5. How do students analyze Saida Jarallahs interviews?
In this quote, she talks about her father, a highly placed judge in the Islamic court system in Jerusalem. Hes a recurring theme in the interviewhow he helped her and her sisters become educated.
My father was in the Sharia [Islamic law] court; later he became a mufti [which is a high position]. Thats why people used to blame my father for allowing us to study in Catholic schools and sending us to finish our education abroad. His job required him to be consistent with the Islamic Sharia and not allow his daughters to do as they wish. But he used to trust us and love and respect us, and never did anything to disappoint us. My father believed in educating women. He would say that a woman should have her diploma as a bracelet in her hand. For if she did not get married or married but was widowed or divorced, she should be independent and have her own job and life and not depend on her father or brother to support her. We were seven daughters and he was always worried that we should be able to provide for ourselves.
I asked her, Why wasnt your father against the idea of educating his daughters? She said: Thats just the way he was. He believed in educating women. She doesnt really have an explanation for that, but this is one way of reading the source. He had seven daughters and one son. You can see why he might be concerned about womens education, about his daughters future.
If a student were to use this, it seems somewhat straightforward. It talks about her father supporting education, supporting these girls. In fact, theres some cultural even Islamic codes in here. He said that a woman should have her diploma as a bracelet in her hand. This has a specific Islamic context to it. When women marry, they receive a dowry from the husband. And its a very important part of Islamic law, the fact that women receive their own property, which is not conjugal property.
Traditionally, in Palestine and in much of the Arab East, the form that the dowry has often taken has been valuable jewelry, such as a bracelet. So when he says its a bracelet in her hand, its a symbol of security and economic independence. That dowry belongs absolutely to a woman. Part of the dowry is deferred until the end of the marriage. If the woman was divorced, then the deferred dowry is owed to her. If the husband dies, one of the first aspects that is settled is the deferred dowry.
If a woman is divorced or if her husband dies, she usually goes home to either her father or a brother. This is a very strong statement about her father and how he really believed in the independence of his daughters in a time period when this was highly unusual.