The Light in Her Eyes

Julia Meltzer , Laura Nix

In Syria, imams believe that women should be at home and that it is their fate to give birth and take care of family members. Houda al-Habash, the inspiring director of the Al-Zahra Koran School in Damascus, provides teenage girls with a different doctrine of the Koran.

In Syria, the mosque is a place for men; women practice their faith at home. On TV, conservative clerics stress that women belong at home – reproducing and taking care of their families. Al-Habash promotes a more modern approach to the position of women. She drives a car, supervises other mosques, and counsels women in domestic conflicts. By teaching her students to interpret the Koran, she gives them strength and self-respect. In small groups, women and girls debate their place in society. They include Al-Habash's daughter, who says, ‘You can't just tell us it's a religious rule. Let us interpret it!’ We follow Houda Al-Habash and her students over the three-month summer course, as she guides her girls with a firm hand, tells them the difference between religion and extremism, and shows how she can balance family life with the pressure of running a busy school. A rare look into why women are choosing Islam in today's modern world.


Julia Meltzer , Laura Nix
Country of production
Syria, United States
87 minutes
Spoken language
Production company
World Sales
AUTLOOK Filmsales