Continued from “Pitfalls of Faith”
Though Muhammad’s religious constituency was the meek of the world, as Jesus had paraphrased, he seemed to have shaped Islam but to their detriment. Thus, it calls for the examination of the poor Musalmans as to how Muhammad’s personal agenda would have influenced the ethos of Islam miring their life ‘here’. More so, it is for the women of Islam, even the rich among them, to delve into the proclivities of their prophet that shaped the precepts and practices of their faith to their eternal hurt.
It is not too hard to see how the faith supposedly shaped for the poor in theory is heavily loaded against them in practice. On the other hand, the religious craft of Muhammad as enunciated in his address to the Yathribs - O Helpers, are ye stirred in your souls about the things of this world whereby I have reconciled men’s hearts that they may submit unto God, when you yourselves I have entrusted unto your Islam? – is seemingly designed to favor the privileged of the faith. What is inimical to the poor amongst the faithful is that the long and uncertain path to the ‘Hereafter’ is paved with the needles of sharia.
It was Muhammad’s ideal of a puritanical society that seems to have unwittingly pitted the poor of Islam against his penal code. After all, why should the well-to-do steal at all, to be on the wrong side of the sharia! Needless to say, the hands that feed the sharia would be but that of the poor. Likewise, where was the need for the resourceful male to resort to adultery? After all, the four wives quorum, not counting the divorces and remarriages, would entail the needed variety to spice up their life, wouldn’t it?
And as if that concession is not good enough for the lecherous rich, then there is the sharia sanctified instant nikah lasting but a single ejaculation, if one pleases. The world was the witness to it all at the height of the Islamic moral policing in Iran that brought brisk business to the kazis. And in what must be the height of hypocrisy, Islam frowns upon adultery and punishes the involved with savagery! And, sadly, it is those Musalmans without moolah to circumvent the sharia that have to face the harsh music of Islam.
Nonetheless, in the Islamic Paradise, for the poor who tend to be better Musalmans than their well-heeled brethren, it’s a different amorous game altogether! However, the only hitch is that it is a lifelong wait of drudgery for them to reach the ‘Hereafter’. And meanwhile, the sharia lets the rich and the powerful get away with murder even, albeit through the bribe route of blood-money. But then, why only blame the sharia when the modern penal code too leans heavily on the poor to ensure that they are kept at arms-length from the privileged, not to spoil their party. Why doubt that? Well, for the theft of a thousand, the law is smart to catch up with the poor to put them behind the bars but when it comes to the embezzled millions under the white collars, it is slothful in sniffing at the scent.
Unjustifiably though, the Musalmans are proud that their faith grants equality to women vis-à-vis men, i.e. in spite of polygamy. It’s true that the Quran ordains that man should treat his wives equally. But, what sort of equality would polygamy entail for those four wives! Even in bigamy, a woman would be left pining when her fellow wife has their man? And in Islam, we are not even dealing with bigamy but polygamy, involving four women at that! And how the All Knowing God missed this female conjugal constraint is anybody’s guess.
Not quite, for women too are granted their polyandrous time, well, that’s in the ‘Hereafter’. Even that wouldn’t make it a level playing ground for the female believers in the Islamic scheme of gender equality, would it? After all, while women have to wear their chastity belts all the while ‘here’, their men are not bound as such. And in the ‘Hereafter’, it’s not a case of role reversal either for men too have their huries for the asking.
Besides, what if the rationed intimacy and limited emotionality of a polygamous marriage usher in female promiscuity ‘here’? What solace doth the sharia provide for the pining females of polygamy if found in the wrong hands? Why, stoning to death! Well, it’s a different matter though that Islam has so much concern for the satiation of all those black-eyed virgins of Paradise who are wedded in their scores to the martyrs. Of course, Allah increaseth the vigour of the martyr a hundred fold to indulge with his harem of huries seventy-two.
Anyway, in the ‘Hereafter’, man’s virility is not subject to the innate limitations biology imposes on him ‘here’! And that could be no less an attraction for the believing Musalmans to crave the ‘Hereafter. But then, the Musalmans too have the Mirza Ghalib sher to ponder over here:
zannat ki hakikat hah’me maaloom hai lekin
dilko behalaane ke liye ye khayaal accha hai
(To hell with truth of heaven as such
Feels it good to think it’s there.)
And what does veiling women in Islam mean? Won’t it reveal the lack of male appreciation of womanly emotions? Oh, how the veil and all that goes with it stunt female sexuality! The embarrassment of Muhammad in desiring Zaynab, wife of his adopted son Zayd, could have caused him to stress upon veil for the female as a barrier against male frailty. Besides, he was extremely possessive about his women, in particular Ayesha. In fact, he hoped that she were dead ahead of him, in spite of the fact that wives of the prophet were barred from a fresh nuptial.
The Islamic veil thus, is the legacy of a man, who genuinely respected women while at the same time believing them to be objects of male possession, if not their vassals as such. And ironically, it is his dual attitude towards women that denies the fair sex of Islam the feel-good that a normal socializing would have afforded them!
Though the medieval man’s attitude towards women was no different from that of Muhammad, the burkha that Islam ordains them, deprives them whatever little freedom their sisters of other faiths have! Thus, if the globe were to become an umma as Muhammad had dreamed, and should its mullahs come to reign, as they would in such an eventuality, half of it would be reduced to walking tents for all that. On this score, can it not be said that Islam, exhibiting its lack of concern for the female well-being, is inimical to the development of half of its believers? And yet, some hypocritical apologists of the burkha would have it that what the Muslim women are hiding from the public view is not their persona but their poverty exemplified by the rags they wear!
However, the moot point that Islam misses here is the need for the male to develop self-restraint in the society of women and not to veil them. But then, if the veil is so vital for the niyyat (character) of the Musalmans, why Islam has no remedy for those male believers living in the non-veiling societies of ‘the others’? The answer to this, as well as to other predicaments of the Islam is that Muhammad had devised Islamic code for the Arabic culture and society of his time and not beyond.
And it’s naïve to think it’s the God’s Will for He didn’t ordain veiling of the Jewish and the Christian women. What is worse, while providing no clues for the Islamic adaptation to the changing times, the Quran and the sharia blindly bind the Musalmans to the medieval values, don’t they? Thus Islam has become ‘a square peg in the round hole’ syndrome for the Musalmans everywhere.
Be that as it may, if veiling the fair sex is the cure for adultery, then it would have been still worth its cloth, if not for anything but to avert the exploitation of women. And it’s not the case either. Thus, it’s an irony of Islam that in veiling its women it veils the vision of its men as well. It is this mind-set of the Musalmans that made the word of a believing woman unequal to that of the male believer in the Islamic evidentiary value system! Nonetheless, Muslim women are wont not to complain about this and such gender biases of Islamic socio-religious practice and precepts. And that speaks for the potential for, or lack of it, to the mental development of women in the Islamic socio-religious fold.
Continued to "Shackles of Sharia"
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