By Naeem Tahir
July 27, 2013
Why did the mullahs decide to issue such an ‘order’? Have they fallen prey to male chauvinism and forgotten the real spirit of ‘fasting’?
Ladies, please go home. And don’t come out because that causes disturbance! It is so particularly in the month of Ramzan. My advice is solid and worth following. The reasons will unfold shortly.
When I was a student of masters in psychology at the Government College, Lahore, we were presented typical cases of abnormal psychology for study and to recognise proto-types. One of the cases was of a man who got uncontrollably excited, I mean sexually, at the sight of women’s shoes or slippers lying anywhere. The relatives of the man got very concerned as it seemed abnormal and odd. So they consulted the doctors and decided to get this person’s psychoanalysis done to help rid him of the ‘malady’. Some thought otherwise. The ‘different’ people, who thought otherwise, would have knocked the patient’s head with the ladies shoes so that he could come to his senses and his association with that particular article undergoes change.
I wondered what that patient’s imagination did to him. Did he unconsciously visualise a naked woman wearing the shoes? I mean shoes are articles that are exhibited in shops; what could be the excitement about that? I tend to agree with those who thought that the appropriate treatment for that patient would have been knocking his head with ladies’ shoes. It would have helped him get out of the seductive imagination and remember the possibility of getting hit on the head!
The phenomenon of the psychological complex of that patient is surfacing in different ways in Pakistan, and particularly in Waziristan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Not that the infection is contained in those areas only; the germs are everywhere.
The latest news has come from the town of Karak. Karak is 123 kilometres from Peshawar on the main Indus Highway between Peshawar and Karachi. Karak is said to be the single district in Pakistan that is inhabited by only one tribe: the Khattak. The Khattak is a large tribe and its members live in many parts of Pakistan.
The news from Karak has been reported in all major newspapers in Pakistan and also throughout the world. The mullahs there have ordered women not to go shopping unaccompanied by a male relative. This is not for the safety of women. Nor are these women proceeding for Hajj where a male companion is advised. The order of the mullahs is because “they (women) spread vulgarity and spoil men’s fasting in Ramzan.”
Where is the problem? Is it in the men of these brave Khattaks or in their women? The fasting in Ramzan is meant to teach self-restraint and control. Does the order by the mullahs mean that these men have such weak personalities that they have difficulty in maintaining their fast? Karak is a small community of about 14,000 persons. In small communities people know each other well and treat others with respect like their own families. Why did the mullahs decide to issue such an ‘order’? Have they fallen prey to male chauvinism and forgotten the real spirit of ‘fasting’? Islam teaches respect for women and equal treatment. It is not understandable that mullahs should order restrictions on a normal activity of women like shopping. Eid is approaching and this is a time when lot of shopping is done to celebrate the happy occasion. Also, women are more interested in shopping, generally, than men. Many markets thrive because of the interest taken by women in buying things. For example, women buy clothes for children and other members of the family for special occasions, Eid being one of these.
I would also like to know what background these so-called mullahs have. From where did they obtain their religious education? Why don’t they persuade the men to purify themselves of vulgar thoughts on sighting women? Actually, women in those areas are modestly clad and still the men find “they spread vulgarity and spoil men’s fasting”. The real fact is that the “vulgarity” referred to here is in the minds of men and probably in the minds of these mullahs. They need treatment if they cannot control themselves. They are more like the patient I mentioned earlier in this article and need one of the two treatment options.
It is unfortunate that whenever such half-baked mullahs think of applying ‘Islam’, they start oppressing women. They are obsessed by the existence of females. They vigorously follow application of their brand of Islam on the womenfolk. In their enthusiasm they ignore the basic principles laid out by the Prophet (PBUH), forget to cleanse themselves and develop the moral discipline required of them.
Let there be no mistake: the oppressing mullah of the kind being referred to here is not only in Karak, he is also present in other places. It is the educated women of the country and the conscientious men who should make every effort to educate the mullah. Most mullahs are not given decent and comprehensive education. Even the school syllabus is most disappointing. We must work on improving that. If Imran Khan is in fact not the ‘mullah’ that some people accuse him of being, he must take the initiative in KP and develop a comprehensive curriculum of studies for anyone who wants to peruse religion as a career. It is now the prime responsibility of the KP government of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI). KP has been the primary source of religious extremism and Khan and the PTI will do well if they can control it. Hopefully, this will save them from the stigma of being called ‘Taliban Khan’ or ‘Pakistan Taliban Ittehad’. This is the real crusade they need to undertake. Promote the real spirit and understanding of tolerant Islam.
Such ‘orders’ cannot be ignored. Inside Pakistan people may ignore these as unimportant but the world press never forgets to take note and Pakistan’s name is tainted.
Naeem Tahir is the former CEO Pakistan National Council of the Arts; Chairman Fruit processing Industries; Chairman UNESCO Theatre Institute Pakistan and COO ICTV’ USA. He is the author of Melluhas of the Indus Valley 8000BC to 500 BC.