Many people think of Islam, or religion generally, as disempowering for girls and women. The Light in Her Eyes, a documentary by Laura Nix and Julia Meltzer, challenges that notion. It follows Houda al-Habash, a conservative Muslim, wife, mother, preacher, and founder of a girls’ religious school in Damascus. In observing al-Habash, her children, students, and colleagues at school, at home, in shopping malls, and at outdoor cafés, the film explores how modernity and Muslim faith co-exist, challenging many Western assumptions that such co-existence is a fallacy.
Meltzer and Nix join Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry to talk about the difficulties they had filming as American women—one Jewish, one Christian—in Syria and about their audiences’ reactions to the seemingly contradictory values and aspirations expressed by al-Habash and her students.