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Emerging new avatar of the Indian Muslim women in the Modi era

Girish Juyal,
Chief Editor
Paigham E Madare watan
(Urdu Daily)

The Indian Muslim societal expectation for women had remained as passive bystanders with all kinds of restrictions imposed in the name of honor and community, thus suppressing individual powers “to reason and to choose” and the ability to behave as independent, autonomous human beings. The Indian Muslim women struggled with basic human rights and oppression due to traditional religious affiliations and their misconstrued Islamic beliefs concealing the issues of gender inequalities and the domination of men.
It is one of those sad facts that Islam is a religion which has accorded myriad rights and privileges to women but that Muslim-majority countries have a poor track record on gender equality which was used to demonize Islam and Muslims in general
Although Indian law considers a single witness of a woman legally valid, most of the Islamic countries do not accept it unless two women stand as witness. One must thank the Modi government which realized and felt that Muslim Women’s rights are not a ‘women’s issue. The rights of these women and minorities are not luxuries. They are not matters that may be safely put away until one has the time to deal with them. They are intrinsic to the fabric of any stable, democratic society and are a fundamental building block for prosperity of the nation on the whole.
After due diligence, suitable constitutional amendments were made to remove the lacunae in the Muslim personal law making it illegal the practice of triple Talaq and mutta (short term contract marriage). This made significant implications for women’s lives, including their ability to make life choices freely, harp educational opportunities and a newly acquired involvement in public life, which have brought them face-to-face with their male counterparts’ masculinist values and demeaning practices. They gained individual rights before the law and thus were less subordinated to the whims of husbands and kin provided under state protections.
Post the NDA2 under Prime Minister Naredra Modi, what we are presently witnessing is the new generation of Muslim women, regardless of political intentions, is a hopeful sign. For them the CAA has given an opportunity to use it as a platform to express their accumulated outburst against the everyday prejudice born out of frustration that silences their right to mobility and freedom. They are in the front lines – dancing and singing defiantly, holding witty posters, handing out roses, speaking boldly without any apprehensions, making speeches about the democratic traditions of the country and gathering in public places in large numbers across the country. Thus, indicating their new assertiveness exhibiting the perceived change in the weakening of the patriarchal control. This resistance of women from within the community against the gender-based discrimination or even Islamization methods indicates a reawakening among them and their will to change their conditions and their participation in the protests, in any form, is reason to rejoice.
Propriety of our Muslim sisters asserting their inclusion in the current situation has opened up opportunities for themselves as social and economic influencers, and not just as a wife or a mother. They must not contend themselves representing an ill-advised and politically motivated ill logical protest but must put their energies for a moral vision and a movement central to which are the struggles for personal and social transformation and activism on behalf of either individual or group of Muslim women to change their legal and cultural constraints and gender practices.
One has to consider the crucial distinction between Islam as a legal and political system and Islam as spiritual and moral guidance. In the present times what matters is Islam’s ethical, egalitarian voice, which has to be heard, listened to, and obeyed. The nation’s Muslim sisters must utilize this God’s sent resource for establishing congregational prayers, lead prayer, and give a sermon engaging the Qu’ran and the life of Prophet Muhammed propagating the inherent Progressive Values of Islam.
“O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom ye claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bare you). Lo! Allah hath been a watcher over you.”
Sūrat an-Nisā

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