When Indian Muslim Women Questioned Fatwa.... winds of change are blowing

August 11, 2010
Imagine the alleys of an old city in a place like Lucknow, and in a locality which is very conservative and a few women, (as I saw in the picture, there was no Burqa), march together with placards saying things like "Dharmacharyon se yeh keh do hum unki zageer nahin" " sehen sheelta ka ghunghat uthaiye aur  anyay ke khilaf  awaaz uthaiye". (We are not the property of the religious leaders and leave the veil of tolerance and fight for your rights)

Whoa!!! I was happy when I read this article this morning in newspaper.
Imagine these women march shouting slogans, waving placards and the march ends at the marital home of two of those three women who had ROUGHED UP SOME MAULVIS OF THE SHARIAT COURT IN JUNE FOR ISSUING EX-PARTE TALAQNAMA. After some commotion, the women get their way into their homes, and in laws could not say anything.

The many fatwas issued for muslim women recently like forbidding them to ride bicycles (something to do with virginity?!), joining public office without hijab ( I don't understand hijab), talk loudly, join judiciary (eh scared!) or even talk to their fiance before marriage (oh so that the girl does not know what  a @#$@#$ he is !).

Very rightly, a muslim lady has asked "when women work as labourers on the streets, no one says a woman is not allowed to do that, then why a fatwa for wearing a black coat or a stethoscope?" Very valid question.

Only insecure men use such controlling behaviour towards their women. I am so glad to see, women came out in open to oppose it.  By the way, just a day before, there was a news(see here) that how a widowed women was executed publicly (by shooting in her head) after hours of torture (flogging) on the charges of adultery (she was pregnant) by Taliban in Afghanistan. The man responsible was obviously was not touched ! What an irony !

It disturbs me and scares me equally, what if such a practice starts here in India ? What if the Fatwas issued are not followed and from some far flung small locality, we get the news of such executions.  Such socio-religious issues cannot be tackled by law alone.  Constitution has prohibited us from doing many things, but in the name of customs, religion or prevailing caste systems, we, our own people break them, and then the law watches everything helplessly or  sometimes react on it, and their reaction is too little too late. 

I have all the reason to be disturbed when the honour killings (God! this word has suddenly surfaced.... when we thought it was thing of the past.... Kings sacrificing some one for their honour kind of stuff ).  But we are witnessing it, then who can stop these Maulvis, who are so so narrow minded ?

So, when these ordinary women like you and me but who were gritty enough to lash back, march united, I feel proud of the fact that I am an Indian, I have freedom to voice my opinions, and thank God for the fact that I belong to India and not to Afghanistan.

Jai Hind


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varsha said...

"when women work as labourers on the streets, no one says a woman is not allowed to do that, then why a fatwa for wearing a black coat or a stethescope?"
Kudos for bringing the Hypocrisy to the fore.
Great post!

Anu said...

Thought provoking post! And to add, most of the women need to undergo a virginity test before they are getting married.

Reema said...

so what if those practices are not prevalent in India? we have our own share of troubles which are equally big and I think by comparing to a lower country we can't be blind to our existing problems.

pramod said...

Hi restless,
great writing talent.
blog too arranged nicely.

JAL said...

Very interesting article.

Dhiraj said...

I remember reading the news and its a great thing that women are coming forward but the challenge would be to stop these honour killings or fatwa altogether...
Anyways nice writing....

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

@ Varsha - thanks!

@ Anu - oh really! didnot know that! God!

@ Reema - oh yes, definitely, but just felt some relief that at least no woman is going to be stoned to death here, as a law of the land.

@ Pramod - thanks! and welcome !

@ JAL- am glad u liked it. welcome!

@ Dhiraj- true, Honour killings disgust me. but welcome to My world my perception.


D2 said...

It is certainly good to see women fighting for their rights, but then question that comes to my mind is, 'Why do they even need to?' Fine, our nation's culture has always been rather patriarchal but denying women their basic rights in society is truly unjustified. Cultural heritage, the argument that these men give, is really a weak point in this era and when it is taken into account, like in the Taliban ruled areas, it is really shameful.

Kudos to you, for caring about it and writing about it.

Nalini Hebbar said...

nice blog and the topics are so socially relevant!...will be reading you often! but indeed it's tough to say 'A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart!' to address you!

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

@ D-2- It feels really nice when a young man speaks like this!U r right dear, but u know ultimtely education has got a lot to do with it. Uneducated women are more vulnerable, so have always belived in it. thanks for sharing ur views D2.

@ Nalini- ur smiling face makes me smile each time i see ur pic! am so glad u liked my posts! and u can call me RESTLESS (now on will be signing like that in my posts!)


Mehak said...

interesting well-written post. and interesting blog as well. enoough for me to follow! :)

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...

Welcome Mehak! thanks :)

Anonymous said...

Before i begin, let me introduce myself : I am Asmi Easwar, earlier, Asma Jehangir, now married to a hindu, Easwar Venkataraman. So I think i know what i am gonna say here.

I was reading this piece and it left me confused. It is a misunderstanding that the Veil or the burqa of the hijab or the Khimar is a sign of non-emancipation of the Muslim woman. On the contrarary, the veil separates man or the world from God (ya.. hijab is prescribed for both men and women). For women, it has the wider meaning of morality and more than that modesty and privacy. The modesty in Qur'an is related to both a man's and a woman's gaze, gait and garments.

The so-called decree to maintain modesty in Islam must be must be seen relative to the society. That which is modest or daring in one society may so in another society. The burqa thus actually helps a muslim woman to have her privacy and security in a male dominated world.
Coming to the so-called emancipation, do you mean to say that the emancipation comes out of her garments? Its not the case. Emancipation comes from allowing her the right to wear whatever she wants, and not what the society want her to do. So a ban on burqa or a fatwa to wear a burqa is both wrong. The so called executions did happen in India, or rather Kashmir where a group led by the separatist Asiya Andrabi indulged in Acid attacks on women who choose not to wear the hijab. Sooner or later, her group Dukhtaran-e-Millet became a minority as far as her thoughts went, and it was not because Muslim women wanted to wear Tees and Stretchable Denims but rather because of the violence that was meted out to them. So I feel such articles, condemning only one side of the story, and not looking deep within the psyche of the Muslim women, is not in the right perspective.

A Restless Mind With A Sensitive Heart! said...


am glad you shared your views with me and everyone. I didnot know a lot of things, which you wrote.

But, I think, the issue in the post started from ex-parte talaqnama,and then went to other practices.

I respect your religious sentiments, is all I can say. I apologize if things have not been conveyed in the right perspective.


Anonymous said...

True. Islam is one of the most misunderstood religions. And when we talk about talaqnama, even that is misunderstood. For everything in Quran, it has a +ve connotation, and over the years, vested interests have twisted and turned it for their own benefits. One of the most profoundly said vices of islam is perhaps the right to a man to have four wives. It was actually a good thing. During the early days, when Islam was confronted with an onslaught from Christians and Jews, many muslim men died fighting for thier religion and through this right, a man could legally give refuge to around four women. This is just to cite an example and likewise, every coin has two sides to it.

raji said...

That was pathetic !shooting a woman for whatever reason ;was such a miserable act!

Bhavin sangoi said...

actually all the religions have remained discriminatory to women in some or the other way and accordingly all religious customs, rituals and personal laws were enacted, but later on during reform period other religions accepted the change(at least legally) and all personal laws including Hindu personal law, parsi personal law, christian personal law were reformed but Muslims are not ready to accept change and hence are opposing any change in their personal laws even after 63 years of independence. actually Uniform civil code should bringing equality to men and women and among all religion should be brought as soon as possible.

Indianhomemaker said...

Little acts of courage can help bring change. Yes this was heart warming.

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