I can see the pitfalls of supporting strategies this sort of as hijab: Noorjehan Safia Niaz

I can see the pitfalls of supporting strategies this sort of as hijab: Noorjehan Safia Niaz

Instead of speaking about real points a lot of these as instruction, authorized rights or

Instead of speaking about real points a lot of these as instruction, authorized rights or livelihood, we have now allowed the narrative to be hijacked by the correct wing, says the activist and co-founder of Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan

Alternatively of talking about precise troubles resembling education, authorized rights or livelihood, we have now permitted the narrative to be hijacked by the acceptable wing, claims the activist and co-founder of Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan

Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-founder of the Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), is a well-liked voice within the discourse on Muslim ladies’s authorized rights. Customary in 2007 and with round only one lakh ladies as members, BMMA has actively campaigned for lawful reforms and was one explicit of the 5 petitioners within the triple talaq circumstance, apart from submitting petitions in opposition to polygamy and nikah halala. BMMA has additionally been pushing for codification of Muslim particular person legislation based totally on the Structure and a feminist interpretation of the Koran. Its do the job has not been uncomplicated, specifically with the pushback from a bit of civil tradition. Because the hijab controversy rages, Noorjehan shares BMMA’s placement. Excerpts:

What’s your get on the hijab controversy in Karnataka’s schools?

What’s happening in Karnataka is a fairly ideal-wing Hindutva place in opposition to the [Muslim] group. They’ve been endeavor it for lots of a very long time, no matter whether or not it’s ‘Corona jihad’ or the episodes of lynching. The [Muslim] group has been pushed to the wall. How are you going to stop college students from shifting into [college] premises? They’ve a ultimate to show them selves. When schools have the suitable to determine what their uniform actually ought to be, earlier than imposing a choice, why may discussions with all stakeholders not be held? Clearly, as a result of the purpose was to communalise, polarise, and press the group right into a nook.

Does BMMA oppose the hijab as an assertion of id or that hijab is necessary to Islam?

Feminists have questioned the patriarchal, misogynist logic guiding the veil, the  ghoonghat. We can not decrease the hijab to a topic of id or neighborhood. Actually, there are different approaches of asserting one’s identification. That the hijab is important to Islam can be a superficial, reductionist comprehension of the religion. Islam isn’t about how considerably of my head is included, the dimensions of my sleeve, how prolonged is my abaya. Islam is about equality, justice, data, compassion, prayers, fasting it’s all these values which can be the muse of Islam. What’s missing within the present-day debates is the spiritual, cosmological comprehending of Islam. The correct wing’s vicious propaganda in opposition to the neighborhood can be not serving to.

The problem lies in [men’s] interpretation of non secular texts. Once we begun to learn the texts, we realised there is no such thing as a this sort of problem as triple talaq. On polygamy, additionally, there’s a verse [in the Koran] that claims that you would be able to marry additional than one girl. However in the exact same chapter, an extra verse states that even when it’s your ardent must deal with them equally, you merely can not, so marry solely a single.

Can the hijab be noticed then as a voluntary, cultural observe pretty than an enforced a single?

The group is assorted, and so are the strategies. However prior to now ten years or so, I’ve found three-yr-olds, five-yr-olds staying designed to decorate in a hijab — precisely the place is choice in that? Even with grownup females, do households critically give them a different? However the place is the house to go over these myriad features on this type of a polarised surroundings?

Contemplating the truth that I’m from the group, I can see the pitfalls of supporting procedures resembling hijab. I recall fairly a couple of circumstances the place I’ve skilled complete strangers — younger and aged grownup males, and the second a younger lady — stroll as much as me in public and query my alternative of dressing. The impunity, the audacity with which your personal house could be violated!

My sister lives in Bhendi Bazaar — the oldest Muslim ghetto in Mumbai — and is maybe the one 1 there who wears a sari. Women have arrive to her property and informed her she shouldn’t be carrying a single.

As a substitute of chatting about genuine issues, the narrative is acquiring diverted. This isn’t unbelievable for the [Muslim] neighborhood it’s not glorious for the nation.

Even when BMMA opposed triple talaq, you encountered pushback from many ladies’s groups…

It’s understandable that non secular teams would oppose us. However secular, liberal feminist groups stood from us and overtly condemned our do the job. Even in the midst of the triple talaq dialogue, they didn’t stand together with Muslim ladies’s demand from clients for a simply, humane relations laws. Quite, they selected to side with the conservative spiritual teams from the [Muslim] neighborhood. This time, manner too, these groups — besides Shabnam Hashmi — have taken the scenario of reinforcing hijab as a matter of id. They wish to appear inside simply to the destruction they’re producing the Muslim girl’s trigger.

Pursued her Masters at Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Joined NGO YUVA to do the job with marginalised Muslim households in Mumbai

Started doing the job for rehabilitation of victims after the 1992 Babri-relevant Mumbai riots

Co-launched BMMA in 2007 as a substitute progressive voice for Muslim females

How can this nervousness of enjoying into the suitable wing’s agenda be countered

We should stand in opposition to all types of fundamentalism. Why can’t the secular feminist teams say that however we stand with you [those fighting to be allowed to wear the hijab], we actually do not agree with you? Why not say ‘I stand with Muslim ladies for his or her acceptable to teach by themselves, however this isn’t what you should be combating for’?

We’re obvious that we actually don’t stand with Hindu fundamentalists. However we’re additionally preserving our distance from this narrative [that hijab is essential or part of our identity]. Feminist groups have the privilege of language and the capability to amass positions. So why not now? Every particular person predicament isn’t black and white, there are shades of grey. 

Clarify to us about BMMA’s extensive-standing must codify Muslim explicit regulation?

By 2037, it will likely be a century of depriving the Muslim neighborhood of a codified regulation. We now have been buying bits and elements — Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 Shah Bano [Muslim Women (Protection on Divorce Act), 1986] and now, triple talaq. Hindus, Christians, Parsis, all religions have skilled their explicit pointers codified. However every particular person time we elevate issues, we’re instructed that the ‘time isn’t proper’ or ‘why are you bringing in faith’, ‘why do you require particular person legal guidelines’? So, the Muslim girl should not enhance her difficulties?

We’re not heading to a political event, events happen and go we’re approaching institutions these as courts and the Parliament. Today, it’s the BJP, however what did the Congress do [during Shah Bano]? Or, for that problem, what was the Shiv Sena finishing up 30 a very long time prior to now? We merely can not ignore what they did to us, and we can not permit them neglect presumably.

Have secular feminist groups severed engagement with the federal authorities? Are they not paying taxes? Have been being they not glad when homosexuality was decriminalised by this authorities? However after we talk of authorized reforms for the local people, we’re instructed we’re stooges of the federal authorities!

Now, the federal government wants to lift the age of relationship for women from 18 to 21. If the Bill is handed, will the regulation apply to her [Muslim woman] or will spiritual guidelines that allow relationship at 15 a number of years apply?

You say that troubles this type of as hijab are diverting consideration from the intense issues of Muslim ladies. What are individuals issues that we have now to must be speaking about?

We now have been repeatedly conversing about schooling and livelihood issues. We now have simply opened a daycare centre in a district exterior Mumbai dad and mom skilled to spend a small charge to make use of it, however they aren’t in a position to afford to pay for even that. At our instructing programmes, women demand from clients jobs. All through the previous lockdown, we organized scholarships for thus fairly a couple of younger youngsters.

What about worldwide stances on the hijab, as in France, as an illustration? Are there courses to be learnt from there?

There’s a must have for additional introspection. In a multicultural tradition with people of various faiths, there’s typically a will want for give and purchase, variations, and lodging. However at the same time as we condemn the right-wing and extremely-secular tactic of the French federal authorities, what are we endeavor to ourselves, our faith? Why did we not purchase up positive troubles in the neighborhood, enabling as a substitute the correct wing to hijack the agenda?

The author is a Fulbright alumna and Director, Alliance for Know-how Development and Dialog.