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at her feet

ISBN: 1-77007-055-9

By Nadia Davids

Review by: Moira Richards


Nadia Davids at her feet is a one-act play by Muslim women, about Muslim women, for everyone. I have read elsewhere, of a growing need by Muslim women to speak their own experience of their faith and their culture. Too often nowadays, they find themselves defined by outsiders perceptions/misconceptions about Islam and the women who embrace it, with or without some of those of its more public manifestations like the headscarf.

Many western feminists seem to think it impossible for a Muslim woman to be feminist and true to her faith. I think the small tales in at her feet might go some small way towards correcting those assumptions and towards bringing a greater insight into a culture and religion that has been largely distorted in the west by media machines that are either resistant to, or fearful of it.

The full cast list of Davids' play consists of six Muslim women and from what I can gather, in the many performances of this award-winning play, all six parts were performed by just one surely chameleon-like actress. Most of the characters are South Africans, but she who opens the play is a young Jordanian woman. Let me allow her to introduce herself:

My name is Azra al Jamal, and I have just been killed ... I have sat in the middle of a circle of forty men ... there have been eighty hands throwing countless rocks at me for some time now ... My name is Azra al Jamal, and I have just been killed ...(25)

I am barely able to type out these words of hers. Imagine then, the impact of hearing them performed by a woman live on stage!

The rest of the play comprises monologues and a few dialogues between the other characters. They discuss this honor killing incident, and various other incidents both in far parts of the world. They talk too, about other incidents that have taken place as close as in their own homes. They examine critically, their experiences as Muslim women both with respect to the behavior of other practitioners of Islam, as well as at the hands of people outside of their faith.

I thought this an engaging script and would love the chance to see it performed too. Many of the complexities of cultural practice that are raised by these Muslim women are pertinent too, to people of any other culture. The book is rounded out by an excellently contextualizing foreword, introduction and author interview.

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