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Debating Islam (26 May 2015 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Salam! Maulana Ziya Us Salam: Noor Zaheer's Book Linking Halala, Triple Talaq and Gender Injustice in Muslim Societies to Islamic Theology Creates Controversy

By Ayesha Hareem, New Age Islam

26 May, 2015

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 practising Muslim.

Related Article:

Heresy Based On Hearsay


Ayesha Hareem is doing her graduation from Miranda House, Delhi University. She is also attached with an NGO that works for the empowerment of women.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/debating-islam/ayesha-hareem,-new-age-islam/salam!-maulana-ziya-us-salam--noor-zaheer-s-book-linking-halala,-triple-talaq-and-gender-injustice-in-muslim-societies-to-islamic-theology-creates-controversy/d/103152


  • Siraj wrote as follows, “There were about 10 others who jumped in offering their support to the lady and none who spoke for Mr Naseer except Listener. Mr Naseer did not respond to any of those 10.” Good to know that Listener, whether he or she, (we don’t know), but all I know is that Listener did not even bothered to comment back when I wrote to him, “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. By Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia - 5/31/2015 12:50:27 AM
    By Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia - 6/5/2015 12:55:55 PM

  • 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.

    By Ahmed - 6/1/2015 2:44:46 AM

  • 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. khair. Allah hafiz

    By Mohd Rizwan - 6/1/2015 2:23:36 AM

  • 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. View Article

    By Naseer Ahmed - 5/31/2015 1:59:47 AM

  • 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.

    By Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia - 5/31/2015 12:50:27 AM

  • Mr Mohahammed Rafiq Lodiha Sahib, This thread is about status of Women in Islam. That seems to be a lost cause here. Thanks for engaging with me and I wish you all the best in your endeavours.
    By Listener - 5/30/2015 11:21:21 PM

  • 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???????

    By Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia - 5/30/2015 11:02:58 PM

  • Dear Rafiq Lodiha Sahbib: Following is from the Editor of NAI : By Sultan Shahin - 5/30/2015 7:28:52 AM As for personalities, I agree with you that we should be concerned with ideas and not personalities, even identities in the age of Internet. However, I agree that personalities, identities should have no place in discussions.
    By Listener - 5/30/2015 10:46:46 PM

  • Dear Listener, As-Salaam Alay-Kum. First of all, I only questioned your “Wisdom,” when I read all the praise of Naseer Ahmed. No one is asking you to defend anything, I was merely trying to question you as to why the most celebrated commentator of New Age Islam forum simply evade tough questions. You say, listen more and talk less. What about “Reading”? It seems like you are also following Naseer Ahmed Saheb’s selectively reading of comments? May be you also endorse his abusive language to anyone who question his intelligence. Now, let’s not give the so-called Qur’an expert a pass for being rude and nasty.

     Seeking name or fame is nothing to do with this forum. It is always appreciated whenever a commentator reveals his true identity. My parents taught me to be honest about everything, even my own name that was given to me. Why do we the Muslims have to hide our names given by our beloved parents? Unless, we are ashamed to be known, or may be, the society in which the person lives in, will raise questions about their comments which gets posted on New Age Islam forum. 

     There has to be some valid reason for a Muslim to hide their own good names. We all know how the “Jihadis” cover their face like women, and go on a killing spree. Hell, the readers cannot even know whether “Listener,” is a man or a woman. Now, my humble suggestion is to read through some of the Hadiths and find out as to where the Prophet of Islam instructed Muslims to hide their names. Is that too much to ask, Mr. or Mrs. Listener?

    By Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia - 5/30/2015 10:32:44 PM

  • 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.

    By Listener - 5/30/2015 9:33:06 PM

  • Naseer Ahmed, Recall my comment on May 30, 2014. What has changed? Absolutely nothing. Now, you know as to why I am asking you to grow up. Your low level of maturity only proves as to why you resort to abuses. Now, read my comment to your other half, that is, Naseer Ahmed Saheb, There you again! 

     Why are you running away from enlightening all the readers on “New Age Islam” forum about the teachings of Maulana Maududi? 

     If you endorse Maududi’s teachings, then kindly express your viewpoint. No point in beating around the bush. Again, the question of the day is, “Will the real Naseer Ahmed Saheb stand up? I am not barking at you, but merely questioning you and your Islamic wisdom? Why are you so afraid to reveal your true beliefs? By Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia - 5/30/2014 12:39:46 PM

    By Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia - 5/30/2015 9:21:05 PM

  • This is the problem with the community. Instead of sober and sincere discussion people start accusing each other. Everybody thinks that he/she is a champion of Islam and therefore starts defending Islam vis-a-vis abusing, accusing, branding others heretic and an enemy of Islam!Ah, the pity of it!
    By Ayesha Hareem - 5/30/2015 5:55:06 PM

  • And everybody knows who you are! And I choose to ignore you further.
    By Naseer Ahmed - 5/30/2015 2:07:00 PM

  • Grow Up, Naseer Ahmed, and snap out of your usual schoolyard bullying mentality. What kind of moral lessons do you think you might be imparting on the Muslim youths with your nasty rebuttals? I asked Mr. Listener some of the questions which you evaded to answer all along. Why is it so hard for you as the so-called Islamic scholar to answer some tough questions? 

     What are you, some kind of Saddam of the internet forum? You are merely using another word that is, “spite,” in order to again avoid answering questions. Now the question comes to my mind is, “How low can your intellectual integrity get?” Do you recall how you used the word “parasites? You name it; you have not even spared anyone who challenged you. How pathetic one can get? Do you recall, repeatedly I asked you, “Can the real Naseer Ahmed Saheb stand up?” Thanks to Almighty Allah, now I know who you really are?

    By Mohammed Rafiq Lodhia - 5/30/2015 1:21:57 PM

  • Lodhia says: "For you (Listener), his (Naseer's) intellectual standard is far beyond the rest of the Islamic scholars. Bravo!" Does not Lodhia say the same thing in different words as follows? "Your (NAI) forum has been completely hijacked by one man who thinks that he has all the answers, and the rest of us are nothing but bunch of idiots". How can anybody do that without ability? Why is Lodhia not able to do the same? So is he not saying the same thing but in a negative way in keeping with his spiteful character?
    By Naseer Ahmed - 5/30/2015 1:05:14 PM

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