Civil Liberties, Civic Wombs
Women in the Islamic Republic
The reforms of the Pahlavi era had often targeted the ‘ulama, and mainstream Islam became dissociated from the women’s movement.1 State-supported organs of women’s activism such as the Society for Women (Kanun-i Banuvan) and its subsequent incarnation, the Women’s Organization of Iran (Sazman-i Zanan-i Iran), did not often challenge the philosophical and secular underpinnings of the Pahlavi regime. The official women’s movement thus dissociated itself from mainstream Islamic ideology. Themes of religious import and profiles of noteworthy religious women rarely were featured in their activities or publications.
Despite the absence of Islamic rhetoric from the women movement, many Iranian families embraced popular Shi‘i traditions in their daily lives. In the 1920s, even young Muslim women studying at the American Girls’ School, which was administered by Presbyterian missionaries in Tehran, adhered to their faith. In her annual report to the Board of Foreign Missions, Jane E. Doolittle, the principal of the school, reported that some boarders “wanted to fast and of course I gave the older ones Permission if they wished—but the mere idea of being allowed to, was all they wanted, and we have heard nothing more of it.”2
The popularity of Shi‘i traditions could be seen in the naming of Iranian Muslim children as well. In 1925, the American chargé in