Thursday, April 27, 2023

A Facial 'Fig-Leaf' For A Muslim Woman

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 27 April 2023 One must appreciate Tabassum Shaikh for topping the Karnataka PUC State Exams. Now it's incumbent upon her to publicly condemn hijab as a sign of oppression and Islam's religious chauvinism. One may say that she's too young to be so vocal against a practice which's as old as Islam is. But then, Malala Yousufzai was even younger and was in a country which's religiously too backward and prehistoric. Tabassum must realize that she's a brilliant girl, a topper at that and she has achieved this by shedding hijab. Her peers who were reluctant to do away with hijab, left their modern education for the orthodox Islam. No one knows them. But whole India knows Tabassum and everyone is lauding her efforts for standing first-class-first. We often say in Dari, 'Bera Bina Izz Aadat-e-Musteer Ifn An' Kazeer-E-Mustaqil' (once you bid adieu to a bad habit, leave it completely). Tabassum must put her foot down and state categorically that hijab is an impediment to a woman's empowerment and she's happy to have left it completely to surge ahead in life. Tabassum's unequivocal criticism of hijab will pave the way for other Muslim girls who want to pursue higher studies and do something worthwhile in life. What impedes your progress and individuality, must be dispensed with. When a Muslim teacher asked Qurratulain Hyder why she never wore a veil/hijab? Her reply was, 'Hijab Pahanti Toh Ghar Pe Hi Baithti, Padhne Kyon Aati? ' (Had I worn hijab, I'd have preferred to stay indoors. I'd not have dared come out to study). Needless to say, what the legendary novelist, journalist and academician achieved in her life. The brilliant and highly educated Pakistani poet(ess) Parveen Shakir, who never wore a hijab in her rather brief life (she died in a car accident at the age of 42), called hijab, ' a facial fig-leaf for a Muslim woman.' Pakistani Human Rights activist Asma Jehangir would often say, "Hijab Kathmullon Ki Beewiyon Aur Betiyon Ke Liye Hai, Padhi-Likhi Aurton Ke Liye Nahin" ( Hijab is meant for the wives and daughters of the clerics and fanatics, not for the educated women). When hijab is being condemned and criticised across the world and women are dying in Iran and Afghanistan, it's time for every Muslim girl and woman to throw away this oppressive piece of apparel that smacks of religious primitivism and sartorial ghettoisation. Once again, kudos to Tabassum. ----- 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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