ISLAM AND FEMINISM

This is a guest post by Miss Shabina Shafi

 

The word “Islam” means submitting to the will of God. Islam is a religion that promotes peace and harmony in every sphere of life. It is a way of life for every Muslim, and its teachings are based on the foundations of “balance”. Before engaging in the discussion of Islam and feminism, it is important to refer to the sources of the Islamic tradition, as there is a lot of confusion regarding the term “Islam”. Islam like other major religions does not derive from a single source. To understand it completely one has to refer to more than one or all of the following sources to derive information: The Quran (the Holy book of Muslims), Sunnah (the acts and practices of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh), hadith (the sayings of Prophet Muhammad), fiqh (jurisprudence) and Shariah (the code and conduct of muslim life).

Islamic feminism is a form of feminism that is concerned with the role of women in Islam. Its main purpose is to promote complete equality of all the Muslims, in public as well as their private life, and irrespective of their gender. Islamic feminists promote women’s rights, social justice and gender equality that are firmly grounded in an Islamic framework. Even though they are embedded in an Islamic system, the feminist movement’s pioneers have also used secular and European, or in other words Non-Muslim feminist dialogues to establish the role of Islamic feminism as a part of a combined global feminist movement.

As far as the question of equality between men and women from an Islamic perspective is concerned, discussing it makes no sense. It’s just like comparing a rose and a jasmine. Both have their distinct perfume, color, beauty and shape. Both are special in their own way. Similarly, men and women are not the same; each has its own special features and characteristics. “Women are not equal to men, neither are men equal to women”. Both have been assigned certain rights and duties that go with their nature and constitution.

Man enjoys certain privileges like social authority and freedom, but in order to enjoy these, he has to perform various heavy duties. It is his prime responsibility to support his family even if his wife possesses great wealth. A man has to support his whole family and sometimes close relatives as well. A woman on the other does not have to worry about these financial obligations. There is always a family structure where she can take refuge from all the social and economic pressures. But in return of these privileges, she also has many responsibilities, of which the most important is to provide a home for her family and bring her children up properly. Therefore, the Shariah encourages the roles of men and women being complementary rather than competitive. The Muslim men and women who are able to shoulder their responsibilities well and create a well knit family are responsible for creating a strong Muslim society.

The verse in the Holy Quran clearly says that men and women are created from one single self, to act as each other’s guides and fulfill the mutual obligation of “enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong”.

 

The Moral corruption and social degradation is at its all time high today. Feminist approach degrades humans lower than animals. The feminists wish to eliminate all those characteristics that make man “Human” and weaken the foundation of all his social ties and kinship. The outcome of this would be “suicide”, not only of some people but of the entire humanity.

Feminism is an unnatural, abnormal and artificial outcome of present social disintegration, which is an unavoidable result of the rejection of all moral and spiritual values. It results in the collapse of home and family, loss of authority of the father and ultimately results in the fall of the nation. A uni-sex society, as proposed by feminists constitutes a society that makes no social or cultural differentiation between males and females, a society that claims women’s so called “Liberation”, a society without marriage, home or family, where motherhood, modesty and chastity are rebuked, does not represent “progress” but worst kind of degradation. The end result being: pure confusion, anarchy and absolute chaos.

A majority of feminist movements in the Muslim world are about protecting women from some practices and empowering them. But, what they miss is that they are already FREE. The un-Islamic societies have created this illusion. Feminism is a revolutionary idea that demands choices in women’s rights to be recognized. And more importantly, the choices that they make hold true value within the society. Feminism is rather about improving the quality of people’s lives, rather than continuously challenging the theoretical models. Voices should be raised against inhuman treatment against women, not against simple social inequalities that are justified quite well in Islam.

 

The Author is an Engineering Graduate with Masters in Business Administration and Teaches management at one of the colleges in J&K 

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What is In the Name

This is a guest post by Mr Subhajit Mishra

I always thought that we all have got name attached to us for an unique identity. Well, I do understand that it also has got the love & affection (and what not!) of the parents. The exercise that has gone into it. The amount of time spent on finding & thinking about it. Then the process of shortlisting, final rounds of filtering and then zeroing in on ‘the’ one. We are so very meticulous in handling this particular exercise.

 

But then starts the real humour, the moment we start calling a new born by the given (read ‘assigned’) name, people start moulding it their convenience. For example, a certain Rajeev becomes ‘Raj’ or ‘Raju’ or may be just ‘Ra’. By the time the same person becomes a complete grown up, he does not even care about the relevance of his name, forget about the effort (however nonsensical it is). And then it all boils down to the same old thing: What’s there in a name!

 

But all over the world, especially in our parts of it, we do not find the name complete without a surname or a last name. The name remains incomplete without it. Only difference here is, no one struggles for the surname as it is a part of the legacy of the family (depending upon the religion/caste/sub-caste, the last name is decided). And here starts the whole thing about this ‘name-game’, as I call it. I still remember a line: Hum Apne Naam Mein Mazhab Dhoondne Lagte Hain (We start finding ‘religion’ in our names). The whole identity of a person gets hijacked by his surname. The entire image of a person gets stolen in a moment with his last name. An entire community is blamed for someone’s wrong-doing due to their last names.

Is there a possibility of a world where we can just identify each other with things we can relate to! Can we stop finding out the religion in it! Can we stop judging people based on their caste! Can we stop having pre-conceived notions about people from a similar creed! We can actually understand & value the true meaning of ‘democracy’ if we do not indulge in such acts. I am not preaching any sermon on religious sentiments but isn’t it true that all are our mindsets have reached a level where we will raise an eyebrows to a ‘Mishra’ in Mumbai, a ‘Louvam’ in Bangalore or Delhi, a ‘Khan’ in US, a ‘Singh’ in Germany, a ‘Malhotra’ in Australia and so on?

Believe me; I have laughed loudly, smiled meaningfully & gleefully with my friends while I grew up without even thinking once what their name stands for. But then when I come across situations where my surroundings forced me to think otherwise, it struck to me. I asked myself and others as to why I need to treat different people in different ways. I respect the emotions that goes in while naming someone, I also value the sentiments attached to it. What bothers me is the way we treat them without even knowing or understanding them. And the end result is: violence, riots, feeling of insecurity, humiliation. All these amounts of national embarrassment and it question the very meaning of democracy itself. A world without borders & notions defined by names would be a world to live in. Or is that too much to ask for!!!

The author is a Mumbai based HR Professional and can be reached at @Subhajitm

What happens in Kashmir does not stay in Kashmir

This is guest post by Miss Manpreet Kaur Dhupia

A recollection of pictures, words, lyrics and poetry lingered throughout that one hour ten minutes flight; vivid and vivacious. These were not born out of my own physical touch or senses but were deep ingrained in thoughts by dictates of people around me. I knew there is a Shalimar Bagh, I knew there is a Dal Lake, I knew there is a Shikara, I knew there is an ethereal feeling; I had sensed it time and again, whenever anybody spoke about the land of valleys and snow. What I did not know was that the recollections would not give justice to what I was about to experience in the next two days.

Kashmir, my destination of dreams and long sustained wait.

A message from an office collegue sums up the entire gamut of expectations that build up when one steps on this land and of feelings that hold you for the rest of your life- “Welcome to Heaven”. A little laugh followed that reading and a big smile follows every memory of the place now.

“Are these houses? Do people really live here?” came the question when the drive from Srinagar airport to hotel showcased a series of wooden structures that exuded elegance and craftsmanship “Yes, we Kashmiris spend our lives on two things- food and building a house.” The statement was very generic but the pride which reflected was singular. The geography of the land insists wooded structures but for people who have grown up in the “flat and society building culture” it meant a feeling inexperienced. The structure of roads, of shops, of lanes , of people , of clothes –everything made me feel distant from the world that I left behind for sometime but so very close to the calmness and peace that the same world I left behind never gave me.

“Please do not venture out alone, it wont be safe. Call somebody to take you to wherever you have to go”. Words of wisdom that were shooted when I told people about my upcoming trip to Kashmir. Were the words wise? Yes , considering the disturbances that have engulfed the area. Were the words true? Not at all. Rickshaw rides on the unknown lanes were of a so called “disturbed area” were my little tribute to Zindagi Na Milegi Dubara spirit in my life!

Dont understand what was Shammi Kapoor praising more when he sung the most romantic Hindi movie song ever- ” Tarif karun kya uski jisne tumhe banaya”- beautiful Sharmila Tagore or the locale behind her; the locale of Dal Lake. If any character of Harry Potter wants to put his/her friend or foe on a stationery mode then why waste a charm or spell, that person should be brought here- the beauty and aura that surrounds the lake would just “stone” him/her. The movements that become out of water when Shikara passes through it are lyrical! One cannot just miss the serenity that suddenly surrounds you. The shopping in water was interesting, the tea break during the ride was refreshing and the sight of mountain range in the background was breathtaking. Did I feel the chaos of Delhi? No, did I feel the stampede of Delhi? No, did I feel the brashness of Delhi? No. Not a single moment spent in that calm reminded me of anything that I brace myself up to every minute of my life everyday.

Sopore, a small quiet town on the outskirts of Srinagar and on way to Baramullah. The orchids of apple and plums that are indigenous to the town made me feel the true sense of the word “flora”. They are your connection to a world unknown to city life- a world of natural food and trees. I will always fall short of words to describe the wonderful hospitality that embraced me that day. The love showered by the family was unconditional. My heartfelt thanks and respect to that family and all the other Kashmiri families who I know treat their guests in the same manner. One thing, did I see the efforts and preparations that went into making a guest comfortable and laying out the table for people? Yes, and trust me for the first time in my life I agreed and accepted that there are people who could beat Punjabis in hospitality!

The last day in the heavenly land saw me tagging behind my friend to have the fastest and largest tour of any city ever. Five hours down and I could beat any localite in describing the insides of University and four Mughal gardens. History lessons of school reappeared everytime a Mughal garden was explored. Shamilar, Nishat, Chama Shahi and Pari Mahal enthralled me to the core. God bless Mughals for giving these to us.

What was the most stand out thing I saw in Srinagar? Houses or Valleys/Mountains or People. Yes they were definitely charming and beautiful but what was most striking was the sense of reality that hit whenever I stepped out. No doubt a trip to Kashmir takes a person away from the madness of city life but one cannot ignore that Srinagar or any other city in Kashmir is just like any city in the country. I walked around the place alone and independently- nobody kidnapped me. It took my friend 1 hour to cover a distance of 30 mns- there was traffic jam in Srinagar (mild one though). I stepped over people and got stepped over too by them while walking on the lane beside DalLake- there were people all around the area-South Indians, Punjabis, Gujratis. I roamed around in Lal Chowk- no bomb exploded there. It was as real as leading a normal life in any town or city or megacity. The simplicity and beauty of Kashmiris and Kashmir distinguishes it from the crowd but Kashmiris and Kashmir are as true and real as are Delhites and Delhi or Mumbaikars and Mumbai. The stories of Kashmir made me wish for a trip to the place but the lores heard always described it as a land far out of reach and too ethereal to exist. It is true in terms of the blessings of nature that you see around but is untrue in terms of the experiences of everyday life and people that you get there.

A recollection of pictures, words, lyrics and poetry lingered throughout that one hour ten minutes flight; vivid and vivacious. This time the flight was taking me back to the crowded life but the recollections were born out of my own physical touch and senses, routed deep inside my heart and mind for ever. Proving a proverb incorrect, “What happens in Kashmir, doesn’t stay in Kashmir”.

The author is a Dehli based HR Professional and can be reached at @rimman