sursuq’s] continued advancement, and we ask God to make her likes abundant among women and to recompense her in the best possible way for her deeds.”132 As Sursuq becomes the categorical opposite of “decadence and indolence,” her example draws sanctification through resort to a commonly accepted diction of religious virtue and reward that, moreover, usefully elided distinctions between Christian and Muslim, or Syrian and Egyptian.

But whatever the society of origin, particularly stark examples were entertainers, immediate objects of suspicion; and this served a particular local agenda. Of Jenny Lind (1820–87), The Egyptian Woman’s Magazine commented primly, “It was never known of the Swedish nightingale that she spent [money] on pleasures, or that arrogance and reckless frivolity possessed her. Rather, in the bloom of youth and beauty, at the summit of her glory and fame, she was a paragon of purity, fidelity, probity, self-denial, and modesty…. She spent all that came to her on charity.”133 In a single move the magazine presents its exemplary program to women and assesses disapprovingly an image of public gendered behavior that had become almost a local cliché. A 1933 biography, its message was nothing new in the (p.144) context of reporting on urban girls’ and women’s increasing fearlessness about public appearances. Precisely forty years earlier, al-Muɔayyad had called indignantly upon the state to do its duty, articulating a role as mediator between government and the governed (a function al-Muɔayyad also assumed when provincial writers begged the government to provide more schools and doctors). The newspaper yoked “national honor” and women’s comportment.

Many who desire the nation’s good honor and want to preserve its moral comportment have asked us to beg our exalted government to prohibit [or: restrict] women who ride in open carriages, showing off their adornments and frippery, and weaving through the lines of men’s carriages at public recreation spots. Such acts encompass things detrimental to good behavior and diminish the worth of the country’s honor. If these women are prostitutes, the system stipulates that they not be present in these locales that are not concealed from the eyes of the populace and leading members of the upper strata—not to mention the presence of secluded ladies from famous families in their covered carriages. If among these showy women are ones who are not prostitutes, it is incumbent upon their like not to ride in uncovered carriages, drawing accusations and raising suspicions.134

At the same time, as women professionals were emerging in Egypt, such portraits as Lind’s implicitly refuted negative stereotypes of the singer-entertainer, an attempt to reassure girls (and their parents) that the entertainment professions could be respectable for females. Early-twentieth-century biographical sketches of entertainers emphasized moral impeccability and the respectable fame of artistry. If magazine editors could accomplish this by telling the lives of premodern court entertainers (sometimes without reproducing all anecdotes associated with them!), increasingly they could also celebrate contemporary Arab artists who would occasion a flourish of proud regional identity: Beiruti Mary Jubran, who moved to Egypt via Damascus, was “like a valuable jewel in a heap of sand.” Florence Fawwāz, Lebanese-Australian, had recently sung at the Royal Opera in London, attaining “a position as high as that of Sarah Bernhardt.” Umm Kulthūm was already (in a 1927 biography) “foremost female singer of the East today.”135 Exemplary for their public conduct at least as much as for their art, these subjects echo a biographer’s praise of Sarah Bernhardt that privileged moral example over skill. She advanced the acting profession, “becoming the exemplar whose steps must be followed, especially since she enhanced acting’s standing through her lofty morals, pride of self and compassionate soul, her love of good, her work of charity and (p.145) mercy.”136 A biography of Russian dancer Anna Pavlova (1882–1931), too, emphasized her compassion and its concrete manifestation in her charity activities.137 The early 1930s saw a furious debate over the wisdom of founding a training institute for actresses in Egypt. Biographies, emphasizing the fine akhlāq of contemporary performers, added voices to the debate and not incidentally paralleled lives of medieval female singer-entertainers in the courts of the Islamic empire: cArīb, Burqa, and “Badhal the singer,” who “combined beauty of face, beauty of art, and beauty of character traits, and enjoyed thereby a high status among her peers.”138

As Hāshim’s article suggested, the “problem” of leisure was yoked early on to the issue of education, articulated repeatedly in a context of voiced anxiety over the state of the world, especially observations on “the West” as representative of a moral breakdown that observers saw repeated locally and most often located in female behavior—and desire.139 To judge by the space it consumed in women’s magazines, as well as in newspapers like al-Muɔayyad, the issue of young women’s willful leisure—a problem specific to, and defined by, the middle and upper classes—generated great anxiety long before the 1920s.140 Writing from Alexandria, Ilyās Effendi Lutfallāh commented in 1907 (and one wonders how he knew):

Now we often see a girl reaching the age of shabāb [that period just before adulthood] not knowing female duties. You will see her spending most of her day gazing out of the window of her home, waiting to see so-and-so pass so she can criticize how he walks and moves; and then she looks at so-and-so to censure her looks and style of dress. Learning the whereabouts of a dance hall, she flies to it with untiring keenness. But if asked to rise early and attend to the home and its cleaning, she excuses herself on the grounds that she does not have the ability and fears that someone will see her doing these lowly sorts of work.141

Contrast this with a notation of how Maria Mitchell spent her daily hours as a “Famous Woman”:

In the library she saw the astronomer Laplace’s work Mecanique célèste and the mathematician Gauss’s Theoria Motus and read them as would a thorough, careful person wanting to derive benefit. She read many other scientific books but did not abandon performing her share of the housework, whenever necessity called for it. One day she wrote in her dairy saying she got up at six o’clock in the morning, baked bread, repaired the lamps, put on coffee, and prepared breakfast before seven o’clock. She was determined to measure the position of a meteor, so she went to the office and began measuring at half past nine, (p.146) finishing in three hours; but the result did not fit her observation, which made her unhappy. She left it to another time and returned home to complete some tasks. She read the monthly Astronomical Newsletter and found in it a new way to measure the light of stars…. She got up the next day and prepared breakfast with her own hand and returned to the observatory. If she grew tired she would relax with the plaiting known as tatting, and if she tired of both she would rest by reading Humboldt…. If unable to carry out observations in the evening because of heavy storms and cloud cover, she would make the next day’s bread and tat until sixteen hours had passed.142

Victoria of Germany (1840–1901) was another busy “Famous Woman,” specifically “at home”: “In her new home [bayt, here the residence of the heir to the throne] her normal activities were reading, writing, drawing, and etching. She was greatly occupied by philosophy and economy. She translated into English some German books … and wrote one on duties of Ministers in a constitutional state.”143 “Famous Women” do not suffer from the “problem” of leisure. If they have it, they read and write, like Victoria of Germany, or do needlework, like Maria Mitchell, Jane Austen, and Victoria of England, or they turn their attention to charity, like Emily Sursuq.144 They are almost always of a class whereby this is possible—notwithstanding articles throughout the women’s press on how the truly productive Egyptian woman is located in the peasantry.145

Magazines yoke modes of spending time symbolically to modes of dress, and both to the concept of national responsibility through the trope of thrift. Victoria of Germany economized so as not to exceed her (princely) income. As the female reader is warned against tabarruj (showy adornment, articulated in a combination of dress and behavior), she is told to economize in the household and in her own person. The female body, adorned and publicly visible, is the locus of danger, the symbol of Western penetration. Female sexual purity, female comportment, and national integrity are mutually defining. In its “Our Blameworthy Practices” column, the Ladies’ and Girls’ Revue criticized parents who spent as much money on dance lessons as on “lessons in reading”; equally, it criticized those who forbade dance altogether. When the aim was exercise, and dance was limited to the home, the magazine approved; if it was for purposes of “coquetry” (i.e., in public), the magazine censured it and went on to attack “wearing décolleté.” The next month it attacked moda (fashion), made tangible as an imported practice in the European loanword that articulated it. Moda made the prohibited permissible and the permissible prohibited, sighed the journal, deploying the diction of harām/halāl, with its religious overtones and political echo.146

(p.147) The first issue of Young Woman of the East complained that most parents were satisfied to give their daughters a superficial refinement, “polishing the externals so she appears lustrous to the young man…. It is better that a young woman not take beauty as the foundation for her future.” The same essay stressed that a woman’s finest attribute was “economy…. Peace and a simple life are far preferable to all the embellishments in the world if these come with fatigue and fights.”147 The interrelated tropes of economy, modesty, and national strength—all signified in controlling female appearance and behavior—contoured Labiba Hashim’s journal. A few pages on she announced a column on proper clothing for women, for not only do “clothes indicate character,” but, more dangerously, one can read a woman’s thoughts from her apparel.148 So, when The Gentle Sex praised peasant women as epitomes of female strength and seriousness in the service of the nation, simplicity of dress was a marker of excellence. Unconcerned with wearing “fancy clothes,” the peasant woman “knows good works are all that last, and is certain that the finest adornment consists of energetic work, [moral] perfection, and probity.” (That simplicity of dress is ascribed as informed choice on the part of the peasant woman is a stunning reminder of the romanticized vision of the peasantry that nationalist ideology incorporated.)149

These were not lone voices. The emphasis on economy in Young Woman of Young Egypt focused more on the home-nation nexus, less on female appearance, but it quoted Lady Astor wishing all women would dress simply: “I always wear black when going to Parliament.”150 The Egyptian Woman’s Magazine’s critique took form as a generational gesture when “the elderly woman” censured her young female “listeners” for being consumed by “perfecting your adornment and splendor…. Was not our era in its simplicity better than yours?”151 Fashion—specifically, wearing clothes that would draw attention in public—was an issue of national honor (karāmat al-watan). For woman’s body was the arena where economic and cultural imperialism plied their wares and where national integrity answered back. So, in exemplary biographies the female body from Hypatia to Astor is simply clothed, a figuration of respectable public behavior that in turn implies a moral and thrifty patriotism (just as “beauty” is constructed as a moral more than a physical attribute). Warning that, “no matter how wealthy, one should exercise good management and wisdom” in choosing clothes, Hashim tells a melodramatic story of negative exemplarity: an upper-class woman, refusing to help an impoverished compatriot buy medicine for her dying husband, wears clothes and jewelry the cost of which would feed a poor family for months or years.152 In biography, Maria Agnesi and Juliana (p.148) of Holland are lauded for charity work and simplicity of dress. It is modesty and aversion to fame that cloak exemplary women (Alexandra of England, Marie Curie, Angela Burdett-Coutts, Emily Sursuq, Fātima al-Khalīl).

Against the repeated complaints and exhortations of women’s magazines, the “Famous Woman,” with her chaste, simply clothed, morally upright body, appears both exceptional and exemplary. If few women know the arts of economy, comments one writer, there do exist “excellent women whose wisdom and comportment befit imitation.”153 As Malak Hifnī Nāsif is lauded for having “spent her short life writing and compiling, and filled newspaper columns with sociological research focusing on woman, her education, and the necessity of her awakening,” it is also her preference for simplicity of dress that Young Woman of the East finds noteworthy. Would the verse biography of Khadīja bt. Khuwaylid that Nāsif had begun composing before her death have carried the same exemplary message?154 Aspasia, similarly, “was not one of those women of coquetry who pride themselves on [or compete in] jewelry and clothing. Rather, she was among the folk of discernment, raised with philosophers and wise men.”155 Other portraits link exemplary comportment as represented in female dress to a nationalist agenda, sometimes anachronistically. A life of Zenobia of Palmyra, praising her political prowess, knowledge of languages, and “great beauty,” declares she wore only cloth woven in “the East” to encourage indigenous industry, and jewelry of local black stone, “aiming to divert [women] from pretexts to squander money, charging them to economize.”156 This text preceded Egyptian women’s efforts to institute local boycotts of English goods; perhaps such biographies helped to prepare the discursive ground for nationalist economic activism.

Drawing on John Armstrong and Benedict Anderson to conceptualize “border guards” who police the exclusionary boundaries of imagined national identities, Yuval-Davis reminds us that women are often the most visible, hence the most carefully watched, of such guards. Behavioral practices and ways of dress that threaten an us/them division may become targets of nationalist anxiety.157 For girls to take an interest in styles and practices identified with Europe jeopardized a sense of exclusionary belonging while symbolizing a freedom that threatened the control of the patriarchal family. Modernity or treachery? No wonder journals offered ambiguous messages.

As magazine editors attacked female practice in their society, “Famous Women” within their magazines were parallel voices, described as and praised for criticizing their peers’ contemporary behavior and working for behavioral transformations, usually through professional roles deemed respectable for women: educators, charity activists, or writer-reformers. Describing (p.149) a subject’s reforming efforts offered an indirect rhetoric of criticism that readers could interpret as analytically careful treatments of European practice and then could apply to the local scene. “Most of” the writings of Cécile de Mirabeau (b. 1850) comprised “tarbiya and the need to improve the conditions of family life, and criticism of women of the rich and noble for laziness, sleeping too much, living lives of inaction and amusement among dance halls and gambling places in winter and beaches and the like in summer. These were all among the causes of bad morals and bad health, and they endangered the structure and order of the family, especially since most Parisian women are debauched…. She wrote with amazing courage that no other writer of the time had.”158 Prison reformer Elizabeth Fry (1780–1845) took on young women “who understood nothing of virtue, honor, or good works”; with her “pure and strong spirit,” she turned them into “serious, hardworking, virtuous young women.”159 Such narratives imply an elitist outlook on the part of biographer or magazine, for—in line with upper-class Arab women’s activities—it was the elite woman in biography who “reformed” the working girl.

To Veil or not to Veil

Sufūr (unveiling) was a complicated issue entangled with that of dress: opponents raised the nationalist ante by linking it to elite women’s interest in European fashions. A symbol of modernity, “unveiling” could, however, unleash the issue of “cultural authenticity” as it broached issues of consumption, national economic self-sufficiency, and imitation of the imperialist.

But one way to counter this argument was to trivialize it by ignoring it. Women’s comportment was founded on other practices, such as seeking solid education and professional self-realization. As Badran says, “Unveiling was never part of the Egyptian feminist movement’s formal agenda.”160 Indeed, it was irrelevant to most aspects of that agenda, and it is not surprising to sense that female intellectuals saw it as a focus of male discourse (recall Sarrūf’s impatient reference to it). As men debated it furiously into the late 1920s, women writing in the press reacted to this debate but did not tend to privilege it. There were practical reasons: from the early 1920s, elite Egyptian women were beginning to unveil, and their Syrian Christian peers had already done so (meanwhile, in the women’s press commentators regularly observed that peasants never had veiled). Women, moreover, were sensitive to the psychological difficulties of unveiling and in general saw no reason to insist on it. As females in Egypt drew assurance (p.150) from education and activism, they would have the confidence to unveil if they wished; if not, this need not hamper their pursuits. A few biographies predicted as much. But more often in biographies the veil was an absence. When hijāb as either “veil” or “seclusion” (physical separation from men) appeared, as in the portrait of the Begum of Bhopal, it highlighted women’s power despite its presence—or rather through it, by studied contrast. Biography was in itself a statement of female visibility; no further comment was needed. The rarity of references to hijāb in exemplary biography suggests that perhaps biographies revealed women’s concerns and agendas to a greater extent than did (other) polemics on the status of women. hijāb as institution was slyly submerged in hijāb as metaphor for the modest probity that women’s rights advocates insisted came from learned comportment and industry. Nasra al-Baīldī—a Christian—was lauded for hard work in educating girls. Then there was her modesty: “She served her country nearly fifty years, curtained behind the hijāb of her work, expecting no thanks.”161

Women, Work, and Struggle

Unveiling? Women had more important issues to worry about. In 1935 the Egyptian Woman’s Magazine congratulated Durriyya Fahmi for her successful struggle to obtain a higher education in France, the first “Eastern” woman to attain a doctorat d’état (on George Sand, another biographical subject in women’s journals). Inscribing her life as one of kifāh and nidāl (struggle),162 the biography celebrated Fahmī because she had set an Egyptian precedent for female educational achievement—and because she was poised for a career. Long before, Young Woman of the East’s 1908 life of Hannā Kūrānī had recounted that after attending the Columbian Exposition she had stayed in the United States trying to earn her own living “by relying on herself, without need for a husband or brother.”163 From the 1890s through the 1930s, women’s struggles for livelihood and professional success shaped biographical texts, articulating a real-life struggle for a growing number of women in Egypt. It was in the early 1930s that the issue of women’s paid employment came to the fore for feminists, Badran argues; perhaps biography had been a modest ally in paving the way, for it had long been an isssue there.164

Right at the turn of the century, a few women and men had called for women’s right to work. From the start, education and medicine were deemed acceptable; women’s involvement in these spheres was seen as practical necessity due to the cultural ban on mixing of the sexes (and, as I (p.151) have said, to the call for a truly national education system). Some went further. Mahmūd Ibrāhīm, writing in the Sociable Companion, argued that women ought to be accepted in the civil service. Zaynab Fawwāz called for women’s rights to work in the early 1890s. Later, Ataturk’s policy of permitting Turkish women to fill positions that men had left for nationalist reasons generated comment, both positive and negative, in Egypt. But many opposed waged and professional work for women on the basis that this would threaten the honor not just of women but also of “the family.”165 The discussion was classed; repeatedly, writers noted that peasant women “had always worked outside the home,” but they rarely addressed issues of peasant or working-class women’s economic rights, working conditions, or double burdens.

As in other spheres, the year 1919 made a difference in terms of women’s public visibility. It was a watershed that led, among other things, to new magazines calling for women’s extradomestic activism, albeit in the context of national need.166 Biography generally supported women’s right to work, defining some limits yet always threatening to undermine them, while as always intimating the external and psychological constraints females faced.167 Stories of women suffering for “atypical” careers drove the point home, as exceptionality was put in the service of a changing concept of what gender norms should be. Jeanne d’Arc was “scorned” by the male establishment, but this was “in conformity to the women’s awakening [of her time]…. She committed no crime … except doing men’s work.”168

Much has been made of the domesticizing agenda of women’s magazines in Egypt,169 and, as we shall see, domesticity was a central organizing trope in biography. But so was earning a wage. “Famous Women” who had successfully broached male bastions of employment seemed poised to encourage would-be imitators through the medium of exemplary biography. Biographies praised businesswomen like Elsa Ryder, determined to finish her father’s railway extension projects in the southern United States and facing gender discrimination as she searched for financing.170 Entrepre-neurship implied a model to follow in a biography of American photographer Anna Schreiber, obliged to earn a living when her father “could not offer his family all they needed from the fruits of his labor.” Able only to find work as a servant, on her own initiative she went to New York City and knocked on doors. Successful as a company employee, she saved to buy a camera so she could work at something she enjoyed. Commercial photography gave her wealth and fame. “Thus was a young woman able, with her intelligence, seriousness and patience, to create a new profession … and now here she is managing a big photography bureau in one of (p.152) New York’s fanciest streets and earning a great deal of money from her work. Do you not hear this, O young woman of Egypt?”171 A dramatic profile in Adāb al-fatāt (not one of the more liberal magazines) of “Miss Sears,” actor and playwright, tells a similar tale. At her father’s sad tale of losing his wealth in a farming venture, she knows she must act: “Our girl had a duty to fulfill: she had to support her family, and she was still young.” Working as a saleswoman did not last long, for “her impetuous self, high hopes, and sincere will found no repose. She was always thinking of her future, bent over her study and reading—for she stole time and held it fast in order that she might read.” Self-education, hard work, and a sense of duty led her into secretarial training, newspaper work, and—after a dramatic meeting with Sarah Bernhardt—acting and playwriting. “In all this time she did not stop working at other things for a single moment. She opened a typing bureau that employed twelve girls.” Should the message be lost, the finale recaptures it, addressing readers of both genders: “Thus you see, O female reader, O male reader, this young woman’s star rose because looking to the future was her qibla…. She did not sit quietly, looking on; she had great ambitions and no fear of work; indeed, she wanted to know the extent of her ability.” Religious overtones give the message somber force: “looking to the future” is Sears’s qibla, her consistent and sanctified point of reference, a reference to the Muslim’s obligation to face Mecca in prayer. Moreover, her life history is a jihad, a sanctified struggle, yoked here to attributes of patience and work.172

These biographies articulate a mix of desire, ambition, and obligation. When women’s magazines discussed paid employment for women, it was framed as necessity more often than choice. Women ought to be able to earn a living, should the need arise, asserted magazines from al-Fatāt on.173 Whether this was a tactical move or a matter of conviction, biography echoed it. “Famous Women” earn their first wages more often than not as the outcome of a male guardian’s death or desertion. The subject may achieve wealth and renown, but it is not desire that (rhetorically) fuels her odyssey in the first place. Françoise de Maintenon “worked to live.”174 Most biographical subjects whose public work these magazines highlight are orphans in the Muslim sense (i.e., their father has died) or widows. the Selected’s 1892 obituary for Irish horse trainer and journalist Maria Morgan, republished in the Young Woman, gave her prominence in business as well as culture: “Mistresses of the pen have lost a woman considered foremost among them, indeed among masters of the pen and men of business.” Narrating Morgan’s path from childhood to death (a story not lacking in dramatic elements), the obituary-biography declared her (p.153) obliged to earn her living because her society’s religious law gave her father’s wealth to his son. According to The Selected’s criteria this story had a happy ending, for from her earnings Morgan was able to build a manor, that emblem of Victorian capitalist respectability. And so, “with her pen she wrote on the brow of fate, ‘Women are no less than men.’ ”175 But it was the much later biography in Young Woman of the East that drew an admonition from Morgan’s story. She had to work “to earn her sustenance and that of her little sister…. The circumstances made her realize that fate holds no security, and that it is absolutely indispensable for a young unmarried woman [bint] to learn a trade by which she can live should fate betray her one day.”176 Such “circumstances” held steady across centuries and cultures. Christine de Pizan, left in debt and alone by the deaths of her father and husband, “resorted to her reed pen, unsheathing a sword with which to ward away the attacks of the armies of poverty and misery from herself and her children…. Her contemporaries … called her a genius, especially since she was the first woman in France to earn her living by the pen.” Theodora, born into “poverty and obscurity,” her father dead when she was six, worked hard as an actress and, with her two sisters, at needlework.177 Jane Austen, from a poor family, “committed herself to working hard at writing novels so she could earn her living.”178 After her father’s death, Greta Garbo insisted on working, although her mother tried to keep her in school. “Her fine soul dictated that she not be a burden to her family…. Greta’s inner self was reinvigorated with the meager wage she began to get, with which she helped her mother, even if this [work] was not what she aimed for with her ambitions and hopes.”179 To earn a living was to fulfill family need rather than personal desire in these biographies, paralleling the discourse on women’s employment in the women’s press, especially before the 1930s. Yet personal ambition—not to mention fame—shapes these life histories in a way that polemics on women’s employment in these magazines did not. Essays on women’s rights to work were by and large defensive, using the issue of employment in time of need as a justification for more educational opportunity but siting it along axes of need, modesty, personal sacrifice, and unselfish community service, as well as primary loyalty to the domestic. These lineaments shaped biographies, but trajectories of ambition and achievement challenged them. Desire as the foundation of professional ambition contoured biography far more than the (other) polemics of women’s magazines, especially in the lives of female writers, offering us an autobiographical echo of the magazine editors’ and contributors’ own lives and concerns. A headline presents American novelist Fannie Hurst (1885–1968) as exemplar in her professional (p.154) life: “The Success of an American Writer: A Model We Present to Our Educated Young Women!” Taken from an American newspaper, the profile is sited within local gender politics. “When they choose a future for themselves, many girls confront some obstacle, major or minor, that offers them no encouragement. Those who fall, their forces spent, do not fulfill their hopes; but those who stand firm are victorious and achieve success…. We do not have enough space to relate all the hardships this superb writer faced.”180

Professional ambition, political power, and material desire could be merged and elicited from lives of women at the center of power. Early on, the interest magazines show in female monarchs and women powerful at court takes an intriguing twist in the Sociable Companion. Profiling “Learned Queens,” the journal highlights not so much their learning or power as their ability to earn a living! “If half of what is said of them is true, it suffices to indicate their excellence and knowledge, and to prove they are capable of amassing wealth, not to mention supporting themselves, from the fruits of their minds.” If Rumania’s queen

were to be blocked from the income of her throne, she would without a doubt be enriched from the earnings she would get from the plays she writes and the fine poems she composes…. We do not know whether this queen sells the fruits of her mind to the good men in Europe or whether she gives them gratis to newspapers and presses, since she is a queen and commerce is not appropriate for her. But what is certain is that if she were to engage in selling and buying the outpourings of her pen, she would have an ample income … especially since in addition to the craft of the pen she has shares in a number of mental and manual industries which … place her in the highest ranks of men.181

Lest the female reader drop everything in pursuit of a career or a wage, though, the Sociable Companion’s enthusiastic feature on queens capable of earning a living is immediately followed by an essay that takes “the English woman” explicitly as a model:

If we proceed on the basis that the progress of nations and peoples depends on the status and advancement of woman, then there is no one more fitting than the Englishwoman to take as a model to imitate and in whose footsteps to follow. For if the truth be spoken, England is the preeminent kingdom, the greatest and furthest along in civilization. It attained this lofty position only through the good minds of its men, the honor of their souls and the strength of their bodies. And all of this—as is well established in people’s minds—is nothing other than the seedling of woman’s right hand.

(p.155) An allusion to British imperial strength links women’s roles to the health of the empire: “Thus, it is incumbent upon us to scrutinize how they have done it, those men who practically rule the world with their strength and ability so we can learn how they live in order to resemble it … so we translate here a passage we found in a magazine that describes the Englishwoman, specifically the daughter of London…. It is not devoid of entertainment value.” Yet what sort of model? The essay makes no mention of women earning a living or getting professional training:

First and foremost, the Englishwoman is a true mistress of the home. She is a wise manager, protective of her valuable time of which she does not waste a single minute on things without return or benefit, and is very involved in caring for her children and husband…. Truthfully there is no one more able than the Englishwoman to undertake the business of preparing children, through sound and correct upbringing, to be men [rijāl]. Hardly does the child tumble from his nest before she teaches him to swim, kick, and ride horses … for in truth life is nothing but a struggle in which only the strong and able triumph. This is the secret of the might we see now in the English, their ability to tower over all other peoples and nations. So let the striving women work toward the likes of this; let Eastern women imitate this model.182

Within the individualist trajectory of biography, social constraint as a theme intimated an ideal that relied on a bourgeois economic and social positioning. Poverty and aristocratic ease alike represent barriers to individual achievement that women must overcome as they work to fulfill personal goals and serve society. Adelheid Popp’s biography narrates a struggle to overcome a childhood marked by extreme poverty, child labor, an alcoholic father, and a home for poor girls.183 As this text lauds Popp’s adult activism on behalf of a female proletariat, it approvingly narrates her entry into the middle class and defines this move as crucial to the success of her work. Perhaps the author, based in Europe, had read Popp’s autobiography, for the agenda of the Egyptian Woman’s Magazine in which this biography appeared suited the “successive stages of enlightenment and optimism despite her struggles” that, according to Mary Jo Maynes, Popp’s autobiography, like other socialist autobiographies of the period, articulates.184

English prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, in contrast, had to “overcome” the aristocratic ease of her childhood. Inherited wealth is constructed here as a burden, a seduction threatening women’s self-realization and ability to work for the nation (if it is not harnessed to philanthropy).185 Florence Nightingale, leaving behind the privileges of the rich to care for the poor, showed determination in the face of family resistance (and, conveniently, (p.156) abhorred fame, if we are to believe this writer).186 Sympathetic yet stern commentary on social status and reformist work suggests the social mapping and collective identity of magazine editors.

It is not surprising that more of these biographies appear in Egyptian-run magazines of the 1920s and 1930s, when a local bourgeoisie had achieved a measure of cultural hegemony. Nor is it surprising, given the accent on individual(ist) effort that exemplary biography in these magazines celebrates, to find independent thinking located as crucial to women’s formations of self and to the endeavors that made them “famous.” Biographies of Elizabeth Fry, Jeanne d’Arc, and others praise fearlessness in speech and action, and “freedom of thought.”187 Yet, as in other magazine polemics on “women’s place,” the formation of a female self in biography takes place within the rhetorically policed borders of a discourse of relational action. Women’s independent thinking is constructed as positive when it serves community needs. Thinking for oneself, and against the social grain, produces judicious and bold action inscribed in collective memory—and with political overtones resonant in early twentieth-century Cairo. cUfayrāɔ bt. cAbbād, that third-century C.E. poet of the Arabian peninsula who stirred her people to revolt against a tyrannous overlord, could easily become a contemporary heroine: “Were it not for the strength of character of a fine woman, [her] tribe would not have liberated itself…. May God increase her likes in every region.”188 The collective good, in a time of nationalist activism that engaged and needed women, was an unassailable justification for women’s public work. Recall that in the early 1920s’ climate of fierce debate over women and public politics, Mukhtar Yunus made some blunt points through his biography of the warrior Khawla. As she “led the [Muslim] army … with rare courage,” the acquiescence of the Muslim military commander proved the legitimacy of women’s public actions (for the collective good):

And here is Khālid b. al-Walīd, who was as we know the honored and devout Companion [of Muhammad] and sword of God, resolute that Khawla be man’s partner in life, indeed, in war…. We will relate event upon event, and support one argument with another, to pull away the veil that has descended on the hearts of those who discredit religion and do not judge or interpret well. They accuse women falsely … They are in error, claiming to be the religion’s protectors when they are its worst enemies.

But even this author is careful: “We do not mean by this that women should take risks.”189 Qualities to be cultivated, such as judicious thinking, acted as proofs that women’s expanded lives had not been socially destructive. (p.157) Modesty was not simply a marker of the excellent woman; it reminded the reluctant of the working woman’s continued acceptable femininity Baron claims that early magazines “depicted Western working women as defeminized”; but early and late, biography complicated the message. “While Europe and America spoke in glowing terms of [Marie Curie’s] discoveries, she returned to her laboratory in silence and modesty that indicated the sum of her personal greatness.”190 An article on France’s first female judge praised her for simplicity and modesty. If she made her living from teaching law in a women’s college, she

was so noble in character that she did not turn up her nose at helping her mother in her free time to take care of household needs. This emboldens us to say taking her as an example as well as many women we have gotten to know who have taken up men’s occupations, that industry has no negative impact on women’s good qualities, nor does it lessen in the slightest the attributes she has been granted—her readiness for managing home and family.

The author demolished the claim that working women would neglect the domestic by reference to the Egyptian peasant woman, “the most chaste of wives and devoted of mothers” despite her full-time work outside the home.191 As in so much of nationalist rhetoric, the idealization of the peasant elides the different interests of peasant and emergent bourgeois women as it also erases the existence of the “double burden.”

Reforming Women

Not only teachers of girls were lauded for selfless work “on behalf of their kind.” Praiseworthy were those who publicized women’s conditions and worked to improve women’s lot.192 Adelheid Popp’s “defense of the rights of women recorded glory and respect for her.”193 Biographies of philanthropists, numerous throughout the period, privileged “hands-on” charity work, as did the EFU.194 Insisting on such work’s feminine appropriateness, writers could further the notion of public work as acceptable. Describing her own daughters, Balsam cAbd al-Malik was proud that one already had in mind that she would found schools, clinics, and women’s refuges. Such “dreams,” she said, might not please all mothers. But they would benefit the nation as well as the individual.195 When Balsam herself was a young reader, the Young Woman had featured among its first “Famous Women” philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts, still alive when she appeared in the magazine’s inaugural issue. If, as Badran argues, “by no means was it easy or always possible to draw upper- and upper-middle-class Egyptian women (p.158) into corporate relief work,”196 perhaps biographies of philanthropists and activists could accustom potential young donors and activists of schoolgirl age to the idea, especially as philanthropy shifted from the traditional awqāf (religious endowments) sphere to associations focusing on direct work with poverty-stricken Egyptians. Many biographies of European women portrayed this kind of activism as a laudable aspect of modern womanhood: Burdett-Coutts’s charity work combined with her renunciation of finery made her exemplary.197 Did such biographies also help to accustom girls to the idea of philanthropy as a national civic duty rather than a strictly religious one? Perhaps this was one argument for featuring Arab models, who might exemplify the indigenous roots of emerging activisms and solidarities that opponents would try to dismiss as “coming from the West.” Betsy Taqlā “hung her hopes for progress and advancement on the women’s awakening, so she participated in most of the women’s organizations, in Europe, America, and Egypt…. Her work was not limited to teaching and talking…. She was a founder of Mabarrat Muhammad cAlī.”198 Theodora Haddād, “with the help of some young women,” founded a scientific society before which she spoke, also publishing essays on “the importance of woman’s role and her influence on society.”199 Fawwāz had described at some length the ambitious philanthropic building programs of premodern Muslim women of ruling families, a pursuit that Leslie Peirce notes broadcast both those women’s public roles and the image of dynastic power that Ottoman and earlier rulers needed to maintain.200 Others are lauded for the same. Fātima bt. Jamāl al-Dīn Sulaymān (A.H. 620–708), renowned transmitter of traditions and poet, “towered over folk of her time, men and women,” in founding and funding schools, hospitals, and takāyā (hospices), for which she appointed administrators and stipulated salaries.201

Many women are praised for supporting “women’s rights,” a theme that is explicated increasingly over time as a logical outcome of professional energies. One biography of the French scholar Clémence Royer (1830–1902) cites her “decisive influence in supporting and demanding women’s rights”;202 a later one couples this with her educational work: “She began to deliver speeches to women on the science of logic and other sciences necessary for women, and she became famous for defending the rights of woman.”203 Dr. Christine Bonnefait (b. 1862), a biologist, celebrated as a determined, successful scientist, worked on behalf of women in public politics. “Concerned with political issues since she was small, she undertook praiseworthy works and adopted known stances that proved her fitness to represent the daughters of her kind, because of her breadth of (p.159) mind … she was delegated by the women of Norway…. She still works hard to serve Norway’s women.”204 But “women’s rights” are often left undefined, a silence that articulates sensitivity over some rights in Egypt.

As Egyptian resistance to the British Protectorate imposed in 1914 culminated in the 1919–22 struggles against continued British “protection” and London’s refusal to allow Egyptian delegates at the postwar peace conference, feminists led by Hudā Shacrāwī were key players—demonstrating, leading boycotts against British goods each time negotiations with London froze, distributing leaflets, writing letters. So were women outside of the urban upper-class power center, as prisoners, leaflet smugglers, provisioned, and martyrs. For Shacrāwī’s group and other elite women, this activism encouraged organization; it was in this struggle’s aftermath, precisely four years after the elite women’s first nationalist demonstration, that the Egyptian Feminist Union was founded. Women’s involvement in nationalist politics of the early 1920s gave them confidence about further participation in political life, creating assumptions that were often dashed.205 At the same time, nationalist politics gave women a sphere for public activism that was difficult for even opponents of expanded visibility and opportunity for women to oppose.206

Through the 1920s, women both in the EFU and outside it were active in opposing the sabotage of constitutional government and calling for both national rights and women’s participation. Munīra Thābit, a strong Wafdist supporter, founded her journal Hope after Zaghlūl’s resignation following the 1924 assassination of a British official, Lee Stack. Thābit, daughter of a civil servant, had called for women’s formal political rights since 1919, and she resumed the call in Hope, just as the EFU had taken up this issue after its founding. Women’s magazines (including the Syrian-run Young Woman of the East and Ladies’/Ladies’ and Men’s Revue) followed the issue avidly. Balsam cAbd al-Malik, apparently a close friend of Shacrāwā’s, detailed the course of women’s demands in the Egyptian Woman’s Magazine.207 Women also exploited political differences to try to get their rights on the nationalists’ agenda, and, although angry at being excluded from the vote, they followed parliamentary debates closely.208 That elite women publicly aired their own political differences by splitting into new groups perhaps showed their growing confidence, although this was also influenced by splits among male nationalists.209 But while Egyptian women entered the scene as visible political beings on behalf of rights both for women and for the nation, women’s magazines showed an equivocal and varying attitude toward political rights. The Egyptian Woman’s Magazine not only exulted about the fine showing made by the Egyptian delegation (p.160) to the 1923 Rome Conference of the International Alliance of Women (IAW) but also quoted Hudā Shacrāwī telling a journalist that it had been women’s public participation in the 1919 nationalist demonstrations that had caused them to “cast off all their old practices.”210 Yet nationalist politics was one thing, women’s rights and feminist demands another. The magazine reported feminist acts and women’s doings around the world.211 It extolled Egyptian women’s demands for a redefined family life and more educational opportunity. But it equivocated on whether Egyptian women had immediate political demands. Europeans might be calling for women’s right to vote, and yes, married women should have more rights to run their own affairs. If working for a wage, a married woman should be able to retain her own money. But political rights weakened the marital bond, said the journal; they threatened the family. Women had a right to “moral” or “mental” equivalence (al-musāwāh al-macnawiyya), but they must remember that woman “was created to be a mother and head of her little kingdom.” Then they would recognize that it sufficed for husbands to be “the family’s delegate” in political issues. “She can best serve her nation through educating her children so they will one day be the sound foundation on which the national community’s felicity can be erected.” Another article—noting that on the occasion of the IAW conference there were those who had undertaken “an enemy maneuver against the women’s movement in this country”—explained, “We Eastern women do not feel the same about political matters as do Western women.”212 The writer criticized men for believing women wanted equal political rights; but she did not deny that they might want—and be ready for—such rights in the future. Reassuring critics, she also left the door ajar; not wanting political rights now “does not prevent us from observing how things proceed … and learning from [Western women’s] experience.” Like unveiling, this was a front on which women’s outlooks often diverged from those of male reformers. More cognizant of the social and psychological difficulty of fast transformation, women tended to a gradualism that could take on conservative tones.213 Yet readers could have found a multiplicity of messages in other magazines.

Throughout 1918 and 1919, Young Woman of the East praised European women’s war work and took it as a basis for demanding women’s rights internationally. Perhaps the timing was significant as a moment of optimism in Egypt generally, and for feminists specifically. Badran notes that it was in the “final phase of militancy … that progressive nationalist men’s rhetoric of women’s liberation was most vocal.”214 It is in the early 1920s that the Jeanne d’Arc biographies by men are at their most militant, (p.161) and then that Mukhtār Yūnus writes his forthright lectures on women’s lives. Once “independence” was gained and a constitution was in the works, feminists’ demands were no longer so appealing to some.

What of biography? Women’s rights activists could be lauded if they were carefully described as selfless and modest, and if their efforts could be seen in the context of nationalist struggle:

As we said, this lady [Sarujini Naidu] was chosen recently as leader of the Indian National Congress…. It is well known of her that she did not accept this position out of love for fame but rather because she wanted to serve her country and especially the daughters of her kind who remain in a condition of decline. Those who know Mrs. Naidu know how zealous she is on behalf of the Indian woman; [they know] her belief that [the Indian woman] will shake off the dust of lethargy and rise as one to demand her rights and to strive to raise her moral and social level of existence. It is guessed that the new nahda of the Turks will have a great influence on the state of the Indian woman.215

Meanwhile, some men, praising individual women through biography, used it as a platform to criticize feminists, as we saw with Hatshepsut. Muhibb al-Dīn al-Khatīb, writing a biography of Halide Edip for Young Woman of the East, used her to attack feminists at a time (1922) when nationalistically active, feminist women were making political demands on the emerging state (epigraph to chapter 2). Edip was the passive object “to whom” leadership “came”—in contrast to the women al-Khatīb opposed, those who kept people’s ears “ringing” with their talk of rights. The text implies an alignment of feminist activism with moral corruption as it distanced Edip’s activism from both: “Certainly Halide Edip proclaimed struggle for the sake of women, but her efforts were directed at moral and intellectual ignorance in general, to the social ulcers that had disfigured the body of the East, keeping it from attaining the West’s position in organization, comportment, and social usefulness. She looked at the essence of the matter, not its contingent characteristics; to the causes of corruption, not its results.”216

Yet other biographies suggested strong support for women’s political rights and celebrated women’s visibility as public political actors. In its first year the Egyptian Woman’s Magazine praised Margaret Winteringham, member of the British Parliament, for working toward women’s equality in political rights and articulated a clear precedent, not without local implications in November of 1921. As Egypt was negotiating its demand for independence, in a period that had witnessed the widespread use of the public petition for nationalist demands, the biography inserts Egyptian women’s political demands into the agenda:

(p.162) the Egyptian Woman hopes that to the Egyptian daughters of our kind will be given the success that Western women have attained, and that our “parliamentary dreams” will be realized when Egypt reaps the fruits of its nationalist] struggle [jihad watanī], so it will have a free legislature like the British Commons, its chairs honored by the seating there of a refined woman from among the daughters of our kind, who are deprived of rights.217

Does a gender-based alliance sit uneasily here with nationalist loyalty? Or is the irony particularly delicious? Praising a female MP, alluding to all women’s lack of political rights—could this not intimate that in Egypt, too, women’s political rights should follow independence? What were women’s “parliamentary dreams”?

Earlier magazine editors had insisted that the political arena was not the province of their magazines. Hind Nawfal disclaimed an interest in politics in her opening editorial, and next came a biography of Queen Victoria that did not focus on her as a political actor.218 Announcing her magazine, Alexandra Avierino barely addressed politics as a potential theme. Getting young people of both sexes out of “alleys and quarters” and into school “must be every writer’s subject, every national’s conversational topic, if his heart hold a speck of conscience and sympathy for his nation,” the Sociable Companion asserted. This was preferable to speaking of “politics and related matters.”219 In later years, as Avierino became disciple and then adoptive heir to Wiszniewska, the magazine followed the activities of the Alliance Universelle des Femmes pour la Paix that she had founded.220 Avierino herself was so active in politics that nationalists tried to have her deported,221 but in the pages of her magazine, political intrigue and activism akin to her own were not pursuits she advised other women to take up. Yet even in the early magazines biographical sketches narrated women’s struggles for political rights. Seven months before her priority-setting editorial on politics, Avierino had featured a biography of American colonist Margaret Brent, who (the text said) had demanded access to all meetings of the Maryland assembly but was refused. Had she succeeded, the biography claimed, women would have had equal political rights with men two centuries ago. “Hardly do we try to do anything new but it has been done before,” sighed the writer.222

So biography complicated early magazines’ stances on political rights. Rejecting a political role for themselves, journals offered biographies that reinserted an interest in women’s political rights around the world. At the same time, largely eliding the issue of political demands, these magazines articulated no rearguard action; they did not need to actively deny that women (p.163) wanted political rights, as some later magazines did. For the early magazines did not have to contend with the backlash against increased rights to education and work—and the inevitable question of political rights—of the late 1920s and especially the 1930s. Nor was women’s visible participation in nationalist politics yet an urgent issue, as it became from 1919 on.

Spanning two generations of women’s magazines, the Gentle Sex suggests the sustained ambiguity of stances on this issue. More than a decade before pharaonism became a reigning nationalist trope in Egypt, the magazine described women in ancient Egypt as politically active. Announcing as its agenda Egyptian women’s “return to their original state,” it then defined that “state” as educating children and tending the “domestic kingdom, in cooperation with her husband who is akin to the king of the family while she is its head minister.”223 And responding to a reader’s question, the journal described American women’s demands for political equality as premised on the argument that, since men had proved incapable women should try, and would raise politics from its state of corruption; for “women use politics to elevate the nation, not for their own glorification.”224 Yet the article went on to situate women in the home, raising warriors of the future. Offering contemporary biography in the context of the ongoing Great War, the magazine privileged the domestic as women’s war front in the sketches “Madame Joffre” and “Lady Roberts.” Self-sacrifice, nurture, and servicing the men were women’s national duty in time of war, if one is to draw a message from the magazine’s 1915 biographies.

The year before, though, the Gentle Sex had featured Christabel Pankhurst (1880–1958). How important a mother’s example could be to a daughter’s upbringing, it exclaimed, for she had been sentenced recently to hard labor as an anarchist. “It is not surprising when a girl grows up to be like her mother!” declared “the woman from Luxor.” The text did not exactly praise Pankhurst. Indeed, it took her as an antiexemplar and urged “the young Egyptian woman” not to swerve from her “decreed” place. “Mannish women are no model for you.” Evoking keywords in the gender discourse of the time, it equated tabarruj with tarajjul with tatarruf: ostentatious adornment, masculinization, and extremism. But was it this didactic horror that had led “the woman from Luxor” to preserve a portrait of Pankhurst in her trunk? Moreover, from a “recently translated” article the author summarized, the reader could visualize Pankhurst in her public actions. Would readers agree with “the woman from Luxor,” horrified as she imagined Pankhurst “leading the young women of our Egypt” ?225

If no such ambiguity surrounded women engaged in public politics on behalf of the nation, still, the vantage point from which they were to donate (p.164) their energies was open to question. the Gentle Sex praised women who had gone into the streets as Egyptians protested London’s banishment of the nationalist delegation early in 1919, and it used the event to recuperate Egypt’s ancient heritage. “The finest adornment that can encircle this issue, the thing of which we are proudest, is the action of our Egyptian women…. Were we to page through the history books we would find that Egyptian women of ancient times enjoyed preeminence and learning equivalent to that of the men, and among them were many queens.” Yet it defined Egyptian women as “the greatest encouragers of men.” If women were “the pillars of the nation,” it was because (to anticipate my next chapter) they had learned “to teach children properly and not leave them to the servants.”226 Habūs, daughter of the Amīr Bashīr al-Shihābī, a feudal Lebanese ruler, was politically active with and then against her father, fleeing after a plot against him failed. But her biography’s finale accentuates a different kind of productivity. She had four sons, all brilliant Shihābīs thanks to her good child rearing.227

Women are at their political best, in biography as in other polemics in this press, when they defer to male nationalist agendas. Emmeline Pankhurst dropped feminist demands to work in the war effort, the Egyptian Woman’s Magazine noted approvingly. Her tactics comprised takhrīb (wanton destruction), it said, but if men had used such methods, women had to, too.228 Of several biographies of Manon Roland, it is one published in 1926 (after Egyptian women had become active and visible nationalist agitators) that begins by locating Roland in an active female collectivity—energetic on the nation’s behalf. “Many women served humanity during the French Revolution, examples of honorable morals, lamps of freedom, fraternity, and equality, after they had stirred up ideas, activated people’s concern and zeal, and striven as heroes do to rid themselves of tyranny and oppression.” Roland’s example yields an observation that echoed Egyptian nationalist fireworks, accenting her active role in her husband’s work, subsuming female endeavor in male public activism:

There is no doubt about it. A great lady who emerges from within lethargy’s walls to raise herself from hut to palace—ascending from the masses’ embrace to the bosoms of the elite in their sessions—and encourages her spouse to confront hardship, guiding him in administration and politics and making him reach the position of Minister; a woman who … fuels the fires of the corrective revolution and, when the souls of the revolutionaries are satisfied, resists and curbs them and then goes a victim to this great work; a woman whose spouse finds it so (p.165) difficult to live on afterward that he … commits suicide—there is no doubt that she deserves to retain a good name, a far-reaching reputation, eternal mention.229

And, to cap it all: “Especially because despite it all she was not distracted from managing and administering her household nor did she neglect her daughter’s rearing or education at her own hands, nor turn a deaf ear to moans of the sick and demands of the miserable … nor give in to arrogance and laziness.”230 Eschewing the publicly political in editorials, early women’s magazines reinserted it, cautiously and perhaps unconsciously, through the kitchen door of women’s biography. As later magazines paid avid attention to women’s political demands, they did not necessarily give these demands explicit support. But through biography vivid descriptions of famous female, and feminist, activisms were on display for readers, even when the narrative frame subordinated public acts to family demands.

The Queen and Female Employment

“How delicious it is,” begins a biography of Nitocris (fl. fifth century B.C.), “for there to strike the ear of a researcher into Egypt’s ancient history the mention of a woman who ruled Egypt and ran its affairs, next to the names of the [male] Pharaoh-heroes, especially as this was about sixteen centuries before the Messiah.”231 As we have seen, biographies of ancient Egyptian female monarchs abounded in magazines founded by Egyptian women. Two themes ran through all these portrayals. First, the general status of women in ancient Egypt meant it was not surprising to find a female ruler taken seriously. Second, therefore, women—whether royals or commoners—had an excellent deal in ancient Egypt long before they were treated properly in “the West”—as the reference to “sixteen centuries before the Messiah” suggests. Female pharaohs offered both an indigenous precedent and a competitive edge, useful in refuting the notion that “women’s rights” or public work were Western imports. Not only could pharaohs represent the alleged status of ancient Egyptian women; they represented women’s capability to lead and act without bringing up the vexed issue of electoral rights. So did biographies of any women rulers, from the Pharaoh Nitocris to Zenobia to Shajar al-Durr, Catherine the Great, and the Begum of Bhopal.232 Such texts foregrounded political acumen and activism, easy to find in the annals of premodern Muslim dynasties. Nur Jahan (1571–1634?) of Mughal India (having captivated her husband, as we saw in chapter 3) had

(p.166) the entire kingdom in her hands, and she commanded and prohibited as she saw fit. Nothing lacked her except the khutba…. She would meet with the princes of the kingdom and review its troops…. She made the politics of the country good and purified her husband’s court of corruption. She was a savior for the oppressed, a refuge for those in hard luck. She brought up the daughters of the poor, married them off, and gave them dowries from her private funds.

The biography does not mention that she probably obtained power because her husband was addicted to drugs and alcohol; nor does it mention her less endearing qualities, a love of luxury and engagement in a factionalism that provoked civil war. But the trope of war does call attention to her power. When her husband was taken prisoner she went out at the head of what is labeled her army; “she attacked the enemy and cast it off with her own hand, showing courage and initiative that lit the fires of zeal in the breasts of her men…. He returned to his country triumphant and honored, and credit goes to his wife’s bravery and wisdom.”233 But to make the picture perfect, this exemplary subject withdrew into solitude at her husband’s death, devoting the rest of her life to charity work. The text implies that his death, not the assumption of power by another, caused her to retire, and that it was her choice to do so.

Similarly, Justinian was attracted to Theodora (497–548) not simply by her “beauty” but even more by her “vigor and comportment.” Indeed, she showed great intelligence in running the kingdom, says Young Woman of the East, and demonstrated “determination and courage.” If her husband handled insurrection firmly and properly, “credit in that was due to Theodora’s steadiness and her sound views. The period of her [sic] rule was twenty-two years.”234

Unusually, a biography of Umm al-Banīn, spouse of the Ummayyad caliph al-Walīd b. cAbd al-Malik, begins with a bouquet of flowery epithets describing him as a fine ruler concerned with his subjects. Yet these epithets are ultimately hers; “his concern for [his subjects] was due to Umm al-Banm’s words of guidance, and her skill in the ways of politics. Her word was implemented, her opinion followed; indeed she had dominion over him.” Interesting is the choice of cāwana (to help or support): she “was able to give him support in implementing justice and mercy.” Umm al-Banīn is thus in a supportive role; yet she is not. An anecdote that demonstrates her eloquence as a mode of power and refutes the notion that women have no place in public politics inserts itself.235 Such biographies, like those of Muslim females at centers of power in Scattered Pearls, are silent on pre (p.167) modern controversies over politically active females; they make their point by simply presenting these women as active, powerful, and respected, thereby distancing the portraits from misogynist polemics.236 At the same time, because so many of these women exercised power through husbands and especially sons, their images suited perfectly a discourse that displayed public roles and “private” energies as mutually reinforcing. And, as we shall see in the next chapter, profiles of female rulers address more than one agenda.

If the picture is not entirely rosy, this is because some texts dwell on difficulties women faced in maintaining authority.237 A biography of Ayyubid ruler Shajar al-Durr asks: “But is it possible in the East for a woman’s glory to continue even if she is possessor of a crown?”238 Yet biographies of rulers supported women’s visible public employment and activism as sanctioned, successful, and in the public good, while avoiding issues of political rights and career choices. Biographies of widows as willing and competent but involuntary CEOs combine the same elements. Profiling a contemporary Syrian émigré to New York, Lydia Tadros, the Ladies’ Revue invoked the cluster of achievement and anxiety that by the 1920s shaped elite discourse on women’s work:

Every Easterner is pleased to see, with every passing day, new proof of Eastern woman’s ascent, progress, competence, and readiness for work, if man would make way for her and undo the bonds of traditions that tie her hands. We say “if” because no matter how much woman frees herself of bonds (and as we have said before, we have entered the age of women’s freedom), we see her still fettered. For every time we take a step down freedom’s path we find ourselves still moving according to the outlook of those who have long prevailed in power. But men who study social conditions, taking note of their shifts and direction, have begun to learn of woman’s ability. Woman! worthy of an ample share of such freedom, an open way for talents through which she helps the world … unfortunately, in our sad East the ongoing movement for women’s liberation does not distinguish between what is permitted and what is disallowed, or among different levels or stages of the women’s awakening. Thus we hear sometimes the sound of grating without any true grinding accompanying it…. So instead of our awakening being pushed forward we see a group dragging it back … by not distinguishing between one sort of woman and another….

I offer these words to introduce a Syrian lady who has begun to oversee New York’s greatest business, that of the late Nicma Tadros.239 Our readers [masc.] and those who read newspapers of America and the East know of this great man and the great commercial establishment he (p.168) founded in New York, opening branches in the East until his capital was reckoned in millions of riyāls. This big enterprise is now steered by Madam Lydia Tadros, his widow, with a surpassing competence that she has practiced since her late lamented’s time, when she gave opinions and shared in administration, even if from behind a curtain.

Thus we congratulate Sayyida Lydia on her ability and fitness, and on the confidence her late beloved vested in her. We hope her mission becomes a model Eastern women can take as a pattern, so they will move ahead as she has, proving able and ready for momentous deeds. Her independence in business, we hope, initiates a new, practice-oriented awakening for those women able to undertake useful work. We hope her working life offers a lesson to our women from which they will learn that woman, properly prepared for work, given a free hand, is every bit as competent as man. It pleases me to publicize that my longtime friend gives her all to support the idea of women entering the workplace—the concept on whose strings our magazine has played time after time since its founding.

This energetic, organizationally capable woman has no need to work. She is wealthy and could spend [the rest of] her years relaxing, spending money, and having fun, playing poker and spending hundreds of riyāls on amusement. She could have hundreds of dresses tailored, indeed thousands; she could enjoy all the fine things of life in her elegant, immense palace. But her lively mind and superior upbringing hail the delight and benefit to be found in work; they orient her desires toward expenditure on projects beneficial to the human species….

So I congratulate you, my friend, on your new task and your rare personality, as I congratulate myself on our friendship, alive and evergrowing. In you I have learned what a devoted wife means; in you I have found the highest example of motherhood, household manager, and work supervisor. I have known you as the paragon of devoted loyalty, trustworthiness, and true friendship…. And now in you I see how… the noblest sort of honor is found in love of work…. I see you carrying patriotism’s banner, national unity’s flag, the placard of the women’s awakening, and the torch of freedom through a night whose darkness has lasted long. Let these praiseworthy qualities live; let the Tadros name be congratulated, for it includes you, preserver of its generosity, glory, and pride.240

Emphasizing the expansive and encouraging women onto new paths, magazine biographies foregrounded “Famous Women” as fully and thoughtfully using their own resources—physical, mental, material, and situational—to push changing role patterns in certain directions. Whether Sitt al-Mulk or Lucy Stone, Aspasia of Miletos or “cAtiyyāt the Copt,” women (p.169) act to shape their own destinies in these individual dramas. But, as these narratives remind readers, to act is to struggle with the given contours of one’s social environment. They applauded a woman’s persistence in pursuing goals despite obstacles erected by social expectation, and they praised those who took advantage of auspicious circumstances. Yet the thematics of social constraint articulate an underlying assumption that individual action and women’s emergence into public space—into “men’s work”—are necessarily good and positive moves. The possible costs to women were not debated through biography although sometimes the costs to families were. To emphasize movement outward was in line with a liberal nationalist ethos of individualist effort on behalf of community, with the goals of public patriarchy. Yet, as we shall see, it was both tempered and given a certain inflection by the thematics of domesticity, positing a more relational ethos, albeit one shaped by a traditionalist image of women as nurturers.

I end this chapter with the eloquent, somber biography of American educator Mary Lyon (1797–1849) by Mary cAjamī, published in Young Woman of the East in 1934, for it weaves together strands I have spun. cAjamī credits her subject as one who helped “raise women’s education to the level of men’s at a time when no one seriously considered this.”241 There is the familiar theme of the father who dies young, and a portrait of Mary’s mother through the eyes of her neighbors, “divided between admiring the cleanliness of her children and her energy on the farm.” Mary, sensitive and sharply intelligent, “surpassed all other girls in the village school” and, by age thirteen, had sole responsibility for “serving the home.” She saved the weekly riyāl her brother gave her, adding it to her income from “spinning and sewing in leisure hours.” Working as a teacher for low pay, “she saved this money, not swaggering with fripperies and silks, … yes, she collected those riyāls to enter an institute of higher education in a neighboring city.” Further financial problems dogged her progress, but “she hunched over her studies, giving this blessing its due respect and casting light on the darkness of her worries.” As a teacher she told her students to make the most of their money and time; and a quote from one of her speeches articulates a nationalist program consonant with the biography’s time and place: “Teach [hadhdhibū] women and they will teach men for you. Accustom women to love what is good and serve the one who is near, and they will accustom their children.” Having conceived the idea of founding a college for women, she held meetings in which she “made clear … the excellence of knowledge; with it, women would certainly recuperate the felicity of men.” cAjamī is indignant over the gossipy (p.170) attacks Lyon faced, traveling and working with a male colleague. “Such was public opinion on an honorable, hardworking woman. But things have changed. The world has begun to let the echo of woman’s voice resound, to take her hand and fill her heart with delight, to thank her for her loyalty.” Describing the waves of flowers that graced Lyon’s grave, cAjamī concluded simply: “These are the sweet scents of true civilization.”242


(1.) On autobiographies of early feminist leaders, see Margot Badran, “Expressing Feminism and Nationalism in Autobiography: The Memoirs of an Egyptian Educator,” in De/Colonizing the Subject: The Politics of Gender in Women’s Autobiography, ed. Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992), 270–93; Hoda Shaɔrawi, Harem Years: The Memoirs of an Egyptian Feminist (1879–1924), ed. and trans. Margot Badran (London: Virago, 1986). On premodern autobiography, see Edebiyat (fall 1996). On al-Bācūniyya I am indebted to Dwight Reynolds and Emil Homerin. On early entertainers’ autobiographies, see Virginia Danielson, “Artists and Entrepreneurs: Female Singers in Cairo during the 1920s,” in Women in Middle Eastern History: Shifting Boundaries in Sex and Gender, ed. Nikki R. Keddie and Beth Baron (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1991). On women writers signing their names, see Baron, Women’s Awakening, 43–50.

(2.) Carolyn Heilbrun, “Non-autobiographies of ‘Privileged’ Women: England and America,” in Life/Lines: Theorizing Women’s Autobiography, ed. Bella Brodzki and Celeste Schenck (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1988)’ 70.

(3.) When Nabawiyya Mūsā founded al-Fatāt in 1937, she called for biographical contributions: “Al-Fatāt welcomes valuable studies and research on ‘Famous Women’ in different eras sent by readers, men and women.” The notice appeared at least twice. “Shahīrāt al-nisāɔ bi-aqlām al-qurrāɔ wa-al-qāriɔāt,” al-Fatāt (Mūsā) 1:2 (Oct. 27, 1937): 18, and 1:3 (Nov. 3, 1937): 22.

(4.) “SN: Bāhithat al-Bādiya,” FS 13:3 (Dec. 15, 1918): 81. Also in Adāb al-fatāt: “SN: Bāhithat al-Bādiya: al-marhūma al-sayyida Malak Nāsif,” AF 1:2 (Feb. 1926): 25–27.

(5.) “Al-Nābigha al-misriyya al-Anisa Zakiyya cAbd al-Hamīd Sulaymān,” NN 4:12 (Nov. 1926): 412–14; quotations on 412, 412.

(6.) Balsam cAbd al-Malik, “Muqaddimat al-sana al-thāniya,” MM 2:1 (Jan. 1921): 1–2. Amīna Rifcat, “Tadwīnāt,” FM 2:4 (July 1922): 114–18; 117. “Muhammad Muhibb Bāshā,” FS 7:9 (June 1913): 347–49 (presumably the same Muhibb Pasha that Berque claims was first in Egypt’s commercial upper crust to allow his daughters to unveil; Egypt, 472). See also Labība Ahmad in NN 3:3 (Oct. 1923): 109; “Fatāt al-sharqcāmihā al-thāmin cashara,” FS 18:1 (Oct. 15, 1923): 1–2. On the agreement with the Education Ministry, see Fenoglio-Abd el Aal, Défense, 31. MM announced that the recent Dhikrā Bāhithat al-Bādiya, commemorating Malak Hifnī Nāsif, was bought in bulk by wealthy individuals for distribution in girls’ schools in Egypt and Sudan (MM 1:9 [Nov. 1920]: 320). On earlier journals, see Baron, Women’s Awakening, 68, 91, 92. The continuing importance of patronage emerges in an open letter from cAbd al-Malik to the Minister of Education, complaining that subscriptions taken by the ministry and provincial councils had decreased by more than half. MM 14:5/6 (May/June 1933): 156.

(p.357) (7.) “Al-Madrasa al-wataniyya,” AJ 4:7 (July 31, 1901): 739–40. Baron mentions this incident (Women’s Awakening, 97 and 220 n. 83).

(8.) FS 13:1 (Oct. 15, 1918): 35–36.

(9.) “Adab al-bint,” JL 7:7 (Jan. 1915): 264.

(10.) A telling contrast emerges: “The difference between this era’s nationalist and the barbarian of yesteryear is in books,” “Al-Sacāda wa-sadāqat al-kutub,” JL 7:7 (Jan. 1915): 239.

(11.) Editors advertised their own works by excerpting them and announcing hoped-for publication if readers would subscribe in advance. Labība Hāshim excerpts her book The Mother and the Men of the Future, unpublished at the time. See didactic dialogues in FS 2:6 (Mar. 15, 1908) and 3:7 (Apr. 1909); the book is announced as not yet published. Malaka Sacd told readers: “With the great need we perceive for a book to guide women to their most vital household duties, I have devoted much thought to filling this void … resulting in a book I call Rabbat al-dār…. One can subscribe inexpensively. I hope soon to obtain support from readers, men and women, to bring this book out so it can be of benefit.” “Thamra jadīda,” JL 7:2 (Sept. 1914): 79–80. She succeeded, thanking writers for praising the book in poetry and prose, and telling readers where to buy it. “Kitāb Rabbat al-dār,” JL 7:7 (Jan. 1915): 260–63.

(12.) The article reminds us of the preponderance of foreign education in Egypt at the time: “One girl asked us to guide her to French women writers … whom she can read without hanging her head in shame if surprised by a visitor.” The list includes “Famous Women” of later magazines: Sand, de Sévigné, de Staël. “Fāɔida adabiyya,” F 1:10 (Feb. 15, 1894): 446, from Beirut’s Lisān al-Hāl. Baron discusses reading in this press (Women’s Awakening, 84–90).

(13.) Labība Hāshim, “Taqrīz wa-intiqād,” AJ 6:5 (Apr. 30, 1903): 1417–20; quotations on 1418. AJ praised Fawwāz’s novel Husn al-cawāqib as “full of exemplary lessons, worthy of the finest praise for its fine author whose likes, we hope, will multiply in this country.” AJ 2:6 (June 30, 1899): 236.

(14.) Labība Hāshim, “al-Mutālaca,” AJ 2:11 (Nov. 30, 1899): 421–28; quotation on 423.

(15.) FS 4:6 (Mar. 1910): 227.

(16.) FS 4:3 (Dec. 1909): 115.

(17.) “SN: “Māry Bāshkir staf [sic],” FS 17:4 (Jan. 15, 1923): 121–22. Taken from an article by Anatole France, it reads in part like a traditional Arabic biography with epithets traditional in form but “off” in content. She is “blonde of hair, round of cheeks, short of nose, thin of lip, deep of glance” (121). Bashkirtseff is known for her journal, in which she celebrated her strong sense of self; reviewers criticized her frank self-confidence. Mary Jane Moffat and Charlotte Painter, eds., Revelations: Diaries of Women (New York: Vintage, 1975), 46–55.

(18.) “Māry Ilīzābith Barādūn,” JL 11:7 (Jan. 1919): 97–98. “SN: Sharlūt Kurdāy,” FS 19:6 (Mar. 15, 1925): 241–44. “Mādām Rūlān,” JL 6:9 (Mar. 1914): (p.358) 235–39. Biographies also mention married women (e.g., Augusta Victoria of Germany) making time for reading, echoing a concern of magazine editors.

(19.) Jurjī Niqūlā Bāz, “al-Yūbīl al-faddī lil-īnisa Māry cAjamī sāhibat ‘Ma-jallat al-cArūs’ bi-Dimashq,” FS 20:9 (June 15, 1926): 404.

(20.) Hasīb al-Hakīm, “SN: Min al-kūkh ilā al-barlamān: Mādām Bawb,” MM 8:3 (Mar. 15, 1927): 117–19.

(21.) “SN: Māriyā Aghnasī,” MM 7:2 (Feb. 15, 1926): 84–86. “SN: Māriyā Ajnisī,” FS 23:5 (Apr. 1929): 337–38. “SN: cAɔisha al-Dimashqiyya,” FS 28:9 (June 1934): 449.

(22.) “Mādām Rūlān,” JL 6:9 (Mar. 1914): 237, 236.

(23.) “Fī al-mirɔāt: Jamīla alcAlāɔilī,” NN 13:3 (Mar. 1935): 83–84. “SN: Luwīzā Alkūt,” FS 27:5 (Feb. 1933): 225–26. “Jān Awstīn,” JL 11:3 (Sept. 1918): 33–34. “SN: al-Amīra Aliksāndrah dī Afirīnuh Fizinūskā,” FS 10:1 (Oct. 1915): 2–11.

(24.) This is not the place to offer a detailed discussion of early schooling. In English, see Judith Tucker, Women in Nineteenth-Century Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 122–30; Baron, Women’s Awakening, chap. 6; Badran, Feminists, 143–48.

(25.) This excludes the earlier midwifery school, started for specific training purposes. It is difficult to imagine the school, or even Muhammad cAlī’s hiring tutors for his daughters, as suggesting commitment to broader girls’ education; but perhaps, as Badran argues, this provided a model for elite families. See Tucker, Women, 123–25; Badran, Feminists, 8–9.

(26.) Repeatedly al-Muɔayyad’s provincial correspondents reported bad conditions in kuttābs and unsatisfactory educational results. See al-Muɔayyad 1:3 (Dec. 8, 1889): 2; 1:173 (July 2, 1890): 3 (Asyut); 2:271 (Nov. 3, 1890): 2 (Sohag); 2:309 (Dec. 18, 1890): 1; 3: 638 (Mar. 7, 1892): 2 (Mansura); 3:658 (Mar. 30, 1892): 2. Other articles complain that schools, curriculum, teachers, and the populace’s awareness of education’s importance are not what they should be: “Wajhat al-mutacallim,” al-Muɔayyad 1:5 (Dec. 10, 1889): 1; “Taqaddum al-macārif fī al-diyār al-misriyya,” 1:186 (July 9, 1890): 1; articles in 1:216, 1:221, 1:223, 1:240; 2:474, 2:477, 2:480, 3:562; 4:920; 4:921, by no means an inclusive list. The paper noted the support of Egypt’s highest (Egyptian) civil servants for better education: “al-Hathth calā al-tacallum,” 1:214 (Aug. 26, 1890): 1; and expressed anxiety over the presence, funding, and drawing power of foreign schools in Egypt: “al-Madāris al-ajnabiyya fī al-diyār al-misriyya,” al-Muɔayyad 1:255 (Oct. 13, 1890): 1; “Mādha yaqsidūna?” 2:325 (Jan. 6, 1891): 1; “Al-Madāris al-ajnabiyya fī al-diyār al-misriyya,” 2:331 (Jan. 13, 1891): 1; “Tacmīm al-taclīm,” 3:624 (Feb. 20, 1892): 1.

(27.) Tucker, Women, 127, 131. Al-Muɔayyad 3:563 (Dec. 10, 1891): 2. It is hardly surprising that polemics on schooling in al-Muɔayyad focused on the poor state of boys’ schools, given prevailing social and ideological conditions. If boys’ education was in crisis, could one expect even supporters of girls’ schooling to privilege it? Yet the newspaper reports on girls’ schools, with approving notices of new school openings, prize ceremonies, and exhibition days. “Yesterday a troupe of students from the French School for Girls … founded three (p.359) years ago … acted a play on the stage at Azbakiyya Gardens, and declaimed a number of essays in Arabic, French and Italian. The audience was astonished by their fine delivery, considering their young age; for all were between eight and ten years old.” 2:554 (Nov. 30, 1891): 3.

(28.) “Al-Fatāt,” F 1:10 (Feb. 15, 1894): 436–46; quotation on 440.

(29.) “Taclīm al-fatāt,” AJ 1:7 (July 31, 1898): 193–97; quotation on 194.

(30.) cAfīfa Salīb, “Al-Marɔa wa-al-taclīm,” AJ 2:7 (July 31, 1899): 258–60; quotation on 258.

(31.) A powerful article in JL (1916) invokes “the case of Miss Asmā Mansūr—indeed, the case of the Egyptian woman” to attack the government for restricting female education. Mansūr had sought and obtained permission to take the secondary school entrance exam; “after hard work to prepare,” the decision had been reversed. This, commented the magazine, happened after “our Sultān” had called for an expansion in education for boys and girls; Egypt was indeed “the land of wonders and contradictions.” “Does the government want to say to daughters of the Nile: ‘Education is prohibited to you’ ? Does the school administration want to say to the civilized world, ‘We do not let our daughters learn’? … or to say to the civilization of the twentieth century, ‘We do not want mothers for our sons who know the meaning of true child raising, good character, and proper knowledge; we want them to be wives and no more’?” “Qadiyat al-Anisa Asmā Mansūr: bal qadiyat al-marɔa al-misriyya,” JL 9:4 (Oct. 1916): 143–44.

(32.) “Khitām al-sana al-ūlā li-Majallat al-Sayyidāt,” SB 1:12 (Mar. 1904): 372–75; quotation on 372. The essay continues: “From there, the principles and fundaments it teaches can be extended to the uneducated [women].” In MM: “I say the best literary schools are useful magazines; taking their founders’ hands is the best way to serve literature. The magazines most urgently in need of support are our women’s journals, priMāry means to refine souls and culture minds. Despite the need for the benefits they offer, they are few in number and not widely available.” Yūsuf Hamdī Yakan, “al-Sawānih al-yūsufiyya 6: cadad al-adab,” MM 4:4 (Apr. 1923): 181–82; 182.

(33.) cAlī al-Jubaylī al-Ghazālī, in MM 14:7 (1934): 240, quoted in Khalīfa, al-Haraka, 114. This should be the issue for September 1933; Khalīfa gives it as 1934.

(34.) Zaynab Fawwāz, “al-cIlm nūr,” F 1:10 (Feb. 15, 1894): 159–63.

(35.) Labība Hāshim, “Taclīm al-banāt,” FS 4:3 (Dec. 1909): 82–86. Harsh criticism of opponents of girls’ education comes in an attack on the flamboyant, controversial Shaykh cAbd al-cAzīz Jāwīsh, reporting on a speech in which he allegedly said a pure heart was all a woman needed. Unusually pointed for FS, this was possible perhaps because it appeared under the foreign byline of Olga de Lébédef, an “orientalist” Hāshim met in Cairo and whose biography she featured in FS’s first year. The editor, concurring, slyly suggested the ubiquity of the discourse on female education: “It is well known that woman has the same natural right as man to develop her mind to the furthest limit for which she is prepared.” The attack drew fire from Ibrāhīm Ramzī, onetime editor of (p.360) Woman in Islam, who claimed that Jāwīsh’s one speech on the subject defined the province of girls’ education as domestic but permitted “a proper measure” of reading and writing, a bit of geography, history, and the principles of arithmetic, “but first she must have a refined and purified self and a good upbringing.” See “Al-Marɔa al-sharqiyya wa-al-shaykh cAbd al-cAzīz Jāwīsh,” FS 4:7 (Apr. 1910): 249–50; Ibrāhīm Ramzī, “al-Marɔa al-sharqiyya wa-al-ustādh cAbd al-cAzīz Jāwīsh,” FS 4:8 (May 1910): 298–301. The magazine asks de Lébédef to respond, assuring “the writer and Jāwīsh” that its only aim is “to reform the situation of woman, half the nation, in whose hand is the life of the whole nation” (301).

(36.) Muhammad Munīr, “Kalima ilā al-sayyidāt,” FS 1:10 (July 15, 1907): 295–96; quotation on 295. He calls on “wealthy” ladies to fund schools for poor girls, who “float on the seas of superstitions and ancient fancies such that not a one is fit to be mistress of a house, running it on a sound social basis.” Such fancies, he says (reiterating a common theme) come from ignorant mothers (296).

(37.) “Sīrat SN: al-Sayyida Nafīsa al-cAlawiyya,” MI 1:5 (June 1, 1901): 75–76, quotation on 76. The masculine “universal” plural in “those Egyptians who remain naive” may imply male guardians foremost, offering a reminder of MI’s primary audience. Note that the text carefully delineates where “it is possible for women and men to be equal.”

(38.) Badran, Feminists, 145.

(39.) “SN: Rujīna Khayyāt,” MM 4:7 (Sept. 1, 1923): 369.

(40.) “SN: Malāk al-rahma: al-Sayyida dhāt al-misbāh,” MM 15:1/2 (Jan./Feb. 1934): 70–72.

(41.) “Tabība jarrāha,” AR 1:9 (Dec. 22, 1926): 3.

(42.) “Ashhar al-nisāɔ: Lūsī Stūn Blākwāl: Zacīmat al-mutālibāt bi-hu-qūq al-nisāɔ fī Amīrikā (suɔal lil-qāriɔāt fī mawdūc qadīm),” SB 1:1 (Apr. 1, 1903): 4.

(43.) Badran, Feminists, 34–35.

(44.) “Sīrat SN: cAɔisha Umm al-muɔminīn,” MI 1:2 (Apr. 15, 1901): 27.

(45.) “Masɔala fihā nazr,” FS 3:7 (Apr. 1909): 262–68. In the next issue (pp. 302–5) he takes up Umayyad and Abbasid women. Men’s treatment of women made the period one of “tyranny and corruption”; men, to blame for today’s situation, must undertake “the reform of women” (305).

(46.) “SN: Asmāɔ al-cAmiriyya,” FS 11:5 (Feb. 15, 1917): 185. *** [Farah Antūn], “SN: al-Khansāɔ, ashhar shācirāt al-carab,” SB 1:3 (June 1903): 76.

(47.) Abū Shādī on “the new woman”: FS 3:9 (June 1909): 335–39; 3:10 (July 1909): 365–70.

(48.) M. L., “Misrī,” “Huqūq al-marɔa al-muslima,” AJ 1:8 (Aug. 31, 1898): 231–35, one in a series of responses to a speech by cUmar Bek Lutfī to a female audience at “the women’s conference” in Geneva, reproduced in AJ 1:4 (Apr. 1898): 97–100.

(49.) Mahmūd Hamdī al-Sakhāwī, “Al-Fatāt al-sharqiyya,” AJ 2:1 (Jan. 31, 1899): 17–21. The author is a school head. This article is interesting, but not (p.361) unrepresentative, for its defense of men against accusations that they are to blame for polygyny, divorce, and late nights out.

(50.) More so than Ahmad Abū Jundiyya’s statement that a woman of knowledge will be aware of its consequences, earning honor and “becoming a paragon of perfection, a model in good acts.” “Ajwibat al-iqtirāh,” AJ 2:1 (Jan. 31, 1899): 22–28; Muharram’s letter, 22–24, Abū Jundiyya’s, 24–25. Abū Jundiyya distinguishes “useful and beneficial knowledge” from “futile” learning that leads one to follow “passions” but does not specify a “proper” female sphere of knowledge. Writers rarely expressed anxiety over the impact of “futile” knowledge on men.

(51.) AJ 2:1 (Jan. 31, 1899): 25–28. She speculates that if women become educated they will no longer obey their husbands, who will thus “be obliged to use physical force … and we fear a return to our first age of woman’s servitude and abasement, which is what must happen if woman extends her present freedom” (28).

(52.) “Suwar al-majalla: Shahīrāt al-nisāɔ,” AJ 2:6 (June 30, 1899): 205–9; quotation on 209.

(53.) “Suwar al-majalla: Shahīrāt al-nisāɔ,” AJ 2:8 (Aug. 31, 1899): 285–89; quotation on 287. This also features a Russian philosopher and American scholar Carey Thomas, “to whom goes the greatest credit for founding many institutes of female education…. She is absolutely devoted to serving young women, whom she loves and honors” (289).

(54.) “Suwar al-majalla: Shahīrāt al-nisāɔ,” AJ 2:7 (July 31, 1899): 245–49; quotations on 248, 249.

(55.) [Response to a letter], JL 1:4 (Oct. 1908): 114–16; quotation on 115–16.

(56.) cAfīfa Azan, “al-cIlm wa-al-camal,” F 1:3 (Feb. 1, 1893): 116; “al-Barinsis Tarīzā al-Bāfāriyya,” F 1:4 (Mar. 1, 1893): 150–51.

(57.) “Al-cIlm nūr,” 162.

(58.) As Afsaneh Najmabadi has observed for Iran and Baron for Arab cultures, the father stood at the center of premodern writing on child raising, which “mirrored a legal reality—children belonged to the father.” Baron, Women’s Awakening, 159; Afsaneh Najmabadi, “Crafting an Educated Housewife in Iran,” in Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East, ed. Lila Abu-Lughod (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1998), 91–125. Now the spotlight was on mothers. Yet through biography and other articles fatherhood received attention.

(59.) “Jān Awstīn,” JL 11:3 (Sept. 1918): 33–34; quotation on 33.

(60.) “SN: Madām dī Kātīl,” FS 32:6 (Mar. 1938): 221–222; quotation on 221.

(61.) cIsā Iskandar al-Maclūf, “SN: Mariyānā al-Marrāsh al-Halabiyya,” FS 13:9 (June 15, 1919): 345–51; quotations on 346–47, 347. The author dwells on al-Marrāsh’s father; see also note 67.

(62.) “SN: Anīsa wa-cAfīfa Shartūnī,” FS 5:3 (Dec. 5, 1910): 81–84.

(63.) “SN: “Ilīsābāt Stāntūn, muɔassisat al-nahda al-nisāɔiyya al-amīrikiyya,” FS 19:4 (Jan. 15, 1925): 145–46; quotation on 145. A later biography says it was her father’s preference for his son over his daughters—“the bitterness of (p.362) injustice she tasted while still a child”—that spurred her intellectual and athletic excellence. “SN: Misiz Ilīsābāt Stāntūn,” FS 26:5 (Feb. 1932): 225–26; quotation on 225.

(64.) “SN: Madām Niykur,” FS 16:4 (Jan. 15, 1922): 121–22; “SN: Madām Taqlā Bāshā,” FS 19:1 (Oct. 15, 1924): 3–5; quotation on 3. A later life of a famous daughter portrayed her father—Ramsey MacDonald, surrounded by his children, reading to them. “Let us speak of the head of the household who raised this young woman”; his influence produced Isabel’s preference for a simple life and led to her decision to marry a “simple builder.” Nasīf Mīkhāɔīl, “SN: Ishabāl Mākdūnāld tatazawwiju muqāwilan,” MM 19:3/4 (Mar./Apr. 1938): 118–20; quotations on 119.

(65.) “Misiz Brawnin,” MM 8:5–6 (May 15, 1927): 260–63. Attacks on men’s lack of support: “Fī sabīl inhād al-marɔa: Madhā yuqālu can al-marɔa?” MM 4:1 (Jan. 1923): 4–5; Duriyya Imām Fahmī, “Bāb al-tarbiya wa-al-akhlāq: al-Hāja ilā tarbiyat al-banāt wa-mazāyāhā,” MM 4:2 (Feb. 1923): 71–72.

(66.) “Ilisabāt Bārat Birūninj,” JL 9:1 (May 1916): 6–11; quotations on 6, 7.

(67.) cIsā Iskandar al-Maclīf, “SN: al-Tabība Salmā Qusātilī al-Dimashqiyya,” FS 14:7 (Apr. 5, 1920): 241–44. This is one of al-Maclūf’s biographies that begin with information on men of the family. I think this needs to be seen not simply as a male-centered focus but as an indication of reformers’ notions of masculinity at this time: part of the portrait of the enlightened Arab nineteenth-century intellectual for al-Maclūf is that he is surrounded by educated females. The author mentions Nucmān’s wife, Nadā Kalīla, as a learned writer who has written a book on mathematics, and his two daughters Asmāɔ and Farīda as litterateurs.

(68.) “SN: al-Sayyida Warda al-Yāzijī,” FS 2:1 (Oct. 15, 1907): 7. FS’s obituary-biography refers to this text: “We were aiming to inform her literary colleagues, female and male, of her excellence and the history of her pure and useful life.” “SN: al-Sayyida Warda al-Yāzijī,” FS 18:5 (Feb. 1924): 1–6; quotation on 2.

(69.) Warda al-Yāzijī, “Tacziyatī,” FS 13:4 (Jan. 15, 1919): 128.

(70.) “SN: al-Sayyida Amīna Najīb fī sinn al-thalāthīn (1887–1917),” FS 23:3 (Dec. 1928): 103–5. The text does not describe her mother as it does her father, perhaps for lack of information.

(71.) “Madām Rūlān,” MM 6:3 (Mar. 15, 1925): 158, 159. But seven years later MM profiles her in a reversal of the “woman-behind-the-man” theme, portraying a strong woman supporting a weak man: “If his wife had not helped him, supporting his back from behind, his impotence would have appeared more clearly and his position would have been shaky from the first.” I find it significant that the tone of this text is negative; the portrait constructs Roland as arrogant, superficial, hasty, emotional, and sly, linking this to a gendered evaluation of traits: she “had the mind of a man but she preserved the mood of a woman.” “Madām Rūlān,” MM 13:5/6 (May/June 1932): 230–34; quotations on 234, 233. “It might be that among the imaginings that make history look like legend is that a woman had power over the Girondin platform” (231).

(p.363) (72.) “SN: Madām dī Stāyil,” FS 16:8 (May 1922): 281–86; “SN: Madām Niykur,” FS 16:4 (Jan. 15, 1922): 121–22.

(73.) Jurjī Niqūlā Bāz, “SN: “Hannā Kasbānī Kūrānī,” FS 2:10 (July 15, 1908): 362.

(74.) Yāqūt Sarrūf, “SN: Maryam Nimr Makāriyūs,” FS 2:5 (Feb. 15, 1908), 161, 162; reprinted from al-Muqtataf. Makāriyūs’s speech reproduced in the next issue, “Raising Children,” foregrounded the speaker’s maternal role yet defined her as a public speaker: “SN: Tābicat tarjamat al-marhūma Māryam Nimr Makāriyūs,” FS 2:6 (Mar. 15, 1908): 201–8. This illustrates FS’s reliance on Fawwāz; the speech forms part of her life of Makāriyūs (DM, 504–8).

(75.) “Al-Amīra Yuliyāna al-Hūlandiyya,” FS 25:2 (Nov. 1930): 66–68.

(76.) “SN: Jullanār Hānim aw Mme Olga de Lébédef” [the latter name in Roman characters], FS 1:7 (Apr. 15, 1907): 197–98.

(77.) Muhammad Abū al-Iscad, Nabawiyya Mūsā wa-dawruhā fī al-hayāt al-misriyya (1886–1951), Ser. Tārīkh al-Misriyyīn 69 (Cairo: al-Hayɔa al-mis-riyya al-cāmma lil-Kitāb, 1994), 19–21. He dates this to 1926.

(78.) “Al-Marɔa al-sharqiyya: Mā yajibu calayhā camaluh al-yawm,” FS 13:5 (Feb. 15, 1919): 187–90; quotation on 187–89.

(79.) Jurjī Niqūlā Bāz, “SN: Luwīzā Prūktur,” FS 3:1 (Oct. 1908): 4, 6–7.

(80.) “Wafāt sayyida fādila,” SB 2:5 (Apr. 1905): 144.

(81.) DM, 18. Possibly this line was translated from a European source; that does not lessen its interest as a text helping to shape a local language of modernity around child-rearing methods.

(82.) cIsā Iskandar al-Maclūf, “SN: al-Tabība Salmā Qusātilī al-Dimashqiyya,” FS 14:7 (Apr. 5, 1920): 241–44. “SN: Māriyā Mitshil al-falakiyya,” MM 8:1 (Jan. 15, 1927): 6–9, 8.

(83.) “Annā Lititsiyā Barbawld,” JL 11:4 (Oct. 1918): 49–50.

(84.) Folger Collective on Early Women Critics, Women Critics 1660–1820: An Anthology (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995), 174.

(85.) “SN: Zaynab bt. Muhammad b. cUthmān b. cAbd al-Rahmān al-Dimashqiyya,” FS 11:10 (July 15, 1917): 425; DM, 228.

(86.) “SN: Khadīja al-Ansāriyya,” FS 14:10 (July 15, 1920): 361. She does not appear in DM.

(87.) “SN: Fātima bt. Ahjam b. Dandana al-Khuzācī,” FS 9:9 (June 1915): 321. The title retains a more traditional three-generation patronymic.

(88.) “SN: Fātima bt. Ahjam b. Dandana al-Khuzācī” FS 22:6 (Mar. 1928): 241. These biographies follow DM closely but diverge in mentioning her father’s concern with her education and emphasizing her upbringing, suggesting these themes’ modernity (DM, 363–64).

(89.) “SN: Fātima bt. Jamāl al-Dīn Sulaymān,” FS 25:1 (Oct. 1930): 2–3.

(90.) “SN: Fayrūz bt. al-Sultān cAlāɔ al-Dīn,” FS 25:2 (Nov. 1930): 57–59. DM does not have this emphasis, but both texts note her influence over her brother during his reign (DM, 449–50).

(91.) “SN: Kātirīnā al-thāniya,” FS 6:1 (Oct. 15, 1911): 2–5, describes the clerical school for girls she founded as well as her sports arenas for females, and (p.364) says she attempted to bring girls of different ethnicities together. See also Muhammad Mukhtār Yūnus, “Bāb al-tārīkh: Shams al-tārīkh: Kātirīna al-thāniya li-Rūsiyā fī al-qarn al-thāmin cashara al-mīlādī,” NN 3:2 (Sept. 1923): 51–52. Catherine probably paid more heed to boys’ education than girls’ (communication from Mark Steinberg, May 1998), but these texts privilege the latter.

(92.) “Al-Barinsīs Fātima Haydar Fādil,” MM 4:8 (Oct. 1, 1923): 439.

(93.) “Misis Frānk Lislī al-shahīra,” F 1:3 (Feb. 1, 1893): 101–3; quotation on 102.

(94.) E.g., Muhammad Munīr, “Kalima ilā al-sayyidāt,” FS 1:10 (July 15, 1907): 295–96.

(95.) “Ashhar al-nisāɔ: Lūsī Stūn Blākwāl: Zacīmat al-mutālibāt bi-huqūq al-nisāɔ fī Amīrikā (suɔāl lil-qārɔāt fī mawdūc qadīm),” SB 1:1 (Apr. 1, 1903): 4–6. “cAlam al-marɔa: Zacīma hindiyya tanzimu balīgh al-shicr bi-al-lugha al-in-jiliziyya,” AR 1:70 (June 2, 1926): 6, 7.

(96.) Jurjī Niqūlā Bāz, “SN: Maryam Jahashān,” FS 5:9 (June 15, 1911): 321–25.

(97.) Jurjī Niqūlā Bāz, “al-Yūbīl al-faddī lil-ānisa Māry cAjamī sāhibat ‘Ma-jallat al-cArūs’ bi-Dimashq,” FS 20:9 (15 June 1926): 403–7.

(98.) Jurjī Niqūlā Bāz, “SN: Māry cAjamī,” MM 7:6 (June 20, 1926): 324–26; quotation on 324.

(99.) Zakiyya cAbd al-Hamīd Sulaymān, “al-Sacāda al-manziliyya,” FM 1:1 (Apr. 1921): 14–21; idem., “Mabāhith cilmiyya: Tārīkh cilm al-tarbiya: Frūbil wa-Muntisūrī,” FM 1:2 (May 1921): 55–57.

(100.) Farīda Ahmad, “Fī al-taclīm al-jughrāfī,” FM 1:1 (Apr. 1921): 28–30; Zakiyya cAbd al-Hamīd Sulaymān, “Fī al-tacbīr can al-khātir,” FM 1:2 (May 1921): 62–63; Nafūsa Khalīfa, “Bacd arāɔ fī al-taclīm: al-Taclīm bi-wāsitat al-lacb,” FM 1:3 (June 1921): 90–92; Wadīda al-Sadr, “Khitta li-dirāsat al-tabīɔa,” FM 1:3 (June 1921): 96–99.

(101.) Hanīfa Hifnī Nāsif, “Sālih al-rijāl fī citāɔ haqq al-intikhāb lil-nisāɔ,” FMF 1:3 (June 1921): 79–85. The journal’s emphasis was not unique. For 1919–20, The Gentle Sex announced a new column putting family at the center (“especially since there is consensus on the family as foundation of the nation”) and discussing “new discoveries” in education, relying on European and American periodicals. “Iftitāh al-sana al-thāniya cashara,” JL 12:1 (Oct. 1919): 2–4; 2, 3.

(102.) cAbd al-Halīm Sālim, “Tarājim al-murabbiyāt al-Shahīrāt: Madām Kambān,” NN 3:6 (Jan. 1924): 211–15.

(103.) Apparently al-Bustānī wanted to found a parallel girls’ school, according to Bāz (cited in Kallās, al-Haraka al-fikriyya, 24).

(104.) cIsā Iskandar al-Maclūf, “SN: Rāhīl cAtā zawjat al-mucallim Butrus al-Bustānī,” FS 14:1 (Oct. 15, 1919): 1–4. Note that she is defined as wife rather than daughter in the title.

(105.) “SN: Madām Taqlā Bāshā,” FS 19:1 (Oct. 15, 1924): 3–5; quotations on 4.

(106.) “SN: Bijūm malikat Bhūbūl,” FS 21:1 (Oct. 1926): 2–3.

(p.365) (107.) cAlī Afandī cAlī al-cAzabī, “Laylat al-zifāf,” FS 1:5 (Feb. 15, 1907): 135–37. The monologue continues; see idem., “Thānī laylat al-zifāf,” FS 1:7 (Apr. 15, 1907): 206–7.

(108.) E.g., FS 13:2 (Nov. 15, 1918): 46–48; 13:3 (Dec. 15, 1918): 84–86.

(109.) “Basāɔit cilm al-tabīc a: Bayna umm wa-waladihā: al-Thuql al-nawcī,” FS 18:1 (Oct. 15, 1923): 7, 8.

(110.) A. c. N., “Fī al-mirɔāt: Jamīla al-cAlāɔilī,” NN 13:3 (Mar. 1935): 83–84; quotations on 83, 83, 84.

(111.) Girls on education missions to Europe, and girls in Egypt, sometimes resisted the domestic curriculum mapped out for them. Sālim, al-Marɔa al-misriyya, 76–77; Khalīfa, al-Haraka, 248.

(112.) Badran, Feminists, chap. 8.

(113.) “Al-Fatāt al-cuthmāniyya,” FS 3:1 (Oct. 1908): 11–14; “Al-cIlm bacda al-dustūr al-cuthmānī,” FS 3:1 (Oct. 1908): 14–20. For a similar didactic strategy, see “al-Marɔa al-amīrikiyya,” FS 3:3 (Dec. 1908): 83–87.

(114.) “Al-cIlm bacda al-dustūr al-cuthmānī,” FS 3:1 (Oct. 1908): 14–20; quotations on 18, 19, 19–20.

(115.) Amīna cAwda, “Al-Lugha wa-al-watan,” FM 1:6 (Sept. 1921): 190–92; quotation on 192.

(116.) cAfīfa Azan, “al-cIlm wa-al-camal,” F 1:3 (Feb. 1, 1893): 116.

(117.) In 1:5 Turkish writer Fatma Aliye, in 1:6 an article by Aliye in the SN slot, in 1:8 Fawwāz, in 1:9 Emily Sursuq, in 1:10 a return to poets with cAliyya bt. al-Mahdī. Featuring de Lébédef (1:7), she was apologetic about the choice. Only in FS’s third year did she begin to feature other European women.

(118.) Rūz Sālim Jalakh, “Fī hālatinā al-ijtimāciyya,” FS 1:4 (Jan. 15, 1907): 99–101.

(119.) “Al-Nisāɔ al-sharqiyyāt,” FS 1:4 (Jan. 15, 1907): 113. Baron (Women’s Awakening, 83–84, 137–39) says this issue was at its height in the century’s first decade.

(120.) It also instructs fathers not to leave girls’ education to their mothers, on the grounds that mothers do not understand its importance. “Nisāɔ al-sharq wa-al-lugha al-carabiyya,” FS 2:1 (Oct. 15, 1908): 19–22. A writer in MM criticizes parents (of both sexes) who regard girls’ education as “a sort of polish or luxury,” noting that “in recent years” there has been much competition among mothers and fathers to acquire this for daughters, when they cannot even speak their own language properly. Fathiyya cAbd al-Wahhāb, “Bāb al-tarbiya wa-al-akhlāq: Māhiyat al-taclīm wa-kayfa yajibu an yakūna,” MM 4:4 (Apr. 1923): 186–88.

(121.) “Al-Jāmica al-misriyya wa-al-muhādarāt al-nisāɔiyya,” FS 4:4 (Jan. 1910): 123–28. These lectures had just begun. This must refer to Mile A. Couv-reur’s series. Seconded from the Lycée Racine in Paris, she was chosen as head of the new extracurricular women’s section by “Egyptian nationalist men … [who] bypassed their own female compatriot [N. Mūsā]” (Badran, Feminists, 54). Syrian (including Hāshim) and Egyptian women would give lectures there. Couvreur’s lectures appeared as La Femme aux différentes époques (p.366) de l’histoire: Conférences faites aux dames égyptiennes (Cairo: Université égyptienne et Librairie Diemer; Le Puy: Peyriller, Rouchon … Gamon, 1910).

(122.) “cAlam al-marɔa: Zacīma hindiyya tanzimu balīgh al-shicr bi-al-lugha al-injiliziyya,” AR 1:70 (June 2, 1926): 6.

(123.) “Mukātabāt: Būlāq, li-mukātibinā,” al-Muɔayyad 1:12 (Dec. 18, 1889): 3.

(124.) This was in Fayyum; on December 27 the paper reported that the police chief had “expelled” the woman, but soon she returned to the same bar. 2:316 (Dec. 27, 1890): 2.

(125.) cAfīfa Dimitrī Salīb, “al-Marɔa wa-al-taclīm: li-madhā tatacallimu al-marɔa” (2), AJ 2:9 (Sept. 30, 1899): 334–38; quotation on 337. She calls for girls’ schools “like those for boys” and girls’ compulsory education “so they will be raised with strong and sound principles.” What pleasure will it be for you, she asks “the young man,” to spend the bloom of youth among notebooks and inkwells only to return home to find “the sovereign state of disorder, filth, and chaos ruling your residence?” To anticipate our next theme, she equates an absence of clean clothes with lack of “true manners.” See a speech by Farīda Mūsā cUfaysh, reprinted in AJ 3:3 (Mar. 31, 1900): 101–6.

(126.) Labība Hāshim, “al-Mutālaca,” AJ 2:11 (Nov. 30, 1899): 423, 427–28.

(127.) “Ihdā al-sayyidāt al-fādilāt,” “al-cIlm wa-al-marɔa AJ 2:4 (Apr. 30, 1899): 143. What is needed, the article specifies, are “knowledge and religion” together, for religion gives tarbiya and husn al-sīra. Here, the opposition of cilm and tarbiya (as moral training) is clear. The essay distinguishes prerevolutionary French women, “with their learning, paragons of probity, obedience, and virtue,” from those produced by the Revolution, once “the recent governments’ men abolished the science of religion from the schools” (144–45).

(128.) “Mādām dī Sayfīnay,” JL 7:2 (June 1, 1914): 41–46.

(129.) “SN: Aghnas Klīrk,” FS 28:2 (Nov. 1933): 1–2.

(130.) “Mādām Rūlān,” JL 6:9 (Mar. 1914): 236.

(131.) “Jūn Kūrtin,” F 1:1 (Nov. 20, 1892): 15–16. Koerten appears in Adams’s Cyclopaedia, 439.

(132.) “SN: al-Sayyida Imīlī Sursuq,” FS 1:9 (June 15, 1907): 257–58.

(133.) “Bāb Shahīrāt al-nisāɔ: al-Bulbul al-suwaydī,” MM 14:9/10 (Nov./Dec. 1933): 207.

(134.) al-Muɔayyad 4:1119 (Oct. 30, 1893): 3.

(135.) Ahmad Mahfūz Hasan, “Ahādīth al-Hisān: al-Fatāt al-nābigha al-Anisa Māry al-jamīla,” H 4:10 (Jan. 9, 1929): 20–21, 26. “Bāb al-funūn al-jamīla: Kawkab masārih al-tamthīl wa-al-ghināɔ al-yawm: Flawrans Fawwāz al-astirāliyyat al-umm wa-al-lubnāniyyat al-ab,” SR 4:9 (July 15, 1923): 567. “Al-Anisa Umm Kulthūm: Ulā mughanniyyāt al-sharq al-yawm,” SR 8:8 (July 1927): 531–34.

(136.) “Sārā Birnār: Nābighat al-tamthīl wa-nādirat al-casr,” SR 4:7 (May 1923): 440. Florence Fawwāz follows two issues later. Nafs anūf may suggest something closer to haughtiness than the more neutral “self-pride,” but I suspect it was chosen to rhyme with rūh catūf. A life of Bernhardt celebrates her (p.367) public life and fame but then tries to subsume it in the private by emphasizing the centrality of her role as mother to her own self-image and happiness, implying this as the source of her consummate acting. This obituary demonstrates a hierarchy of values that does not privilege the acting profession: “The world from one end to the other sorrows because Sarah was not just that famous actress but was greater than an actress: Sarah was a ‘great woman.’” “Sārah Birnār,” MM 4:4 (Apr. 1, 1923): 218–21; quotation on 218. Both texts stress that she was also a writer, perhaps thereby giving her greater respectability.

(137.) “SN: Anna Baflūfa 1,” FS 25:6 (Mar. 1931): 281–85. This text offers a double first-person tribute to the recently deceased dancer with autobiographical overtones, mostly a memoir by opera administrator Catherine Eggleston Roberts that the translator “al-Zahra,” hearing of Pavlova’s death, recalled reading several years before. “Egypt still remembers this lady who elevated the art of dance, and still talks of her visits in 1923 and 1928” (285).

(138.) “SN: cArīb,” FS 7:10 (July 1913): 369; “SN: Burqā,” FS 22:2 (Nov. 1, 1927): 50; “SN: Badhal al-mughanniyya,” FS 22:1 (Oct. 1, 1927): 5–6.

(139.) If observed in male behavior, this is explained as the result of poor upbringing—by the mother, of course. See Booth, “al-Marɔa fī al-lslām.”

(140.) The call for educated women’s right to work outside the home was linked to polemics on the danger of leisure. In the 1870s al-Tahtāwī gestured to this issue, as he called for girls’ education.

(141.) Ilyās Lutfallāh, “Maqāla fī tarbiyat al-banāt,” FS 1:6 (Mar. 15, 1907): 168.

(142.) “SN: Māriyā Mitshil al-falakiyya,” MM 8:1 (Jan. 15, 1927): 6–7. A near-identical biography appeared in al-Muqtataf in 1898, unacknowledged in MM. Unfortunately, space prohibits speculation on the difference it might make to read the same text in 1898 or 1927, in a general or women’s magazine. This is not the only repeated biography; Agnesi is another.

(143.) “SN: Fitūriyā imbirātūrat Alamānyā,” FS 15:10 (July 15, 1921): 361–62.

(144.) Responding to AJ’s call for contributions, Labība Hāshim said she felt encouraged to write and wanted to spend time on anything that would benefit females; but there were obstacles. Most females who work are unmarried, she said; married women have no time. But they can do literary or charity projects. Labība Hāshim, “Wājibāt al-zawja,” AJ 1:1 (Jan. 31, 1898): 24–27.

(145.) Magazines recognized that Egyptian peasant women did not have the “problem” of leisure, and indeed held them up as romanticized exemplars of women who “do it all.” A mordant notice in AJ says mortality statistics in England showing more women than men living beyond the age of one hundred were explained by claiming that women “do not bear the hard work of life.” This cannot apply everywhere, said AJ, “especially not in our Egyptian lands … where women practically work harder than men, plowing the earth, carrying water, bearing heavy loads on her head, sharing all of men’s fatigue and effort except in [the arena of] knowledge, for there she shares nothing. (p.368) Perhaps our government was aware of this energetic work on the part of the Egyptian woman, and realized that if it were to educate her in schools her hard work would lessen and there would no longer be in its country anyone to sell eggs or dates, to carry meat on her head from the butcher’s to the markets.” “Hadith al-Anīs, AJ 2:1 (Jan. 31, 1899): 39–40. SB contrasts the peasant woman’s “productive work” with that of the city woman “who spends most of her life a prisoner in the house.” “Al-Marɔa al-misriyya bi-al-ams wa-al-yawm,” JL 1:3 (Sept. 1908): 65–69; quotations on 65–66.

(146.) “cAwāɔidunā al-dhamīma 8,” SB 2:1 (Nov. 1904): 6–9, including “Libs al-dikūlīt,” 8–9. “cAwāɔidunā al-dhamāma 9,” SB 2:2 (Dec. 1904): 37–39. In the nationalist press, questions of national interest often took rhetorical form in harām versus halāl, expressing a moral system defined through Islamic precepts. The collapsing of national/ist endeavor and religious fervor emerges in the slogan: hubb al-watan min al-īmān [Love of the nation is from/part of belief]. See al-Muɔayyad 4:1068 (Aug. 29, 1893): 2.

(147.) “Wājibāt al-zawja,” FS 1:1 (Oct. 15, 1906): 12, 13.

(148.) Significantly, a focus on apparel is to include discussion of proper embellishment and movements. “Al-Marɔa wa-al-malābis,” FS 1:1 (Oct. 15, 1906): 17–21. This concern does not disappear over time; see, for example, “Tadbīr al-manzil: Malābis al-sayyidāt,” FS 17:6 (Mar. 15, 1923): 231–32. Elucidating a class outlook typical for these magazines is an essay on “al-Akhlāq wa-al-ādāb.” Good morals show in comportment, and thus “civilized peoples” have put great care into training their children so that “even when still little they will embarrass neither their parents nor their nation.” The counterexample given is of an educated individual (male) who does not know table manners—how to use a knife and fork among them—indicative of a certain classed, urban modernity that this magazine assumes as the norm. FS 13:1 (Oct. 15, 1918): 4–7. Yet an article by cAfīfa Karam, reprinted from her New York periodical al-Hudā, provides an antidote to the flood of critique that excoriates women for appearance and behavior and seeks to shape comportment. Men criticize women for wearing corsets, says Karam, but would they be happy if women did not? Men despise and scorn zīna and tabarruj, but they never cease their extravagant praise of beauty. Men want “cultured” women, but when they see female learning bearing fruit, they target these women with the thorns of their satire and oppression. “Adāb wa-cādāt,” FS 1:6 (Mar. 15, 1907): 178–80 (subtitled “What Angers Women in Men”).

(149.) J., “al-Marɔa al-misriyya bi-al-ams wa-al-yawm,” JL 1:3 (Sept. 1908): 66–67.

(150.) Farīda Ahmad, “al-Usra: al-iqtisād,” FM 1:1 (Apr. 1921): 8–13. “Awwal sayyida fī al-barlamān,” FM 1:6 (Sept. 1921): 195.

(151.) “Bayna al-casr al-mādī wa-al-hādir: mudhakkirāt cajūz,” MM 4:1 (Jan. 1923): 10. The cajuz reminds us that older women are offered the national task of regulating “appropriate” behavior, including appearance. See Yuval-Davis, Gender and Nation, 37.

(p.369) MM consistently critiques through comparison in its “al-Nahda al-nisāɔiyya fī al-cālam” (“The Women’s Awakening around the World”) column, for instance, calling Javanese women “the epitome of simplicity in most matters,” including marriage practices. Java’s people are “a people who take every new thing that is useful and are not partisans of the old except to the extent of maintaining their national identity … a people ready to advance to the ranks of civilized nations.” “Al-Nahda al-nisāɔyya fī al-cālam: Shayɔ can al-marɔa fī jazīrat Jāwā,” MM 4:1 (Jan. 1923): 32–33. In China, Muslim and non-Muslim women alike are “unveiled like European women … but do not at all resemble [European women] in terms of frequenting the streets and going repeatedly to places of amusement.” “Al-Nahda al-nisāɔiyya fī al-cālam: Fī al-Sīn,” MM 4:4 (Apr. 1923): 189–92. And, “The Indian woman does not spend the kind of time on adornment and fashion that other women do. She is, rather, the most stellar exemplar of moderation.” “Al-Nahda al-nisāɔiyya fī al-cālam,” MM 6:6 (June 15, 1925): 285–88; quotation on 286.

(152.) “Al-Marɔa wa-al-malābis,” FS 1:1 (Oct. 15, 1906): 19, 20. “Jazāɔ al-ihsān,” FS 1:1 (Oct. 15, 1906): 25–32.

(153.) “Nisāɔ al-sharq wa-al-iqtisād,” FS 1:2 (Nov. 15, 1906): 33–37; quotation on 34.

(154.) “SN: Bāhithat al-Bādiya,” FS 13:3 (Dec. 15, 1918): 82, 82, 83.

(155.) Asbāsiyā zawjat Biriklīs,” FS 7:5 (Feb. 15, 1913): 162.

(156.) “SN: Zinūbiyā (malikat Tadmūr),” FS 9:1 (Oct. 1914): 2–4, 3.

(157.) Yuval-Davis, Gender and Nation, 23, see also 45–46.

(158.) “Madām Jīb,” AJ 1:5 (May 31, 1898): 130–31.

(159.) “SN: Suwar min risālat al-marɔa: Sadīqat al-masājīn: Ilīzābīt Firāy,” MM 15:3 (Mar. 15, 1934): 118–21.

(160.) Badran, Feminists, 23.

(161.) Dalāl Safadī, “al-Anisa Nasra al-Barīdī,” SR 8:1 (Nov. 30, 1926): 60.

(162.) “Min Mutālacātī: al-Duktūra Duriyya: Maca al-marɔa fī kull makān,” MM 16:8 (Oct. 1, 1935): 313–14.

(163.) Jurjī Niqūlā Bāz, “SN: Hannā Kasbānī Kūrānī,” FS 2:10 (July 15, 1908): 364. Ironically, Kūrānī insisted that women lacked the capability to work outside the home, e.g., in an essay in the Beirut newspaper Lubnān to which Fawwāz responded energetically in al-Nīl (the response appears in Badran and Cooke, Opening the Gates, 221–26). On this 1890s debate, see al-Nimnim, al-Rāɔida al-majhūla, 77–94. Equally ironic given Kūrānī’s history of public speech making for fees in the United States was her insistence that for women to claim equality of employment opportunity with men was a sort of “Europeanization” (tafarnuj) tantamount to the imitation of clothing and lifestyle that Arab intellectuals were criticizing.

(164.) Badran, Feminists, 165.

(165.) Tucker claims nonelite women might lose custody of children because they worked outside the home (Women, 58–60). On attitudes toward women’s professional work, see Khalīfa, al-Haraka, chap. 6. The AJ article is (p.370) Mahmūd Ibrāhīm, “Mustaqbal al-nisāɔ fī Misr,” AJ 3:9 (Sept. 30, 1900): 345–49. He celebrates the “emergence of [women in Egypt] from decadence and ignorance” due to the founding of schools and parents’ interest in them. He gestures to the nationalist worry about Egypt’s reputation and the role of women’s status therein, when he calls this “an indication of the interest of Egypt’s populace in educating women, not as foreigners say of them, that they are enemies of girls’ education and the advancement of woman” (345). He is concerned about graduates’ futures and criticizes the Education Ministry for not instituting post-elementary study. He notes that regulations about civil service employment make no mention of gender; but, he asks, does this right really extend to females? (346). He dismisses the argument from customary cultural practice for excluding women as “weak,” especially “if we consider ourselves following the path of civilization and contemporary progress” (347). He hypothesizes that the governent is “afraid” to institute higher education for girls “lest they demand their rights and their equivalence to men; then it would be obliged to keep abreast of them on these demands” (347). He takes as evidence the energetic work of women “especially in America.” Ibrāhīm was associated with the Tanta civil court.

(166.) Khalīfa, al-Haraka, 57.

(167.) “SN: Malāk al-rahma, al-sayyida dhāt al-misbāh,” MM 15:1/2 (Jan./Feb. 1934): 70–72; Jurjī Niqūlā Bāz, “SN: Māry cAjamī,” MM 7:6 (June 20, 1926): 324–26; “al-Anisa Nacīma al-Ayyūbī,” MM 15:9/10 (Nov. 1934): 353–54; “Min Mutālacātī: al-Duktūra Duriyya: Maca al-marɔa fī kull makān,” MM 16:8 (Oct. 1, 1935): 313–14.

(168.) Muhammad Mukhtār Yunus, “Shams al-tārīkh: Jān Dārk ‘lā pūsill’ fī al-qarn al-khāmis cashara,” NN 2:4 (Nov. 1922): 272–73.

(169.) See chapter 5. Demands of editors—and their representation in biography—were not so different from those the EFU made on the state: higher minimum marriage ages, more stringent laws around divorce and polygyny, more schools for girls. The EFU campaigned to restrict polygyny, qualify divorce rights, and end the practice of bayt al-tāca (women’s forced return to husbands’ homes); biographies tended to present the positive side, to represent these practices as future absences. The EFU was probably more forthright on political demands, both women’s access to the vote and the nation’s demand for more autonomy, but magazines (notably MM) did follow these demands—a reminder of the polyvalent content of women’s magazines.

(170.) “SN: Iylā Raydar,” FS 32:10 (July 1938): 569–71.

(171.) “Nawābigh al-nisāɔ: Fatāt tajmacu tharwa kabīra bi-tafkīrihā,” NN 8:2 (Feb. 1930): 54–56; quotation on 56.

(172.) “Al-Sabr wa-al-camal—aw—jihād Miss Sirz,” AF 1:3 (Mar. 1926): 49–53; quotations on 50, 53.

(173.) Al-Fatāt is somewhat vague on this, yet its biographies are not. AJ notes that women fall into prostitution because they do not have an education that would permit them to earn a living “in an honorable fashion.” “Taclīm al-banāt,”AJ 2:2 (Feb. 28, 1899): 57–63; 61. There is certainly a class element here: (p.371) the government should fund schools for poor women “not to make them scholars but so they will not be evil, for we see female degeneracy on the increase in our country” (62). Work outside the home is presented in this period as both necessary and dangerous. SB notes that changes in the social system that weaken family structure oblige many women, especially young unmarried ones, to earn a living, but then calls “giving complete freedom to women in the West” one cause (not effect) of this change; the Western woman “has come to conduct herself in society like a man, obeying her whims; her conduct has led her not to want legal marriage.” Thus, she has “been obliged to leave her domestic kingdom” and “exceed the sphere of home management”—not, says the magazine, a development to laud. “Asɔila sahhiyya wa-adabiyya: Taqal-lud al-marɔa camal al-rajul,” SB 2:12 (Sept. 1906): 335–36. On work and the “problem” of middle-class leisure, see, e.g., “al-cAmal wa-al-sayyidāt,” SB 2:3 (Jan. 1905): 65–68, addressed “to the ladies who consistently experience discomfort, boredom, and depression, for there is no cure like work.”

In later magazines, the fact that women work outside the home is assumed although not presented as unproblematic. An announcement in The Ladies’ Revue articulates the assumption but also specifies appropriate arenas of female employment when it says it will reserve a place for short advertisements at a low fee for women seeking work “as nannies and teachers of academic knowledge, languages, piano, sewing, embroidery, and so forth.” S 3:1 (Nov. 1921): 64. But its “Mamlakat al-marɔa” offers anecdotes of working women such as England’s “first female engineer” (S 4:6 [Apr. 15, 1923]: 345–47). FS, a long-running magazine that spanned both periods, offers an index of changing concerns, although it remained more focused on comportment than on social conditions compared with FMF and MM. In 1908 it offered brief examples of professional and businesswomen in the United States: a farmer, rancher, criminologist, nurse, and astronomer. “Aqwāl can al-marɔa,” FS 2:4 (Jan. 15, 1908): 137–38. An essay later that year praised “the American woman” for advancing into “all areas of work” but noted that “she remains devoted to caring for the men of the future”; the rest of the article focused on women’s work in early childhood education. “Al-Marɔa fī Amīrikā,” FS 3:3 (Dec. 1908): 83–87. Another asserted that women’s political and professional work in America had flourished due to the elite’s belief in education and “civil equality” for women. Najīb Mādī, “al-Marɔa,” FS 3:8 (May 1909): 286–89. Hāshim reproduced much of Malak Hifnī Nāsif’s famous speech at al-Jarīda headquarters, including a passage on how spheres of work once women’s had now become exclusively male due to technological inventions; increases in leisure meant women needed other pursuits. Labība Hāshim, “Awwal khatība misriyya,” FS 3:9 (June 1909): 323–35. Following World War I, FS and other magazines reported approvingly on European and American women filling “male” occupational roles, saying this had provided a basis for demanding political rights as well as continued employment. “Al-Hayāh al-nisāɔiyya fī al-cālam,” FS 13:2 (Nov. 15, 1918): 56–58; Tawfīq al-Habīb, “al-Marɔa wa-al-harb,” FS 13:4 (Jan. 1919): 139–41; “al-Nisāɔ wa-al-camal,” FS 26:3 (Dec. 1931): 128–29. Precedents were adduced, (p.372) too; if Bāz took his examples of working women from contemporary Europe and North America (“al-Hayāt al-nisāɔiyya fī al-cālam: al-Marɔa wa-al-cilm,” FS 18:6 [Mar. 1924]: 10–17), others took them from ancient Egypt; typically, a line is drawn from pharaonic-age women who worked “alongside their husbands” in the fields and in commerce, to contemporary peasants (“al-Marɔa al-misriyya,” FS 17:5 [Feb.15, 1923]: 161–65; quotation on 164–65. See also “al-Marɔa fī Misr ams wa-al-yawm,” JL 1:2 [Aug. 1908]: 37–40; and Girgis Fīlūthānūs cAwad, “al-Qism al-tārīkhī: al-Marɔa al-misriyya qadīman wa-ha-dīthan [cawd calā badɔ],” MM 4:3 [March 1923]: 143–46).

Somewhat impatiently, in 1933 FS comments: “There is still a party of the sons of this age who believe that women devoting themselves to occupations outside management of their homes destroy their femininity.” Naming prohibition of women without males to support them from work as scandalous, the article notes that a woman with few domestic duties is subject to inactivity, “the laboratory of the devil.” There will come a time when this group will recognize the worth of work, says the article, reprising, even so, the “equal but different” argument as it seemingly argues against it. “Thalāthata shilīnāt thaman al-marɔa,” FS 28:7 (Apr. 1933): 353–57; quotation on 356–57.

(174.) When de Maintenon became royal consort, one of her first actions, says the text, was to found a girls’ school, second only to “reforming court.” “SN: Madām dī Māntinūn,” FS 15:9 (June 15, 1921): 321–27; quotation on 322. She is praised for maintaining virtue in an age of “bad morals.”

(175.) “Khasārat rabbāt al-aqlām,” al-Muqtataf 16:11 (Aug. 1892): 779–80. Described first as one in a company of educated women (“mistresses of the pen”), Morgan then punctures gendered boundaries, as someone who “ought to be counted with men of the pen and businessmen.” The lack of parallelism (no “women of business” surround Morgan, although her sister is called a successful professional photographer) might intimate the greater acceptability (as well as familiarity) of writing, or generally of intellectual pursuits, as a female career.

(176.) “SN: Madām dī Māntinūn,” FS 15:9 (June 15, 1921): 321. “SN: Māriyā Murgān,” FS 24:9 (June 1930): 445.

(177.) “SN: Kristīn dī Bīzān,” FS 6:4 (Jan. 15, 1912), 121. “SN: al-Malika Thiyūdūrā (zawjat al-malik Yūstaniyānis),” FS 5:5 (Feb. 15, 1911): 162.

(178.) “Jān Awstīn,” JL 11:3 (Sept. 1918): 34.

(179.) “Tārīkh hayāt Grītā Gārbū (1),” FS 28:7 (Apr. 7, 1934): 373. The rest of this three-part biography narrates Garbo’s determined struggle to achieve an acting career. “Tārīkh hayāt Grītā Gārbū (2),” FS 28:8 (May 1934): 424–26; “Tārīkh hayāt Grītā Gārbū (3),” FS 28:9 (June 1934): 466–72. A biography of French actress Rachel (1821–58) emphasizes her determination in the face of poverty, quoting Alfred Musset on a dinner at her home where she did the cooking and described her poverty-stricken childhood as her mother and sisters gestured angrily to her to stop. “She responded that poverty held no shame; rather, she was proud to have come from such a situation and to have gotten to her present state through her own hard work…. I left awed by her (p.373) hard work and persistence [ijtihād wa-thabāt].” The finale reiterates Musset. “In her work she showed firmness and determination despite poverty that [even] a man’s zeal would be unable to overcome.” “SN: Rāhīl al-mumaththila al-shahīra,” FS 7:6 (Mar. 15, 1913): 201–5; quotations on 204, 205. A later biography says: “She saved a great deal of money, and would pay all she earned to her father; he had forced her to tour all the cities of France out of greed.” “SN: Rāhīl (Rāshil),” FS 25:8 (May 1, 1931): 413–16; quotation on 415.

(180.) “Najāh kātiba amrīkiyya: Mithālun nuqaddimuh ilā fatayātinā al-mu-tacallamāt!” MM 4:10 (Dec. 15, 1923): 541–42; quotation on 541.

(181.) “Al-Malikāt al-calimāt,” AJ 2:6 (June 30, 1899): 210–13; quotations on 210, 211. The article describes an unnamed Russian princess who, “if she were kept from her salary … or had ambitions to gain more, could be very rich from her pen running across the paper if she did not want her foot to run across the stage” (211). Also featured: Queen Margherita of Italy as writer; the queen of Portugal as physician; the queen mother of Germany as musician and horticulturist (212). The article’s conclusion intrigues: “As for the European kings who are capable of making a living from their knowledge, we do not think they are as numerous or as knowledgeable as the queens, perhaps because their occupation with politics deterred them from other work” (213).

(182.) “Al-Marɔa al-inkilīziyya,” AJ 2:6 (June 30, 1899): 213–15; quotations on 213, 215.

(183.) Hasīb al-Hakīm, “SN: Min al-kūkh ilā al-barlamān: Mādām Bawb,” MM 8:3 (Mar. 15, 1927): 118.

(184.) Mary Jo Maynes, “Gender and Narrative Form in French and German Working-Class Autobiographies,” in Personal Narratives Group, Interpreting Women’s Lives: Feminist Theory and Personal Narratives (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989), 110.

(185.) “SN: Suwar min risālat al-marɔa: Sadīqat al-masājīn: Ilīzābīt Firāy,” MM 15:3 (Mar. 15, 1934): 118–21.

(186.) “SN: Malāk al-rahma: al-Sayyida dhāt al-misbāh,” MM 15:1/2 (Jan./Feb. 1934): 70–72.

(187.) “Ilisābat Firāy, II,” JL 8:10 (Apr. 1, 1916): 335–39. Muhammad Mukhtār Yūnus, “Shams al-tārīkh: Jān Dārk ‘lā pūsill’ fī al-qarn al-khāmis cashara,” NN 2:4 (Nov. 1922): 271–73; idem., “Shams al-tārīkh: Bint al-Azwar,” NN 2:11 (June 1, 1923): 298–99. “al-Khansaɔ,” MM 6:1 (Jan. 15, 1925): 49–52. It is noteworthy that Yūnus’s series, written as history lessons for schoolgirls, particularly emphasizes these qualities.

(188.) “SN: cUfayrāɔ bint cAbbād,” MM 9:2 (Feb. 1928): 85. See also “Sahīfat al-adab: Hind bint cUtba,” H 1:20 (Feb. 6, 1926): 3; “SN: Umm al-Banīn,” FS 24:3 (Dec. 1929): 113–15; Muhammad Mukhtār Yūnus, “Shams al-tārīkh: Zaynab fī al-qarn al-thālith al-mīlādī,” NN 2:6 (Jan. 1923): 161–64.

(189.) Muhammad Mukhtār Yūnus, “Shams al-tārīkh: Bint al-Azwar,” NN 2:11 (June 1, 1923): 298–99.

(190.) Baron, Women’s Awakening, 148. “SN: al-Nisāɔ al-camilāt: Madām Kūrī,” MM 6:8 (Oct. 15, 1925): 447.

(p.374) (191.) Penned by a French woman living in Tanta, spouse of an Egyptian physician, this explicitly addresses “the Egyptian woman who lives in Cairo or Alexandria, whether a mother or a wife” yet also disclaims an intent to call for women to work outside the home: “We do not ask our chaste, secluded females to follow in the footsteps of Miss Anna Chanoiun (?), working to become lawyers, for that would be hard … but we demand that they work on their thinking and vision.” [Jihān Dīfirī], “al-Marɔa muhāmiyyatan,” AJ 2:8 (Aug. 31, 1899): 317–21.

(192.) “Al-Anisa Jisy Akirmān,” JL 9:4 (Oct. 1916): 121. “SN: Jullanār Hānim aw Mme Olga de Lébédef,” FS 1:7 (Apr. 15, 1907): 193–201. “al-Nahda al-nisāɔiyya fī al-cālam: Maryam Hārry, kātiba mustashriqa,” MM 7:4 (Apr. 20, 1926): 126–27. All are praised for taking an interest in women of societies other than their own and writing about these women’s lives. Women praised for writing about and working to improve conditions of women’s lives in their own societies include Zaynab Fawwāz, Hannā Kūrānī, Fatma Aliye, Virginie Bāsīlī, Nasra Barīdī, Fātima Haydar Fādil, Malak Hifnī Nāsif, and Maria Mitchell.

(193.) Hasīb al-Hakīm, “SN: Min al-kūkh ilā al-barlamān: Mādām Bawb,” MM 8:3 (Mar. 15, 1927): 119–20. This biography is followed by an article on “Nāɔibāt hizb al-cummāl” that speaks of three female Labor Party delegates—noting that all are unmarried.

(194.) On philanthropy as upper-class women’s activism, see Afaf Lutfi al-Sayyid Marsot, “The Revolutionary Gentlewomen in Egypt,” in Women in the Muslim World, ed. Lois Beck and Nikki Keddie (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1978), 261–76. On it as one progenitor of the EFU, see Badran, Feminists, chap. 2.

(195.) Balsam cAbd al-Malik, MM 4:2 (Feb. 1923): 87–90. The eldest daughter, she said, wanted a strong education so she could become editor of the magazine.

(196.) Badran, Feminists, 50.

(197.) “Al-Bārūna Burdit Kūts,” F 1:1 (Nov. 20, 1892): 8–10. Jins, translated here as “race,” can also denote “gender”; it simply means “kind.” In this context “race” is likely the dominant sense.

(198.) “SN: Madām Taqlā Bāshā,” FS 19:1 (Oct. 15, 1924): 4.

(199.) “SN: Tiyūdūrā Haddād,” FS 28:8 (May 1934): 394.

(200.) Leslie P. Peirce, The Imperial Harem: Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 198–205.

(201.) DM, 366. “SN: Fātima bt. Jamāl al-Dīn Sulaymān,” FS 25:1 (Oct. 1930): 2–3; quotation on 3.

(202.) “SN: Klaymans Rūyir,” FS 15:7 (Apr. 15, 1921): 241.

(203.) “SN: Madām Rūyay, ashhar kātiba faransiyya,” FS 26:4 (Jan. 1932): 170. See also “SN: Klaymans Ruyah,” FS 32:4 (Jan. 1937): 193–95.

(204.) “Bāb Shahīrāt al-nisāɔ: al-Duktūra Karīstīn Bunayfayh, mandūbat nisāɔal-Nūrwayj fī cUsbat al-umam,” MM 2:2 (Feb. 1921): 78, 77. Bonnefait’s (p.375) mother receives credit for producing her but for moral, not intellectual, training: “To her mother goes the greatest credit in instilling virtues in her and forming her according to sound principles of behavior.”

(205.) Khalīfa, al-Haraka, 160; Sālim, al-Marɔa, 26–29. Women were angry that the 1924 speech at the opening of Parliament made no mention of women’s participation in 1919.

(206.) Sālim, citing the liberal newspaper al-Sufūr (May 1919): “The most implacable partisans of old [ways] began marching in the demonstrations alongside a wife or daughter” (al-Marɔa, 28).

(207.) Balsam cAbd al-Malik had headed a Coptic girls’ school in Sohag before founding her magazine. Eva Habīb al-Misrī’s speech at cAbd al-Malik’s memorial service celebrated her as a foremother for the new generation and placed her in the nationalist narrative as an activist spurred by the nationalist movement as it gathered momentum in 1918. “Kalimat raɔīsat al-tahrīr fī haflat taɔbīn al-marhūma Balsam cAbd al-Malik,” al-Misriyya 3:69 (Dec. 15, 1939).

(208.) Sālim, al-marɔa, 25–50, esp. 42–44; Khalīfa, al-Haraka, 168–72, 232–33; Badran, Feminists, chap. 11.

(209.) Sālim, al-Marɔa, 34–37; Badran, Feminists, 80–88. The Sacdist Women’s Committee under Sharīfa Riyād and Esther Fahmī Wīsā, formed after Shacrāwī’s differences with Sacd Zaghlūl led to her departure from the Wafdist Women’s Central Committee, was active in protesting curtailments of civil rights, while Safiyya Zaghlūl maintained a public political presence that continued after her husband’s death in 1927 (see chapter 5).

(210.) “Al-Nahda al-nisāɔiyya fī al-cālam,” MM 4:6 (June 1923): 297–308. On the conference see Badran, Feminists, 108–10. MM reported the conference closely.

(211.) E.g., see “Barlamān nisāɔī” MM 4:6 (June 1923): 311, on news that the National Women’s Party (USA) was to set up a shadow congress: “We welcome this and wait with bated breath, for women need this sort of practical experience.” Ironically, this follows a commentary on the IAW conference that privileges women’s role in the family. A. F., “Irfacī al-calam,” MM 4:6 (June 1923): 309–11. Two years later MM reports on French, German, and Indian women’s activism for political rights. “Al-Nahda al-nisāɔiyya fī al-cālam,” MM 6:4 (Apr. 1925): 195–96.

(212.) “Fī sabīl inhād al-marɔa: lā istiqlāl wa-la khudūc!” MM 4:4 (Apr. 1923): 169–72. “Fī sabīl inhād al-marɔa: Madhā yanqimūna minnā?” MM 4:5 (May 1923): 225–27; quotation on 227. A speech by Martin Howell, American consul, to the graduating class of the American College for Girls urged them to follow their inclinations in choosing career paths: “The doors are open,” and in the United States, some women had won elections. Yet he followed this immediately with a different message: “The undeniable truth is that woman’s sun shines best in the home and school…. If we look at the history of famous women who entered politics and achieved distinction in social leadership, we do (p.376) not find that their influence can be rightly said to match that of women who dedicated themselves fully to preparing the souls of children.” The home was woman’s “mighty kingdom, whose influence surpasses that of kings…. Let us take from the history of famous women the likes of Isabella and Catherine de Medicis, Christiana, Marie Antoinette, Josephine, Queen Elizabeth; let us compare their influence with that of the mothers of Moses and John, with Mary mother of the Messiah and Mary Washington, mother of America’s liberator.” “Bāb al-ijtimāc: Shams al-marɔa tashriqu fī dārihā wa-madrasatihā,” MM 4:6 (June 1923): 312–14.

(213.) Badran has long made this point with regard to the early Egyptian feminists. In MM see also Jān Kānūdū, “al-Nisāɔ wa-al-siyāsa fī Misr,” MM 7:2 (Feb. 15, 1926): 72–73. The next month an essay comments that women have always been politicians because that was the only way they could acquire anything within the private sphere. If politics had been a part of men’s lives, it had been the sum total of women’s. Thus, it was not surprising that Lady Frances Balfour was asking that a fair share of government positions be allotted to women. Yet the historical examples adduced offer an ambivalent view at best of female politicians, perhaps in line with the rather tart observations at the start. “Al-Niswa al-siyāsiyyāt,” MM 7:3 (Mar. 15, 1926): 135.

(214.) Badran, Feminists, 13.

(215.) “cAlam al-marɔa: Zacīma hindiyya tanzimu balīgh al-shicr bi-al-lugha al-injilīziyya,” AR 70 (June 2, 1926): 6.

(216.) Muhibb al-Dīn al-Khatīb, “SN: al-Sayyida Khalīda Adīb,” FS 17:1 (Oct. 15, 1922): 3–10; quotation on 3. Later the author calls her educational work “positive”; Edip focused on practical reform “rather than wasting her time and that of her male and female readers by creating a to-do around Turkish women’s electoral participation” (4). He attributes Edip’s “devotion to true knowledge” to “the influence of her late husband,” professor of mathematics and astronomer (3–4).

(217.) “SN: al-Misiz Margharīt Wintiringhām: al-Marɔa al-thāniya fī majlis al-cumūm al-barītānī,” MM 2:9 (Nov. 1921): 359–62; quotation on 362. This biography had been preceded in 2:7 and 2:8 by profiles of two other outspoken public political figures: cAɔisha bt. Abī Bakr and Halide Edip.

(218.) “Idāh wa-iltimās wa-istismāh,” F 1:1 (Nov. 20, 1892): 1–6; “Jalālat Fiktūriyā, malikat Injiltirā al-mucazzama,” F 1:1 (Nov. 20, 1892): 6–7. See Baron, Women’s Awakening, 168–69; I find more ambiguity over the question of political rights in even the early magazines than does Baron, as I hope this section suggests.

(219.) “Taclīm al-banāt,” AJ 2:2 (Feb. 28, 1899): 57–58. This article said that if women could not be elected representatives, they should have a voice with those representatives whom their husbands and sons had elected, so it asked the government to set aside money for schools. It scolded “men of the government” through direct address: you are to blame for every poor woman who is bad; this should claim attention before irrigation, public health, and the like.

(p.377) (220.) See Baron, Women’s Awakening, 18, and the articles she lists (199 n. 19), plus the first mention of the Alliance and conference in AJ, “Al-Martɔa wa-al-salām,” AJ 2:8 (Aug. 31, 1899): 303–6, which makes the following rather strong assertion: “[Woman] will attain her hopes soon, when she obtains all her rights and from a position of strength obliges man to divide everything evenly with her; thus she will destroy the edifice of his tyranny in running everyone’s affairs.”

(221.) See Baron, Women’s Awakening, 19–20.

(222.) “Jadda karīma awwal man talabat bi-huqūq al-marɔa,” AJ 1:7 (July 1898): 242–45; quotation on 245. Typically, given the exigencies of exemplary biography, coupled with the (unarticulated) class allegiance of AJ, the text is silent on how class shapes demands for public political rights. Yet “[Brent] is represented as an early feminist because of her demand for two votes in the assembly, one for her freehold, another for her position as executor” (Uglow, Continuum Dictionary, 87).

(223.) “Al-Marɔa fī Misr: Ams wa-al-yawm,” JL 1:2 (Aug. 1908): 37–40; quotation on 39.

(224.) [Untitled], JL 1:4 (Oct. 1908): 114–16.

(225.) Al-Uqsuriyya, “‘Amā āna an yathnī al-jumūh lithām,’” JL 6:5 (Nov. 1, 1913): 129–34. This was one pen name of the Coptic writer Olivia cAbd al-Shahīd; another was “al-Zahra.” She quotes Tennyson to back up her rejection of a “Western” model.

(226.) “Sayyidātuna al-misriyyāt,” JL 11:8 (Feb. 1919): 113–14. But a group of readers asks whether public emergence was “appropriate to the honor of Egyptian females,” Sayyidāt Misr, “Shumūs al-hayāt: Safha min acmāl sayyidāt al-yawm,” JL 12:4 (Jan. 1920): 127–35; quotation on 129.

(227.) “SN: Habūs ibnat al-Amīr Bashīr al-Shihābī,” FS 4:3 (Dec. 1909): 81–82.

(228.) “Wafāt Misiz Bānkhurst aczam zacīma niswiyya carafathā Injiltirā: Safha min tārīkh jihād al-marɔa al-injiliziyya,” MM 10:1/2 (Jan./Feb. 1929): 52–53. This commendatory description of the feminists’ willingness to submerge their demands in the war effort might signal both a nationalist loyalty and a conservative or hesitant attitude toward feminist activism. The magazine deploys this biography to call for “moderation” in demanding rights for women, intriguing in light of nearly a decade of organized, named feminist activism in Egypt. Had there been no world war, the text argues, perhaps there would have been civil war in England over women’s suffrage.

(229.) “Madām Rūlān,” MM 6:3 (Mar. 15, 1925): 158.

(231.) “Malikāt Misr: al-Malika al-ūlā Nītūqarīs,” MM 7:8 (Oct. 20, 1926): 413. This is the Nitocris mentioned by Herodotus, who may or may not have existed, not the Assyrian queen Naqiɔa/Nitocris.

(232.) Ibid., 413–15; “SN: Kātirīnā al-ūlā imbirātūrat Rusiyā,” FS 3:2 (Nov. 1908): 41–43; “SN: Samīrāmīs malikat Ashūr,” FS 4:4 (Jan. 1910): 121–22; “Bilqīs malikat al-Yaman,” MM 10:10 (Dec. 15, 1929): 413–14; “SN: Ahmas (p.378) Nifirtāri,” FS 8:7 (Apr. 1, 1914): 245; “Al-Qism al-tārīkhī: al-Malikāt fī al-tārīkh: Malikāt Misr: al-Malika al-thāniyya Hātāsū,” MM 7:9–10 (Nov.-Dec. 1926): 466–69, 474–76; “Malikāt Misr: al-Malika Hātshibsū wa-tusammā aydan Ramakā,” MM 8:4 (Apr. 15, 1927): 207–8; Durriyya Muhammad cAlī Bek, “Min Shahīrāt al-nisāɔ: Ulgha imraɔat Ayghradūr,” NN 5:57 (Sept. 1927): 307; “SN: Sitt al-Mulk bt. al-cAzīz billāhi al-Fātimī,” FS 21:4 (Jan. 1, 1926): 145; “SN: Sitt al-Mulk” FS 23:8 (May 1929): 293–94; “SN: Sitt al-Mulk bt. al-cAzīz billāhi al-Fātimī,” JL 12:7 (Apr. 1920): 217–18; “SN: Sitt al-Mulk,” FS 30:1 (Oct. 1, 1935): 4; “SN: Kātirīnā al-thāniya,” FS 6:1 (Oct. 15, 1911): 2–5; Mufīda cAbduh, “Malikāt al-tārīkh: Kātirīnā al-thāniya,” MM 16:3 (Mar. 1, 1935): 94–95; “SN: Kātirīnā al-thāniya imbirātūrat Alamāniyā [sic],” NN 10:5/86 (May 1, 1932): 159–60; “SN: Kātirīnā al-thāniya imbirātūrat Alamāniyā [sic],” FS 32:8 (May 1938): 449–52; Rizqallāh Minqāriyūs al-Sadafī, “SN: Zinūbiyā (Zaynab) Malikat Tadmur,” MM 2:10 (Dec. 1921): 391–94; “SN: Zinūbiyā (malikat Tadmūr),” FS 9:1 (Oct. 1914): 2–4; “SN: Sabīha Malikat Andalus” FS 10 (May 1916): 281–85; Yūnus’s lives of Zenobia and Catherine II.

(233.) “SN: Nūr Jahān,” FS 11:7 (Apr. 15, 1917): 281–82. The khutba (oration) refers to mentioning the ruler’s name in the Friday mosque sermon, a sign of formal recognition.

(234.) “SN: al-Malika Thiyūdūrā (zawjat al-malik Yūstaniyānis),” FS 5:5 (Feb. 15, 1911): 161–63. This presumably refers to the 532 C.E. Nika riots.

(235.) “SN: Umm al-Banīn,” FS 24:3 (Dec. 1, 1929): 113–15.

(236.) See Spellberg, Politics; Mernissi, Forgotten Queens; Peirce, The Imperial Harem.

(237.) “SN: Shajarat al-Durr,” FS 7:8 (May 1913): 289–90; “Al-Marɔa al-wahīda bayna hukkām al-Hind: Sāhibat al-sumuww Bigim awf Bhūpāl,” JL 9:3 (Sept. 1916): 81–84; “SN: Shajarat al-Durr,” MM 4:5 (May 1, 1923): 262–63, attributed to the Turkish-Egyptian princess and writer Qadriyya Husayn.

(238.) “SN: Shajarat al-Durr,” MM 4:5 (May 1, 1923): 262–63, attributed to Qadriyya Husayn.

(239.) An obituary for him appears in SR 7:6 (May 1926): 313–18. After “a sound upbringing,” he began a wood manufacture enterprise in Syria, then added carpets. In 1920 he returned “to the East” after three decades abroad; two years later he built a “large palace” in Brooklyn (315).

(240.) Rūz Haddād, “Sayyida sūriyya tudīru mahallan tijāriyyan cazīman fī Niyū Yūrk,” SR 7:7 (June 30, 1926): 377–78. See also “SN: Madām Taqlā Bāshā,” FS 19:1 (Oct. 15, 1924): 3–5, an obituary-biography of the widow of al-Ahrām’s founder, who took over her husband’s position as head of the major newspaper and press after his death. As in the case of Tadros, the text glosses this act as selfless “service to the nation” (5).

(241.) Māry cAjamī, “SN: Māry Liyūn,” FS 28:6 (Mar. 1934): 281–87; quotation on 281.

(242.) Ibid., 285, 287.