An attempt is made in this
paper to trace the development of ethnic consciousness and religious
fundamentalism among Sri Lankan Muslims and the bearings of this development on
Sri Lankan Muslim women.*
At the outset, I should clarify the
use of the terms ethnic consciousness and fundamentalism. Both these terms are
very popular and controversial in the current socio-political discourse. There
are a number of definitions and disagreements about them.
Dominating the courtyard of
the homestead of Abdul Hossain is a large and ostentatious shrine. Decorated
with Arabic designs and words, and surrounded by flags, the shrine (mazaar) is
similar to hundreds of similarly venerated graves scattered over the landscape
of rural Sylhet, in north-east Bangladesh. It proclaims for all to see that the
late Abdul Hossain is a pir.
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.
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.
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.
In 1979 the Islamic regime of
Pakistan introduced changes in the law of rape, providing Islamic standards of
proof and punishment for this crime. The law concerning rape was made part of
the ordinance, called The Offence of Zina (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance, VII
of 1979 (the term zina encompasses adultery, fornication, rape and
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.
At the beginning of the
women’s emancipation struggle among the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent
access to education and the campaign against Purdah were the main points.
The late nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries were
characterized by considerable debate on these issues in the Muslim community,
throughout India. The reform effort by men on behalf of women was sparked by the
considerable progress made by other communities in India and was inspired by
changes taking place in Muslim countries of the Middle East.
We seek to have a large international response
to stress to the Secretary- General the outrage that women feel. We also want to
show our solidarity with our sisters in Afghanistan, who have been asking what
we in the international community are doing to assist them. Therefore, it is
important to have NGOs from as many countries as possible sign-on to this
Farida Rahman MP’s Private Member’s
Bill on a proposed amendment to section V1 of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance
1961 has become a much-talked-about subject because of its unconventional and
contentious nature. Particularly, various women’s activist groups have shown
tremendous interest in it. The subject of the bill raises the whole issue of
women’s rights of general interests.