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Purdah

March 2, 2010

A friend of mine posted a translation of the Taslima Nasreen article on the kannada newspaper but I’m not sure if this was what was in the newspaper as I have not been able to get a copy of the culprit yet. Of course, I read a couple of  articles today stating Taslima says she never wrote any of these things and someone is trying to “malign” here. Why I would wonder.

Now, I do not know if this was the exact article she wrote. They are fierce in their words and say that the purdah is mentioned in the Quran but women should not follow it. She gives a few explanations to the origin of the purdah but says it is degrading to both men and women to wear it. She even challenges Shabana Azmi who apparently said the Quran does not mention purdah at all.

Regardless of what is mentioned in the Quran or the article, it did ask one question that keeps plaguing my mind – are men so weak that the sight of a female’s bare arms would tempt them into sin? Are women being punished for men’s weakness? Those are the questions that arose everytime I heard an explanation about why women should the veil.

If a scarf covers a head as respect to God, I could understand that partially. But why would God want to cover up one of his own creations completely? It just doesn’t make sense.

There is currently a debate in France where they want to define secularism as no outward signs of religion at all, thereby banning the Veil from all public places. When I first read that, I thought it made sense. But then I wondered, would a woman be chastised for wearing a monk’s robe, or the bald head of a Buddhist monk? There are so many forms of expression of faith and the Veil too is one such thing for some people. If a woman chooses to cover herself up freely – a choice  made without any coercion in a free society – then she should be allowed to. That is real freedom. You cannot dictate that a Sikh cannot wear his turban, a Pastun his robe, a Muslim women her abaya/purdah or whatever form she chooses.

I may not understand why a woman would choose to cover herself up but it is freedom of faith. We should be allowed to worship what gods we wish as long as it harms no one.

The debate in France stems from its history. They defeated religion’s hold once (please do correct me if I’m wrong) and now they are determined to hold on to it. But then so did Germany. Some articles are comparing France’s edict on Muslims to Hitlers’. With all the fear associated with Islam, they fear it might head the same way. And some argue this veil argument is simply veiling other issues that the French government does not want attention on – unemployment, inflation and the such. The truth probably lies somewhere in between the political and religious agenda.

What is really the future of Islam? It is a beautiful religion, given to as many misinterpretations as any other. But it is being painted black every day with terrorist attacks. There is a tinge of fear to the religion… All religions perhaps started with the persecution of the one before that. But what is the motivation here? A free land? Or control of the world’s most precious resource – oil? Would this end if someone discovered a way to replace oil with something a lot more easily available?

Religion seems to be the last tool available for those who want to control others. Women are beaten up in India by people of all religions claiming that is the only way to protect the ‘honor’ of the family. Isn’t it ironical that both Muslims and Hindus want to put the women in the house? And the Christians aren’t far behind. They might not be given to honor killings, but they are no less dangerous. And yet we all fight with each other stating we are different. Maybe we should go back to those holy books and compare notes again. Maybe the interpretors were wrong.

Is it the religion that is wrong or the interpretation of it?

Also, 39 hits yesterday. Wow! I sure hope people read through stuff and didn’t just land up on the page to realise “oops this wasn’t what i was looking for” and vanished. Apart from comments, is there anyway for someone to know that people are reading you?

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