Rahat Imran


Over half a billion Muslim women live in vastly different lands, cultures, societies, economies, and political systems. Yet, as Iranian scholar Mahnaz Afkhami points out, Muslim women’s oppressions are similar due to gender-discrimination under Islamic Sharia laws and patriarchal doctrines that are exercised in the name of religion and culture. Pakistan has been a prime example of how religious fundamentalism and politicization of religion can transform a secular society into one held hostage by Islamic extremist doctrines and gender-specific laws. It is a cause for hope and celebration then that its progressive and secular elements, particularly educated, urban women, have continued to wage a struggle against discriminatory socio-political and religious practices through various artistic, political, and activist channels-thereby posing a continuing opposition and challenge to religious fundamentalists that use women as the prime targets for the imposition of their Islamic ideologies and identity. More recently, Pakistani independent women filmmakers have also joined the ranks of this oppositional force, thereby appropriating their right to wage a feminist jihad (struggle). In initiating an anti-fundamentalist cinema category, their cinematic contributions deserve to be recognized as part of a larger feminist agenda against gender discrimination and patriarchal domination.

Author Biography

Rahat Imran is a doctoral student at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada. This paper is part of the author’s PhD research project on filmmakers from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, among others from the Muslim world.