By Madhav Nalapat
July 8, 2012
Credible reports say that more than a few women related to members of Kashmir Jamaat actually allow their fingers and toes to be shown to the outside world.
Tourists enjoy a shikara ride at the Dal lake in Srinagar in June. PTI
The Jamaat-e-Islami-Hind, which is the original Jamaat, distinguished itself for its work on spreading education within Muslim women, and for its relatively moderate approach towards other faiths. However, in Kashmir, taking their cue from the hard-line Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (JIP), some within the Valley set up the Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir (JIK). They advertised the new formation as being dismissive of liberal trends and strongly backing the absorption of Kashmir in Pakistan, a country that the US State Department has several hundreds of times classified as "moderate". However, it is clear that the members of JIK need to go much farther if they are genuinely to be regarded as standing against the liberal ways associated with the US, the EU and suchlike cultures.
An example is the lax dress code they follow with respect to women. Credible reports say that more than a few women related to members of JIK actually allow their fingers and toes to be shown to the outside world. Worse, they sometimes colour their fingernails and toenails. If the purpose of such an unnecessary waste of dye is not to attract the attention of the opposite sex, what is it? The Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir needs to ensure that any member of the feminine gender associated with it cover the entire hand and foot, including the nails. These can be sheathed in gloves and socks. However, the fabric for these ought not to be nylon, light cotton or any other cloth that permits the outline of the limb to be seen from the outside. The material should be of thickness enough to ensure that not a trace of the fingers and toes is visible, except as shapes through the cloth.
There are rumours that some ladies who claim to be supporters of the JIK actually put on perfume and talcum powder before going on an outing. While both perfume and talcum powder are permissible inside the home, provided the only males close by are the father, husband or son of the woman concerned, to wear perfume when going out is clearly indicative of a desire to attract the attention of males from categories that ought never to be attracted in the least. This is shocking. Reports are that more than a handful of female JIK supporters in Kashmir spray perfume or attar on themselves before stirring out of their homes. The ideal number of such transgressors from the path of virtue ought to be zero. Indeed, the Jamaat would do well to look back at Kerala's Namboodiri community, the highest caste among that state's Hindu community. Namboodiri women used to be called "Antharjanam" (or "indoor life-form"), as they were not allowed to leave their rooms. Of course, a few feckless Antharjanams used to even walk up to the garden walls of their home, rather that remain indoors as any self-respecting Namboodiri lady ought to do. In order to prevent any of the Jamaat women from attracting strange males (the way city dwellers so regrettably do), they ought to follow the Antharjanam example and stay indoors.
Another lapse on the part of Kashmiri Jamaatis ought not to go unmentioned. It is a known fact that a feminine face may attract emotions within males that are far from pious. In order to avoid giving rise to such temptation, the entire face of a lady ought to be covered, the way it is in those parts of Afghanistan run by the Taliban. Only netting should denote the locations where there are eyes, nostrils and mouth. This way, males can be rescued from succumbing to their own worst impulses. The Taliban in Afghanistan has indeed taken commendable strides in ensuring that women not provoke men who are from categories other than spouses, or show themselves to them, except to fathers and children. However, it needs to be said that even in their fiefs, some women go around showing their fingers and their toes, though not of course their faces, the way some so-called Jamaat backers in Kashmir immodestly do. Clearly, there are far too many liberal trends within the Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir. The JIK needs to be stricter in ensuring that the path of virtue gets followed by its own flock, before seeking to impose dress codes on foreign tourists.