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Published in the 16-28 Feb 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition


Women — two attitudes 

The Milli Gazette Online

Recently a photograph of a woman wearing a bindi with a caption caught my eye; “A Taslima Nasreen could not have been born or have become(one) in any South Asian country other than Bangladesh, especially not in India. India would never have produced (such) a Muslim Woman”(unquote). This lady, Lubna Marium, a Bangladeshi dancer, writer and ICCR fellow in India, prides herself on this fact. She feels that the Indian woman has no voice, and when asked by the reputed paper's reporter as to what should be done for the Indian Muslim woman, she answered, “Take her to Bangladesh and show her the women there, or give her a voice so that she can speak out without fear”(unquote). One may well squirm and see her attitude and words but one is also acutely conscious of the fact that the media is so gleefully happy to catch such ‘copy’ for their paper. Like the Devil who quoted the scriptures in the Biblical story of the testing of Jesus, we have here this lady constantly invoking the Qur’an for her theories. About the burka she says that it is not "mandated (sic) in the Koran" whatever that means, it is merely the interpretation of the mullahs says Lubna Marium. In recent times we have had quite a few instances in which the senses have been shocked and the eye lowered in shame at the behaviour of our sisters. If the majority of us have been outraged at the turn-around by Zahira Sheikh, there have been one or two voices of sympathy which urged the powers and the community to give her support and let her speak without fear. I feel baffled as to how a climate of absolute safety be ever created in a multiracial, multireligious society? Tagore dreamed of a country ‘where the mind is without fear’. It is ultimately the country of our own minds, our inner souls. If we study the acts of bravery in history we know that there was no outside agency that provided courage. It came from within. And courage is always founded on belief, pure, sure, strong belief. So, what fear are we talking about here? What fear does the Indian Muslim woman have in speaking her mind if she is speaking the truth and with Iman? Nothing that I can think of. The only fear that is of the most primal nature is the fear of death. Perhaps that may be Zahira's fear. But if one believes that death is in the hands of the Creator only and will come when He wills, then we subsume that fear even in the will of God. 

It is a lamentable and sad fact that those who cause the most grievous injury to Islam are the half-informed ones and those who put their self, their desires, before the will of the Almighty. The desire for fame, wealth leads them to flaunt themselves, to draw attention to their ‘beauty’ which is behind the desire to avoid the hijab, and behind every attempt to raise voices in rebellion against basic Islamic rules is a gratification of the self. I hasten to add that my intention is not to deride those ladies who have fought for their rights, not at all. Their efforts have been praiseworthy. But it is extremely irksome to read the comments of the likes of Lubna Marium, and my brief article is focused primarily on the 'copy' that she provided to a reputed, large circulating paper.

Nishat A. Hussaini, Gulbarga 

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