Saturday, December 30, 2006

Much Ado About the Purda !

Cartoon from India Today, cartoonist : Saurabh Singh (November 13, 2006)

Much Ado About the Purda !

Another controversy. Another debate. This time Shabana Azmi and Syed Bukhari have locked horms over the veil. To cover or not to cover the face, is the million dollar question. Vinita Chaturvedi talks to some of the well known Muslim men and women in the city, to know exactly what they feel about this issue...

When actor Shabana Azmi recently spoke about the veil, saying that the Quran does not impel women to cover their faces, the clerics took offence. Syed Ahmed Bukhari has gone to the extent of saying, ‘‘Who has authorised Shabana Azmi to interpret the Quran? Her profession is to sing and dance; she has no right to mislead Muslim women.’’

The liberal people of city, generally feel that both the parties have gone rather overboard with their reactions.

Shabbir Vali, one of the leading businessmen of Nagpur, represents the educated modern muslims in the city.

Talking about the controversy, he said, “I would say that both of them are going into extremes. Hijab doesn’t mean covering the face-- it means modesty in dressing. I come from a very liberal family --with 42 doctors in our midst. I also like well dressed ladies. My opinion is that they must dress in a dignified manner. It could be Indian, western, European or whatever! Vulgarity can’t be endorsed-- whether it is about women or even men.”

There are a few scholars in the city, who have thoroughly read the Holy Book. Farzana Husain, the Assistant Headmistress of MAK Azad Junior College, Gandhibagh, is one of them. Talking about the veil controversy, she says, “I know Arabic. And I can understand it without translation. I also take Quranic classes. The Holy book says that you should dress in a dignified manner. But there is definitely no mention of covering the face. Even then, when we talk of Shabana Azmi, she’s certainly not a practising Muslim. Going by the Quran, there are practices she doesn’t follow. Wo sirf Padaish Se Musalman Hein. Those who don’t follow the practices, must not talk so openly about such things. She has no authority. Sometimes the clerics also get over-excited. After all, when it comes to Fatwa, the public is going to ask them.”

Interventional cardiologist Dr Aziz Khan says, “The controversy itself is really unfortunate! Both Shabana and Bukhari in this case have really crossed their limits. Religion is a very personal thing, which must not be brought out of the homes. And nobody, just nobody has the authority to generalise their personal viewpoint.”

Faiz Vali,the manufacturer of pharmaceutical and Ayurvedic products feels that women must put their foot down. He states matter of fact, “Quran says that people should wear clothes which are not vulgar, provocative or indecent, that could lead to bad thoughts in others. I feel that nobody should be forced to do anything against their will.

It is upto women whether they want to cover the face or not. I also feel that it’s a man’s world because women don’t really want it. If women can’t stand up for themselves and argue their viewpoint, how will they take decisions for themselves?”

‘Dono Ka Hee Jawab Langda Hai’

Quranic expert, Padma Bhushan Abdul Karim Parekh comments...

“Shabana ji should not have made such a statement in this manner. She should have quoted an ayat of Quran to endorse her viewpoint. And Bukhari saheb also must refrain from using such strong words.

To be honest, even 99 Muslims out of 100 have not understood the Quran properly. And only those who have studied and understood the meaning of Quranic verses, must comment on it.

The Holy Book doesn’t mention the word Burqua. But we don’t object to this apparel because it serves the purpose of hiding a woman’s sheel and maryada. The word Hijab is used in Quran, which means hiding one’s body in a decent manner. Also modesty in dressing. (Refer: 24 Surah Noor Ayat 60, 24 Surah Noor Ayat 31 and 33 Surah Ahzab Ayat 59).

If a lady doesn’t wear a Burqua, we can’t force her, but we do tell her beta chadar ya odhni daal lo.

The most ironical thing is, that today 85,20,000,00 people are dying of hunger all over the world and here people are fighting over burqua! We can fight over the religion and die for it, but we can’t practice what religion preaches-- about compassion and universal brotherhood!”

from Nagpur Plus Digital (Saturday, November 4, 2006)

(I underlined the last paragraph - Mounir)

Other interesting articles on this issue :
  • Al-Ahram - Weekly online : "Who listens to Bukhari ?"
  • Calcutta Times (The Times of India) : "Lifting the veil"

  • Lucknow Times (The Times of India) : "Unveiling a debate"

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