Thursday, 7 May 2009

Women and Islam

I thought I ought to draw attention to this article in the Independent by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown with the title "Who'd be female under Islamic Law?".

She says "I am the kind of Muslim woman who maddens reactionary Muslim men and their asinine female followers." and "Female oppression in Islamic countries is manifestly getting worse. Islam, as practiced by millions today, has lost its compassion and integrity and is entering one of the darkest of dark ages." She lists a series of unbearable stories of the unjust treatment of women in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

She concludes: "Disgracefully, there are always vocal Muslim women who seek to justify honour killings, forced marriages, inequality, polygamy and childhood betrothals. Why are large numbers of Muslim men so terrorised by the female body and spirit? Why do Muslim women encourage this savage paranoia? / I look out of my study at the common and see a wife fully burkaed on a sunny day. She sits still. Her children and husband run around, laughing, playing cricket. She sits still, dead, buried, a ghost. She is complicit in her own degradation, as are countless others. Their acquiescence in a free democracy is a crime against their sisters who have no such choices in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere."

This needs to be said by more influential Muslim women. Seeing women in burkas, head to toe in black, with their faces covered, and sometimes also the eyes, was the greatest shock I had when I moved to Leicester ten years ago. I wrote about it to the press, but as an English male I could have little influence. I've not seen this in Hastings yet, fortunately. It is the outward symbol of much more and much worse.

1 comment:

  1. Hi George,

    Islam never treated men and women as equal. The holy Quran sanctions upto four wives at a time. Prophet Mohammad had over a dozen wives (their exact number is controversial even to muslim theologicians), the youngest being 9 years old.

    No religion treats men and women equal because all religins were founded by men. Later, reformers brought some change. Problem with Islam is that it considers holy Quran as infalliable and any one who denies it or casts doubts on the deeds of Mohammad is not tolerated. This was true not only in middle ages but is true even now. (Just see the plight of Tasleema Nasreen, Salman Rushdie and many others). Can anyone name a single reformer in Islam?

    Burka covers not only the head but even the mind of muslim women. Only a modern secular education can bring change. We Indians are grateful to Lord William Bentinck for bringing an end to Sati system among Hindus in the year 1829. Alas, no one is of that caliber now!

    Awani Kumar