Tag Archives: Miss Shamim Anwar
Superiority of one sec over another is a peculiar factor in the history of human beings; it is unknown among animals and birds. This fact in itself is enough to lower the estimation of human existence. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that the superiority is claimed on the basis of sheer accident of birth, for, after all, women were not given the chance to choose their sex. In other words, women are looked down upon for a crime they never committed.
The situation is tragic enough. What accentuates the tragedy is that the subjugation of women is justified and rationalized in the name of Islam. This means gagging of all the criticism.
The need of the hour is to bring about the true position of woman in the Quranic Social Order. This is the object of this booklet. Therefore, I have included in it the speech I delivered at the Tolu-e-Islam Convention in the year 1961 on the “causes of woman’s subjugation”. The situation that has since aggravated on the Pakistani scene, and the issues that are eternally raised in the name of Islam have been dealt with in the succeeding articles.
I hope this attempt will prove useful. S.A.26-B, Gulberg,Lahore, October, 1964
Foreword To The Second Edition
It is a truism that old ideas, attitudes, habits and institutions die very hard. There is a gap of several generations between the idea or attitude adopted and its actual implementation by the society as a while. But even this is conditional, that is, provided the attack on the old idea and attitude is carried on relentlessly and continuously, or else even the earlier attempt will lapse-Hence the raison d’etre of this second edition.
In the foreword to the first edition I have mentioned the “situation” that had “aggravated on the Pakistani Scene”. This was with reference to the adverse reaction of a regressive section of our society to the promulgation of the Muslim Family Laws of 1961. Actually, opposition to these laws has never abated. The sword of Democles hangs over it all the time. The situation today is worse than it ever was, for while in the early sixties the opposition was from a private section of the society, now in 1980 that very section speaks from a position of authority. Therein lies the real threat to these laws. Unfortunately, many educated women do not even know what they will loose if such a thing actually happens that is, if these laws are abrogated. Extracts from these laws, therefore, are being printed as Appendix II.
The fear of loosing these laws does not complete this dismal picture. To put women being the “chadar” again is another attempt to push her, and thereby the whole society, into the Dark Ages. However, public opinion has protested and a spate of letters have poured into the national press. A sample of some letters to the editors against the “chadar” are being printed as Appendix III.
Besides, in this edition two more articles are being added, written between 1964 and 1970, courtesy the “Ravi”, Government College, Lahore and “The Pakistan Times”, wherein they were first printed.
This booklet will act, I hope, as a handbook of ready reference for women who wish to safeguard their rights and live on a human level. S.A.93, Jail Road,Lahore.October, 1980.
Foreword To The Third Edition
It is intriguing to note that my foreword to the first edition was preceded by a grave threat to the Muslim Family Laws.; the foreword to the second edition was preceded by the Hadood Ordinance; and now the third edition is preceded by the Shariat Bill and the impending Obscenity Bill. Indeed, this related a story of an all-round regression.
Perhaps the worst thing that happened to Pakistan was Ziaism, whose touch has withered away whatever gains the Muslims had made in the past century. In a decade of dictatorial rule, after having hijacked the country with the gun of the armed forces, he dug in so deep that he himself proudly claimed that whether he was on the scene or not, his measures would survive. Also, once while addressing the maulanas and the mushaikhs, he announced the favor he had bestowed on them by placing them on a high pedestal, whereas formerly they were an ignored section of the population. The logical sequel to this is that today we are face to face with theocracy, a form of government that the Quran abhors and primarily aims at its abolition.
In a regressive and theocratic scenario, the biggest victim is the woman. This is no ordinary statement, for there is a powerful think-tank behind it. The “spiritualism” of priest craft is generally sex-obsessed, (my conviction is that a sex-obsessed individual alone opts to don the priestly mantle!) but the implications of the Hadood Ordinance, the law of evidence, its opposition to the Muslim Family Laws, the idea of a separate women’s university, the Shariat and the Obscenity Bills, chadat and chardivari are sinister. All these are clever moves to humiliate women; humiliated women destroy the family units and that is just another way of saying that the nation is dead.
To the priest all this makes no difference. As long as they can exercise thought-control over their followers, they can strike a bargain with the Caesars, the nimrods, the Sultans and Shahnshahs, the British Emperors or the Gandhis and Nehrus of Bharat.
In this background, what has worried the women most is surah 4, verse 34 in the Quran. A dialogue I had with Mr. G.A. Parwez on this concern of women became the subject matter of an article. Another article on the family unit and its various facets became a major preoccupation with me based on tragic results of our traditional pattern of family life. Both there articles are being included in this edition, courtesy “The Nation” wherein they were first printed. At the end some comments are added under the caption “ Miscellaneous”.
However, often explanations, claimed to be in the light of the Quran, provoke people, especially women, to wonder as to why are they nagged by so many varied interpretations. Many are alienated and perforce with to go secular. They have a good reason for saying so, but this is exactly where the Mullah triumphs. This may sound strange but it is a story by itself. In order to allay some of these genuine feelings of alienation, I am including my article “Quranic Approach towards Change” as appendix IV first printed in “Talu-e-Islam” of January 1990.
This third edition again is a small effort to ward off the python that is poised to swallow us all. But eventually, the inexorable Laws of Nature will give us what we deserve. S.A26-B, Gulberg 2,Lahore.April, 1992.
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My mind has been preoccupied, for some years, with the concept of change and permanence in human life and as to how the Quran itself envisions it. of course the concept is inherent in it and I was not unfamiliar, but what triggered off this constant preoccupation was, what could be described as woman bashing by Zia’s regime in the form Hadood Ordinance, Law of Evidence and the proposed law of Qisas and Diyat. As a consequence I got involved with some of the highly intelligent and highly qualified women activists of our country who were resisting these ordinance. The very fact that these women showed tremendous courage and resilience, rationality and creativity in the face of an unscrupulous military dictator, more than any section of the population, exploded many a myth about women. They were inferior to no one and they refused to live as second or third rate citizens.
However, certain issues that were more or less settled in my mind were enlivened afresh through constant arguments and doubts that were raised. This time It was not just a question of unauthentic Hadith and the outdated fiqah, but certain verses of the Quran themselves. Does or does not the Quran accept woman as equal? They wanted a categorical answer. Ultimately, the question did not remain restricted to the woman’s concerns, but included the institutions of slavery, of property and inheritance, of charity as distinct from an economic system, and of punishments for various crimes. All these challenges gave me the opportunity to look deeper into the issue and the result is this article. In what I am going to say I do not claim to be original, but this is the moment in this history of the world to speak out and speak out boldly and openly.
The Quranic claim is that varied historical experienced whether within the ambit of its attitude and values , or outside it, that is, under the process of “trial and error”, the Truth of the Quranic objectives will be ultimately vindicated. We see today the C0ommunist Structure collapsing not under foreign subversion and attack, but under the battering of “glasnost” and “perestroika” from within, led by no less a person than Mikhail Gorbachev himself. Then this year, 1989 happens to be the bicentenary of the French Revolution. Re-evaluation are being expressed from the advantage of hind-sight that is available to us. I am not referring to any country in the “Muslim” world because no bold experiment has been ,made by them and they do not have much to speak of about themselves except blind unthinking imitation and harking back to the past to maintain the status quo. Anyways, because of France and Russia, 1989 is indeed a great year, full of portends, constructive or destructive, for the time to come.
The emphasis of this article is on a particular aspect of the problem, that is, the approach Quran emphasis and teaches in the methodology of change, and it is on this very aspect that some comments of the analysis on the French and Russian Revolutions become relevant. My contention is that this clarification will go a long way in meeting the above mentioned doubts and questions.
The justification or the rationale behind “Wahi” is the limitations of human reason, reason which is indispensable but is not pure or perfect. Because of this hasty, impatient, quarrelsome and unable to see beyond their immediate profit. To harness human potentials and transform this “Khudbeen” attitude, as Iqbal puts it, to “Doorbeen” approach, permanent values are set forth as ultimate objectives of life on this earth. A mere glance at the relevant Quranic verses presents a picture of an earth-shaking revolution, reverberating in the corridors of power and challenging the status quo of establishment. At once one sees its fury and its uncompromising attack n kingship, autocracy and dictatorship, feudalism and aristocracy, preistcraft and Brahmanism, caste and class, slavery and buying and selling of human beings as commodities, sexual discrimination and women subjugation, ownership of the resources of the land and acquisition of property, disparity of wealth and doling out of charity, real polotik or Machiavellian politics. In a nutshell no man has the right to rule over another and there is no such thing as the ruler and the ruled. Now, no opponent or disbeliever will deny this; all this is as bright as sunshine unless one closes ones eyes and says: I cannot see. But the confusion and rejection arise when one comes across certain rules and rejection arise when one comes across certain rules and regulations regarding inheritance of property, woman as a woman and man-woman relationship, slavery, charity and punishment. The immediate comment is; Why this contradiction? If the concept of possession is rejected, why then these laws of inheritance? If slavery is abolished, why then these instructions for the treatment of slavery? If women are human why then these laws that humiliate and downgrade her? After all, as long as women remain economically dependent on men, for she does emerge as a victim of a Patriarchal Society according to these laws, then isn’t her emancipation and dignity set at naught?
Furthermore, if everyone will be economically secure, why then these exhortations to give charity with all its accompanied dehumanization? And last but not the least, if the Quran is the upholder of humanity, why then these barbaric and inhuman punishments? after pointing of these contradictions, no matter what initiative on takes, nobody is ready to listen. Seen superficially, the contradictions are apparent; the two sets of laws and values must connect at some point for after all the Quranic challenge is that the proof of its supra-human source is the absolute absence contradictions in its text.
Fortunately, the human experience of just the last two centuries makes the clarification easier for it can be picked as a pragmatic test. They have been very eventful centuries, teaching us meant things if we care to learn.
Now, what appears as a contradiction in the Quran, is a very profound understanding of the human condition. While laying down, radical changes in the socio-economic and political areas, the Quran emphasizes a slow and evolutionary and unhurried process and methodology in moving forward towards the ultimate goal. The Quran warns against overnight changes. They can be self defeating, and even if partially successful, can cause prolonged, unnecessary suffering and inflict wounds that can be too gaping to be cured and normally. As Arnold Glasgow has well said:
“the key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg—not by smashing it.”
explaining the same point Allam Ghulam Ahmad Parwez wrote in June 1938 about the doubts, questions and restlessness that were seething like a silent volcano in the breast of Muslim India, and promised to assuage them. “But it will be accomplished very gradually and slowly,” he wrote “because teeing off from the thorny bushes with an abrupt, sudden gesture is certainly no wisdom.”.
indeed, mental attitudes and world views change very slowly, and old habits die very hard. So the Quran begging by recognizing the reality of the situation here and now at any given point in history, both in material and psychological human conditions, while directing its movement outside of human life, unless totally transformed from within, is a familiar Quranic approach. This reality is ignored by the humans in their hastiness. Lets hear what Chingiz Aitmatov, a Kirghizian writer and editor of the Soviet Magazone “Foreign Literature” said to Natalya Kazmina, ANP correspondent. “When we rejected our past religion, history and philosophy—we laid waste our cultural field. We are duty bound to compensate the spiritual void that has formed as result of our undialected attitude towards the past.” Talking, about ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’ in the same vein said “_____ we should not smash everything along way. In our attempt to change things today, to eliminate one thing or another—be it some relic or an alphabet—we should show great care, wisdom and tolerance in order to find the best possible decision. Our society has suffered enough from abrupt changes.” This is the crux of the matter. The Quran is anxious to avoid “abrupt changes”. An attempt is made below to give a few examples to explain the mode of change.
- Economic: the ultimate objective of the Quran being the fulfillment of the basic needs of every individual along with t a guarantee to the unborn generations as well, it if followed by the permanent value – concept of using the resources of the land and not possessing them. “To possess” and “to have “ are alien concepts to this new setup.
Mode of Change: this indeed is a radical and dialectic stop in the midst of the large landed estates. However, no forcible snatching away is ordered; instead laws of inheritance divide and fragment the estates so that within a generation or two or three its total fragmentation will merge into non-possession of the Islamic Economic system. In the course of this ongoing process, Zakat, which is “to give away the surplus for the growth of the state in lieu of permanent guarantee of security”, and as such the very base of the economy, will have matured. But while in the process of maturing, the citizens are enjoined to give “sadaqah” to fulfill the deficiencies and eliminate disproportion in the existing condition, on individual basis. This is only for the transitory period. Once the system takes shape, both the “laws of inheritance” and “Sadaqah” lapse and become redundant. However these rules remain an integral part of the Quran for any society in any given space and time which is beginning from scratch. Charity in any case is not a Quranic concept.
- Slavery: The ultimate objective is the establishment of a human family and equality of all humans. Every individual is honorable for the simple reason that he/she is human. No other consideration is needed. This is an absolute rejection of castes and classes, and above all, slavery. I wonder if anyone of us can visualize and feel what a dehumanizing affect, suppression of initiative and enterprise, the buying and selling and auctioning of human beings, as commercial commodities, can bring about. May be we can get some idea if we see objectively what imperialism has to us as a subjugated people.
Mode of change: the Quran encourages people to emancipate the slaves at every step, and side by side emphasizes loving and humane treatment like unto any member of the family. Thus measure are taken to protect them and course them in every stage by stage until they are capable of standing on their own feet economically and psychologically. Age old existence of being owned by somebody as a thing can make one feel lost, nervous and bewildered if suddenly thrown out into the free world as free persons. This exactly what happened when more that a hundred years ago Abraham Lincoln emancipated the black American slaves and then left them in the lurch, as it were with all good intentions of- course. Many couldn’t face this newly won freedom and pleased to be allowed to hop back into the cage. The worst part of it is that till today the attitude of the white man has not changed. It has not been educated out of their minds (More will be said about education later). Woman: the ultimate objective of the Quran is equality of all humans and equal partnership and companionship in the family unit. Without this mutual reacts and trust, a family cannot perform its functions in a normal healthy manner. I need hardly repay here that even towards the end of the twentieth century, the mass of women on this earth are economically dependent and depressed, and hence early manipulated condition in pregnancy, child birth and lactation and the early upbringing of children that is the root cause of these economic victimization. Instead of honoring other for this roles and helping her in her incapacitation, the perverted mind of the husband enslaves her for all times it is this perversion that the Quran attacks. Mode of Change: in the transitory period, help and protection in this incapacitated condition is emphasis, but it is obvious that once the Quranic Economic system gradually manifests itself in which no man or woman is economically dependent and his/her basic needs from the resources of land are fulfilled as a meter the birthright, and tone eats and drinks naturally alone breaths in the air and absorbs the sunshine as free firsts of nature, any talk of the economic dependence becomes irrelevant. The whole concept is inbuilt in the system. Similarly, rules and regulations regarding the moral support of the second woman to the female witness in financial matters become redundant when women become confident and experienced in these matters. In fact, when this happens, there is no reason why two female witnesses will not do when no male witness is forthcoming, such a situation can arise especially today, and it neednt be a prerequisite that one witness has to be a male. The way women all over, including Pakistani women, are entering the world of finance and backing, and trade and commerce, business and industry, to insist of such a condition sounds funny if not worse. Otherwise too, many a women in Pakistan, leave alone the rest of the world are so articulate, dialectic and confident that the term “bangled women” now applies perhaps more to some men than these women! Of course a large majority are still depressed and helpless, meek and illiterate, they may still need help and support, so the transitory rules may still apply on them and naturally remain and integral part of the Quran for all those who are making a beginning and breaking a new ground, lapsing again when closer and nearer the goal. Seen from this perspective the Quranic claim is vindicated that the proof of its divine source is that it contains no contradiction.
- Punishments: talking about punishments, another aspect of this theme of change will have to be clarified, equally important and sensitive. The Quran, as the last and fine book spoke to humanity as a whole, it does not address a particular chosen people. Throughout that recipient is An-Nas, mankind. Its challenge is that criterion for survival is service to humanity as an ultimate objective. All else will wither away. But, the Quran, as we all know was revealed in the midst of Hejazi Arabs. Why is Hejaz, is a story by itself. Now, while the ultimate objectives, the values of the Quran are permanent and universal, beyond space and time, some references in it and certain transitory rules, particularly the realms of punishments, are local and historical, but definitely exemplary for all times to come. Here are some cases in point. Although Anbiya came to every nook and corner of the world, only a few from the Arabian peninsula are mentioned. Certain events , personalities and archaeological finds are referred to again fro the same area. Actually, pharaohs and nimrods exist everywhere and so does the ungrateful and treacherous people like the Jews. These are only examples familiar to Arabs of those days. Similarly, punishments of flogging is mentioned which was not common in other parts of white world. The philosophy and the psychology behind it all is, as Shah Wali Ullah put it, that Arabs were to be prepared as a leaven ( ) for the rest of humanity. They were to be a model for others, since Islam or for that matter any idea, cannot be spread by force. By force the nomenclature of the individual may be changed, the head and the heart remain atrophied to the idea, even more so as a vendetta of a defense mechanism. Nothing could be more so devastating to any new idea. So the Quranic approach to change is to begin from a certain point in time where one stand at the moment. Naturally, local and familiar methods and institutions are easier to user – politically, economically and judicially—than those that are superimposed. Nabi Muhammad (pbuh) for example used the tribal “bait” system to build democratic norms, i.e. to enable them to elect, select and participate in consultation. Iqbal and Jinnah recommended the secret ballot system and the parliamentary form with which the people were familiar. As one faints in experience and maturity these modes, techniques are evolved, changed, amended and improved where very necessary. This includes the penal code as well. The Arabs were to continue flogging until alternate and better method of deterrence was evolved or acquired. Another society ought to begin from what ever they are used to and the most inhuman practices were immediately done away with, for example killing and beheading the prisoners of war and taking the as slaves and concubines. They were to be ransomed or freed, as the case may be.
Indeed, this is how, according to my humble opinion and understanding the Quran views change; and as I said earlier, I do not claim to be absolute original in saying so. This approach wiped off confusion and contradictions and sudden, hasty changes.
But this is not all. The Quran foes not suffice in giving rules and regulations for the transitory period only. Prior to that, the peoples minds have to change, they must be mentally and emotionally prepared for the change. This is a long, patient, rational and very slow process of teaching. That is why the Nabi (pbuh) is described as teacher. He teaches, he does not preach. They are two very distinct terms with distinct connotation. Teaching is a painstaking method and it is a worthwhile method. Short cut in this method will not take us to the goal. Commenting on “perestroika”, Prof. Khawaja Masud says that it is a bloodless revolution is a revolution that is being washed in the hearts and minds of the people. It is a more difficult revolution because while it is easy to snatch power, it is a Himalayan task to change the hearts and minds of the people.” The professor considers “perestroika” as a continuation of the October revolution of 1917 in Russia and described them as synonymous. That may be so, but I think the precedence is all wrong. “perestroika” should have come first and then the Revolution. The Revolution then would not have been as bloody and as full of sufferings as it was. the Quran is so careful with its method that its enjoins upon Nabi (pbuh), the teacher to leave his country or home town (Hijrah) for a place which is more conducive it the implementation of the new sustain. So Nabi Muhammad Mesoptamia for Hijaz and Palestine, and Moses left Egypt for the valley of Sinai. Thus “Hijrah” is no ordinary migration. It is the removing of the last hurdle in the way of the new vision and establishment of this vision as a pragmatic test. If the vested interest will not see reason, then at least let them see the results, the fruit of the seed planted on another soil. After all, for a “Momin” the whole planet Earth is a home, and people of all climes, races and languages his brothers.
I am convinced a method other than this—that is teaching pragmatic test and a model, ruled and regulations for the transitory pages—will spell disaster. The great upheavals in France and Russia and China, well intentioned and visionary though they may be, were hasty and lacked the above mentioned methodology. The immediate results are described by themselves as “The Terror” which the historians now say was a “cruel experience”. The all-consuming guillotine of France and the Gulag labor camps, and the purge of the mid-thirties in Russia are regretted today. “terror” Johnson who talks about the terror and the counter revolution has pinned down the cause to “a new political class (that) has come to the fore neither educated nor experienced, reacting to events rather tan controlling them, thinking in terms of vengeance rather than in terms of principles.” Sounds familiar? Well! these lessons of history vindicating and backing up the teaching and educations process the Quran enjoins as a prerequisite to being a change. The tragedy of impatience and hastiness in manifests in all those regrets for it foes not bring the goal any nearer. It took France nearly a century to digest the revolution after many mishaps of counter-revolution, revivalism, revolution again , now Republican, now monarchial, accompanied by all the unnecessary pain. After seventy two years, Russia is back to square one, though at the same time it may be admitted that there is no going back to pre 1789 ancient regime. Hopefully, that is dead for ever. It may be pointed out here that failure can also be due to some inherent flaw in the philosophy projected, but that is another story. ( a perusal of “Mafhomul Quran” and Insan Ne Kia Socha “by Mr. G.A. Parwez may be with while.)
Talking about a model this is what Tim Blanking has to say about the enthusiasm and naive optimism of exporting the French Revolution across Europe. “If they had stayed at home and has set about creating a new order…..their example might well have inspired mass conversion to their cause across the globe. By trying to export that cause by armed force, they not only sealed their own fate, they also gave the old regimes they detested so much a fresh seas of life which was to see most of them through the next century”. Herein lies the vindication of yet another Quranic guideline, a model as an example to others. Hindsight and second thoughts have made the truth obvious. It is another thing if as Hilary Mantel says. “Writers have truths to offer, while politicians and clerics commonly trade in lies.” Politicians and clerics yes, they trade in lies, and in Islamic polity neither of them have any place. One we are educated in permanent human values and accept their implications and decision even if they go against us, then such Machiavellian politics has no feet to stand on. But I shall end here.
We can only hope that someday, somewhere, somebody will present this model as a Third alternative to Capitalist and Socialist systems. It will not be done hastily, and yet it is remarkable that the results can emerge sooner than one expects and with minimum death and destruction and unnecessary pain. The very beauty of “Wahi” is to use Iqbal’s words, the economy of time and energy. Remember, it was the tortoise, who won the race and not the hare!
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Step towards unhealthy society
Zeba Zubairs article “Are Separate, Varsities for Women Necessary”? was an eye opener. She and the “Muslim” deserve to be commended for it.
It is indeed unintelliglable to us, that just when men and women were beginning to shed off their age-old inhibitions and getting used to each others presence outside domestic domains, the clock is being put back to obliterate their achievement. In our social set-up the universities were the best ground for the mutual emotional and intellectual growth of men and women which our over-ripe dogmatic policy decision makers are proudly doing away with, not releasing the end effect of it.
Separate universities for women will have are again implications on the economic and professional life of women by drastic cut on the choice of subjects and hence curtailment on their freedom of participation in nation building activities.
Along with separate universities, there comes an order to shroud female students in chadars. How is that going to help the males? All the I can see is that both men and women will be made even more conscious and hence more inhibited. They will develop more unhealthy curiosity. Instead of facing each other confidently, the chadar will create a breed of stupid giggly females with uncalled for precocity, swooning at the sight of a “donkey in pants”, and a breed of bulking starved males staring mad at any “donkey in skirts”. To say that chadar on a female will help the poor, weak male is sadly mistaken notion.
Whom are we trying to save from whom? When are we going to grow up so that issues other than these preoccupy our creativity energies and potential? With chadar as a symbol of segregation, the only woman that a man will turn towards I s a prostitute. That will be his first and last impression of a woman.
The trouble with us is that we are beginning from the wrong end. We continue to harp on the Biblical theory that woman is created from man—a play-thing and a toy for his loneliness. Unless we do away with such dehumanized stuff and educate women on their human status, as matter of right , only then can we witness the evolution of both men and women to greater dignified heights. But we are doing the contrary.
Miss Shamsa Sani, Lahore.
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[Towards unhealthy society, “the Muslim”, Islamabad, July 28]
Miss Shamsa Sani’s comments on unhealthy trends in society reminds me of my own childhood 40 years ago, which is quite telling in this context. I was brought up in a big cosmopolitan town on the sea-coast, where I went to school in a western dress, had bobbed up hair, played net-ball, was the fastest sprinter in the school, climbed tress with easy dexterity and walked two miles, along with y sister, to school.
When we visited our ancestral home, we were looked upon as modern, free, westernized, call what you may. But even as a child then I seem to sense that my contemporaries, cousins and neighbors daughters who were segregated, help behind “purdah” in the zanana, wore chadar, were terribly precautions and now that I recall they had a habit of peeping through the windows and chicks giggling and ogling. Now I realize how innocent and simple I was compared to their inhibited life and their consequent precocity.
I remember reading a very similar account by Ismat Chughtai in one of her autobiographical sketches. No wonder her life-long campaign ha been against inhibition. With this background it would be quite an education to read Josh MaliHabadi’s autobiography where depicts through his own personal experienced and escapades the life and behavior of the demure and coy damsels living in the zanana where we were being pushed back. Or everything permissible as long assist is behind the ‘purdah’?
Mrs. Rahmutallah, Lahore.
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Today’s Vital Issue,
“The Muslim” Islamabad August 9
It is a greet pity that issues that were decided and accepted, on principle at least, are being raked up all over again, namely, democracy and purdah. I am concerned here more with the latter. What a waste of time debating this now, for I recall a violent debate that raged during the post-independence days. Mainly what made it so poignant was that in its background was the mass abduction and rape of Muslim women in East Punjab in particular and the rest of India in general.
Were the purdah-nasheen and helpless women prepared or even made aware of such diabolical forces that make history? Why did the men even dare to enter Pakistan leaving their wives, sisters and daughters behind? They should have stayed being and died fighting if they really believed in chastity and purity. Such were the questions that assailed the women of this new-born state of Pakistan, and they inevitably came to a certain conclusion.
They unhappily concluded that it was not chastity and purity that mattered; what mattered was that they were the “possession”. So what if the men had lost their property, they could always acquire more through marriage.
This is not at all. In relation the Muslim men started abducting and raping the non-Muslim women this side of the border. Such is the hopeless fate of women on this earth. Even this does not complete this ugly scenario of a male-dominated world.
This pious society refused to claim the much suffering and forlorn women who were recovered from East Punjab, so much so that they preferred to stay back with their Sikh and Hindu abductors. After all this, we women do not want to me “talked at” about morality and chastity. And by the way, how much security are we offered inside Pakistan by the followers of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who had laid down the following touchstone of an ideal Islamic Society: “A woman traveling alone at night from Yemen to Damascus should feel a complete sense of security.”
I agree with Miss Shamsa Sani that ‘chadar’ inhibits the growth of women. I say this from personal experience. When I was made to wear ‘burqa’ at 16, my personality changed. I became nervous, frightened and jittery and obsessed with a sense of fear and insecurity, while formerly I was just the reverse. I am glad I had this experience, because I cant talk against it with conviction and passion. Mr. Masood must first go through a similar experience to understand what I am talking about. But he can never have this experience, because he is not a woman, and three in lies the crux of the problem.
Mrs. Ayesha Anwar, Lahore
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I do not know why there is so much ballyhoo over the chadar issue. It is but obvious that women being the only custodians of Islam, must not only wear the chadar but should also do away with that dreadful custom of wearing high heals, lawns and viols. The lung is of peasant women – a desperate attempt at imitating that western maxi by our rural class ifs objectionable and must be banned. Women must wear additional coats for Haj and men must not be given Haj-visas unless they grow a beard.
Mush that I feel shy to mention, I have to point out the pants and jeans that our men wear must also be banned; what to speak of the shots they wear for sports which must vanish at once from the soil of this country, because they are highly provocative to females. Another thing: our Army must get into shalwar-kameez. Imagine trousers! How dreadfully western. What about the camel replacing the jeep with petrol so expensive.
I am convinced that the most vital issue of the nation today is changing the dress of Pakistani women. Eradication of poverty, corruption, sanity, floods, name what you may, are slogans and must remain so, for it is the female dress only that lends identity and color to the nation and not morals or discipline. –Shano, Kakul.
Segregation of Sexes,
“The Muslim” Islamabad, September 10
Mr. Fazal Abbas Mekan has been terribly piques by mine and Mrs. Rehmatullah’s letters on separate universities for women and the consequences of segregation of the sexes. It was not surprising that he has warned us about the vices prevalent in the West due to free intermingling of the sexes and co-education – last refuge of people like him when all other arguments fail. There are certain queries here that arise which I hope Mr. Mekan and others will answer to put the record straight.
First, talking of vies, whether it is east or west, was there no vice at all before the intermingling of the sexes? Today without blinking and eye, we talk about the universal and the oldest profession in the world – prostitution. Who forced prostitution on women, and helped it to survive through the centuries? Let me say that the existence of even one prostitute is the degradation of the whole of womankind. So evil has always been there, or does evil become known to men only when mothers, sisters and daughters throw it back on their faces as the West is doing it? it is interesting to note that when Mr. Mekan talks about bounds prescribed by Islam her refers to women’s behavior, not that of men.
Secondly, as Mrs. Ayesha Anwar pointed out are men really concerned about their women as “possessions” only?
Thirdly, in the absence of any universally recognized objective point of reference, the pendulum of human behavior is bound to swing from one extreme to the other. The inhibitions, the monasticism, the ugliness of sex in Christianity has today resulted in the overthrow of the church substituted by the method of trial and error. At this moment in history the West foes not consider it wrong to have extra-marital relationship, or for that matter, the validity of the institution of marriage itself is being questioned.
It is through experience and intellectual conviction alone that some sort of balance will be achieved. The intermixing of the sexes need not result in vice if there are strong, rational, scientific convictions regarding sexual values. It seems I rate human beings higher than perhaps Mr. Mekan does.
In the end I would like to express my satisfaction that Mr. Mekan has at least advocated the fact that females are not inferior to males and should not be looked down upon. To extract such a statement from a man is quite an achievement for any society.
We are starting from the wrong end—the “chador”. As long as the Biblical theory of Adam and Eve remains an integral part of our literature and through, emphasizing the tale of a woman as a plaything and toy for man, a woman will remain as such _ ‘chadar’ or no ‘chadar”. Also, it should be noted that segregation inhibits not only the women; it inhibits men as well.
Shamsa Sani, Gulberg, Lahore.
Use of Chadar,
“The Pakistan Times” Lahore, Aug. 5
I vehemently disagree with Mr. Tahir Majeed concerning the use of chadar, in the first place, the imposition of chador was not welcomed by all the people of Iran; there was widespread discontent when it was first made compulsory and, more recently, there has been a strong reaction against the use of veil.
Modesty is certainly a desirable trait and dupatta should be worn with shalwar kameez. This does not mean, however, that we should put ‘our women’ back into purdah. To do this would be to deprive Pakistan of its greatest untapped resource: the intellect and talent of its female citizens.
Views of this sort reflect the insecuruities of the male ego. One dear is that men will lose the dominant position they have held for so long. This should not be feared, it should be welcomed. Another is that the liberation of women will lead to the types of excesses we see in Western nations. Indeed, this need to be watched carefully but again not with fear. We should have enough faith in Pakistani woman hood to realize that dreading of burqa does not mean discarding of morality.
All fields of endeavor should be open to qualified women. If some men lose positions to better trained or more intelligent women, those individual men will be the losers. Pakistan, however, will be the gainer.
Khudhal Ali Khan, 56/T . Gulberg-III, Lahore.
in a cosmopolitan community dress will vary necessarily. It is the height of folly to say that all women should wear on particular type of dress. A bulky dress is neither a criterion of modesty nor simplicity. Mental alertness, inner growth and intellectual discipline cannot be measured from the dress a person wears.
Should men tell women what to wear and how to wear? Let men keep their hands off and allow women to dress as they think best. In a male-dominated society it is easy to be pre-occupied unnecessarily about women’s dress and ignore conveniently the major requirements of society such as intellectual, emotional and psychological growth. If women were to give orders to men regarding the length, breadth and shape of their dress, would not they be offered? Men have better and more important matters to worry about, matters that pertain to their own growth.
- Osmund, Khushpur, Dist. Faisalabad.
* * * * *
Use of Chadar,
“The Pakistan Times” Lahore, Aug. 13
Letters have appeared in these columns calling upon women to drape chadars and dupattas over their shoulders. A number of reasons have been given for that. One worthy gentleman wrote that the wearing of the chadar would add dignity to women and men would look at them with more respect.
Let me point out that women would much rather not have men’s respect based on such trivial considerations. Dignity and respect are not to be determined by the wearing of any particular dress; these are related to a person’s behavior, actions and characters – at least a women’s! Society would set for itself a very superficial and low standard if it saw dignity only in a man wearing an awami suit.
Emphasis should be laid on hard work, the dignity of labor, helping one’s fellow men — qualities which are essential for personal satisfaction and on which a country’s progress, spirit and national character depend.
Nikhat Khan, Shadman Colony, Lahore.
* * * ******************
Use of Chadar,
“The Pakistan Times” Lahore, Aug. 14
Men’s advice to women that they use chadar is an unnecessary interference on the part of the male sex in a purely personal affair of women. I agree with Mr. B. Osmund (Aug. 5), that men should “keep their hands off and allow women to dress as they think best”. Mr. Tahir Majeed (July 28), who started this discussion, does not seem to be a regular reader of newspaper, as he is unaware that chadar has already been made compulsory for college going girls in Pakistan. Women who wish to wear burqas are not prevented from doing so; but it would be too much to expect that all women would follow that practice.
We are at a stage where the country needs progress in every field; and progress comes through hard and constant work. It is a pity that we are discussing what a women should or should not wear.
Moreover, it is the height of close-mindedness to consider the wearing of chadar a criterion of respectibility and modesty. There are many women who do not wear chador and are yet respected and treated with great esteem. I wonder what qualities chador or burqa add to a woman’s character.
Andaleeb Aziez, Rawalpindi.
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(VIII OF 1961)
- Ordinance to override other laws, etc.: (1) the provision s of this Ordinance shall have effect notwithstanding any law, custom or usage, and the registration of Muslim marriages shall take place only in accordance with those provision.
(2) for the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that the provision of the Arbitration Act, 1940 the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and any other law regulating the procedure of Courts shall not apply to any Arbitration Council.
- Succession: in the event of the death of any son or daughter of the propitious before the opening of succession, the children of such son or daughter , if any, living at the time the succession opens, such per stripes receive a share equivalent to the share which such son or daughter, as the case may be, would have received, if alive.1
- Registration of marriages: (1) Every marriage solemnized under Muslim Law shall be registered in accordance with the provision of this Ordinance.
(2) for the purpose of registration of marriages under this ordinance, the union council shall grant license to one or more persons, to be called Nikah Registrars, but in no case shall more than on Nikah Registrar be licenses for any one ward.
(3)Every marriage not solemnized by the Nikah Registrar shall, for the purpose of registration under this Ordinance, be reported to him by the person who has solemnized such marriage.
(4)Whoever contravenes the provisions of subsection (3) shall be punishable with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.
(5)The form of mikahnama, the registers to be maintained by Nikah Registrars, the records to be preserved by Union Councils, the manner in which marriages shall be registered and copied of nikhmnama shall be supplied to the parties and the fess to be charged thereof, shall be such as may be prescribed.
(6)Any person may, on payment of the prescribed fee, if any, inspect at the office of the Union Council the record preserved under sub-section (5), or obtain a copy of any entry therein.
- Polygamy: (1) No man, during the subsistence of an existing marriage, shall, except with the previous permission in writing of the Arbitration Council, contract another marriage, nor shall any such marriage contracted without such permission be registered under this Ordinance.
(2) An application for permission under sub-section.
- (1) shall be submitted to the Chairman in the prescribed manner, together with the prescribed fee, and shall state the reasons for proposed marriage, and whether the consent of the existing wife or wives has been obtained thereto.
(2)the receipt of the application under sub-section
- (3) the Chairman shall ask the applicant and his existing wife or wives each onto nominate a representative, and the Arbitration council so contributed may, if satisfied that the proposed marriage is necessary and just, grant, subject to such conditions, if any as my be deemed fit, their permission applied for.
(4)decided the application the Arbitration Council shall record its reasons for the decision, and any party may, in the prescribed manner, with in the prescribed period, and on the payment of the prescribed fee, prefer an application for revision, in the case of West Pakistan, to the Sub-Divisional Officer concerned and this decision shall be final and shall not be called in question in any Court.
- (1) Any man who contracts another marriage without permission of the Arbitration Council shall—
- (a) pay immediately the entire amount of the dower, whether prompt if deferred, due to the existing wife or wives, which amount if not so paid, shall be recoverable as arrears of land revenue; and
- (b) on conviction upon complaint be punishable with simple imprisonment which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees, or with both.1
- (2) Talaq:
- (1) Any man who wished to divorce his wife shall, as soon as may be, after the pronouncement of talaq in any form whatsoever, give the Chairman notice in writing of his having done so, and shall supply a copy thereof to the wife.
- (2) whoever contravenes the provision of sub-section (1) shall be punishable with simply imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees or with both.
- (3) Save as provided in subsection (5), a talaq unless revoked earlier expressly or otherwise, shall not be effective until the expiration of ninety days from the day on which notice under sub-section (1) is delivered to the Chairman.
- (4) Within thirty days of the receipt of notice under sub-section (1), the Chairman shall constitute an Arbitration council for the purpose of bringing about a reconciliation between the parties and the Arbitration Council shall take all steps necessary t bring about such reconciliation.
- (5) If the wife be pregnant at the time the talaq is pronounced, talaq shall not be effective until the period mentioned in the sib-section (3) or the pregnancy, whichever be later, ends.
- (6) Nothing shall debar a wife whose marriage has been terminate by talaq effective under this section from re-marrying the same husband without an intervening marriage with a third person, unless such termination is for the third time to effective.
- Dissolution of marriage otherwise than by talaq: Where the right to divorce has been duly delegated to the wife and she wishes to exercise that right, or where any of the parties to a marriage wishes to dissolve the marriage otherwise than by talaq the provisions of Section 7 shall, mutates mutandis and so far as applicable, apply.
- Maintenance: (1) If any husband fails to maintain his wife adequately, or where there are more wives that one, fails to maintain them equitably, the wife or all or any of the wives may, in addition to seeking any other legal remedy available, apply to the chairman who shall constitute an Arbitration council to determine the matter and the Arbitration Council may issue a certificate specifying the amount which shall be paid as maintenance by the husband.
- Dower: where no details about the mode of payment are specified in the mikahnama, or the marriage contract, the entire amount of the dower shall be presumed to be payable on demand.
9.Amendment of child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 : In the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 –Minimum age for marriage both for boys and girls
- (1) in section 2,–
- (a) in clause (a), for the word “fourteen” the word “sixteen” shall be substituted;
- (2) in Section 4, for the words “twenty-one” the word “eighteen” shall be substituted.
- 1 P L D 1968 Lh. 520.
- 1 P L D 1971 Kar. 139.
THE DISSOLUTION OF MUSLIM MARRIAGE ACT
(VIII OF 1939)
[ An Act to consolidate and clarify the provisions of the Muslim Law relating to suits for dissolution of marriage by women married under Muslim Law and to remove doubts as to the effect of the renunciation of Islam by a married Muslim woman on her marriage tie.]
whereas to is expedient to consolidate and clarify the provisions to Muslim Law relating to suits for dissolution of marriage by women married under Muslim Law and to remove doubts as to the effect of the renunciation of Islam by a married Muslim woman on her marriage tie: it is hereby enacted as follows:–
- Short title and extentL1) this Act may be called the Dissolution of all Marriages Act, 1939.
- (a) It extends to all the Provinces and the Capital of the Federation.
- Grounds for decree for dissolution of marriage: A woman married under Muslim Law shall be entitled to obtain a decree for the dissolution of her marriage on any one of more of the following grounds, namely:–
- (i) that the whereabouts of the husband have no been known for a period of four years;
- (ii) that the husband has neglected of has failed to provide for her maintenance for a period of two years;
- (ii-1) that the husband has taken an additional wife in the contravention of the provision of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961;
- (ii) that the husband has been sentenced to imprisonment for a period of seven years o r upwards.
KNOW THY RIGHTS
A letter to the Editor
[“the Muslim” Islamabad, July 26, 1980]
Thank you for your editorial on the “Rights of Women” and for your championing the cause of women emancipation so correctly and forcefully. We need this support badly today in this unhappy country of ours.
Miss Gulzar Bano, leader of Pakistan delegation to Copenhagen has correctly pointed out “the lack of consciousness and knowledge of their r own rights by women of Pakistan.” I have witnessed personally, almost for the last 20 years, even since the Muslim Family Laws were introduced, the utter ignorance of educated girls about this great stride taken in principle in recognition of their rights. They do not have a clue as to what it is about they sign the nikah forms without so much as reading it. they do not even that their signature against clause 18 gives them the right to divorce the husband. No wonder “some one” at the nikah ceremony scratches out the clause without so much as taking the permission of the bride. Many suffer when marriage fails to work out, and all that one can is in such a situation is that they deserve to suffer. Ignorance of ones rights is no excuse for forgiveness.
Again you have very well said that “Pakistan falls far behind in fulfilling privileged provided to women by our religion.” Indeed we are being denied all to what is provided by our religion! Even Muslims Family Laws, a small though a fundamental stop taken to fulfill Quranic order is constantly threatened. In such circumstances I do now know how we can proclaim to the world that we stand for equality of the sexes. Are the women of Pakistan aware of the danger? Are they prepared to fight for their rights against the relentless forces of the “New Dark Ages”?
It is an obvious truth as emphasized by you that short of the difference in sex for which nature is responsible all discrimination must be obliterated. After all sex difference is purely biological, and is meant to perpetuate the human specie. It is a serious role not to be prostituted and dehumanized. In this context omen must be told that are not created as a play thing for men. They are not toys and dolls. They are human beings enjoying all human rights as a matter of right. They must not allow themselves to be used as sex symbols. The biblical theory of Adam and Eve that denigrates women must be analyzed, exposed and rejected.
All this can be achieved by launching a campaigning, as rightly suggested by you, centered on “know thy rights”. This campaign will go a long way to make a womanish exhibitionism and flaunt her sex around, instead of the ‘chadar’, donning of which will lead to the perversion rather than to moral evolution of men and women.
Miss Shamsa Sani, Lahore
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The Biblical concept of “Adam and Eve” had wrought havoc with the existence of women. It has had deep and far-reaching impact on her dignity and freedom and all that is beautiful in human life. As such it needs to be explained and discussed in more detail. Its implications are as follows:
- (a) God created only the make creature, called MAN. Soon the MAN felt lonely, so God created WOMAN for MAN. Thus a woman came into existence not on her own right but to fulfill man’s purpose. Such indeed is the “Divine purpose” of woman’s existence on this earth.
- (b) Woman was created from Adam’s rib-a rib that is crooked and cannot be straightened.
- (c) It was a woman, and not man, who was tempted by Satan, implying thereby that man is stronger them woman and is, by himself, not pone to temptation. The woman is also wicked, because, she in her turn, tempted man. Thus while man emerges as the innocent party in this story, woman is confirmed as weak and wicked.
- (d) Woman was caused by God. Her punishment was her labor pains in child birth! And, as if this is not enough, her sin is bequeathed to her progeny. Every child bears the burden of his/her first parents sin on his/her back.logically then, ideal life is that of monasticism, that is, keeping away from women.
Unfortunately, this concept has penetrated the beliefs of the conventional “Muslim” as well. This theory of “Adam and Eve” is invariably referred to prove the inferiority and wickedness of women.
The Quran has not even feeble affinity with this theory. It declared that men and women exist on their own right, and that both were created out of one single life cell. Both are responsible for their own actions and deeds. A woman is neither weak nor wicked simply because is she a woman. In Surah 2, Verse 36, it is stated that both men and women are equally susceptible to temptation.
It is very important to understand this in the interest of the future of women in Pakistan and the world at large. As long as the concept of Eve being created for man prevails, women can never be free in true sense of the word. The emancipated woman of the west has achieved a very high statues in the society and performs manifold activates, but sub-consciously, her role is till to fulfill mans purpose.
The Quranic attitude towards women has already been referred to above. All that needs to be understood at this stage is that the Quranic reference to “Adam” is equivalent to the English world “Man” and hence “mankind”. “Adam” was not an individual. He is symbolic of mankind, and the story of “Adam” is an allegory to explain the status of human beings in relation to their own lives, to each other , and the universe. In a nutshell, it bring home to us the following Truths:
- (1) man can conquer all animate and inanimate objects around him. (Malaika)
- (2) Man has been endowed, unlike other creations with the faculty of will and choice with the result that he can also say No to the Laws of God. (Shaitan)
- (3) Deviation from God’s was mean frustration and pessimism. (Iblis)
- (4) But there is always hope for the regeneration of they again follow the path laid down by God’s laws, revealed to the anbiya.
These are the implications of the Quranic concept of the story of “Adam”.
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What is She?
It is said that paradise lies at the feet of the mother.
It is also said that woman is an ever changeable foot-wear
Of the male.
What is She?
An oft-repeated Hadith these days say that a nation which puts a woman at the helm of affairs would not prosper.
Now, even if we restrict our experience to forty-four years of the history of Pakistan, we women have the right to challenge; who was at the helm of affairs when we lost East Pakistan and Siachin? Who have been at the helm of affairs all the will we have been unable to solve the Kashmir issue? And under whom does the country lie prostrate and impoverished, dependent and unable to stand on its own feet? After all, this blighted woman was the helm of affairs for twenty months. Will only those who were at the helm of affairs for the rest of the periods pluck up courage and admit they were men and not women who brought the country to such a pass!
In the may 10, 1991 issue of “The Nation” Yameema Mitha in her articles “Combating Obscenity” has narrated several Indicrous escapades of the guardians of law and order and morality in the name of “Obscenity” in the capital city of the holy land, Islamabad. All this seems to be happening because of some new obscenity Act, the crux of which is that women are obscene and must be removed off the face of the earth. The concluding paragraph of her articles is after my heart and I am reproducing it below because I could do no better.
“ it is pretty obvious to most of us, “she says” that the obscenity bill has been framed by men. If it had been drawn up by women, it may have had a somewhat different focus. For example, we may have suggested the one years imprisonment and five lashes a suitable punishment for all the men out streets are littered with, whose greater entertainment in their lives seems to be scratching their prohibited parts. And at every opportunity they get they seem to be urinating on the road while ogling that the woman passing by. We might also like to suggest three years and twenty lashes for all the men on the road who boldly undress you, burqa and all, with their eyes, and who also use their hands where ever possible. In fact, we may not suggest all these imprisonments and lashings. A far more suitable punishment for such excrescences that offend the eye would be chadar and a chardivari.
An Exposure at last!
In her “My Feudal Lord”, Tehmina Durrani says, “ I have chosen the indignity and humiliation of exposure fro myself for the sake of all those women who are oppressed by men and society at some level”.
While reviewing the book, Bapsy Sidhwa comments thus:
“Pakistani women are reared on horror stories of unhappy marriages, and on tales of the forbearance of silently suffering wives. Women are eulogized for putting up a brave front before the world and hiding the misdeeds of their menfolk; vicious acts, which h even if they cost women their lives, are often regarded as pardonable misdemeanors.
Women – much like chaste China vial that contain a precious perfume – are considered repositories of family honor. Or at least that is the analogy one conjures up to hear men talk about the issue. But ‘ izzat’ is a corrosive and formidable weight to carry, and requires something more like the tough buffalo – hide pouches favored by our ‘bhistis’ to contain it.
The burden would be tolerable if the men kept faith with their traditional roles as providers, protectors and custodians of the honor vested in their womenfolk. But when the man slides from his role and protectors and becomes instead the very person from whom the women needs protection, then to carry on wit this charade is not only brutal but also imbecile. It is surprised only that I has taken to long for a woman like Tehmina Durrani to white her story.”
A home- bound , insecure and illiterate woman has, in the course of time, become her own enemy. Such an existence leads to a limited mental horizon, using Sufism and mullahism as a cutch and getting bogged won in superstition and irrationality. However, with so much emphasis on her being the ”queen of the home” she has some to dominate, through the ages, certain aspects and events of family life. Apparently at least he man seems to have been pushed into the background. These events are : choice of life partners for sons and daughters, wedding ceremonies, birth of children and their early upbringing and funeral rites.
Once while recalling the transport drivers strike against the implication of the law of Qisas and Diyat, and eventually the knuckling down of the Mullah, some of us wondered whether women had such a clout. At first it seemed they had no such country-wide power in bringing the economy to a grinding halt. But on a second thought, it was realized that the above mentioned female roles could form the basis of a strong clout in routing the fundamentalists from our family life and ultimately from our national life.
For instant, why should a Mullah preside over the birth, wedding, under ceremonies? Why should a Mullah enter the privacy of our homes and preside over the ’mikah’ ceremony, recite ‘azan’ in the ears of the newborn baby, and why is his presence necessary for the funeral rites? On the only hand we claim that there is no middle man between the Quran and the believers, and yet nothing seems to happen without him.
Women should launch a country wide movement of boycott. Nothing could be more effective that this to deflate the Mullah’s ego : If this idea catches on, it could be the dawn of a new era.
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When a nation does not live its life, when it stops thinking and researching, then words and concepts lose their meaning. This loss of semantics or science of words distorts our vision and world view. Another loss of an unthinking people is the absence of the art and awareness of connecting words and concepts and the various institutions we live by. Quite oblivious of it, we continue to wade through the mire of glaring contradictions smug in these elf-deception that we are “Muslim Ummah” and hence the best and the chosen ones.
I have picked up today the very basic and fundamental social unit- the Family. Does this family unit manage to make merely a house of mud, brinks, stone or wood or, transforms it into a “home” of living, vibrant, free, loving and wholesome members? That is the question. Whether each one of us is living in t a house o r home it is for reach on of is to think, feel and conclude. I am presenting the view in the way I look at it.
The family until construct itself on the institution of marriage, the husband and wife relationship, and its relationship within its progeny — daughters and sons. Before analysis, and evaluation of this institution, it would be advisable to describe the status quo as it exists, and trace its heritage as well.
Now the society in which we live ins a sexually segregated one. Although the “mardana” and “zanana” walls in the house are breaking down, and more and more women are seen and accepted functioning outside the house without being immediately dubbed as prostitutes, the fact remains that in the innermost depths of our subconscious such a woman is still suspect.
Secondly, the logical result of this is the feel rooted system of arranged marriages and its concomitant, child marriage. Although and ancient and medieval times, this was not unknown the world over, basically in south Asia our heritage is traceable to the Hindu way of life, a particularly its caste system.
Thirdly, with the background of the institution of “sati”, widow remarriage was irrelevant and divorce in the Hindu law was unknown, hence, until today, a widow and a divorcee are looked down upon as a bad omen and remarriage frowned upon and stigmatized. In fact, before Muslim Family Laws of 1961, it was unthinkable, an anathema.
Fourthly, as far as the children are concerned, the society is very much parent and old age oriented, and children are merely an extension of the parents. They do not exist on their own right as individuals. In fact children are just not allowed to think and feel for themselves.
Our tragedy lies in that the existing traditional family life, and the various facets of this institution, where their heritage we have totally identified these with Islam and we continually keep on justifying, twisting, rationalizing the Quranic words and concepts to suit the status quo. Unfortunately, while perched on the highest executive position, Benazir, Bhutto seems to have put a stamp on it when, in her answer to repeated questions on her conventionally arranges marriage, she described it as traditional and Islamic. Then our Conventions, our meting, our speeches, are superfluous.
Thanks to Allam G.A. Parwez’s “Classification of the Quran”, “Dictionary of the Quran” and other great works, I have been able to test this “linkage” between ‘traditional’ and ‘Islamic’ in the light of the Quranic words and concepts and the result was a horror, for there is no ‘linkage’. This is where ‘semantics’ the science of words and the attempts to ‘connect’ contradictions play an indispensable role.
To being with Surah 4, Verses 3 and 19, and Surah 33, Verse 52, emphasizes that marriage is based on mutual likeness. Unless the desire to live together does not spring from the heart, indeed it is no marriage. This likeness is not that of physical appearance – the stupidity and childishness of seeing a photograph, o having a glimpse though a goal in the curtain, or a chink in the floor, makes me laugh. This likeness, as the Quran expresses, is in-depth discernment of each personalities and possibilities of likeminded companionship. this evaluation and description of marriage cannot be glossed over. There is much more to it that meets the eye. This kind of mutual likeness cannot originate and develop in a segregated society. On the contrary, a segregated society fosters lust, deprivation, mystery, disrespect, unhealthy curiosity and dishonesty. An open society which the Quran visualizes, is composed of integrated, developed men and women with healthy minds and intellect. After all, sec is not the only like between men and women.
A contract has certain preconditions: the two parties concerned should be adult grown up individuals, old enough to understand what the contract this all about and be able to bear its responsibilities. Secondly, a contract is signed between equal parties, and thridly, it must be willingly consented to. This its true of any contract, hence the very word immediately rejects child marriage and blind, arranged marriages. This is not all. A contract willingly signed, can be willingly terminated by the partied concerned. Hence in Surah 33, vs. 28, if differences arise in ones ideas and world-view, if one is no longer like-minded, then it is advisable to separate.
There is another very intriguing aspect to this marriage syndrome. When talking about marriage by choice andcuctaly likeness, the Quran is directly addressing the man and woman concerned. The role of the parents as advisors, the most concerned in the situation, even if they happen to be their own biological children, on matters that concern an intimate lifelong partnership is not understandable. As I said in the beginning, children are individuals who exist on their own right as persons/ there are certainly not a mere passive extension of the parents.
I can imagine you raising your hands in horror against what I have said. But all the I have tried to point out is that there is no linkage between our ‘traditions’ and ‘Islam’. Conceptually, their move in the opposite directions. At the same time, the Quran does not expect overnight changes. What is important at this stage is the consciousness and awareness of what is ‘tradition’ and what is ‘Islamic’. When slowly and gradually, this awareness becomes a convection and hence generally acceptable , the family pattern will change.
What I have attempted is only an academic exercise. We are not oriented towards scientific research. We gleefully quote and deride the western society on the break-down of their family unit, their high percentage of divorce rate, their wayward and defiant children. But how do we know all this? It is because that society has the grit and the self confidence to not only research, but also publish and distribute t the world over. Do we have the capacity to work hard and the confidence to find out whether we live in houses or home? Why are husbands dominating and indulge in wide beating? Why do they always resent a “No” from their family members? Why are wives always depressed, frustrated, and shrewish? Why do mother cling to their sons possessively and are unable to share them with their wives? Why are children dishonest and hypocritical? We like to presume that God’s Heaven and all is well with the World. How can anything be wrong with someone who describes himself as a Muslim?
Ejaculating from observation of our past 43 years of history, everything is wrong. How come our family units and it is a truism that aggregation of these units make a society and a nation – are not producing great leader, scholars and teachers? To make it worse, why are we so characterless? Why are we always camp followers? How come we not only fail to solve the Kashmir issue, we have even lost East Pakistan and Siachin? In the absence of scientific research, this is enough of an historical pragmatic test that our families have failed and alive in houses and not in homes.
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The rise of fundamentalism throughout the Muslim world, the most noteworthy examples being Khomenism and Ziaism, together with the existing model of Saudi Arabia, has in turn given rise to widespread awareness among women about their human condition. The decade of the 1980’s has witnessed a desire to find out for themselves the Quranic injunctions in particular. In Pakistan, under Zia, after a great deal of arbitrational activity, women seem to have settled down mainly to intellectual activity. This has taken the form of seminars and discussions and the establishment of research centers. On of the verses that boggles and preoccupies the mid most, is surah 4, Verse 34. in traditional translations its impact is primatitive and horrific, and totally unacceptable to the humanity and self-esteem of woman hood and the institution of the family itself.
It was in this mood which I shared with many of my compatriots that I approached Allam S. A. Parwez, the great Iqbalite, for further clarification of the above mentioned Quranic verse. I am glad I did, because he fell fatally y ill not very long after this I would have missed out on the details for what emerged out of our dialogue was for me an original rendering of the verse unknown to me in any other literature, including his own published works. No doubt the meaning and suggestion is implicit in his “Mafhumul—Quran”, which I shall follow phrase by phrase, but the comprehensive details given below are based on our dialogue. Since this verse is causing so much of ahead-ache and heart-ache among women of the Muslim world at large, I would like to share it with my readers. I write on Allama Parwez’s authority, and any lapse is entirely my responsibility.
Surah 4, Verse 34 asserts, to being with, as elsewhere that men and women are equal in the exercise of their human rights and duties. The difference lies in the biological functions of the two, there by complimenting each other. This “difference” des not mean inequality and the time-honored make chauvinism which is pathetically a victim of superiority complex. In facet both excel each other in their unique gender potentials bestowed on them by the creator. The uniqueness of the woman lies in her capacity to carry the baby in her womb, lactate and nurture it. this incapacitates her for w while which the men enjoined to perform the function of relieving her of the anxiety of this situation by giving her security and protection. This in no way implies that a woman is debarred from earning or that the man can strangulate her economically. ( In any case, the ultimate objective of the Quran is envisaging a people who have already gone though a metamorphosis, a change from infantile equation of dominance and subservience to human partnership.) after having said this, the Quran goes further to advise women to safeguard their biological function in the interest of the perpetuation of the human specie in accordance with the laws of nature., the next sentence in the verse refers to a possible “rebellion” (‘nashuza hunna’), translated as such by Marmaduke Pickthall, on the part of women. Parwez Sahid also uses the word”sarkashi” in his Mafhum-ul-Quran. the question arises as to rebellion against what and against whom. The traditional mind seems to immediately turn in the direction of sexual waywardness, followed by three stages of preventing it as laid down in the Quran (1) they should be counseled against it (2) the husbands should be separated from their wives (3) corporal punishment can be meted out to them by the husband, if the first and the second stages show no results. Seen with such reference, the woman’s mind naturally balks at it. why was not the sexual waywardness and immorality of the man included in this verse, I cried out in despair. Here two points must be understood at the very outset, explained Allama Parwez. Firstly, the Quran in this verse discusses the issue not between husband and wife, but between men and women in general. As such the matter is tackled by the society and the administration through its institutions, such as the court,. Secondly, the use at stake is not a womans sexual waywardness but her “rebellion” against the biological function of procreation.
In a male-dominated society it eventually comes home of a woman that what smothers and denigrates her is her uterus, so why not do away with it? as Carol Discroll points out: “it should not come as a shock to realize that women can never hop to be liberated in any sense if they are denied the right to control their bodies especially their reproductive organs.”.
This anti-uterus attitude may lead a woman to decide not to have baby. This kind of protest will never come from a man, for he never has to go through this process. He can never even appreciate what is entails both physically and emotionally. It may also be noticed that with more and more awareness and enlightenments the woman feels unfulfilled with her tradition role. If child bearing the ultimate? Vicki Pollard says; “Natural childbirth has been glorified as the most beautiful moment in a woman’s life. This is unfortunate because it leads to the idea the motherhood is the ultimate experience in life”. But a woman is a human being, and her head and heart are no less clamoring for artistic and intellectual creativity apart from sheer procreation. Such rumblings of dissatisfaction and rebellion are reflected even in ancient Greek literature where wives had no part to play in the cultural pursuits, when that country was passing through its most elevating and productive phase in this history.
In Euripides’ “Medea”, the rebel woman spoke out thus:
“Sooner would I stand
Three times to face their battles,
Shield in hand,
Than bear one child”.
Such individuals have existed perhaps on every phase of history and every society. A few individual do not matter but if this feeling becomes collectively articulated and gains momentum as a movement then the survival of the human specie is threatened.
At this stage of the dialogue my immediate report was “ On the contrary the world is threatened with the burden of overpopulation ; we are two billion too many ; in this context it is ridiculous to imagine that the human specie is threatened with extinction, or ever will be in the procreative sense. To this Allama Parwez referred to the liberation struggle waged by the women of Europe and north America. In the past two to three hundred tears. In time it has become more and more articulate and vocal. Already the copious anti-uterus literature is showing signs of dwindling population in those countries, and the omens liberation movement could lead those areas into a crisis. As the third countries (where the extra tow billions have been produced) develop and women gain awareness like the counterparts in the first world, similar literature and movements will blast the status quo. It will then become a world-wide crisis.
Now, the Quran is for all times. It visualizes the future possibilities and accordingly lays down guidelines. Surah 4, Verse 34 becomes applicable only in such a contingency. Otherwise it remains redundant. So, when the world is faced with such a crisis, women will be counseled against this attitude. Of course it if but natural that unless they are helped in eating the confidence and the certainty that marriage and mother hood is not the end of all experience, it will not show results. If this counseling fails and the anti0uterus movement shows no signed f abating, then sexual indulgence, by and large becomes irrelevant. Sex is not for pleasure alone. The administration and the court can then decide on separation, husbands abstaining from sex and thereby putting psychological pressure on the wives. If even this does not bring any punishment, not the husband. Indeed the very idea of the husband beating the wife dishonors and demeans the wife consequently the family life. Above all, it goes against the very values of the Quran. “Quranic Approach towards change” published in Talu-e-islan of January 1990, I’ve taken the position tat these are local and historical and the nature of the punishments can change from time to time and place to place. Regional and local historical continuity, provided the punishments are not too barbaric – makes it easier to implement ; secondly the change is inevitable when the cultural level of the human mind reaches heights of the refinement and beauty. Some psychologists in the meantime accept corporal punishment as part of treatment.)
The rest of the verse emphases that is women retract from their stand, there is no vendetta involved. It may be repeated relatedness between husband and wife, where husbands arrogant to themselves the prerogative of beating their wives black and clue and throwing them out of their bedrooms. It is this misreading of the verse because of which wife-beating if so rampant in almost all Muslim countries. Even so-called educated husbands claim this “Quranic” right to beat their wives, and if they do not beat it is to be seen as a favor in a spirit of magnanimity!
Talking of “rebellion”, the Quran chides men and husbands as well in their role as protectors. They can also be “rebellious” in the sense that they ill-treat and desert their wives. Again it is the administration through its courts that arbitrate understanding between them and settle the money-matters on conditions that are workable.
Such are the details communicated by Allama Parwez on this very sensitive issue. The details are definitely out of the rut of traditional translations and certainly more convincing. In any case, it is worth pondering over and taking up the challenge for further research. It is difficult to give up ideas that have the sanction of history and centuries of time to back it up, even when these ideas are negative and unproductive. Nevertheless the effort must go on, for anything positive said or written is never lost.
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In the previous articles, it may be remarked, enough has been said to extricate women doom the centuries old dehumaninsing process of her human statues. But I am afraid enough had not been said yet. With reference to certain verses in the Quran, doubts are heaped upon people all the time. This mischievous whispering campaign has the sanctified backing of our forefathers who generation after generation continues to believe that women are inferior to men, and not fit to be included in the category o f human species. However much on argues is against such irrational and inhuman beliefs there is always something their sleeves to demoralize anyone who stands up in defense of women.
Some of the fundamental and major issues have already been elucidated, but other have remained untouched because they did not come under the preview of the two previous articles in the interest of relevancy. I intent to take them up here on by one and attempt to remove the doubts in the light of those very Quranic verses which are distorted to create the doubts.
- From surah 2, verse 228, a sentence is often quoted to prove that men are “Superior” to women. The word “Superior” is not only the wrong world for its Arabic equivalent, but pulled out of its context.
The context is the issue of divorce. The Quran discuses it in detail and in several verses. While explaining its procedure, it emphasis that the right and duties of husbands and wives are equal. Then it refers to the different roles of men and women regarding he biological factor of procreation. Here men are in an “advantageous position”, so much so, that while women, after divorce, have to wait for about for moths to remarry, men do not have to wait. The reason is simple enough. In four moths time, it will be confirmed as to whether the woman is on the family way or not. If she is pregnant, the fatherhood of the unborn child will be established and as such the child will be entitled to all those rights which are legally his. His father will have to be responsible for his maintenance, and the child will have the right to inherit his share of what the father leaves behind. In other words the rights and duties of the father and son towards watch other are recognized.
The question that I would like to ask is “ Can this “Advantageous position” of the main marrying immediately after divorce, while the woman has to wait for four moths, be the proof of mans “superiority” over women? Let the readers decide for themselves.
- in surah 4, verse 34, another Quranic concept has been tampered with. It is quoted to prove that men are master and guardians of women, and that they can punish and beat them according to their own discretion. On the contrary, the first part of the verse deals with the duties and obligation of a man as man, duties and obligations of which women are absolved. Actually is a study in the division of labor. Women, because of their unique roles in the biological function o f reproduction, aware incapacitated for a considerable period hence the Quran states that it is man duty to maintain the family. He has to be the guarantee for the provisions of the basic needs of every individual in the family. An woman has no such obligation. And this is as t should be considering the roles assigned to her by the Nature’s Law of Procreation. This explanation is indeed a dark cry from the conventional understanding of the above mentioned verse. Far from being the ”master” the man is bound down but a heavy responsibility of a bread-winner. This is to enable he woman to perform her responsibility of bringing up a new generation.
It must be made clear, however, that this does not imply that women are absolutely debarred from doing anything beyond being used as a mechanism for the reproduction of human babies. She is capable and eligible to work in other fields, according to her talents and aptitudes, if she can and is she wants to. In surah 4, verse 32, the Quran takes it for granted that as individuals, “to men belong what they have earned, and to women belong what they have earned”.
This issue of women earning has not even been disputed, it has been referred to in the verse, just quoted, as something inevitable. The innate talents and interests of both men and women cannot be ignored, their creative urges must seek expression and manifestation. This is the characteristic of the SELF which men and women equally possess as human beings, and which no other object in this universe possesses.
But—while the man supports the family, the woman has no such responsibility. This is the meaning of surah 4, verse 34, so horribly mutilated in its conventional sense.
As for punishment and beating, no individual has the right to inflict punishment on another. This is the jurisdiction of the Court. The Quran has suggested corporal punishment for several crimes as a last resort, that is, if no other method has its effect. Sometimes, corporal punishment is included in the realm of psychological treatment itself. If women go wrong in spite of everything, it is for the court to decide. Husbands do not have the right to take the law into their own hands. And in any case, this verse deals with right and duties of men and women in general, and not husband and wife relationship.
- another excuse to declare their superiority over women Verse 11 in Surah 4 is referred to. This verse while dealing with the subject of inheritance of property, states ; “ to the male equivalent of the portion of two females”. In the context of the above discussion on the maintenance of the family, this sentence shows the privileged position of the woman rather than her inferiority. She has absolutely no responsibility as regards the fulfillment of the basic needs of the family. She is freed of all such financial involvements. Yet, she is entitled to inherit and share her fathers property. This is indeed a unique status that aw woman enjoys “ she has a right without its corresponding duty.
However, if the daughter is helpless and in deed of money for some reason or the other, then it is the duty of the father to write his will and, may be, bequeath all or major share of his property to her as circumstances demand. The son may not inherit anything if his circumstances are happier. This is the reason why the Quran lays such stress on the wiring of the will in good time. Of course, in normal state of affairs, the ordinary law of inheritance prevails.
- in matters of business transactions, the Quran discusses the necessity of putting everything in writing in the presence of witnesses. Now, it is the issue of “witnesses” in surah 2, verse 282, that has poisoned the atmosphere against the woman’s claim to stand at par with men. The relevant sentence is as follows:
“And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not at hand then a man and two women as such as ye approve as witnesses, so that if one hearreth through forgetfulness the other will remember”.
How can a woman be equal to man, it is argues, if one woman cannot be as trustworthy as one man? She must be mentally inferior or else why should one mans ability be equivalent to two women?
Apparently, this argument sounds logical, but this is not what the Quran is aiming at. The significant phrase in this sentence is “erreth through forgetfulness”. It points its finger to a very unhappy state of affairs for which the society should hang down its head in shame. It indicated a particular the of mind-nervous, lack of confidence, inexperienced, alien to public duties and activated of a free alert citizen. It laments that the women are bred in such a way that they cannot live and thin beyond outward show of glamorous ornaments and empty and meaningless finery and actualize their genuine latent potentialities as human beings, so they vainly try to fill in the vacuum with objects that have no real worth. The serious things of life, if ever they are confronted with one, makes them nervous and loose their balance, so much so, they “they cannot even plead their own cause”, leave alone helping and defending other. Even if her cause is just, she has been made incapable of putting forward her arguments, and instead she gets confused and bursts into tears. This is what the man-dominated society has done it its women folk.
Thos was true not only of the Arab women at the advent of Islam but is true even today in Pakistan in majority of the cases—a state of affairs that is well summarized in the phrase , “ the bungled women”. Ornaments are today a symbol of weak, helpless and empty life. Men are described as “ bungled women” if they manifest such feminine traits.
The Quran was referring to such women bred in the unnatural way of life, when it said that two women should represent one man as witness. If they are two, the can help and support each other in case they get confused and forget. In other words the second woman is present only to assist the first. Nowhere does it say that in intelligence two women are equal to one man. In fact if women are inherently unintelligent then even hundred women will not be equal to one man.
But this shall not be the case when the Quranic Social Order is established. It will change the whole outlook of men and women, and a new generation of women will emerge. Women will then me ‘created as a new creation’. They will have intellectual and emotional harmony with men ; they will be eloquent and expressive in speech, capable of speaking for themselves and others ‘ the y will be self-confident and independent. Then as witness they will be equal to men. The original injunction there fore fails to apply to this “new creation”.
- another necessary controversy over the statues of women ahs been let loose by perverting an innocent slier of tithe and cultivation. Quran has used this simile on many and varied themes to get its point across. For example, to explain the time-gap between a human action and it s results it is comparing with the time-gap between seed and sowing and harvesting. This simile, in another form, is used the Quran to distinguish sec instinct of a human being from that of a the animal. An animal and no choice. Its sexy instinct is determined by the mating season. A human being, on the other hand, has to use his free will, “sowing the see”. He is not instinctively determined or controlled. He can plan it, while and woman cannot. This profound difference is explained in surah 2, verse 223. it is a thousand pity that the profundity of this verse is so distorted as to reduce woman hood to a passive object to mans ugly lust and no more.
Such are the elevating concepts of the Quran. people who have been sincerely and objectively thinking over these doubts and uncertainties created by man himself will soon realize that is it they themselves who have been cheated of future happiness in life.
In the end I can do no better than reproduce Surah 33, Verse 35, in which the Quran addresses men and women on equal basis
“if men have the potentiality to develop their personality by harmonizing themselves with the Laws of Allah, then women also have a similar potentiality : if men can be members of a movement that aims at world peace according to the inviolable Laws of Allah, then women also can participate in it by becoming its member: if men can restrain their capabilities so as to develop them within the Laws of Allah, so can women ; if men have the in exhaustive capacity; if men can sacrifice loser values for higher values, so can women ; if men can exercise control and do not violate the limitations set on them, so can women; if men can keep their sexual urges within the desired mimes, so can women ; if men can understand the Laws of Allah and focus their activities in life on them, so can women. Now then, if both men and women have equal capacities and potentialities, their results should also be the same for both of them. Hence the Quranic Social Order both will enjoy protection and security, and all such other benefits and joy that shall accrue from this order”.
So Do my readers still have any doubts?
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The emergence of human life on this earth brought face to face with a number of situations that demanded solution, for unlike other species who lived and acted within a perfect pattern of behavior, the human species had the freedom to choose from amongst any number of growing possibilities.
Now, the Free Will, although a rare and coveted gift, implies that if human beings can rise to lofty sublime heights, they can also fall low into abysmal depths. Today we know that at a number of crossroads, human being have taken a wrong turning only to return tired and exhausted, with the prospect of beginning al over again. In their attitude towards the world of matter, human existence ad its goals and purposes, human being s have traversed many paths. The process has been painful and prolonged, but nevertheless it has been a process of learning, of self-discovery and of maturing. The history of human beings can be linked with the story of one individual—its phases of childhood, youth, an the experience and mellowness of later years, in this context the finality of “NUBUWWAH” or “MESSENGERHOOD” heralded by the “QURAN” indicated the “coming of age” of human beings. They were no longer to be tied to the apron strings of the “messenger of God”, but like a mature grownup person to stand on their own feet and to move towards their destination, in other words to live within the best pattern of human behavior given to them in the form of “signposts” at the crossroads. These were embedded in the QURAN to be chosen at will as one of many other possibilities. However, their acceptance demands not only an inductive and objective approach but also a rich and varied experience, free from prejudice and a level of emotional and metal maturity. The Quranic signposts are for the grown-ups; those individuals and nations that are still in the “childhood phase” will mss its beautiful experience.
In the are of male-female relationship, human beings blundered into a blind alley of reducing the female not only to a low statues but shifting her to position that transformed her into another species as it were, separate and distinct from the human species. Naturally, this has been an unhappy experience for the women but many men still do not appreciate the fact that they too have robbed themselves of the happiness that could have been theirs.
In nature’s scheme of things, the make and the female amongst the various species emphasizes the biological difference, designed for the perpetuation of the species. The female biological function incapacitates the human female for a considerable period, so much so, that she is no longer capable of participating alongside the make in the struggle for existence which must have been frightfully harsh and tough in that “age of childhood”. Furthermore , the human baby is more helpless than the young’s of other species, and this helplessness is also more prolonged. Thus this adds to the mothers incapacity. This prolonged incacaptity ended up in her complete dependence on the man who was not hindered in this manner for food, clothes and shelter. At the crossroads, the immaturity of man took a wrong turn. The incapacity and helplessness of the female was looked upon as inferiority and her economic dependence as a chance to enslave her. What was simply a division of labor became a distorted philosophy of life, and means were now sought to establish this master-slave equation on a permanent basis.
The methods to enslave women run remarkably parallel to the cast Brahman’s efforts to keep the untouchables in perpetual bondage. It has begun as a considered adequate for the purpose. It was essential to close all does of opportunities for improvement, s it was laid down that the untouchables could not possess anything, they were lot love on the crumbs from the tables of the caste Hindus and wear their discarded clothes. Their destiny was to serve the caste Hindus, disobedience to whom brought severe reprisals in this life and affected the future re-births. The untouchables also were to have no access to knowledge, another source of immense power. If any dared to hear the Vedas being read, his ears were to be blocked by molten lead ; if he attempted to read the Vedas, his tongue would be chopped off. Similar injunctions were laid down for women. She could not possess property nor could she inherit any from her father or husband ; she has no claim to her husbands earning. Until very recently this was her fate in Europe. The Hindu Law stated that she must depend on the make members of the family—father, brother, husband, and the son. If anything was given to her, it was by way of charity (incidentally, this is the origin of the fabulous dowry system in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent today).again as with the untouchables she was denied the power of knowledge. Her place was the kitchen sink and education was irrelevant to her roles. An education woman was considered a contradiction. Her destiny was to obey and serve her husband who was her “majazi-Khuda”—i.e. the “visible God” before whom she should prostrate, and disobedience to him invoked the curse of the Angels and the wrath of God.
But a secret dear lurked, in the mind of man, as it would in any vested interest, that sometimes, somewhere a woman or for that matter and untouchable could revolt against such insane concepts, for after all they were only ma-made and hence changeable a clever device was this thought out, making such a change well-nigh impossible. These concepts were incorporated in the h”sacred literature” and attributed to Divinity. Women and untouchables were to lead a particular kind of life not because men and caste Brahmins were cruel, but because it was the Will of God. All efforts to regain her position were thus completely thwarted, and her motivations to do so were described as irreligious and impious. Having started on this path, they ran the full gamut. Her slavery did not remain restricted to the fundamental issues of ownership of property and access to knowledge. More and more pious and religious principles were proclaimed and her statues brought more and more harmony with the” Divine Programmed”. Woman is the course of all evil, rang the voice of the preacher far and wife every nook and corner of the world. She is stubborn and crooked for she was born of Adam’s rib. Is was further stated that Adam was created first and she came later for his sake, to please him and relieve him of his loneliness. She had to attract him and entertain him, for otherwise she would be failing her feminine duty, from this it was just another step to become a mans toy and possession. She lost her identity and in future shrew as to be known by the rebels of her father or husband attached to her. Thus just like another peice pf property, she was to be used as the whim and caprice of the make dictates. To further guarantee this, child marriages were encourages and made sacrosanct. Marriages were said to be made in heaven, hence divorce was unthinkable and widow remariggage a sacrilege.
The end of the road was not yet in sight. Having stripped her of most of her human potentiality, she was left with one exclusive attribute only—sex. And as misfortune of mankind would have it, they managed to make the natural biological function dirty and sinful. The concept that Divinity is Perfection and the Divinity was neither begotten nor does her be gent was concluded as Sex being a barrier to perfection. The life of Jesus put a final stamp on it. the theory that his was an “immaculate Conception” of the “virgin Mary” , and that he himself remained unmarried left us no doubt about the woman’s roles as a temptress. To keep away from her achievement. Woman’s humiliation was complete, she now symbolized sex that was stigmatized as sinful. We know today that man can really respect only those women with whom he can have no sexual relationship—mothers, sisters and daughters.
Just as the Biblical story of Adam and Even brought this phase to a climax, the traditional Muslim literature and its social formation carried the whole Hindu, Christian and other sources of cultural heritage with it to its logical conclusion. This world was made into exclusively a mans world, and the woman as a piece of properly was shut behind the four walls along with other possessions. The doors of the “harems” and “zananas” opened only for the release of the mans sexual urges and then closed behind him just as the floors of the latrine closed behind him after there classes of the call of nature.
‘Frailty thy name…’
The male-female relationship had run its full course. These religious and sacred theories and concepts slowly and surely traveled into secular literature. Here the genius of great philosophers, logicians, and littérateurs, and other gave a further twist to human thing,. Woman, according to them, were “sweetly unreasonable”, and thoughtful woman was “an intellectual monstrosity”, and “frailty, Vanity etc. thy name is woman”, and so on and so forth, Quotations of such aphorism and proverbs will tickle a man even of an otherwise mature development, and send him into gales of laughter. Since knowledge was monopolized by men, there was no scope for the woman to contradict all this. These ideas thus traveled beyond space and time, irrespective of cultural groups and sank feel into the sub-conscious of not only men but women as well, making them ultimately their own worst enemies. This is here dichotomy : She does not realize that nothing can stop her from realizing her own resources and potentialities and becoming what she ought to be instead she helps in perpetuating the distorted and shrunken image of herself as the female of the human species.
This is where we stand today. No doubt human beings are at also raising that they took a wrong turning. They are retracing their steps back to the original crossroads, and trying a different turning : but the issue is no longer as simply as it originally was.
Firstly, a human mind is so constituted that when something is repeated very often and over a long period, it becomes a way of life, and it appears ‘right’ and ‘natural’. To convince all that a woman is not by nature stubborn or a source of all evils, it will take time. Secondly, and this is very important and touchy, as long as we continue to reverse the so-called ‘Sacred Literature’, its “Divine Authority’ will gag all the criticism and delay the revolution. It was this realization that made Dr. Ambedkar, the Leader of the Untouchables, challenge Mahatma Gandhi who claimed to be the champion of those same untouchables, to expunge and down the Vedic verses that sanctioned untouchability. It in secular West woman has cut through the barriers of economic dependence and ignorance to achieve freedom, but she still suffers from the constant tension of losing ‘femininity’—her roles of being attractive to man, of entertaining him, of being a symbol of sex—the role assigned to her by the Bible, a Holy Book.
The Quran gives guidance and hope at the crossroads of human confusion and despair. It knocks down one by one the man-made idols from sacred pedestals, and comes forth as the charter of women’s emancipation.
The Quran proclaims that through the process of evolution “ both the human male and female were created out of one single life cell” (Surah 4 : Verse 1). As such there is absolutely no difference between a man and a woman on the basis of birth,. Both men and women are honored and respected. All human beings by virtue of their statues as human beings are respectable. Both of their actions and deeds. It is amply clear from this verse that Birth as a determining factor for respect and honor is inhuman. It cannot determine inferiority and superiority on the basis of a factor over which no child has any control. Brahmin or Shudra, rich or poor, white or black, man or woman, none are responsible for their condition as such. Thus at last woman has been liberated from the guilt of her birth as a woman, and given a good start in life to become a what she ought to be.
Then in the Quranic allegory of Adam the Biblical twists given to the status of women is put straight. It has already been stated that men and women were created out of one single life cell, they emerged together. A woman was not created afterwards to relieve mans loneliness. She was not his plaything. She existed in her own right. She had her own unique individuality and was not created for man. As discussed earlier she has been told until now that her only attribute is sex. So to justify her existence, all through e centuries she has flaunted he sex appeal around. The self-styled custodian of morality keep on preaching against this sex appeal not realizing that it is they themselves who have reduced her to this roles by denying her all other human attributes. She has nothing else to live for.
The Quran attacks the root cause of the abberation and tried to convince both men and women that the woman is also a human being. She possess all those attributes and potentialities that every human being possess by birth. It is only after convincing her of this that the Quran condemns , and logically enough, the all out campaign for sex appeal in the Surah 24 : Verses 31. The Quran laments (Surah 43 : Verse 18) that consequently women are so bred that they cannot live and think beyond outward show. They have never been given the opportunity to actualize their genuine latent potentialities as human beings. So they vainly try to fill in the vacuum with objects that have no real worth. The serious things of life, if confronted with one, asks them nervous and they lose their balance so much so, that weakness, helplessness and empty life are now regarded as manifestation of “feminine” traits.
But this shall not be the case when the Quranic Social Order id established. With the exception of difference of biological function for the perpetuation of the species nothing else distinguishes them from each other. On the contrary they are complementary to each other. If men have the potentiality to develop their personality by harmonizing themselves with the laws of Allah, then women also have a similar potentiality ; if peace according to the inviolable Laws of Allah, then women can also participate in it by becoming its members: if men can restrain their capabilities so as to develop them within the Laws of Allah, so can the women : if men can vindicate the truth of their conviction through its practical implementation in life, so can women vindicates it; if men can remain steadfast on the path they have chosen, so can women; if men have the inexhastive capacity to be more and more in harmony with the Laws of Allah hence they are set of this oath, so have the women this inexhaustible capacity; if men can sacrifice lower values for higher clause, so can the women: f men can exercise control and do not violate the limitations set on them, so cant eh women ; if men can understand the Laws of Allah and focus their activities in life on them, so can the women. Now then, if both men and women have equal capacities and potentialities, their results should also be the same for both of them. Hence in the Quranic Social Order both will enjoy protection and security and all such other benefits and has that shall accrue from this order. Such is the rich and varied life that a woman has the potentialities for. (Surah 33: Verse 35)
there could not be a more complete and comprehensive rejection of all those theories and concepts the vulgarized human existence. To downgrade women as “Naqis-ul-Aql’ and as the weaker-vessel, led by Satan to eat the forbidden fruit pointing out thereby the man as the innocent party, sounds to naïve and immature before the full human expansiveness and profundity of the Quranic Verse. Men and women march together towards heaven or hell, with equal responsibility and combined contribution. The Quran does not have anything ambiguous. It points out that “Momin men and women are companions” (Surah 9: Verse 71).
In Surah 4 : Verse 32 it is stated that “to men belong what they have earned and to women belong what they have earned”. Secondly, in surah 4 : Verse 11, the woman is given a share in her fathers property as a matter of right. It is not doled out to her by way of charity. Above all, the Quran aims at establishing an economic system, where every individual will be given a basic economic security , thus the original and fundamental course of her serfdom and loss of human dignity, is removed.
For men, to ascertain the emergence of a new generation of women, who are independent and thoughtful, demands a similar development on their own part. To fill his ‘harem’ with silly giggling, pouting and decorative dolls is a condition and a phase in mans life that shows his own emotional and metal immaturity. And to segregate the “zanana” by walls and warders is the manifestation of an uncultured and indiscipline mind.
Child marriage is out of the question. In surah 4 :verse 21, marriage is designated as a mutual contract, and children cannot make a contract, or even when one partner is a child the contract is meaningless. To select ones partner and make a “contract” explodes the myth of ‘marriages being made in heaven’, and logically incorporates in it the clause of divorce or a separation and termination of contract by mutual consent. Both husband and wife have equal rights in this for the Quran emphasizes that legally speaking women have equal right corresponding to their duties. Men and women have still to realize what they have been missing. All these centuries they have cheated themselves of this happiness, and they will continue to do so until the “grow-up”. To oppose women’s emancipation is a sign of immaturity. Once they know better they shall clamor for it as they do in other areas of activity of economic and political freedom and scientific development.
As mentioned in the beginning the process may be long and painful. But in spite of all the setbacks and the wrong turnings at different crossroads, human experienced, if viewed not in the parochial sense, peace by piece, but as a universal phenomenon, then it has been an “uninterrupted revolution”. Many wrong decisions have ultimately been righted while others are still in the process of being sought out. In our own lifetime we have witnessed annihilation of tottering values and institution. Crowns have rolled down the thrones, slaves have broke not heir chains, the world of matter had been conquered and slowly it is being realized that after all, women are the female of the human species and bit a different separate species format he man.
The contribution to fit Quran is that is can shorten the period and the pain of the “uninterrupted revolution.” It is up to us to “economies our efforts”, as Dr. Iqbal put it.
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