Ayesha Hareem, New Age Islam
Since I landed in Delhi for
pursuing education, on my teachers’ advice, I started seeing The Hindu
newspaper. It is generally appreciated and liked by those who have got a good
taste for issue based, unbiased and courageous articles, editorials, and
reporting. All this while one has also been seeing the waxing and waning of the
paper’s quality. Sometimes it goes one notch up, and in the next moment it
slips down to its original position. The appointment of Siddharth Vardarajan as
its editor was no doubt one of the glorious phases in the history of The Hindu.
During the parliamentary election 2014, it was no brainer to get the point that
this national daily got slanted towards right wing political agendas.
One of the people in the
Hindu’s coterie that one usually likes and admires is Ziya Us Salam. His
precise and incisive film critiques, features on cinema, and other write-ups
are simply awesome. Of late one came across his review of Noor Zaheer’s book,
‘Denied by Allah’ (April 24, 2015). The treatment that the book has got is
highly problematic at the first sight. Ziya’s piece has titled it ‘heresy by
hearsay’! This is utterly disgusting. Any book can have flaws, factual as well
as others. To err is, of course, human.
By reading the review one would
ask Ziya—as he has asked to Noor— to stick to writing film critiques, and
features on theatres. One gets an impression that he is also trying to enter
into the uninitiated terrain. Here, it is the realm of social science, sir. And
Noor’s book engages with the ideas of justice, freedom and rights that have
been denied by society and its custodians to women. These struggles can never
be understood and comprehended by those who are trying to find them in the
scriptures of any religion. Given the sensitivity of the contemporary world one
simply cannot deny the rights of oppressed and marginalised. I have not read
the book but still one would trust Ziya’s credibility that Noor, the ‘impulsive
fiction writer’, has contradicted herself in quoting the appropriate verses
from the Quran. Does this mean that there is no predicament of Muslim women out
there? Why do we not want these issues to slip in the public realm? The
community’s image is at stake?
Our beloved film critic advises
Noor to read Surah Baqarah for getting herself enlightened on the particular
issue of Adam and Eve. Agreed! A simple question: Do Muslims look up for
everything in the Quran? What about the Islamic canon? The story of Eve seducing Adam is not in the
holy book but still one finds such stuffs in the exegeses of the Quran. Do not
the explanations of the book and a good number of apocryphal stories that make
rounds in the Muslim households have an umbilical relationship with the Bible.
There is nothing much in the Quran on Prophets—Joseph, Noah, Moses and others,
however, still we know a good deal about them from books like Qasas-un-Nabeeyeen (The stories of
prophets) and a string of such books. Noor might have mistakenly referred this
instance to the Quran which does not necessarily mean that such a thing does
not exist in the community’s memory. Husbands are considered as Majaziy-e-Khoda
(next to God!) Women are usually considered Naqis-Ul-Aql (impoverished
in wisdom) and inferior because of Eve’s birth from Adam’s rib! And all such
things circulate in the community’s alleys.
Is the issue of triple Talaq
that simple, Mr Ziya? Do I need to tell a person of your stature, sir, that the
pronouncement of triple Talaq in ‘one go’ or ‘at fixed interval’ is a highly
contentious issue among Ulema? Different schools of jurisprudence have their
own versions of truth, and there is no consensus on this thorny issue. The
complex and complicated issue of Halala
is not that simple that the write-up purports it to be. I do not think that our
beloved feature writer needs to know the wide difference between ‘living/lived’
Islam and ‘Scriptural Islam’. To know Halala and what it does to women who
suffer from it, one needs to visit Mau Nath Bhanjan in U.P., and talk to a few
women [hardly anyone would talk about it]. Though this is not rampant but still
this practice exists in the community. One ought not to justify or disprove the
happenings around us from scriptures.
All those rights and equalities
that the write-up enumerates in the second last paragraph are there. No doubt
in that. Point taken! A few more questions: What about the fact that the Quran
allot females half the inheritance of sons? The holy book also decrees that the
testimony of a woman in a court of law is worth half that of a man’s. There is
certainly one verse in the Quran, though a string is also attached to it that
exhorts men to rough up their wives. The power that the scripture gives to men
in pronouncing Talaq to his wife without a Quazi, which is not the case the
other way around, itself tells the unequal power relations between the two
genders. We are fully aware of the (mis)use of this power! I hope this is not
‘heresy by hearsay’?
One cannot simply deny the
rights of women by scoring brownie points over others quoting superficial and
irrelevant stuffs that the write-up is trying to point to. In fact, we used to
do this childish nonsense during our school days for foisting the flag of
Islam’s triumphalism over our Hindu and Christian friends. That was really
childish! We all have come of age after studying humanities and social
sciences. This is certainly an age of ‘Islam bashing’, and in the current times
one should be very cautious in speaking one’s mind as there are two blocs that
would not allow anybody in getting the heart of the matter. Academics,
journalists, activists, students and others should steer clear of the two
blocs, that is, ‘Threat to Islam’ and ‘Threat of Islam’. The former is guarded
by Muslim fundamentalists while the latter belongs to the right wingers. The
motions of these two blocs are always circular, and the centripetal force is so
strong that one cannot resist the temptation of joining either of them.
The Urdu poetry has the
tradition of complaining to God. And poets have often taken recourse to this
medium for venting their pent up emotions. Mir, Ghalib and Iqbal are the most
famous ones. Besides, there are scores of poets. Iqbal’s ‘Shikwah’ (Complaint)
is very famous. ‘Denied by Allah’, to my mind, is an attempt in that direction,
in spite of being a work of non-fiction. Speaking on God’s behalf, as
fundamentalists usually do, is heresy or blasphemy? I do not have an answer as
this is not my area of expertise. Ask Mr Ziya Us Salam, please! The religious
fanatics who were present at the book launch had accepted that that they did
not study the book. Well, this should have come in The Hindu titled ‘Blasphemy
by hearsay’! Right?
Instead of critiquing,
branding, and engaging in a polemical battle with those who dare to question
inequalities, injustices and oppressions masked in the name of religion, I
think, we should take such criticism in our stride, and think hard about the
problem at hand. Are these women raving mad? Have they taken leave of their
senses? Of course not. Such women are few and far between. In actuality, women
of the community are still lagging behind in the dissent department and they
need to catch up with it.
After going through the Ziya’s
piece twice I asked myself: Is he the same Ziya Us Salam that I have been
reading for almost a decade? What is wrong with him? What went wrong? Does he
want to incite religious zealots by spotting the author’s mistake as ‘heresy by
hearsay’? No! No! He is a nice chap. Wordsmiths usually indulge in
exaggeration! I was born and brought up in a traditional Muslim family where
the ideal was not to engage in exchanging obscenities when one is not getting
your point. We used to say: ‘Salam! Excuse me’. In that spirit, I would say to
our bright journalist: ‘Salam! Maulana Ziya Us Salam. You are dear to me but
dearer still is truth. Excuse me’.
Zulmat ko Ziya,
Sir Sir Ko Saba,
Bande Ko Khoda,
Kya Likhna !
PS: I am a believing and a
Based On Hearsay
Hareem is doing her graduation from Miranda House, Delhi University. She is
also attached with an NGO that works for the empowerment of women.
Agree with the piece.
And when these problems exist in muslim society then why not question. We can't deny the injustices at every level in our society.
And 'allama' iqbal's shikwah and jawab e shikwah is an act of blasphemy by 'judging' it from the parameter of religious fanatics. Still his ideas cannot be questioned. As if he is prophet, nauzubillah.
Ms. Ayesha Hareem, i think replying to comments of people like naseer is a waste of time and energy. They are poorly educated mind. I can't do anything for them but for the sake of humanity, i will pray for their well being of mind.
Dear All, Please stop this non-productive discussions. you so called mature and leaned people engaging this kind of blame-game is really very disgusting. the real issue is being ignored and forgot by you so called reformers of Islam and started throwing mud at one another. aap logon par ek sher yaad arha hai....
ghair mumkin hai ke suljhe guthhi halat ki, ahle danish ne bahut soch kar uljhayi hai...
after seening the pathetic condition of progressive muslim, one can imagine the what whuld be sitation with orthodox muslim and ulemas.
Mr Shahin on the need for maintaining anonymity and on the inadvisabilty of my releasing my name and photograph.
Will he however stop his bloodhound from posting his nonsensical identity related comments?
4/1/2015 3:47:04 PM Sultan Shahin
The way things are developing in India, I think, my Foundation will have to come up with another urgent project. As graveyards and namaze-janaza are closing down for progressive, cultural Muslims who are not what is called "practicing" Muslims, praying five times a day, acquiring a black mark on their forehead by the time they reach the graveyard, an arrangement will have to be made for separate graveyards for what are called in the community dahriya musalmans.
Fear of Islam has been growing among Muslims who have opinions even slightly varying from the madrasawala.
The equation is a multitude of unthinking, irrational, madrasawala versus one thinking, rational Muslim. Will his rationality save him/her. It couldn't save Masum Akhtar of West Bengal and Washiqur Rahman of Bangladesh. Of course, it couldn't save American/Bangladeshi/Avijeet. Maybe Poor Avijeet had been writing with a pseudonym of Secular-Democracy or Logic or hats off, he would be alive today. And at such a time, Observer Saheb has outed his name and sent us his pictures too. I had stopped asking him to do so and stopped using his name along with Observer in my own comments too. After Avijeet's assassination, it had become necessary to keep rationality under wraps.
What are my chances of survival? God, of course, is the final arbiter. But on earth my two maulana interlocutors have told me that they consider me kafir but not gabil-e-gardanzadni (worthy of the honour of beheading) yet, Why? Because I am a kafir only by virtue of not calling Ahmadiyas kafir. That's all, there is no specific charge against my conduct. But there is a warning, coming from someone who was a friend 30 years ago. I don't know who he is but for old time's sake, he will not get me killed, until, yes, there is a condition, until, I confine my work to websites and books, magazines, etc. If I start going out in the field, talking to Muslims, showing them what I consider the right path, I would have crossed a red line and then I am on my own or on the mercy of those who think they decide our fates on the ground, without permission from God.
Listener, You are so obsessed with Naseer comments that you have no time to “Read,” any other comments. If you scroll down, you will notice that I requested the readers to read “Respect For Women,” by visiting the blog www.myfellowmuslims.com. Listen up. I know what this thread is about.
All you need to do is to pay attention and not get carried away with the false theory of the Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde whom you have long admired. The only lost cause on this forum is Naseer. Have a good day, Mr. Whoever.
Listener, Are you suggesting that we should not mention any names of our learned Muslims who are no longer with us on this Planet Earth? What ideas should we be concerned about without giving any reference to who said what to whom?
The idea of abusing fellow Muslims and then turning a blind eye! How long are we going to continue on with our “Ghetto Thinking”? One need not look any further then to reflect at the rebuttals of Naseer Ahmed. Now, I know that based upon your thought process, his triple characters should not be our concern, but only his ideas. Let’s presume that we all agree with you. Now you tell me which one of the three hidden personalities the ideas will belong to? Please be kind enough to honestly let me know. I am curious to learn from you about your own ideas given that you also prefer to remain as an anonymous personality on this forum. Imagine, what kind of mindset we are dealing with! “Hide & Seek” and nothing else, Mr. Whoever???????
Dear Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia Sahib - As-Salaamalaikum.
I do not recall ever using your name in any of my comments here. Yet you say so many things about me just because you feel I am siding with Naseer Sahib. You are entitled to your opinions and I see no need to defend myself on that account.
Regarding the screen name I assumed here, let me tell you I wanted the name to reflect something which I wish all of us possess i.e. listen more and talk less. Is there not a hadith with says, the tongue will be the major reason of going to hell. The other reason is that I am a nobody and to remain like that. I am not seeking name or fame here. You can believe that or let your imagination take you where it wants.