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Module 4: The Author’s Contribution

Approach Mahmood’s originality in Politics of Piety lies in the way she draws insights from a diverse range of scholarly inquiry. She takes anthropology’s traditional stance of humility about other people’s cultures, but she extends this to feminist politics. Her ethnographic* account (that is, the written record of her research) of an urban women’s piety movement reveals the movement’s historical significance. This was the first time that women had come together in

public meetings on such a scale to teach one another Islamic scripture in mosques, “thereby altering the historically male-centered character of mosques as well as Islamic pedagogy”2 (that is, methods of teaching). The women studied Islamic texts and taught each other, focusing on social practices and forms of bodily comportment, such as wearing the veil and modest demeanor.3 They debated how to incorporate ideals about women’s modesty, including wearing the veil, into their everyday modern situations.