By Ravi Shanker Kapoor
We must admire the ingenuity of our secularists and liberals. In the wake of the Imrana controversy, it appeared that all these worthies would be forced to accept that there is some problem with Islam'streatment of women and there is some substance in the arguments of the so-called communalists. We thought that the controversy would have some humbling influence on the secularists.
But we were wrong; they are craftier than we thought they were. With remarkable slyness, they have transformed an essentially Islamic issue into a women'sissue. What subterfuge!
From actress-activist Shabana Azmi to editorial writers to the chattering classes on television shows, everybody is screaming about the iniquitous gender situation in the country. In the process, all of them try to evade the real issue: Islam'streatment of women. They try to link Islam'smisogyny with anti-women stance of other communities. See, what the Manusmriti has to say about women? See, how the Christian in West treated women, how they were burnt as witches? Islam treats women badly, so do other religions. This is weird sarvadharma sambhava.
The truth is that all religions have changed over the centuries. In the early nineteenth century, sati was prevalent in parts of Bengal; it was the enlightened Hindu leadership under Raja Rammohan Roy that the cruel practice was banned. Myriad other changes too have taken place in Hindu society, thus totally transforming the condition of women. Similarly, witch-hunting is history in the West: women enjoy as many rights in the US, the UK, etc. But can the same be said about Islamic societies?
They try to link Islam'smisogyny with anti-women stance of other communities. See, what the Manusmriti has to say about women? See, how the Christian West treated women, how they were burnt as witches? Islam treats women badly, so do other religions.
The manner in which women are treated in Muslim societies is, to put it mildly, appalling. There is no point in listing the barbaric laws, rules, and regulations in Muslim nations that restrict the freedom of women; efforts are being made to implement the practices recommended by Shariat such as the stoning of adultresses. Such efforts increased in scope and earnestness in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Muslim women were freer in the 1960s than they are in the twenty-first century?which is reverse of the trend in non-Muslim societies.
It is the cardinal principles and essential tenets of Islam that are responsible for the plight of women. Liberals never tire of pointing out the ?egalitarian ethic? of Islam, of saying that Islam stipulated women'srights. They quote from the Quran, which says that ?women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable.? They, however, forget?or choose to overlook?what the rider that the Quran immediately adds to such radical-sounding assertion. The full sentence is: ?And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage) over them. And Allah is exalted in power,? (2:228) [emphasis added].
Sura 4, An-Nisa, of the Quran makes male dominance explicit, giving a short shrift to egalitarian nonsense, at least between the genders.
Men are managers of the affairs of women. For that Allah has preferred in bounty one of them over another, and for that they have expended of their property. Righteous women are therefore obedient, guarding the secret for Allah'sguarding. And those you fear may be rebellious, admonish them; banish them to their couches; and beat them. If they then obey you, look not for any way against them; Allah is all-high, all-great.
This and other anti-women suras of the Quran are for all to see. But our secularists don'twant to see Islam'smistreatment of women. And they don'twant others to see it too. So, they take recourse to subterfuge and sophistry.
(The author is editor, www.indiaright.org, and can be contacted at [email protected])