No more

27 May

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has yet again proved that it needs to be either immediately abolished or re-staffed with progressive, Islamic scholars as opposed to the current handful of cavemen that constitute the CII. Since its inception, the CII has made a mockery out of religion and this country. One isn’t sure whether to ignore or react to its preposterous recent proposal for a rather ironically titled ‘women’s protection’ bill.

The contents of this proposed bill include the following:

  • Husbands allowed to ‘lightly’ beat their wives if the latter are defiant (whether this defiance is with regard to being ordered around or a refusal to dress in accordance with their husband’s wishes)
  • Beating is also permissible in the following circumstances:
  • Where a woman refuses to wear hijab;
  • Where a female interacts with strangers;
  • Where she speaks loud enough that strangers can hear her;
  • Where a female provides monetary support to persons without prior consent of her spouse.
  • Ban on co-education after primary education
  • Ban on women from taking part in military combat
  • Ban on women welcoming or interacting with foreign delegations
  • Ban on male-female interaction
  • Ban on female nurses attending to male patients
  • Ban on females appearing in advertisements
  • Abortion after 120 days of conception should be declared “murder”

This is not the first time the CII has endorsed discrimination and violence against women, nor will it be the last until they are, in no unclear terms, shut-down for this shameful proposal. The fact, however, remains that a vast majority of men in Pakistan subscribe to many of these stipulations in any case. This is primarily because we have a dearth of actual Islamic legal scholars in Pakistan and, in the absence of the same, have allowed a handful of uneducated, bigoted and intolerant cavemen to hijack our religion.

Further, there are very few, if any, female Islamic legal scholars not only in Pakistan but in the entire world. Women have, from day one, been the victims of religious misuse resulting in oppression and subjugation. Mainstream interpretations of Islam have largely been shaped by the understanding and experiences of men as opposed to women – something Islam itself never mandated. There is not a single part in the Holy Quran that solely authorizes men to become the custodians of religion and religious understanding. Then why is it that very few women, especially in Pakistan, have allowed themselves to be oppressed in the name of religion instead of providing the alternative (read: female) understanding of Islam, the Holy Quran and Hadith?

The State of Pakistan, despite being an Islamic country (at least in name), has systematically indoctrinated its largely illiterate population with its own warped conceptions of religion, which are often shaped by oppressive cultural norms rather than the essence of religion itself. Globally, religion has been constantly polluted by cultural norms which not only have nothing to do with religion but are in direct contravention of many Islamic principles and stipulations. Some of these harmful cultural norms and practices include Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), ‘honour’ killings, gang-rapes as punishments, child marriage and violence against women generally.

Our Government reinforces, at every stage of our lives, that we are either one man’s property or another’s. Before marriage, we are our father’s property and cannot breathe without his consent and after marriage, we are our husband’s property and the same repression applies. Our narrative against harmful acts and practices against women is centred on the idea that we, women, are ‘someone’s mothers, sisters, daughters and wives’. Why must women be any of the aforementioned to be respected and treated with inherent dignity which is an inalienable human right possessed by every single human being? There is a single word that answers this question and that is fear.

It is inherently human to fear what we cannot control. Whether we fear death or the future, it is a known fact that human beings have a fear of the unknown. Through the systematic exclusion of women from the process of interpreting religion, not only are our interpretations of religion warped but they are also alarmingly violent and discriminatory.

Protection of the orthodox, Pakistani Muslim male ego was initially a personal burden that women had to bear but courtesy of wide-scale misrepresentation and abuse of religion, it is not only institutionalized but embedded within the foundations of our society. Not all but definitely a large number of Pakistani men believe Islam affords them the right to treat women as their property and to use particular verses of the Holy Quran, taken out of context, to justify any force used to protect their property rights.

Owing to the fact that my knowledge of Islam is limited, I am not going to get into a debate on what Islam permits and what it prohibits. However, armed with even rudimentary knowledge of Islam, one is cognizant of the fact that the Holy Quran cannot be quoted in parts as every single line is placed in a particular context. Yet, we see the religious right in Pakistan misusing and misquoting the Holy Quran to justify violence against women and alienation of women from the public sphere. How ironic considering the high degree of respect our Holy Prophet (PBUH) not only demanded for women but also practiced throughout the course of his life.

While the religious right, dominated by bigoted men, wrongly believe that they are following Islam when they talk about beating wives and excluding women from the public sphere, the State is silently endorsing these warped conceptions of religion by allowing institutions like the CII to remain intact.

Considering the fact that Islam is a religion for all human kind, it is time us women step up and take the wheel. The sound of our voices instils fear in those using religion to oppress us because they are well aware of the fact that once we publically take ownership of our religion, their fragile egos will be torn to shreds. That is not to say that all Pakistani men desire the oppression and subjugation of women but those who stay silent in the face of this bigotry are as culpable as those who openly promote it. Those who lock women within the confines of their homes; those who tell women to cover up instead of looking down; those who use fear and force over tolerance and reason – all such persons must be told that we refuse to tolerate this for any longer than we have.

Now is not a time for silent acceptance – now is a time for Pakistani women to come together and actively fight against this oppression and bigotry. We must speak up, loud and clear: there is no God but Allah – and Allah has not once mandated, in the Quran or otherwise, the exclusion, alienation and subjugation of women for the promotion of archaic patriarchal notions being used to protect the fragile ego of the religious right.

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2 Responses to “No more”

  1. kidsafterseparation May 27, 2016 at 6:42 am #

    Almost 70% of the Pakistan lives in villages, towns and they truly believe in these conservative cleric interpretation of Islamic teachings. Every day women face harassment outside because most of the men believe that women belong to kitchen and they shouldn’t be bumming freely in public. We as a Pakistanis lack a lot of respect for women and treat them as an object and consider their role should be confined to kitchen things and produce babies. Any role women doing outside this sphere is seriously criticized by the society. So, terminating and banning IIC wouldn’t help..New values need to be fed to the younger generation to revamp the thinking, ideology and behavior regarding women….and it will take decades as stated by you on democracy.

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