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Indian liberals want to support everything Muslim, but that’s not the way to equal rights

Equal rights for Muslim or Hindu women cannot be earned from within the ambit of religion, it requires one to move out of the structure of organised religion.

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Indians Left and liberal intellectuals usually support everything to do with Muslim minorities – their religion, customs, madrassas, mosques, Eid, Muharram, hijab, burqa and sometimes even their right to follow Sharia laws. And in doing so, they commit serious human rights violations – while claiming that they are defenders of the minorities.

Whether it is Muslims expressing a desire for more mosques, or if they insist on blocking thoroughfares for their Friday prayers – the Left and liberals back them up always. Obviously, here Muslim means just Muslim men. These men want to establish laws based on religion and it is believed that they should be allowed to do so. Muslim men do not wish to give any independence to Muslim women, so it is assumed that is how it is in Islam.

The practice of triple talaq being declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court has elated the Right-wing fundamentalists, while it has made the liberal class unhappy. While Hindutva supporters clamour for a Uniform Civil Code, liberals are not heard making similar demands. However, the liberals should have been at the forefront of this fight for equal rights.

Also read: SC admits plea to lift ‘ban’ on Muslim women in mosques. But Islam doesn’t bar them at all

Muslim women in India, whose rights and independence have thus far always been denied, have suddenly woken up to the din of equal rights. Recently, a Muslim couple filed a plea seeking entry of women into mosques.

Just like how the Supreme Court struck down the discriminatory rules that barred menstruating women from entering the Sabarimala temple, there ought to be a similar law for Muslim places of worship as well.

Muslim women have not achieved anything remotely close to equal rights yet. I feel compelled to ask, what good will it do if women earn the right to enter mosques and offer their prayers? They will be able to offer their prayers in mosques– things they had not been allowed to do previously. Not that they will be allowed to pray along with the rest of the men – instead they will be made to stand behind a wall or a curtain, in a small back room or the veranda perhaps. That is not equal rights. The same prayers they used to offer at home they will now be able to offer in the mosque if they wish to. The Prophet had said that it was best if women prayed at home . I fail to comprehend how devout women are expected to flout the Prophet’s wish in order to be able to enter a mosque and pray.

Women becoming imams, offering prayers kneeling beside men or in front of them, such things are considered haram in Islam. Equal rights cannot be earned from within the ambit of religion, it requires one to move out of the structure of organised religion. Will devout women be able to fight for equal rights in marriage, divorce or inheritance? If one believes in Islam, one has to also condone the structural discrimination between the sexes that is there in Islamic law.

How many Muslim women manage to finish schools or attend universities? How many Muslim women join jobs or start businesses? How many are allowed to take their own life decisions? How many Muslim women have a choice not wear burqas or hijabs? The numbers must be very low. When this number increases only then can one say that Muslim women are on their way to achieving equal rights.

Also read: Hijab not simply about religion, Muslim women wear it for several reasons

Most women tend to spend more time in religious activities and rituals than men, so it is causing women no great harm if they cannot go to the mosque. What is definitely causing them harm is the lack of education, absence of proper healthcare and lack of independence. What is causing Muslim women true harm is the erasure of all their rights under religious laws, child marriage, being forced to marry one’s rapist and a host of associated misogynous fatwas or religious decrees including being prohibited from using a mobile phone.

Among the Bohra Muslims of India, female genital mutilation is still prevalent, to ensure that women find no pleasure in sexual intercourse. They firmly believe sexual pleasure is solely for men. But the Indian liberals conveniently keep forgetting about female genital mutilation. Those who truly want the betterment of the minorities must surely wish for the latter to receive proper education and become self-reliant, that they turn towards a scientific outlook and extricate themselves from the mires of superstitions and religious fundamentalism.

I did not write in favour of revoking the ban on women entering the Sabarimala. What business do women have going to places where it is customary to consider them impure? Is it not time yet for women to start maintaining a safe distance from God? No person of sound conscience should bow down before a misogynist power, especially women.

There are very few who are truly progressive in this subcontinent. The ones who are Islamophobic, those who believe that all Muslims should be driven out of the country, are one sort of reactionary. While the ones who believe Muslims should remain immersed in their religion if they want to, adhere to Sharia law if they so desire, be allowed to mutilate the genitals of young girls and call it culture – such people are another kind of reactionary. A truly progressive person can only be someone who wishes to combat all kinds of religious extremism – be it Muslim or Hindu.

Half the world’s problems can perhaps be solved only if we stopped tolerating brutality irrespective of religion, gender, race and ethnic or linguistic communities.

The problem with those who believe in free thought in India is that although they never fail to express their pride in vanguards like Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Vidyasagar who took the first steps to counter Hindu fundamentalism, they simultaneously never wish for such forerunners to be found among the Muslims of India. Unless Muslims can be trained to inculcate truly secular values, free thought and a modern, progressive and scientific outlook they will continue to wallow in the depths.

Also read: Triple talaq non-issue, empower us through education: Muslim women in Rajasthan

More than being allowed into mosques, it is essential for Muslim women to be allowed to attend schools, colleges and universities, to become financially independent, to learn to hold their head high, become their own persons and declare a war against patriarchy and the clout of the mullahs.

When I speak in favour of the independence and rights of Muslim women, when I call for Muslim men to become more progressive and rise above fundamentalist dogma, the so-called liberal intellectuals who consider themselves well-wishers of Indian Muslims abuse me and label me ‘anti-Muslim’. Does that not make it clear what they want? They want for Muslims to remain consigned in the darkness.

Such people keep trying to stop me from showing Muslims the way towards the light; they want Hindus to find this illumination, but when it comes to the Muslims, they say it is not time yet.

We must remember that the right time never comes on its own, it has to be ushered in.

The author is a celebrated writer and commentator. Views are personal.

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  1. Taslima Nasreen should be the most respectable Muslim woman in this world. To the point. If there’s a reform in Islam, it will be because of women like her.

  2. This is another form of perversion or weirdest form of addiction for harakiri,against any norm of rationality.This is incorrigible obsessive paranoia of so called Indian liberals and pseudo-secularists.

  3. In India, left is confused with Liberal. Only BJP is treated as right, which is also incorrect.

    • Secularism and Hindu-phobia

      India is a secular nation. Constitutionally all are equal. There will be no discrimination based on religion. However, in the real system, the majority community, Hindus are brutally abused and trolled by all,cially by the left-wingers, minorities, especially by Muslims and Christians.

      Ever since the right-wing party BJP came to power, the narrative of Indian politics changed. The main agenda of this new winner BJP is to end the Hindus persecution by the minorities and secular groups and stop the minority appeasement. Due to these ideological changes, Hindus became the brutal targets of attacks by the anti-BJP forces.

      Minorities’ persecution of Hindus in India will never be discussed in the mainstream global media. They illegally and forcefully are displacing the Hindus. Males are killed or kidnapped; the girls and women are raped and forcibly converted. Even the police are afraid to help the victims. Media never reports such incidents and political parties open their mouth, for the fear of losing the minorities’ votes.

      This is secular-democratic India. Read any newspaper, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp comment. They are filled with the abuses for Hindus. The supporters of Prime Minister Modi are trolled as ‘bhakts’ or andh-bhakts (blind devotees). ‘Bhakt’ is a term used for Hindu devotees. RSS is a Hindu organization. Its workers and supporters are abused as ‘Sanghi’ or ‘chaddi’ (underwear). Hindus worship cows and address as ‘mother.’ On this aspect, Hindus are trolled and abused as cow urine drinkers. Hindus religious processions are called as lynching mobs. Even in some universities extremist groups frequently organizes ‘beef party’ by slaughtering the cow publicly to harass the Hindus.

      Saffron colour is a pious colour for Hindus and they wear clothes of this colour during religious activities. But they are also mocked as ‘bhagva’ or saffron terrorists. Hindu groups are trolled as Hindus vigilantes, Hindu terrorists etc. Hindus are also abused as ‘Manuvadi’ or ‘Brahminvadi.’

      Not only this, but Hindus saints are also always defamed and abused in a very vulgar manner. Famous Hindu saints like Bana Ramdev, Acharya Bal Krishna, Sadguru, Nirmal Baba, Radhey Ma, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Aasa Ram Bapu, Swami Nityanand, Baba Ram Rahim etc are harassed and trolled without any reason. In some cases, they are framed in false cases.

      Same is the story with the Hindu scriptures. Hindu scriptures like the Ramayana, the Gita, the Mahabharata, the Manusmriti, and the Purans etc are mocked and trolled. In some cases, they are even burnt by some extremist groups. Even in some universities, this burning of Hindu scriptures is an annual affair.

      There has recently been a sharp increase in incidents of Muslims creating problems during Hindu festivals, Hindu religious processions, attacks on Temples, desecration of Deities, and large-scale, provocative cow slaughter.

      The persecution of Hindus does not stop here. Even police officers who are on the forefront of eliminating terrorists and gangsters are framed in the false cases and suspended from the jobs and in some cases they are jailed for years, thus ruining their lives and careers. In this category police officers like Pradeep Sharma, Daya Naik, Ravindra Angre, D G Vanzara, P C Pande, R.K. Pandian, NK Amin, Vipul Aggarwal, Dinesh MN, D.S. Rathod, Colonel S.K.Purohit etc can be placed. The lives and careers of these bright officers were ruined because they eliminated the anti-national gangs and terrorists.

      Judiciary is also targeted by these elements. Even ex-Chief Justice of India Justice Ranjan Gogoi and his bench was also targeted and trolled because he delivered a judgment in favour of the construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya. Judges who acquainted or dismissed cases against PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah are also targeted by these secularists, leftists, Islamists and missionaries.

      Media houses and the journalists who do not toe the line of these secular extremists groups are also brutally trolled as ‘Godi media’, ‘darbari media’, ‘paid media’ or ‘bhakt media’. Although these trolls and abusers blame others for all the sins in real life they are the real sinners. They do not respect other’s freedom of speech but for them want unlimited freedom. They want others’ to be secular and inclusive but always support the radicalization and intolerance of minorities and left outfits.

      Reservations and quotas for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Castes (OBCs) and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) are granted by the Constitution of India. But minority institutions, madrasas, Waqf Boards, etc do not give reservations to these groups. They always oppose reservations and representations to these poor and backward groups.

      Agitations of Hindus are also crushed very ruthlessly by the authorities and the judiciary. At Rampur Tiraha, UP, dozens of agitationists demanding the formation of Uttrakhand state were brutally killed and women raped around a few years back. In Ayodhya, many Hindu saints and Ram devotees were killed in police firing. In Mathura, dozens of followers of a Hindu saint Ram Sewak Yadav were killed over encroachment of a public garden but no action was taken against the Shaheen Bagh squatters who encroached upon roads for months. In Haryana, dozens of followers of Baba Ram Rahim were killed when they opposed his arrest. Dozens of Jat agitators were also killed for demanding job reservation. There are so many examples of such types of repressions.

      These anti-Hindu outfits are also very kind to the illegal intruders from Bangladesh and Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar. All support them but nobody is worried about the Kashmir Hindu refugees. Even judiciary refused to listen to them. They are crossing the border illegally and violently. They have changed the demography of Bengal, Assam, Kashmir and North-East states. These intruders are becoming channels for unlawful activities (arms, drugs, and sexual slavery). This is not found in the Western mainstream media—or even in the Indian media, which has turned a blind eye to this ongoing tragedy because they are, afraid powerful left and Islamic groups.

      For example, Islamic extremists attacked the office of a popular newspaper, ‘The Statesman’ in Kolkata, in reprisal for a mere replica of an article, critical to Islamic extremism, the Indian press remained silent. The editor and publisher of the newspaper were arrested for hurting Muslim feelings but no action was taken against the criminals.

      All are afraid of taking a stand against the minority and left extremism in India and about anti-Hindu persecution in his homeland. This persecution of Hindus in India is nothing new. Over 1000 years, millions of Hindus were slaughtered by Muslims and British. Many thousands of Hindus were massacred in Calcutta only in 1947. Anti-Hindu riots and mind-set is still prevalent. Hindus are specifically targeted out because they are considered an impediment in the implementation of their agenda.

      To stop all this, the Indian government should stop the illegal intruders from Bangladesh and force the return of these intruders; to ban madrassas and polygamy; to enforce Uniform Civil Code, a single standard of law and education; Uniform Civil Code, and to arrest and prosecute known Islamic extremist and mafia dons and terrorists. Indian media should be honest to report on the anti-Hindu atrocities and to address the issue of religious racism. Madrasas funding by Islamic and Wahabi nations must be banned. This is not the battle against Muslim persecution but it is a much larger battle for the safety of the Hindus.

  4. This woman is plain stupid.
    (I did not write in favour of revoking the ban on women entering the Sabarimala. What business do women have going to places where it is customary to consider them impure? Is it not time yet for women to start maintaining a safe distance from God? No person of sound conscience should bow down before a misogynist power, especially women.)
    Misogynist power?
    WTF is she talking about.
    There are temples in India where men are not allowed.
    This is a long tradition and has nothing to do with women being treated badly.
    My wife is from Kerala and she is strictly against allowing “menstruating” women entry into Sabarimala temple.
    Kerala is ruled by commies and Muslim League coalition which wants to make a political mileague out of this.
    Most HIndus in Kerala including women are against allowing women.
    So, my advice to Taslima is: STFU.

    • Sir your wife is against to enter sabrimala temple good nobady force him to go to Temple. Likewise those want to go must be allowed to go because individual freedom is above community freedom in constitution. Rahi bat tradition ki to, caste is also tradition in India where lower caste was not allowed to enter in temple once upon a time but now it is allowed because it does not based on any reasonable ground.

      • Abhishek you have been fooled by the propaganda peddled by christian missionaries. Shabrimal going on, the next target is Tirupati mandir

    • you are beyond retarded. She did say women have to be allowed to enter the templ, rather women should not even be bothered about enetering temples. Who cares if they are allowed to enter a temple if they dont have the right to decide many other fundamental things freely?

      You are subhuman compared to Taslima,so better not to call hers tupid.

  5. How can the Print give a platform to such known bigots and Islamophobes??? Deeply disappointed.
    And Taslima Nasreen, please stay out of the affairs of Muslim women. We know what to do and we are going there, slowly but we are…..and we certainly do not need a blasphemer like you to speak up for our rights.

    • Come on Afifa, be honest to yourself. Heart of hearts even you agree that many points she made in tbe article make sense.
      Where is your freedom ? Muslim women do not have any say at all in almost everything, infact they do not have a say in whether to bear a child or not ! FGM is a reality and needs to be stopped. By forcing to follow dominating Islamic male mentality, the muslim society in general and muslim women in particular have been deprived of developement.
      You appear to be a literate woman but religiously blind. People like you need to see the things dispassionately and think.
      There are wrongs in all the religions, but the reasonable/logical people must see those things and try to make amends.

    • Afifa,
      You have Halala in Islam !
      Why not a similar practice even for women ?
      You have to wear hijab or burka, why not such a thing for men ?
      Men can marry n number of times why can’t women ?
      Men only can become maulavis, why not you ?
      Have you ever asked these questions to yourself. Have you ever tried to reason logically with these ?
      Unless Muslim women do not come out against all such malpractises in religion there eill never be any developement for them.
      As regards the Left or Liberals in India, they always wanted majority to remain uneducated because it is easy to rule over the group of people who do not have thinking power. Education enlightens people but not your Islamic education, it only produces religious zealots ! You need to take proper education. Just see what percentage of muslim society in Insia is educated ! A miniscule percentage.
      Muslim society need to come of the mediveal mindset and get progressive, especially woman because a woman will make the entire family educated in the correct sense.
      It has started ! Good thing it is. Muslim women are asking for their rights now. Males esp Mullas and Maulavi’s will oppose it, you muat understand why ? It is a power game and they do not want to lose their power over you , to make you do as per their bidding.
      Unless you strengthen your ilk there is no future for muslim society and more so muslim women !

  6. I support Taslima’s position. However transformation of the Muslim community should come from within and not through imposition by the state – except where there are gross human rights violations involved. Just as it would be atrocious for the US government to ban arranged marriages within the Hindus living there by bringing in tough legislation it is wrong to try and transform Muslims practices through legal means alone.

    • Arranged marriage is equal to sharia, burqa & genital mutilation????This unfair comparison, self-loathing attitude & extra jump to showcase secularism will destroy the country.

  7. Indian “left-liberals” are neither liberal nor honest. They are the lowest form of life you can find on the earth.

  8. A true, unrecognized liberal is taslima nasreen. Only due to pseudo-liberal dalliance with regressive aspects of islam, true liberalism is smothered and pseudo liberalism using slogans of “islamophobia” happens to flourish. Sadly, its also a problem in the UK.

  9. Speaking for myself, the Muslim community should be given its space to advance reform at a pace it feels comfortable with. Any intrusion by a state that is becoming increasingly majoritarian is better avoided. What Indian liberals do worry about is the marginalisation of Muslims in public life, a subtle message that is being sent that they should reconcile themselves to being secondary citizens. A message that is reinforced by not so subtle means, going all the way up to intimidation, even violence and lynchings. There could be a reaction, and it could be very ugly.

  10. Great article, as always. The biggest tragedy, or cowardice, is that neither liberals and hindutva have opposed Tasleema not being allowed to live in Kolkata or anywhere else in Bengal. I am surprised that no one even challenged the legality of Mamata forcing her out from Bengal. Maybe Taslima should contact Subramanian Swamy!

    • Taslima was forced out of Bengal by the Left Front government. But TMC is worse in pandering to the most regressive forces in Muslim community

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