By Manzar Imam
New Delhi: The ongoing furore over hijab is part of the process to put woman to troublous times when she was not treated even as being with a soul, leave aside giving her any rights. These views were expressed by Maulana Ateeq Ahmad Qasmi Bastawi, a senior teacher of hadīth and Islamic jurisprudence at Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow, during a special lecture on “Rights of Women: The Islamic Shariah and Western Perspectives”, organized by Islamic Fiqh Academy (IFA) India on 18 February, 2022.
Maulana, who is also secretary, academic affairs, IFA, said that the so-called movement for women’s liberation is in fact a deception whereby further injustice is done to women by burdening them with dual duties, while Islam brought her on an equal footing to man, gave her the right and dignity she was long denied. The first among those rights is the right to live. Elaborating on that, he said that a girl child was so abhorred in the pre-Islamic Arabia and other societies that she was buried alive at birth. The second right given to her is the right to education, then the right to own and inherit property, something which no other religion has so clearly defined.
The modern slogan of equality is devoid of the wisdom of Islam, Bastawi said. The clamour that there is no difference between man and woman is yet another injustice because “it takes away from her many safeguards and tasks her with duties that are men’s.”
A father’s legal responsibility ends when a son becomes an adult but it does not when it comes to a daughter. It remains a legal duty of the father towards his daughter until she is married off, which is not there in many European countries even today. And that is just a phase of “shifting of duty from one man to another” as the wife then becomes the responsibility of her husband. And, it does not end there too. If the husband dies or separation happens for some reason, the responsibility once again falls on the father or other male members of the family, something found only in Islam, the Maulana asserted. He, however, lamented that Muslims themselves were failing to practice Islam in its true sense and earning it a bad name. By failing to practice, “Muslims have made the essential look unessential.” He also drew attention to the un-Islamic practice of abortion and unnecessary formalities in the conduct of nikah of conscientious couples which is causing problems both among Hindus and Muslims. Muslims must live with their identity to secure as Sikhs do, it doesn’t count as a legal basis though, but it makes an important point.
Maulana Bastawi said that “Islam is not merely a set of few tenets. It covers all aspects of human life and its necessities for which there are clear references either in the Qur’an or the body of Prophetic traditions”, but unfortunately, people do not have the right knowledge and fail to understand many things which are an essential part of a Muslim’s life. Purdah, or hijab is one of them which is being forcibly denied by [mis]use of law. He also said that many misconceptions arise either due to ignorance or not following Islam by some Muslims. It is therefore advisable for Muslims to abide by Islamic guidelines in their every-day life. Dress and comportment are among those important things, he added.
The vagueness in the Constitution in matters of religion is often misrepresented in some court rulings whereas “it should be left to Muslim legal experts and especially ‘ulama to define what comes under Islam and what does not”, said Mufti Ahmad Nadir Al-Qasmi, a senior mufti at IFA.
In his presidential remarks, Maulana Dr Abdul Qadir Qasmi called the lecture timely and useful and maintained that Islam is often misunderstood due to non-practice of many of its core ideals. He therefore appealed Muslims to act upon its teachings.
The lecture was attended by a good number of ‘ulama, academics, intellectuals and media persons including office-bearers of IFA.