WOMEN IN ISLAM
SUFFERING OF WOMEN
The following words of a married woman from the tribe of Banu Ämir ibn Sa’saá aptly describe her position.
“Never let a sister praises a brother of hers: never let a daughter bewails a father’s death; for they have brought her where she is no longer a free woman, and they have banished her to the farthest ends of the earth.”
The virtual captivity of the wives by their husbands existed even where the marriage was performed by contract.
The pre-Islamic social structure was tribal as mentioned in the Islamic literature. Women were glorified and praised the poetry by their lovers, their physical charms were described in embarrassing details, but they failed to find any appreciation for their moral beauty. Here is an example:-
“Woman marble white and fair Trailing fold-fringed raiment rare Opulence, luxurious, ease,
With lutes soft melodies
Such delights hath our brief span”.
According to Zamakhshari, females were allowed to live until they attained the age of six, “then adorned and let forth by their father and cast into a pit in the wilderness”. Here the question remains that if all the girls were killed at the age of six, then from where did the next generation of and women came to the Arabian state? Therefore, it may have been a practice only among a small group of Arabians as it is understandable for all that without woman man can’t born. It is also stated that on that time Arabian women followed men to the battlefield and fought along with them, if necessary, all sexual distinctions dissolved in the heat of the war. However, women certainly would not be spared in the hot blood, and when made captives they were often slain or may be kept as a slave and produced more children with them for the future war. Ibn Hasam also mentions “the vow of a mother to drink wine from the skull of the slayer of her son”. Women were also in the forefront to take revenge against enemies in the Pre-Islamic days.
Robertson Smith defines the Muta marriage as a matriarchal system. In this form of marriage the woman did not leave her home, her people retaining their rights over her, and issues from such a union belonging to the wife.
“Muta marriage, in short, is simply the last remains of that marriage which corresponds to a law of mother kinship”.
He also says, “it was purely a personal contract founded on the consent between a man and a woman, without any intervention on the part of the woman’s kin”. Further he mentioned, ”that no witness was necessary to the contract and that no father or guardian of the woman appeared”. The only requirement to construe such a marriage was that “the man should say ‘suitor’ (khitb) and that she should reply Í wed’ (nika) and the marriage was straightaway accomplished without a witness or wali.” (ibid, p-70, Quoted from ‘Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia’ by W.R.Smith, Cambridge 1885).
Women are treated like commodities and disposable containers in Salafi society. Throughout the world different kinds of legal opportunities have been provided for Salafi men to exploit women in the name of Islam. Saudi/Salafi scholars have issued many Fatawas to allow several kinds of deceptive and fake marriages to use women as sex slaves for as long as they wish.
(a) Misyaar -It is a temporary relationship between men and women for sexual pleasure. In this relationship the woman relinquishes all her rights that are available to her in an Islamic marriage.
(b) Urfa -In this relationship, arrangements are made as a customary marriage but there are no official contracts signed and this relationship also does not give women any rights whatsoever. She is kept as along as the man wishes to use her for sex.
(d) Friend Marriage – This is a special marriage where the bride does not go out of her house. The male goes to her house in the night or meets with her in a hotel and have sex with her, after which she goes back to her home. In this relationship the woman does not have any legal maintenance from the man. In most of the cases the woman demands a certain amount and gets it in advance.
(e) Misfar – (Foreign study and Business Trip marriage) Misfar refers to a deceptive marriage contracted by a Salafi for sexual gratification so that a woman may cohabitate with him for the period of time he is visiting a foreign country. These women are formally divorced after a short period that ranges from a week to a month.
Most alarming in this context is the latest Fatwa by Shaikh Adil Al-Kalbani, the Imam of the Grand Mosque of Makka issued on July 16, 2010. This Fatwa was published on net, Shaikh Kalbani, proclaimed this fatwa after receiving an email from an overseas Saudi male student studying in the ‘West’. The Saudi student, who is married and living with his wife, claims that he is worried about controlling his desires when he sees ‘Western’ females wearing seductive semi-naked clothes that arouse him,. He goes on to ask the Shaikh if it is OK to marry one of those women in a ‘Misfar’ marriage, which means marriage based on travel, because he claims that he can’t fight temptations and also accuses his wife of being frigid. The old Shaikh Kalbani posted on his own website his fatwa that permits Saudis marrying Western women with the intention of divorcing them when they are finished with them without the pre-knowledge of the women of their deceitful plan. Meaning, the Imam has given green light to Saudi overseas students and traveling businessmen to use women as disposable containers to relieve themselves sexually. WHO SHOULD GUIDE WHOM?
Various form and categories of sexual union also existed where mutual attachment, respect, formation of a household the complexity of domestic feeling had little or no recognition. Abdul Rahim, examines the other forms of sexual union as follows.
The first of this form was known as Nikah ul-Istibada where a man desiring a more noble lineage for his descendant called upon his wife to cohabit with a man of his choice. The husband then remained aloof from his wife until her pregnancy was established after which he returned to her and resumed cohabitation.
Another popular form was where a number of men, less than ten, gathered and cohabited with a woman and when she conceived and gave birth to a child, she called upon all the men and made a pronouncement as to the paternity of the child. Her decision was binding on the man she referred to, who could not then disclaim paternity.
Another practice concerned prostitutes who had a number of visitors to their tents which had a flag fixed to it as a sign of their calling. When one of them bore a child, a man known as Qaif (Literally one who recognises) was invited and his decision, regarding the paternity, based on the physiognomy of the issue, was final and binding on the man concerned.
The Fatuh al-Sham, Burkhardt and Ibn al Mughawir give instances where, “ In old Arabia a man was so indifferent to his wife’s fidelity, that he would send her to cohabit with another man to get himself a goodly seed; or might lend her to a guest, as Asr did up to the time of Wahhabites… and the people of Dhaban must have done once according to Ibn al Mughawirs’s account….. or going on a journey might find a friend to take his place, as the Yam did in the time of Burkhardt… or might enter into a partnership of conjugal rights with another man in return for his service as a shepherd, as we read in the Fatuh al-Sham”.
Another popular custom was that the wife could be inherited by heirs of the deceased. Wahidi and Tabari relate the instance of a widow, called Kobaisha, who came to the prophet with the complaint that she had been “taken as wife” against her will by the son of her deceased husband who would neither live with her as her husband nor set her free.
Some such marriages, according to Ibn Qutaiba, were performed. One of the wives of Caliph Ali, called Molaika, had been married to a Fazarite, and then to his son. Among the Meccans, Amina, mother of Abu Moáyyit, was married first to Omayyib Ábd Shams and then to his son Abu Amr… and Nofail, grandfather of the Caliph Omar, left Fahmite widow who was married by his son Amr.
It should thus be noted that a marriage bestowed on the husband rights and privileges over the wife who could be transferred to him by another and passed with the rest of his property to his heirs.
Ibn Hisham mentioned that captive women of the war became the wives or mistresses of their captors against their own will in keeping with an Arab tradition contending that “the best and stoutest of sons are born of reluctant wives”. It is natural that no woman can agree on her own will to share her husband so stoutest of sons are born of such reluctant wives even today.
The most important thing that has happened is the invasion of India by the Muslim hordes from the north-west. The first Muslim invasion of India was by the Arabs who were led by Mohommad Bin Qasim. It took place in 711 A.D. and resulted in the conquest of Sind. This first Muslim invasion did not result in a permanent occupation of the country because the Caliphate of Baghdad, by whose order and command the invasion had taken place, was obliged by the middle of the 9th century A.D. to withdraw its direct control from this distant province of Sind. Soon after this withdrawal, there began a series of terrible invasions by Muhammad of Ghazni in 1001 A.D. Muhammad died in 1030 A.D., but within the short span of 30 years, he invaded India 17 times. He was followed by Mahommad Ghori who began his career as an invader in 1173. He was killed in 1206. For thirty years had Muhammad of Ghazni ravaged India and for thirty years Mahommad Ghori harried the same country in the same way. Then followed the incursions of the Moghul hordes of Chenghiz Khan. They first came in 1221. They then only wintered on the border of India but did not enter it. Twenty years after, they marched on Lahore and sacked it. Of their in roads, the most terrible was under Taimur in 1398. Then comes on the scene a new invader in the person of Babar who invaded India in 1526. The invasion of India did not stop with that of Babar. There occurred two more invasions. In 1738 Nadirshah’s invading host swept over the Punjab like a flooded river “furious as the ocean”. He was followed by Ahmadshah Abdalli who invaded India in 1761, smashed the forces of the Mahrattas at Panipat and crushed for ever the attempt of the Hindus to gain the ground which they had lost to their Muslim invaders.
These Muslim invasions were not undertaken merely out of lust for loot or conquest…………… Mahommad bin Qasim is quoted to have said: “The nephew of Raja Dahir, his warriors and principal officers have been dispatched, and the infidels converted to Islam or destroyed. Instead of idol-temples, mosques and other places of worship have been created, the Kutbah is read, the call to prayers is raised, so that demotions are performed at stated hours. The Takbir and praise to the Almighty God are offered every morning and evening.”
After receiving the above dispatch, which had been forwarded with the head of the Raja, Hajjaj sent the following reply to his general: “Except that you give protection to all, great and small alike, make no difference between enemy and friend. God, says,’Give no quarter to infidels but cut their throats’. Then know that this is the command of the great God. You shall not be too ready to grant protection, because it will prolong your work. After this give not quarter to any enemy except those who are of rank.”
Muhammad of Ghazni also looked upon his numerous invasions of India as the waging of a holy war. Al’Utbi, the historian of Muhammad, describing his raids writes: “He demolished idol temples and established Islam. He captured…cities, killed the polluted wretches, destroying the idolators, and gratifying Muslims. ‘He then returned home and promulgated accounts of the victories obtained for Islam….and vowed that every year he would undertake a holy war against Hind’.
Muhammed Ghori was actuated by the same holy zeal in his invasions of India. Hasan Nizami, the historian, describes his work in the following terms: “He purged by his sword the land of Hind from the filth of infidelity and vice, and freed the whole of the country from the thorn of God-plurality and the impurity of idol-worship and by his royal vigour and intrepidity left not one temple standing.”
Taimur has in his Memoir explained what let him to invade India. He says: “My object in the invasions of Hindustan is to lead a campaign against the infidels, to convert them to the true faith according to the command of Muhammad (on whom and his family be the blessing and peace of God), to purify the land from the defilement of misbelieve and polytheism, and overthrow the temples and idols, whereby we shall be Ghazis and Mujahids, companions and soldiers of the faith before God.”
Mahommad Bin Qasim’s first act of religious zeal was forcibly to circumcise the Brahmins of the captured city of Debul; but on discovering that they objected to this sort of conversion, he proceeded to put all above the age of 17 to death, and to order all others, with women and children, to be led into slavery. The temple of the Hindus was looted, and the rich booty was divided equally among the soldiers, after one-fifth, the legal portion for the government, had been set aside.
Muhammad of Ghazni from the first adopted those plans that would strike terror into the hearts of the Hindus. After the defeat of Raja Jaipal in A.D. 1001, Muhammad ordered that Jaipal “be paraded about in the streets so that his sons and chieftains might see him in that condition of shame, bonds and disgrace; and that fear of Islam might fly abroad through the country of the infidels.”
“The slaughtering of ‘infidels’ seemed to be one thing that gave Muhammad particular pleasure. In one attack on Chand Rai, in A.D. 1019, many infidels were slain or taken prisoners, and the Muslims paid no regard to booty until they had satiated themselves with the slaughter of the infidels and worshippers of the sun and fire. The historian naively adds that the elephants of the Hindu armies came to Muhammad of their own accord, leaving idols, preferring the service of the religion of Islam.”(Dr.Titus: Indian Islam p-22)
Not infrequently, the slaughter of the Hindus gave a great setback to the indigenous culture of the Hindus, as in the conquest of Bihar by Muhammad Bakhtyar Khilji. When he took Nuddea(Bihar) the Tabaquat-i-Nasiri informs us that: “great plunder fell into the hands of the victors. Most of the inhabitants were Brahmins with shaven heads. They were put to death. Large number of books were found…..but none could explain their contents as all the men had been killed, the whole fort and city being a place of study.” .”(Dr.Titus: Indian Islam p-22)
Summing up the evidence on the point, Dr.Titus concluded: “Of the destruction of temples and the desecration of idols we have an abundance of evidence. Muhommad Bin Qasim carried out his plan of destruction systematically in Sind. We have seen, but he made an exception of the famous temple at Multan for purposes of revenue, as this temple was a place of resort for pilgrims, who made large gifts to the idol. Nevertheless, while he thus satisfied his avarice by letting the temple stand, he gave vent to his malignity by having a piece of cow’s flesh tied around the neck of the idol”.
“Minhaj-as-Siraj further tells how Mahommad became widely known for having destroyed as many as thousand temples, and of his great fear in destroying the temple of Somnath and carrying off its idol, which he asserts was broken into four parts. One part he deposited in the Jami Masjid of Ghazni, one he placed at the entrance of the royal palace, the third he sent to Mecca, and the fourth to Medina.”(ibid pp22-23).
It is said by Lane Poole that Muhammad of Ghazni “who had vowed that every year should see him wage a holy war against the infidels of Hindustan” could not rest from his idol-breaking campaign so long as the temple of Somnath remained inviolate. It was for this specific purpose that he, at the very close of his career, undertook his arduous march across the desert from Multan to Anhalwara on the coast, fighting as he went, until he saw at last the famous temple:
“There a hundred thousand pilgrims were wont to assemble, a thousand Brahmins served the temple and guarded its treasures, and hundreds of dancers and singers played before its gates. Within stood the famous linga, a rude pillar stone adorned with gems and lighted by jewelled candelabra which were reflected in rich hangings, embroidered with precious stones like stars, that decked the shrine….Its ramparts were swarmed with incredulous Brahmins, mocking the vain arrogance of foreign infidels whom the God of Somnath would assuredly consume. The foreigners, nothing daunted, scaled the walls; the God remained dumb to urgent appeals of his servants; fifty thousand Hindus suffered for their faith and the sacred shrine was sacked to the joy of the true believers. The great stone was cast down and its fragments were carried off to grace the conqueror’s palace. The temple gates were set up at Ghazni and a million pounds worth of treasure rewarded the iconoclast.” (Medieval India, p-26, by Lane Poole)
The work done by Muhammad of Ghazni became a pious tradition and was faithfully followed by those who came after him. In the words of Dr. Titus India Islam, pp-23-24. “Mohammad Ghori, one of the enthusiastic successors of Muhammad of Ghazni, in his conquest of Ajmir destroyed pillars of foundations of the idol-temples, and built in their stead mosques and colleges and the precepts of Islam and the customs of the law were divulged and established. At Delhi, the city and its vicinity were freed from idols and idol worship, and in the sanctuaries of the images of the Gods mosques were raised by the worshippers of the one God”.
“Qutb-ud-Din Aybak also is said to have destroyed nearly a thousand temples, and then raised mosques on their foundations. The same author states that he built the Jami Masjid, Delhi and adorned it with the stones and gold obtained from the temples which had been demolished by elephants, and covered it with inscriptions (from the Quran) containing the devine commands. We have further evidence of this harrowing process having been systematically employed from the inscription extant over the eastern gateway of this same mosque at Delhi, which relates that the materials of 27 idol temples were used in its construction.”***********
“Ala-ud-Din, in his zeal to build a second Minar to the Jami Masjid, to rival the one built by Qutb-ud-Din, is said by Amir Khusru not only to have dug stones out of the hills, but to have demolished temples of the infidels to furnish a supply. In his conquests of South India the destruction of temples was carried out by Ala-ud-Din, I as it had been in the north by his predecessors.
“The Sultan Firoz Shah, in his Futuhat, graphically relates how he treated Hindus who had dared to build new temples. ‘When they did this in the city (Delhi) and the environs, in opposition;n to the law of the Prophet, which declares that such are not to be tolerated, under Divine guidance I destroyed these edifices. I killed these leaders of infidelity and punished others with stripes, until this abuse was entirely abolished and where infidels and idolaters worshipped idols, Musalmans now by God’s mercy perform their devotions to the true God.”
Even in the reign of Shah Jahan, we read of the destruction of the temples that the Hindus had started to rebuild, and the account of this direct attack on the piety of the Hindus is thus solemnly recorded in the Badshah-namah:
“It has been brought to the notice of His Majesty, says the historian, that during the late reign (of Akbar) many idol-temples had been begun but remained unfinished at Benares, the great stronghold of infidelity. The infidels were now desirous of completing them. His Majesty, the defender of the faith, gave orders that at Benares and throughout all his dominions in every place all temples that had been began should be cast down. It was reported from the Province of Allahabad that 76 temples had been destroyed in the district of Benares.”
It was left to Aurangzeb to make a final attempt to overthrow idolatry. The author of “Ma” athir i –Alamgiri dilates upon his efforts to put down Hindu teaching, and his destruvtion of temples in the following terms:
“In April, A.D. 1669, Aurangzib learned that in the provinces of Thatta, Multan and Benares, but especially in the latter, foolish Brahmins were in the habit of expounding frivolous books in their schools, and that learners, Muslims as well as Hindus, went there, from long distances….The ‘Director of the Faith’ consequently issued orders to all the governors of provinces to destroy with a willing hand the schools and temples of the infidels; and they were enjoined to put an entire stop to the teaching and practicing of idolatrous worship….Later it was reported to his religious Majesty that the Government officers had destroyed the temple of Bishnath at Benaras.”
As Dr.Titus observes:- “Such invaders as Muhammad and Timur seem to have been more concerned with iconoclasm, the collection of booty, the enslaving of captives, and the sending of infidels to hell with the ‘proselytizing sword’ then they were with the conversion of them even by force. But when rulers were permanently established the winning of converts became a matter of supreme urgency. It was a part of the state policy to establish Islam as the religion of the whole land.
“Qutb-ud-Din , whose reputation for destroying temples was almost as great as that of Muhammad, in the latter part of the twelfth century and early years of the thirteenth, must have frequently resorted to force as an incentive to conversion. One instance may be noted: when he approached Koil (Aligarh) in A.D. 1194,’ those of the garrison who were wise and acute were converted to Islam, but the others were slain with the sword’.
“Further examples of extreme measures employed to effect a change of faith are all too numerous. One pathetic case is mentioned in the time of the reign of Firoz Shah (A.D.1351-1388). An old Brahmin of Delhi had been accused of worshipping idols in his house, and of even leading Muslim women to become infidels. He was sent for and his case placed before judges, doctors, elders and lawyers. Their reply was that the provisions of the law were clear. The Brahmin must either become a Muslim or be burned. The true faith was declared to him and the right course pointed out, but he refused to accept it. Consequently he was burned by the order of the Sultan, and the commentator adds, ‘Behold the Sultan’s strict adherence to law and rectitude, how he would not deviate in the least from its decrees’.”
Muhammad not only destroyed temples but made it a policy; to make slaves of the Hindus he conquered. In the words of Dr.Titus: “Not only were slaughter of the infidels and the destruction of their temples resorted to in earlier period of Islam’s contact with India, but as we have seen, many of the vanquished were led into slavery. The dividing up of booty was one of the special attractions, to the leaders as well as to the common soldiers in these expeditions. Muhammad seems to have made the slaughter of infidels, the destruction of their temples, the capturing of slaves, and the plundering of the wealth of the people, raids. On the occasion of his first raid he is said to have taken much booty; and half a million Hindus, ’beautiful men and women were reduced to slavery and taken back to Ghazni.”
When Muhammad later took Kanauj, in A.D.1017, he took so much booty and so many prisoners that ‘the fingers of those who counted them would have tired’. Describing how common Indian slaves had become in Ghazni and Central Asia after the campaign of A.D. 1019, the historian of the times says:-“The number of prisoners may be conceived from the fact that each was sold for from two to ten dirhams. These were afterwards taken to Ghazni, and merchants came from far distant cities to purchase them;…and the fair and the dark, the rich and the poor were commingled in one common slavery.
“In the year A.D.1202, when Qutbh-ud-Din captured Kalinjar, after the temples had been converted into mosques, and the very name of idolatry was annihilated, fifty thousand men came under the collar of slavery and the plain became black as pitch with Hindus.” Ibid, p-26.
Slavery was the fate of those Hindus who were captured in the holy war. But, when there was no war the systematic abasement of the Hindus played no unimportant part in the methods adopted by the Muslim invaders. In the days of Ala-ud-Din, at the beginning of the fourteenth century, the Hindus had in certain part given the Sultan much trouble. So, he determined to impose such taxes on them that they would be prevented from rising in rebellion.
“The Hindu was to be left unable to keep a horse to ride on, to carry arms, to wear fine clothes, or to enjoy any of the luxuries of life.”
Speaking of the levy of Jizyah Dr.Titus says:-
“The payment of the Jizyah by the Hindus continued throughout the dominions of the sultans, emperors, and kings in various parts of India with more or less regularity, though often, the law was in force in theory only; since it depended entirely on the ability of the sovereign to enforce his demands. But finally, it was abolished throughout the Moghul Empire in the ninth year of the enlightened Akbar’s reign (A.D.1665), after it had been accepted as a fundamental part of Muslim government policy in India for a period of more than eight centuries.”
Lane Poole says that
“The Hindus was taxed to the extent of half the produce of his land, and had to pay duties on all his buffaloes, goats, and other milch-cattle. The taxes were to be levied equally on rich and poor, at so much per acre, so much per animal. Any collectors or officers taking bribes were summarily dismissed and heavily punished with sticks, pincers, the rack, imprisonment and chains. The new rules were strictly carried out, so that one revenue officer would string together 20 Hindu notables and enforce payment by blows. No gold or silver, not even the betel nut, so cheering and stimulative to pleasure, was to be seen in a Hindu house, and the wives of the impoverished native officials were reduced to taking service in Muslim families. Revenue officers came to be regarded as more deadly than the plague; and to be a government clerk was disgrace worse than death, in so much that no Hindu would marry his daughter so such a man.”
These edicts, says the historian of the period, “were so strictly carried out that the chaukidars and khuts and muqaddims were not able to ride on horseback, to find weapon, to wear fine clothes, or to indulge in betel…No Hindu could hold up his head….Blows, confinement in the stocks, imprisonment and chains were all employed to enforce payment.”
All this was not the result of mere caprice or moral perversion. On the other hand, what was done was in according prudence with the ruling ideas of the leaders of Islam in the broadest aspect. These ideas were well expressed by the Kazi in reply to a question put by Sultan Ala-ud-Din wanting to know the legal position of the Hindus under Muslim law. The Kazi said:-
“They are called payers of tribute, and when the revenue officer demands silver from them they should without question, and with all humility and respect, tender gold. If the officer throws dirt in their mouths, they must without reluctance open their mouths wide to receive it….The due subordination of the Dhimmi is exhibited in this bumble payment, and by this throwing of dirt into their mouths. The glorification of Islam is a duty, and contempt for religion is vain. God holds them in contempt, for he says, ‘Keep them in subjection’. To keep the Hindus in a basement is especially a religious duty, because the Prophet has commanded us to sly them, plunder them, and make them captive, saying,’ Convert them to Islam or kill them, and make them slaves, and spoil their wealth and property.’ No doctor but the great doctor(Hanifah), to whose school we belong, has assented to the imposition of jizya on Hindus; doctors of other schools allow no other alternative but ‘Death or Islam’. Dr.Titus Indian Islam p-29
Such is the story of this period of 762 years which elapsed between the advent of Muhammad of Ghazni and the return of Ahmadshah Abdalli.
The methods adopted by the invaders have left behind them their aftermath. One aftermath is the bitterness between the Hindus and the Muslims which they have caused. This bitterness, between the two, is so deep-seated that a century of political life has neither succeeded in assuaging it; not in making people forget it. As the invasions were accompanied with destruction of temples and forced conversions, with spoliation of property, with slaughter, enslavement and abasement of men, women and children, what wonder if the memory of these invasions has ever remained green, a source of pride to the Muslims and as a source of shame to the Hindus?
It is natural that no woman can agree on her own will to share her husband so stoutest of sons are born of such reluctant wives even today.
This also right in the case of reluctant Hindu/Buddhist etc women’s captured and produced stoutest of sons of those reluctant women in these invasions and forced slavery and conversion.
Shahrastani contends that the law of triple divorce, which still survives in Mohammedan law, existed in Pre-Islamic Arabia. He narrates an incident concerning the post AI-A’sha during the days of Jahiliyya, where divorce was exhorted from the husband by the relatives of his wife who had other plans for her. Hence, to make her repudiation complete, he was compelled to repeat the word thrice. Till the third pronouncement, the husband was still áchaccou 1’-nasi biha’ or had more right to her than anyone else’. ’These practices, effecting divorce or separation, seriously challenging the position of woman as wife, require special mention. These are commonly referred to as Tahil or Halala, Ila and Zihar.
Hence we see that the woman, generally, had no right to divorce. In exceptional cases, women of nobler families reserved this right through contract.
Ila literally means swearing. It signifies the taking of an oath that one shall not go into one’s wife.
The Pagan deities best known in Mecca at the advent of Islam were Lat (Lat represented Sun worship, Origin may be Greek ‘Leto’, the mother of Apollo, the sun God), Uzza (Planet Venus) and Manat (it may be Astra the symbol of fortune), all being female deities. The strange reason offered for this paradoxical belief was that the mother’s blood rather than the father’s blood formed the original family bond among the Semites.
This shows that it was a matriarchal society in Arabians peninsula before advent of Islam.
As Islamic Law was changed and reformed, various basic concepts which were accepted and practiced in the pre-Islamic Arabia were modified. These modifications were a natural extension of the progressive ideas introduced at that time. But legal rules pertaining to family law, especially those regarding marriage and divorce were also common. Prohibition to marry within a certain degree of affinity, the three-month Iddat period or waiting period for the widow, and similar conditions pertaining to divorce, the nursing period of infants for about two years, were a few laws common between the Islamic jurisprudence and Judaic laws.
These resemblances, however, should not be surprising, as Islamic Laws always claimed to be a confirmation and an extension of the old religions. The Quran says:
“We believe in God, and the Revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord: we make no difference between one and another of them: and we bow to God”. (The Quran 2:136)
Can the position among the Muslims, so far as child-marriage goes, be considered better than the position among the others?
“For them (women) there are rights (against men) that are exactly commensurate with their obligations (towards them)”. (The Quran 4:228)
“From what is left by parents and those nearest there is a share for men and a share for women”. (Ibid p-180)
Take the position of women. The Muslims insist that the legal rights given to Muslim women ensure them a greater measure of independence than allowed to the women in the Eastern countries for example, Hindu women, and are in excess of the rights given to women in some Western countries. Reliance is placed on some of the provisions of this Muslim Law.
Firstly, it is said that the Muslim law does not fix any age for marriage, and recognizes the right of a girl to marry any time. Further, except where the marriage is celebrated by the father or the grandfather, a Muslim girl, if given in marriage in childhood, has the power to repudiate her marriage on attaining puberty.
Secondly, it is held out that marriage among the Muslims is a contract. Being a contract, the husband has a right to divorce his wife but the Muslim Law does not place the wife on the same footing as the husband in the matter of divorce. Unconditional right is given to a man, i.e. he can divorce his wife without any explanation. That he is not pleased with her is enough justification to pronounce divorce. It is claimed that the wife under the Muslim Law can, at the time of marriage, or even thereafter, in some cases, enter into a contract by which she may under certain circumstances obtain a divorce. But in that case the woman who has the right to divorce needs to establish some fault in her husband. And such a divorce is to be ratified by the marriage registrar.
Thirdly, the Mohammedan Law requires that a wife can claim from her husband, by way of consideration for the surrender of her person, a sum of money or other property-known as her ‘dower”. The dower may be fixed even after marriage and if no amount is fixed, the wife is entitled to proper dower. The amount of dower is usually split into two parts, one is called “prompt” which is payable on demand, and the other is called “deferred” which is payable on dissolution of marriage by death or divorce. The wife’s claim for dower is treated as a debt against the husband’s estate. She has complete dominion over her dower which is intended to give her economic independence. She can remit it or she can appropriate the income of it as she pleases. Granting all these provisions of law in her favour, the Muslim woman is, yet, the most helpless person in the world. To quote an Egyptian Muslim leader:-
“Islam has set its seal of inferiority upon her, and given the sanction of religion to social customs which have deprived her of the full opportunity for self-expression and development of personality.”
No poor illiterate Muslim girl has the courage to repudiate her marriage, although it may be open to her on the ground that she was a child and that it was brought about by persons other than her parents. No Muslim wife will think it proper to have a clause entered into her marriage contract reserving her right to divorce. In that event, her fate is “once married, always married.” She cannot escape the marriage tie, however irksome it may be. While she cannot repudiate the marriage, the husband can always do it without having to show any cause. Utter the word “TALAK” and observe continence for three weeks and the woman is cast away. The only restraint on his caprice is the obligation to pay the dower. If the dower has already been remitted, his right to divorce is a matter of his sweet will.
This latitude in the matter of divorce destroys that sense of security which is so fundamental to a full, free and happy life for a woman. This insecurity of life, to which a Muslim woman is exposed, is greatly augmented by the rights of polygamy and concubines, which the Muslim Law gives to the husband.
Mohammedan Law allows a Muslim to marry four wives at a time. It is not unoften said that this is an improvement over the Hindu Law which places no restriction on the number of wives a Hindu can have at any given time. But it is forgotten that in addition to the four legal wives, the Muslim Law permits a Mohammedan to cohabit with his female slaves. In the case of female slaves nothing is said as to the number. They are allowed to him without any restriction and without any obligation to marry them.
No words can adequately express the great and many evils of polygamy and concubinage, especially, as sources of misery to a Muslim woman. It is true that just because polygamy and concubinage are sanctioned, one must not suppose they are indulged in by the generality of Muslims. However, the fact remains that they are privileges which are easy for a Muslim husband to abuse to the misery and unhappiness of his wife. Mr.John J Pool, observes:-
“This latitude in the matter of divorce is very greatly taken advantage of by some Mohammedans. Stobart, commenting on this subject in his book, Islam, and its Founder, says: ‘Some Mohammedans make a habit of continually changing their wives. We read of young men who have twenty and thirty wives, a new one every three months: and thus, it comes about that, women are liable to be indefinitely transferred from one man to another, obliged to accept a husband and a home whenever they can find one, or in case of destitution, to which divorce may have driven them, to resort to other more degrading means of living. Thus while keeping the strict letter of the law, and possessing only one or certainly not more than four wives, unscrupulous characters may yet, by divorce, obtain in a life time as many wives as a they please.’ In another way also a Mohammedan may really have more than four wives, and yet keep within the law. This is by means of living with concubines, which the Koran expressly permits. In that Sura which allows four wives the following words are added, ’of the slaves which ye shall have acquired.’ Then in the 70th Sura, it is revealed that it is no sin to live with slaves. ‘
The very words are: “The slaves which their right hands possess, as to them they shall be blameless.
In the present day, as in days past, in multitudes of Mohammedan homes, slaves are found; as Muir says, in his Life of Mahomet, ‘so long as this unlimited permission of living with their female slaves continues, it cannot be expected that there will be any hearty attempt to put a stop to slavery in Mohammedan countries.’ And women, as usual, are the greater sufferers.”
A man more or less enjoys absolute right over his slaves. The Quran (4:3, 23:5,6, 70:29, 30:33:35 cf. Ali.M.op.cit.p-549) mentions, á master may have sexual relation with his slave girl simply because of the right of ownership which he has on her.” It has also been elucidated that there is no limit to the number of women with whom a man may lawfully have sexual intercourse by virtue of the right of property. A slave girl married to another slave cannot have sexual intercourse with her master at the same time. Strict monogamy is demanded from her even in such cases. There is, of course, a caution to the master that he has no right to sexual enjoyment with a married slave girl. This caution, in turn, implies that in all other cases he has a right to enjoy slave girls sexually. It thus seems to be just a measure to prevent a slave woman from becoming bigamous. Here it should be mentioned that a Muslim woman who is free can marry her own slave if she can obtain the approval of her guardian. Here also restrictions for the women but men are free to do whatever he can do.
Adultery is another aspect where discrimination is explicit. In the Quran there are many verses where punishment for adultery is stated to be equal for man and woman. But we should keep in mind that the chances of and the need for committing adultery are much less in the case of a man as compared to a woman. A woman is much more vulnerable to adultery in her peculiar situation. She is bound to share her husband sexually with other co-wives, and also, with slave girls and female war prisoners in some cases. The chance of a wife remaining sexually dissatisfied is certainly obvious in such cases. It is also enjoined in the Hadith that a woman has to remain chaste and is not allowed to remarry for one full year even if her husband’s whereabouts are untraceable, i.e., if he is missing. On the other hand, a man has access to four wives from regular marriages and other irregular one, over and above, his slave women, to enjoy sexually. He hardly needs to be adulterous. (A double standard is too obvious) In the case of homosexuals it is probably different. But in such a case too, women are placed in a situation with much greater opportunities and temptations to become homosexuals as they spend most of their time among fellow wives and slave girls.
Another important point to be noted is that a husband can suspend all sexual and related relationships for a consecutive period of four months with any of his wives if he doubts her chastity. After this period, either he will have to divorce her or retain her as his wife. A woman cannot deny the rights of her husband even if he is adulterous unless she can prove the accusation. All the above injunctions show in egalitarianism to the extreme. A woman’s position in Islam is like that of a tool in the hands of a man. She is treated as an object or only as a source for the pleasure of men and for procreation.
WORSHIP OF FOREFATHERS
Regarding the worship of forefathers in the Arabian tribal society, as they had no written or revealed laws, only customs and usages were prevalent. Hence once they argued with the prophets, “How can we forsake what we found our forefathers upon?” They asked “Hast thou come unto us that we should serve Allah alone and forsake what our father worshipped?” (The Quran 7:70 also 11:62, 14:10, 16:35)
‘For each (community) we have appointed a divine law and a way of life. Had Allah willed He would have made you one community? He may try you by that which he has given you, so vie one with another in good works’. (The Quran 5:48)
According to this text, Allah did not intend to appoint one uniform law for every person for all times. Allah did not make one community.
The Quran declares in unambiguous terms, And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise.’ ‘(The Quran 2:228)
This statement is contradictory. It say that women have rights similar to men and yet claims that men are a degree above women.
Again the Quran says ‘Men are in charge of women because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women), so good women are obedient (to Allah), guarding in the secret that which Allah had guarded.’ . (The Quran 4:35)
This text of Quran is almost similar to the text of Manu of the Hindu religious law given as below:-
The father of a woman shall protect her in her infancy; the husband, in her youth; and her son, in her old age; in absence whereof the duty of maintaining her shall devolve upon his friends and relatives. (Garudu-95; Dutt p-27)
The laws of Manu against women are of a piece with this view. Women are not to be set free under any circumstances. Manu says;
IX2. Day and night women must be kept in dependence by the males (of their families), and if they attach themselves to sexual enjoyments, they must be kept under one’s control
IX3 Her father protects (her) in childhood, her husband protects (her) in youth, and her sons protect (her) in old age; a woman is never fit for independence.
VEIL or PURDAH
Now let us consider the question of veil in the spirit of Islam. The verse quoted in support of the veil is as follows;
Ó Prophet ! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (udnina) (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may not be recognized and not annoyed. (The Quran 33)
It seems that there were anti-social elements during that time that used to harass women. Therefore, the Muslim women were instructed to draw their cloak closer to the face in order to protect themselves. The context of the verse is thus very clear. Firstly, there is no mention in veiling the face and secondly, it is not an obligatory order for all time to come. If the context changes, the reason adduced disappears, it would no longer be binding, as observed by Asghar Ali Engineer.
Another important verse in this respect is from chapter 24. It says:
‘And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof, that they should draw their veils over their bosom and not display their beauty except to their husbands their fathers, and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments.’ (The Quran 24:31)
Again the Quran says: ‘Say to the believing to note that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them.’ (The Quran 24:30)
We find that in the Muslim society. Women are put under the veil and men are free from any binding. There can, thus, be no manner of doubt that the Muslim Society in India is afflicted by the same social evils as afflicts the Hindu Society. Indeed, the Muslims have all the social evils of the Hindus and something more. That something more is the compulsory system of veil or purdah for the Muslim women.
The existence of these evils among the Muslims is distressing enough, but, far more distressing is the fact that there is no organized movement of social reform among the Muslims of India on a scale sufficient to bring about their eradication. The Hindus have their social evils but there is a relieving feature about them. Some of them are conscious of their existence and a few of them are actively agitating for their removal. The Muslims, on the other hand, do not realize the existence of evils and consequently, do not agitate for their removal. Indeed, they oppose any change in the existing practices.
It is noteworthy that the Muslims opposed the Child Marriage Bill brought in the Central Assembly in 1930, whereby the age for marriage of a girl was raised to 14 and of a boy to 18, on the ground that it was opposed to the Muslims canon law. Not only did they oppose the bill at every stage but also, when it became law, they started a campaign of Civil Disobedience against that Act. Fortunately, the Civil Disobedience campaign of the Muslims, against the Act, did not swell and was submerged in the Congress Civil Disobedience campaign which synchronized with it. But the campaign only proves how strongly the Muslims are opposed to social reform.
The question may be asked that why are the Muslims opposed to social reforms?
The usual answer given is that the Muslims all over the world are an unprogressive people. This view no doubt accords with the facts of history. After the first spurts of their activity- the scale of which was undoubtedly stupendous leading to the foundations of vast empires-the Muslims suddenly fell into a strange condition of torpor, from which they never seemed to have awaken. (Dr.BR Ambedkar’s writings and Speeches. Vol-8, p233)
As a consequence of the Purdah system a segregation of the sexes is brought about. The ladies are not expected to visit the outer rooms, verandahs or gardens, their quarters are the backyard. All of them, young and old are confined in the same room. No male servant can work in their presence. A woman is allowed to see only her sons, brothers, father, uncles and husband, or any other near relation who may be admitted to a position of trust. She cannot visit the mosque and must, wear Burka (veil) whenever she goes out. These Burka women walking in the streets are one of the most hideous sights one can witness in India. Such seclusion cannot but have its deteriorating effects upon the physical constitution of Muslim women. They are usually victims to anemia, tuberculosis and pyorrhea. Their bodies are deformed, with their backs bent, bones protruded, hands and feet crooked. Ribs, joints and nearly all their bones ache. Heart palpitation is very common in them. The result of this pelvic deformity is the untimely death at the time of delivery. Purdah deprives Muslim women of mental and moral nourishment. Being deprived of healthy social life, the process of moral degeneration must and does set in. Being completely secluded from the outer world, they engage their minds in petty family quarrels with the result that they become narrow and restricted in their outlook.
They lag behind their sisters from other communities, cannot take part in any outdoor activity and are weighed down by a slavish mentality and an inferiority complex. They have no desire for knowledge, because they are taught not to be interested in anything outside the four walls of the house. Purdah women, in particular, become helpless, timid, and unfit for any fight in life. Considering the large number of purdah women among Muslims in India, one can easily understand the vastness and seriousness of the problem of Purdah.
The physical and intellectual effects of purdah are nothing as compared with its effect on morals. The origin of purdah lies, of course, in the deep-rooted suspicion of sexual appetites in both sexes and the purpose is to check them by segregating the sexes. But far from achieving the purpose, Purdah has adversely affected the morals of Muslim men. Owing to purdah a Muslim man has no contact with any woman except those who belong to his own household. Even with them his contact extends only to occasional conversations. For a male there is no company of and no commingling with the females apart from those who are children or aged. This isolation of the males from females is sure to produce bad effects on the morals of men. It requires no psychoanalyst to say that a social system which cuts off all contact between the two sexes produces an unhealthy tendency towards sexual excesses and other unnatural and morbid habits and ways.
The evil consequences of purdah are not confined to the Muslim community only. It is responsible for the social segregation of Hindus from Muslims which is the bane of public life in India. This argument may appear far-fetched and one is inclined to attribute this segregation to the unsociability of the Hindus rather than to the system of Purdah among the Muslims. But the Hindus are in a way right when then say that it is not possible to establish social contact between Hindus and Muslims because it can only mean contact between women from one side and men from the other.
Not that Purdah and the evils consequent thereon are not to be found among certain sections of the Hindu society in some parts of the country. But the point of distinction is that among the Muslims, Purdah has a religious sanctity which is missing in the case of Hindus. Purdah has deeper roots among the Muslims that it has among the Hindus and can only be removed by facing the inevitable conflict between religious injunction and social needs. The problem of purdah is a real problem with the Muslims-apart from its origin-which is not the case with the Hindus. Moreover, there is no evidence of any attempt by the Muslims to do away with it.
As for polygamy the Quran says:
They ask you concerning women, say Allah gives you decree concerning them and the Scripture which has been recited unto you (give decree) about orphan women to whom you do not give back what is due to them (namely their properties which are under your charge) but you would rather marry them, and also (concerning) the weak among children, and that you should deal justly with orphans. You will never be able to deal equally between (your) wives, however much you wish (to do so), so do not incline away completely from one, leaving her suspended. (ibid 4:127:129)
Another verse on polygamy is worded thus:
Give unto orphans their wealth and do not exchange (their) good properties with your bad ones, nor consume their properties by mixing then with yours; it is indeed a great sin. But if you cannot do justices to orphans, then you marry from among (orphan?) women such as please you-two, three or four. If however, you fear you cannot do justice (among co-wives) then marry only one or (marry) women slaves; this would be nearest to avoiding injustice. (The Quran 4:2:3)
If here we say that one does not have any such problem of looking after orphans, the question of taking more than one wife does not arise at all. But in the present society we find that most cases of polygamy do not follow this direction of the Quran. Some people marry because they are rich man; some people marry when they see some beautiful girl and so on. Why is this verse from the Holy Quran not interpreted properly to control the evil of polygamy existing in the Muslim society? It has clearly mentioned that it will never be possible to deal equally between wives. It has not mentioned the number of woman slaves that can be married by a man.
Regarding the reward in terms of religious merit, it has been mentioned: Lo! Men who surrender unto Allah and women who surrender, and men who obey and women who obey, and men who speak the truth and women who speak the truth, and men who persevere (in righteousness) and women who persevere, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and man who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their modesty and women who guard their modesty and men who remember – Allah and women who remember Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a vast reward. (The Quran 33:36)
These verses maintain the equality of men and women but with an advice to the women only which is not acceptable to the present day generation and as a result the collision among men and women are increasing day by day.
The Quran said Women who are divorced shall wait, keeping themselves apart three (monthly) courses. And it is not lawful for them that they should conceal that which Allah hath created in their wombs if they are believers in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands would do better to take them back in that case if they desire reconciliation. And they (women) have rights similar to those of (men) over them in kindness. (The Quran 2:228)
Another verse it says: ‘Divorce must be pronounced twice and they women must be retained in honour or released in kindnesses. (The Quran 2:229)
It is crystal clear from all those verses that women will depend upon the kindness of men. As all this are man-made books and one can hardly ignore the fact that it was a man dominated milieu and jurists could not but give more benefits to men while using their opinion on various matters and their details whether pertaining to maintenance, custody of children, different forms of divorce, marital options, guardians ‘right, etc. So, equal status for women would not have been accepted by society at large. Men can pronounce divorce but what about women? It is very clear from the quoted words. One thing is certain that as long as women do not come out in large numbers in defiance of their own freedom, male domination will continue. It is said that, God helps those who help themselves. On the other hand their counterpart in Christianity and Jews has forced to change their male’s mentality towards women in respect of their right whereas Muslims women are lag behind of them.
SOCIAL REFORMS IN ISLAM
Begam Roquia Sakhawat Hussain, (1880 – December 9, 1932)
Begam Roquia was a prolific writer and a social worker in undivided Bengal in the early 20th century. She is most famous for her efforts on behalf of gender equality and other social issues. She established the first school aimed primarily at Muslim girls, which still exists today. She was a notable Muslim feminist; modern feminist writers such as Taslima Nasrin cite her as an influence. She also wrote short stories and novels. Her important books are Sultana’s Dream and Paddorag.
Roquia Khatun was born in 1880 in the village of Pairabondh, Mithapukur, Rangpur, in what was then the British Indian Empire and is now Bangladesh. Her father was a highly educated zamindar (landlord). Roquia’s eldest brother Ibrahim, and her immediate elder sister Karimunnesa, both had great influence on her life. Karimunnesa wanted to study Bengali, the language of the majority in Bengal. The family disliked this because many upper class Muslims of the time preferred to use Arabic and Persian as the media of education, instead of their native language, Bengali. Ibrahim taught English and Bengali to Roquia and Karimunnesa; both sisters became authors.
Roquia married at the age of sixteen in 1896. Her Urdu-speaking husband, Khan Bahadur Sakhawat Hussain, was the Deputy Magistrate of Bhagalpur, which is now a district under the Indian state of Bihar. He continued her brother’s work by encouraging her to keep learning Bengali and English. He also suggested that she write, and on his advice she adopted Bengali as the principal language for her literary works because it was the language of the masses. She launched her literary career in 1902 with a Bengali essay entitled Pipasa (Thirst).
In 1909, Sakhawat Hussain died. He had encouraged his wife to set aside money to start a school primarily for Muslim women. Five months after his death, Roquia established a high school in her beloved husband’s memory, naming it Sakhawat Memorial Girls’ High School. It started in Bhagalpur, a traditionally Urdu-speaking area, with only five students. A dispute with her husband’s family over property forced Roquia to move the school in 1911 to Calcutta (now known as Kolkata), a Bengali-speaking area. It remains one of the city’s most popular schools for girls and is now run by the state government of West Bengal.
She also founded the Anjuman e Khawateen e Islam (Islamic Women’s Association), which was active in holding debates and conferences regarding the status of women and education. She advocated reform, particularly for women, and believed that parochialism and excessive conservatism were principally responsible for the relatively slow development of Muslims in British India. As such, she is one of the first Islamic feminists. She was inspired by the traditional Islamic learning as enunciated in the Qur’an, and believed that modern Islam had been distorted or corrupted; her organization Anjuman e Khawateen e Islam organised many events for social reforms based on the original teachings of Islam that, according to her, were lost.
Begum Roquia remained busy with the school, the association, and her writings for the rest of her life. She died of heart problems on December 9, 1932. In Bangladesh, December 9 is celebrated as Rokeya Day.
Begum Roquia was an inspiring figure who contributed much to the struggle to liberate women from the bondage of social malaises. Her life can be seen in the context of other social reformers within what was then India. To raise popular consciousness, especially among women, she wrote a number of articles, stories and novels, mostly in Bengali.
Begum Roquia used humor, irony, and satire to focus attention on the injustices faced by Bengali-speaking Muslim women. She criticized oppressive social customs forced upon women that were based upon a corrupted version of Islam, asserting that women fulfilling their potential as human beings could best display the glory of Lord.
Begum Roquia wrote courageously against restrictions on women in order to promote their emancipation, which, she believed, would come about by breaking the gender division of labor. She rejected discrimination for women in the public arena and believed that discrimination would cease only when women were able to undertake whatever profession they chose. In 1926, begum strongly condemned men for withholding education from women in name of religion as she addressed the Bengal women’s education conference:
“‘The opponents of the female education say that women will be unruly…fie! They call themselves Muslims and yet go against the basic tenet of Islam which gives equal right to education. If men are not led astray once educated, why should women?
On the basis of the doctrine of the Hanabalis, several countries of the world have now decreed in different ways that a Muslim woman can hold against the second marriage of the husband in her life time. This doctrine was initially adopted in the Ottoman Law of Family Rights 1917, where Article 38 says, “If the wife stipulates in the marriage contract that in the event of the husband’s second marriage she or the second wife would stand automatically divorced, the stipulation shall be judicially enforceable”.
Article 21, of the Jordanian Code of 1951, In the text of the Jordanian Law of Family Right 1951, a stipulation against polygamy is permissible. Article 21 says: “If a stipulation is made in the marriage contract for the benefit of either party, it must be complied with”. For example, a stipulation that the wife should have the power to divorce in specified circumstances or should live in a specified place or that the husband should not have a co-wife. But such a stipulation can be enforced only if it is incorporated in the registered marriage deed and also in the certificate issued by the Qazi. The violation of such a stipulation shall give to the wife a right to seek for dissolution of her marriage. (Mohamedan law(A) p-260-261)
Article 31, of the Moroccan Code of 1958, says “a woman may stipulate in her marriage contract against her husband’s right to contract a bigamous marriage; in such a case, if the stipulation is violated, the wife shall have a right to dissolution of her marriage”. (Mohammedium of Fatimid law p-6)
Article 14(2)(3) of the Syrian Law of 1953 follow the same rule. It says “stipulations not opposed to the Sharia are valid in a marriage contract. Conditions opposed to the Sharia will be held void while the marriage is held operative. It is further specified that a stipulation for the wife’s benefit which, although not opposed by the Sharia, affects the legal rights of the husband or a third person, cannot be enforced, but the wife can demand dissolution of her marriage if the husband violated such a stipulation. (A digest of Mohumudan law (B) Part I p-5)
Such changes has been made in Muslims countries and India also but in practical purpose are the Muslim society is prepared to change is a very big question?
In 1996 a revolutionary step had been taken in the month of Ramzan in Kerala, a state of India, which will be remembered in history for the bold decision taken by Md.P.K.K.Ahmedkutty Maulvi, the Chief Imam of Palayam Mosque. He opened the doors of the shrine for women and allowed them to offer prayers along with men.
Undeterred by the frenzy sought to wipe off the matter in the name of Islam, Ahmedkutty Maoulvi is determined to proceed with his decision, expanding the facilities in the Palayam Mosque to accommodate more women coming for their daily prayer, especially on Friday. He reminds his opponents that women have not been barred from the holiest shrine of Mecca and Madina and it is a common practice in the other parts of the country too.
Echoing his sentiments, liberal Islamic scholars and some Muslim women in public life maintain that the restrictions imposed on women should be removed, if only to foster a sense of Islamic sisterhood. When they pray together, women get a sense of inner strength, which is so vital to sustain their identity in the face of various forces assaulting it.
As comparing to the Muslim women’s followers of other religions are enjoying more freedom in practice their religious functions and visit their religious places often for salvation of their soul and mental peace which is very important to any religious minded human being.
SOUDI KINDOM ALLOW IT GIRLS TO PLAY
The orthodox Muslim kingdom has begun allowing its girls in private schools to participate in sports. It is still has a long way to go, but at least it is a beginning towards long-awaited gender equality.
Under international pressure, Saudi Arabia for the first time included two female athletes in its team to last year’s London Olympics. Though the teen-aged girls, track athlete Sarah Attar (19) and judo player Wojdan Ali Shaherkhan (16) didn’t win any medals, they’ll remember the encouraging cheers for the rest of their lives. Sarah was a lap behind the rest on the track, but she had a cheer all to herself from the crowd. Wojdan, a novice at this level of judo, also helped make a point for Saudi women in the 82 seconds she lasted in her bout against a Puerto Rican opponent. Now, there’s more good news.
The ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom will let girls in private schools take part in sports and physical education. The measure appears to have left out the majority of girl students in state-run schools, but now that a beginning has been made, hopefully it will not be long before the winds of change reach millions more of Muslim women, not only in the Gulf but also elsewhere. In fact, the welcome winds already have started gaining strength, with Saudi Arabia soon likely to throw its football stadiums open to women fans of the world’s most popular sport. The country will be host to the Asian Cup in 2019, and the rules of the Asian Football Confederation require women not be kept out of the stadiums.
Many had seen the change coming when an unknown Saudi Arabian girl, Dalma Malhas, won a show-jumping bronze medal in the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010, with President Jacques Rogge of the International Olympic Committee exclaiming that Ms Malhas’ achievement made the IOC “absolutely happy.” The girl was not an official Saudi Arabian entry. She had entered the Singapore Games at her own expense.
The Olympic charter states that “the practice of sport is a human right” and that any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on ground of race, religion, politics, and gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement. To be part of it, a country should include women athletes in its Olympic contingents. Not only Saudi Arabia, Brunei also sent women athletes to London for the first time.
As for this matter of the shariah dress code which requires women to be covered up, the views of the orthodox are being increasingly accommodated. The international weightlifting federation decided to alter their rules to allow Muslim athletes to compete in the London Olympics with their arms and legs covered, with Khadeja Mohammad, 17, of the United Arab Emirates being the first to do so. Even FIFA, the world soccer federation, has changed its dress rules so that Muslim women may play with their heads covered in hijabs. In fact, innovative fashion designers are applying their minds to create playing kits to meet the religious requirements of orthodox Muslim women.
Come to think of it, there were cases of Muslim women athletes winning Olympic gold medals a few decades ago without wearing a hijab or covering their arms and legs. The most celebrated of these great athletes is Nawal el Moutwakil, who won the gold medal in the 400 metres hurdles the first time the event was introduced for women in the 1984 Olympics at Los Angeles. Our own PT Usha missed the bronze medal by a hundredth of a second in the famous race. Nawal ran in the Moroccan colours of green singlet and red shorts. No one in the packed Los Angeles Coliseum cared what kind of dress she wore or which religion she belonged to. All that they cared for was how well she ran and how smoothly she sailed over the hurdles. Inducted to the Hall of Fame years later, she now heads IOC’s coordinating committee for the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro.
In the 1990s there was middle-distance runner Hassiba Boulmerka, who won the 1500 metres in the 1991 World Championships before picking up the gold medal in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. An Algerian Muslim, Boulmerka too ran in sleeveless vest and shorts like any other woman. Like El Moutwakil, Boulmerka went on play her part in IOC’s affairs. To revive recent memory, there were a couple of Muslim Kazakh women, namely Maiya Maneza and Zulfiya Chinshanio, who won weightlifting gold medals without drawing any notice to the dress they wore on the stage in london.
Away from the Olympic arenas, Muslim women have emerged in games like soccer, Fatima Bajramaj being a star midfielder in German women’s league. Sania Mirza, leading player in Indian women’s tennis, has met with disapproval from Muslim clergy of the country, but that has not stopped her from making a name for herself in the sport of her choice.
With Saudi Arabia changing its rigid stand, there is hope that more and more girls from the Islamic world will be seen on the playing fields and physical education classes. The Saudi kingdom has a special place in the Islamic world.
This writer knows of a girl who leaves home for school all covered up, but takes off her burqa once she is there, attending classes like all other girls. After school and sports, she covers herself up again on nearing her village home. A time will come when she may no longer have to do so. Literate enough to read newspapers in her school library, she must now be inspiringly aware that a certain Raha Muharrak created history on May 17, 2013 when she became the first woman from Saudi Arabia to climb Mount Everest, the ultimate achievement for any mountain climber. “I don’t care about being the first so long as it inspires someone to be the second, ” said the 25-year-old from Jeddah. Convincing Ms Muharrak’s family to let her climb was as a great a challenge as the mountain itself. Now they are fully supportive.
In fact, a second Muslim female has already repeated Raha’s feat, though she may not belong to Saudi Arabia. All Pakistan was thrilled when Samina Baig, 21, from the village of Shimshal in the Karakoram Range, reached the world’s highest peak with her brother Mirza Ali, 29. She remarked that together they had promoted gender equality.
STILL WOMEN SUFFER :
943 WOMEN ‘KILLED FOR HONOUR’ IN 2011: HRCP Staff Report (Daily Times March 23, 2012)
Violence against women is increasing in Pakistan as at least 943 women were killed in the name of honour in 2011, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s (HRCP) annual report.
Of the 943, 93 victims were minors, seven Christian and two Hindu women, said the report, and titled ‘State of Human Rights in 2011’.
It said that around 4,500 cases of domestic violence against women were reported. The country’s first woman ombudsperson was appointed to receive and examine complaints of sexual harassment and other grievances, it said, adding that the provisions of Sexual Harassment Act had not been implemented by many ministries. “Only three hospitals nationwide had adopted the law.”
The report indicates that 1,715 people were killed in sudden flare-ups of violence in Karachi. Crime remained rampant while poor investigative methods prevented bringing criminals to justice. In cases of extra-judicial killings, 517 people were killed in drone attacks, 337 in police encounters and 173 people were abducted and murdered in Balochistan.
At least 2,307 people were killed and 4,341 injured in terrorist raids, including suicide and sectarian attacks.
The report said that an overwhelming majority of nearly 78,000 people being held in Pakistani prisons were under trial. Some 92 inmates died in prisons across the country in 2011. The plight of Pakistani and Indian fishermen detained and jailed for fishing in the other country’s waters continued, it said, adding that 313 people were sentenced to death by various courts in 2011, including six women.
The HRCP also verified 62 new cases of enforced disappearance, 35 of these disappearances occurred in Balochistan and 20 in Sindh. Bodies of 173 victims of enforced disappearance were also recovered in Balochistan.
According to the report, military operations and actions of terrorists prevented citizens from venturing into large parts of the country. “Ethnic, sectarian and political violence and crime feuds made parts of Karachi no-go zones for a large section of the population,” it said.
Despite official claims of putting in practice the rules for regulating the Exit Control List, arbitrary restrictions on travel were reported. Excessive delays in issuance of passports proved a hindrance for those who wished to go abroad.
It said 600 clerics were barred from various districts during Muharram in a bid to prevent sectarian tensions. The population of Kurram Agency remained besieged amid regular attacks by terrorists on the road connecting the region to the rest of the country.
The report said 389 people were killed and 601 injured in incidents of violence against various Muslim sects in 2011. More than 100 Hazara Shias were killed in targeted attacks in Balochistan and a large number were reported to be fleeing the province. At least six Ahmadis were murdered in target killings on account of their faith. The Hindu community’s concerns over the abduction and subsequent forced conversion of girls and young women were not addressed. At least eight people were booked under the blasphemy law. Another three were given capital punishment under that law.
In flood-affected households, many children were pushed into hazardous labour or beggary because of a lack of any means of sustenance. As a result of floods, nearly 500,000 children under the age of five were at risk of contracting serious diseases. Chronic malnutrition among children in Punjab increased to 39% in 2011 from 32.5% in 2001. In Sindh, 17.5% children of under-five suffered from acute malnutrition, and nearly 7% were severely malnourished.
According to HRCP, 15.1% children in the country faced absolute food scarcity. Infant mortality rate was 63.3 deaths per 1,000 births. The under-five mortality rate was 89 deaths per 1,000 children.
About education, the report said that at least 33% children were believed to be out of school, and drop-out rate from primary to secondary schooling was nearly 50%. It added 542 primary schools for boys and 108 schools for girls were dysfunctional in FATA due to threats by terrorists. Only 16% rural women in Sindh completed primary schooling and only eight women did so in Balochistan.
According to the report, 1.5 million houses in Sindh and over 7,000 houses in Balochistan were destroyed or damaged during the floods in 2011. Some 12,279 houses were destroyed or damaged in the militancy-hit Bajaur and Mohmand districts of FATA. At least 137 people were killed and 291 injured in the collapse of poorly constructed and maintained structures.
The report said that 16 journalists were killed in the country in 2011. In addition to the considerable risks, journalists often had to contend with non-payment of their salaries for months and sudden retrenchment without any severance pay.