By consolidating and advancing their economic position, Manji says, and by becoming tax-paying citizens, women can assert their standing as individuals. This emerging reality is hard to ignore, whether in Saudi Arabia or Iran—though it was a significant blow to Saudi women that they were not allowed to participate in the recent municipal elections. Already in Malaysia, Amina Wadud notes, women have helped reform domestic violence law by promoting what she calls a "nice blend of sharia and civil law."
Still, it is one of the sad ironies of Islam, Manji says, that a religion originally intended to transcend tribalism has, at least in many parts of the world, allowed the tribalist codes to reassert themselves. But Manji refuses to accept that irony as the last word on women's fate within Islam. And she is far from alone.