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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 10 March 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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No Women on Bikes, Please!

By Ramzay Hayat

March 10, 2012

No rocket science needed to realise that the only way to save the bodies and souls of our brothers and sisters is to segregate the sexes completely — a feat so gloriously achieved, howsoever briefly, by our brother Taliban during their golden rule in Afghanistan

The orange-clad biker flew by me, like a solar flare, as I turned right on to the lower Mall. Refusing to believe what I appeared to have seen, shortly when I encountered the same biker tanking up at the petrol pump next to the Government College hostel, my fears were confirmed — it was a girl solo-riding a motorcycle. She was turning heads just doing her thing — not in Rome, Rio or any other hotbed of sin but right here in our holy city by the Ravi, where even simple pleasures like kite flying are banned. ‘Girls gone wild’, a la Lahore? Surely, no biker babes are to be tolerated in the Islamic Republic which — forget the original secular vision of Jinnah — today stands reincarnated in the image of Ziaul Haq?

The westernised liberals cloud the issue by hiding behind slogans such as women’s emancipation and empowerment but the rightly guided amongst us have always known that, ultimately, all sin arises out of the immodest appearance and naughty behaviour of women and the unchecked interaction between the sexes. What is also true, though less appreciated, is that no modern invention has more facilitated the physical mingling of the sexes than the motorised vehicle. I recall reading an anthropological study in the 1980s that concluded that the sexual revolution in the US owed more to the phenomenon of the rapid spread of the automobile than the invention of that other culprit cited often in this regard — the pill. A car is a public transport system and a motel room rolled into one, revealed the anthropologists.

We Pakistanis may not yet fully appreciate the moral hazards posed when women and vehicles come together, but thank God our more pedigreed moral mentors do. One of the things the custodians of our high-walled bastion of Islam, Saudi Arabia, have successfully managed to do so far, despite enormous pressure from the Judeo-Christian conspirators to relent, is to keep women away from the steering wheel. Recently a report by the enlightened Kamal Subhi put before the Saudi Shura warns that lifting of the existing ban on female driving will threaten the country’s tradition of women maintaining their virginity until their wedding. Letting women drive will lead to greater mixing of genders, which in turn will promote fornication and adultery — so he argues. Makes perfect perverted sense to us Pakistanis.

Leave the oil-car-rich Kingdom aside momentarily and look at Pakistan where the poor man’s limousine, the motorcycle, is king. Despite being used to these sinful scenes, as with several vices prevalent in our society, is there a sight more provocative than females pressing flesh against their male companions while being squeezed together on a tiny motorcycle seat as they roam the streets in front of ogling eyes?

Although the focus of Islamic reforms in Pakistan has rightly been on controlling the female body and person –e.g. the ‘Mard-e-Momin’ General Ziaul Haq’s Zina (adultery) Ordinance — our society remains in need of urgent further and drastic reform. Like charity, chastity must begin at home and, therefore, there is no better place to start setting the morals of society straight than banning the womenfolk from riding motorcycles altogether, including riding pillion with men of their own families.

When it comes to women sharing a bike ride with men, there are only two possibilities — either the men riding with these women are their mehram or are na-mehram. A woman’s mehrams include the husband of the woman and other male relations whom the woman cannot marry -- her father, brother(s), or son(s). Na-mehrams constitute the rest of the adult male population of the planet and a woman may legally consummate a marriage with any of them.

While the sight of almost any woman on a bike is enough to send the libidos of our men into a frenzy, the biggest offenders are romantically-inclined couples, married or otherwise. Is it not against the injunctions of Islam to have men and women touching bodies in public, even if they are married, and especially if they are not? Of course it is. And if something is against the teachings of Islam as interpreted by our Ulema, then it is automatically in violation of the constitution. For this we have to thank that pious fundamentalist Mr Bhutto, whose desire to have a unanimously agreed constitution in 1973 led to the inclusion of all sorts of Islamic provisions in the supreme document of Pakistan.

Under the circumstances, is there a good reason then why the guardians of our morals -- the protectors of our constitution -- have failed to take any steps to curb this un-Islamic, un-constitutional and immoral activity taking place on our streets? Letting women ride motorbikes, solo or otherwise, must be declared un-Islamic and banned immediately.

It would not be so bad, perhaps, if the women just sat there in their own part of the little patch of plastic that passes for a motorcycle seat, as somehow as soon as they climb on a bike they get the urge to talk. With wind in their faces and sounds of traffic in their ears, naturally the women have to climb all over their men companions to talk. And while they do so, they have to hold on to their companions to steady themselves. I could not even begin to describe the scenes one is forced to see as these romantically-driven and precariously perched women try their death-defying balancing act, grabbing and groping with no holds barred or shunned.

To many, this proposed ban on women riding bikes would be unfair to those whose close kin transport them from one place to the other. Unfair probably, but it is for their own good. Muslim scholars say that even siblings of opposite sex should avoid spending time together by themselves lest Iblees lead them astray, for the evil one is always the third entity present when a man and woman are alone together. If it would be inappropriate for siblings to be alone, how can they be permitted to ride a bike together where their bodies will necessarily come in contact as per Newton’s laws of motion?

Also to be considered is the men’s right not to be tempted to sin. Let’s face it: a woman riding pillion clutching a male companion, her clothes flailing in the wind, often revealing more than she might have bargained for, is a sight to behold for the sexually frustrated hordes that constitute the bulk of commuters. We have a duty to protect the morals of our sex-starved citizens by removing the objects of their prurient desires from the bikes and streets of our country. Besides, do you realise what a traffic hazard these pillion riding women have become? “Watch my rear, not hers”, is a popular bumper sticker now.

I may be cursed here for focusing too much on women and not enough on men — the usual liberal talk of “let’s not penalise the victim”. Sure, it takes two to tango, but we also know that men are utterly helpless before the charms of women. One look from, or at, a woman is enough to dissolve the resolve of the mightiest among men, especially if they happen to be Pakistani.

No rocket science needed to realise that the only way to save the bodies and souls of our brothers and sisters is to segregate the sexes completely — a feat so gloriously achieved, howsoever briefly, by our brother Taliban during their golden rule in Afghanistan. If we cannot have floggings for the sinners in stadiums yet — though we might still get there seeing how many right-wing Jamaatias have jumped on the ‘Khan wagon’ — at least we can take a small step in the right direction by banning women from riding motorcycles. Obscurantists R Us, after all.

The writer can be reached at

Source: The Daily Times