Women are the hidden
factor in the politics of ethnicity in the Muslim communities of Northern
England. The broader context to the apparent silence of women lies in a matrix
of patriarchy and imperial experience, as well as the impact of Orientalism on
contemporary European culture. In other words, there is a culturally embedded
assumption that women should know their place, colonial peoples should know
their place, and oriental women are too ethereal to have a place at all.
We have to take stock of various developments
which took place in India in last fifty years of our independence. It is also
important to take stock of developments among Muslims in this period, especially
with reference to reform movements in Indian Islam.
India opted to be a secular
country and this decision had several repercussions. Right at the stage of
constitution making there were debates about uniform civil code. There were
heated discussions. Muslim members opposed adoption of uniform civil code.
Ultimately a compromised was accepted.
Nineteen eighty-four was a highwater mark for
popular and radical politics in South Africa. It also coincided with the
rejuvenation of conservative forces in the country. The upsurge in popular struggle was
precipitated by the advent of the National Party-inspired tricameral parliament.
In this resistance against apartheid several religious denominations (including
Muslims) joined the democratic movement.
There are few women interpreters in
the history of Islam because women are seen to be the subject of the Islamic
shari’a and not its legislators. Yet even the few interpreters who have appeared
during the long history of Islam have been kept at the periphery, their views
never allowed to influence Islamic legislation. Moreover, even men interpreters
who were open-minded about women were marginalized and, in some cases, found
their authority questioned.
In the early I990s the Arab world
has witnessed an extraordinary publishing phenomenon. An 800 page book on Islam,
Al-kitab wa’lqur’an: qira’a mu’asira (The Book and the Qur’an: a contemporary
reading), was first published by the Ahali Publishing House Damascus in 1990.
The book challenges a millennium of Islamic tradition. It is highly critical of
the social, political and intellectual state of contemporary Arab countries. The
author has been denounced as ‘an enemy of Islam’ and as ‘a Western and Zionist
agent’. To date eleven other books have been written attacking his theses.
Violence against women is
one of the sharp indicators of the subordinate position of women in the society.
Violence exists in different forms, different levels from personal to physical
violence to structural violence, justified by religion, culture and laws. Most
of the steps taken from the protection of women against violence tend in
addressing the women rather than men. These steps don’t enforce laws or take
action against men.
The women issues are
political issues. The social paradigms don’t recognize this.
I don't know if my grandmother is
dead or alive. I can't remember the last time I saw her. It must have been at
least ten years ago when I was in Pakistan for an extended visit. She was my
only living grandparent and her health was beginning to fail her. Every once in
a while, I think she's probably dead and no one bothered to tell me.
I'm completely out of touch
with my Pakistani life.
Bihar is among the most
socially and economically backward states in India. Social inequality in Bihar
is amply visible. In order to illustrate the socio-economic context within which
underprivileged groups (including Muslim communities) exist in Bihar, it is
necessary to highlight a few statistics from the state. While there does not
exist a direct causal relationship between customary practice and socio-economic
conditions, both are also not mutually exclusive.
This research is an
examination of the relationship of the Sudanese state to issues of gender,
religion and class. It is one
component of my interest in the mechanisms the state employs for achieving both
political and cultural hegemony.
Editor’s note: This famous short story by the late
Ismat Chugtai (1915-1991) was written in 1941 and banned by the then State
Government on charges of obscenity. Ismat Chugtai challenged this decision and
won her law suit.