Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Religion Has Institutionalized Gender-Bias

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 28 November 2022 The news is that Delhi's iconic Jama Masjid restricted the entry of unaccompanied girls but rolled back the decision under pressure. Jama Masjid, Delhi ------ That Islam is misogynistic needs no further elaboration. But when it comes to the entry of women into a shrine of any faith, innumerable restrictions are imposed on her. Whether or not she's menstruating, whether she has come with her brother, boyfriend or husband, is she young, middle-aged or old, is her dress too revealing or is she wearing loud make up; all sorts of silly, nay objectionable, questions are raised by the contractors of faiths? The question is: What makes all religions so antagonistic to women? Our troglodyte ancestors concocted super myths, albeit primitive. Then came all deranged prophets who 'divinised' ( to borrow Carl Gustav Jung's term) them after their own image as all were men. By the way, isn't it bizarre that not a single prophet has been a woman? So, right from the advent of human civilization and its religious history, it's man all the way. Women naturally got relegated to being mere appendages. Thousands of years of male behavioural supremacy culminated in women's religious subjugation. Women's spiritual enlightenment was always doubted and frowned upon. Kevin Douglas Osborne wrote in his seminal essay, " Gender bias in the mystical realm, " that even an enlightened soul like Rabia Basri and Kashmiri female Sufi saint Lal Ded (who often roamed around au naturel) had to experience gender bias coming from male Sufis. Even a man like Rumi believed that a woman would never be able to reach the apotheosis of enlightenment however hard she would try! The great Anwari believed that a woman could never become a Hafiz-e-Quran as Allah didn't give her the ability to memorise all 6, 234 verses in the Book. Sub-continent's 'evolved' men Tulsidas and Kabir were also disdainful of women. Kabir infamously wrote, "Naari Ki Jhaain Padat Andha Hot Bhujang / Uss Purush Ki Kya Gati Jo Nit Naari Ke Sang " (Even the king cobra would turn blind if the mere shadow of a woman falls on it/ Imagine the plight of a man who has to live with a woman day in and day out). Matadeen Gupta and Professor Grearson, English linguist of Central Indian dialects, were of the view that Kabir originally used the word BAARI which later became naari because Kabir didn't write anything as he was unlettered. The obsolete meaning of Baari in early Hindi was: a widow. The word is still in vogue in Bithur and Bundelkhand region. Kabir should have had a modicum of decency and sensitivity in treating a widow, esp. when he himself was a Brahmin widow's love child. Tulsidas wrote, “Dhor, Ganwaar, Pashu, Shudra, Naari / Sab Taadan Ke Adhikari“ (Drum, illiterate, yokel and a woman deserve to be beaten). Iran's highest religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini equates women with animals. If such sick mentality persists, how can a woman get entry into a mosque or temple and if at all she gets, she might even be raped by the priests. We're too prejudiced and gender-biased. Religion has institutionalized this bias. ----- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian…. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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