Mernissi’s book is a history of Islam and the introduction of the veil. She draws upon Islamic scholar, to prove her thesis that the veil is social construct more than a religious must. Her chapter about the hiqab is game changing.
In part, her thesis is that the Prophet was too progressive for the men of the time, that what he was advocating was too much of a change upon tribal customs where men were able to dominate. What is also interesting, though Mernissi does not focus or really mention it, is the similarity between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism in treatment of women.
I do wish, though I am not sure how this could have been covered in this book, that Mernissi had detailed, somewhat, the difference between the Prophet’s daughter and his wives. The wives, for the most part, seem far more progressive and are mentioned, in particular A’isha, several times over the course of the book. Why was his favorite daughter far more conservative?
Still, if you are curious about the veil or the early days of Islam, this book is highly recommended. In particular if you have read Ayann Hirsi Ali or Mona Eltahaway, you should check this book out.