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The Light in Her Eyes

Take Action

Empower Girls in Your Community and Combat Negative Stereotypes

  • Document, track and publicize instances of negative stereotyping of Muslim women. Work with local allies to combat those stereotypes and provide your community (and media professionals) with a more accurate picture.

  • Convene an interfaith study group to look at teachings about and implementation of the roles and rights of women.

  • Host a teach-in to look at how the Islamic revival has played out differently in various nations with significant Muslim populations. Draw distinctions between nations like Syria, with secular governments, and nations where Islam is an integral part of the government.

  • Invite speakers who are first-person witnesses to the Arab Spring to talk, either virtually or in person, about the role that women have played in the political upheaval.

  • Convene a panel to discuss feminist approaches to Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). Ask panelists to feature both commonalities and differences and to comment on where Houda's work might fit into the spectrum of approaches that they describe.

  • In addition to promoting the practice of Islam, Houda runs her school in order to empower girls. Design a school that would work in the context of your community to empower girls. What would that school look like? What would be included in the curriculum? What would the relationship be between teachers and students? When you've designed the ideal school, consider whether or not there are elements that could be applied to the existing schools in your community.

  • If you are not Muslim, arrange for a clergy exchange, in which an imam or a female Muslim leader is invited to speak to your congregation and your religious leader is invited to speak at a mosque. Or arrange for small groups of congregants to visit houses of worship or community centers run by people from a faith-tradition different from your own. As a follow-up, arrange for those small groups to meet for ongoing informal conversations to answer questions and discuss experiences.

Get informed about the issues in the film and lead a discussion in your community.

Discussion Guide

Discussion Guide

Thirty years ago, at the age of 17, Houda al- Habash, a conservative Muslim preacher, founded a Quran school for girls in Damascus, Syria. Every summer since then, her female students have supplemented their secular schooling with a rigorous study of Islam.

Houda’s efforts illustrate a complex — and for some audiences, unexpected — aspect of the current Islamic revival. Under the banner of restoring Islamic traditions in modern life, women are claiming space within the mosque, a place historically dominated by men. Using Quranic teachings, Houda encourages her students to pursue higher education, jobs and public lives, while remaining committed to an interpretation of Islam that includes cultural traditions that encourage some traditional gender roles, such as marrying young and serving one’s husband.

Shot just before the eruption of Syria’s current uprising, The Light in Her Eyes ventures into a world rarely seen by Westerners, yet echoes other faith-based movements throughout the Arab world. It offers an extraordinary portrait of a leader who challenges the women of her community to live according to Islam, without giving up their autonomy. In the process, it confronts viewers with questions about the meaning of women’s empowerment within the parameters of different cultures and experiences.

Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students will explore the role of religion in society and politics in Syria. They will watch a series of video clips showing Muslim women in Syria who are committed to living according to Islam without giving up their autonomy. Students will compare the ideas and actions of these women with their personal idea of women’s empowerment. They will then look at three quotes from the clips and explain in an essay what the women in the clips see as the role that religion plays in culture and politics.

Reading List

Delve Deeper

This multi-media resource list, compiled by Gina Blume of Monroe Township Public Library, provides a range of perspectives on the issues raised by the POV documentary The Light in Her Eyes.

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