By Sana Saleem
MAR 26, 2015
Not very long ago, singer-turned-cleric, Junaid Jamshed riled up a significant number of religious groups after a video of his diatribe was released online.
It was the usual; Jamshed shaming women for existing, speaking of them as strange creatures who need to be ‘controlled’ but who can never be truly understood.
What was different this time was that he channeled his chauvinism towards the Prophet’s (PBUH) wife. Like clockwork, Jamshed was pushed to release a video taking back his words and apologise, before fleeing the country. He said he didn’t mean to be blasphemous or disrespectful; it is believable, because what became evident was that Jamshed’s chauvinism knows no bounds.
We should know better than anyone else that religion can be a trenchant tool for complete control. Very often, the control begins with establishing a patriarchal culture. Not your usual ‘it’s a man’s world’ patriarchy, but the kind where women aren’t the lesser ones, they simply do not exist.
Consent is all but absent; in fact, having consent at all is seen as a grave threat.
The most recent poster child for this misogyny is Maulana Sherani, of the good old Council of Islamic Ideology. He’s back with yet another statement on marriage, divorce and all things women.
This time, Sherani has stated that not only are men ‘allowed’ to remarry without their wives’ permission but even the idea of a wife consenting to polygamy is anarchism.
This anarchism, according to Sherani, is furthered under the garb of women rights. Because of course, the rights of women do not exist unless they are dictated by men.
The rights that do exist are in reality convoluted ideologies that teach women that being a subordinate is a norm, because they were born this way.
That women were born for a purpose which is to satisfy a man’s sexual desires, be a homemaker and a procreator.
Unfortunately, this kind of class misogyny is not limited to Sherani. He is a reflection of the deeply entrenched myths within our culture.
The kind that completely overlook women’s role in our history, both religious and national, and entirely deny women equality and respect.
On the face of it, you are free; you can get educated and even have a job but all along you must never forget your true purpose; to get married and raise a family.
The obsession with the ‘need to get married’ is exactly what pushes men like Sherani to release statements about how unnecessary it is for a partner to consent — if such willingness even exists — to polygamy.
For Sherani and many others, marriage is a man’s need, to lay it bare ‘sex’ is a man’s need and so he should be allowed to have multiple partners at the same time.
What the likes of Sherani completely overlook is that this isn’t just about an anarchic women rights agenda but that this is about men too.
This kind of mindset degrades men before all else, by minimising them into sex crazed, emotionless masters that need to be satisfied endlessly.
Men, then become the kind of individuals, who can never feel empathy, hold any kind of emotions other than the ones associated with masculinity and can’t under any circumstances, be vulnerable. In fact, their only vulnerability remains their sexual desires.
Sherani’s statement go beyond polygamy, they speak of the invisibility of consent.
This is then extends to everything concerning men and women, rape, domestic violence, birth control, the list is endless.
Unfortunately, for Sherani, our homes and streets are full of anarchic women ready to strike back each time an attempt is made to silence them.
Sana Saleem is the co-founder of Bolo Bhi & Stories Beyond Borders. She's on the board of advisory for Courage Foundation, Edward Snowden's legal defence fund.