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Muslim women: Neither hidden nor exposed

Updated Jun 05, 2012 04:56pm


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Muslim women: Neither hidden nor exposedThe Islamic culture of segregation of sexes was based on early marriages that sought to curtail sexual frustration, but economic pressures and evolving social attitudes are rapidly changing this tradition.

Those living in urban areas, particularly the educated middle class, are in their 30s when they get married - and until then, they are expected to live celibate lives. However, it does not seem to work, particularly as the society opens up with the passage of time.

More and more women are coming out of their sheltered places. There are girls’ schools and colleges in every city, town and even in big villages. Thousands of women go out to work every day. So the chances of unmarried men and women meeting each other are stronger now than ever before, which is shifting social and moral attitudes slowly but surely. Until the 1960s, it was common to see veiled women in the cities. In many Islamic countries, such as Pakistan, it has become as less common sight.

This mixing of sexes is not always “benign” as most Muslims would like to believe. Many Muslim men claim to have had more than one affair before their marriage. Most of these affairs, they claim, are platonic but many also acknowledge having sex before marriage and not many have recourse to prostitution. So who are their partners?

If you suggest that they have been intimate with girls from their neighbourhoods, schools and work-places, they get offended. “Our girls? Never. They never do such things,” is the usual answer. This has created a strange attitude toward women. Most men want women before they are married but are reluctant to acknowledge it.

It is considered wrong to express your desires to a woman. But not many hesitate to touch, pinch or even grope a woman when walking in a busy street or bazaar. Rubbing hands against a woman’s body is so common in most Muslim cities that there probably is no woman who has never been rubbed or touched. Some men even try to put their hands inside her veil.

If a man is caught doing this he is beaten, often badly. But if he is not caught, he boasts about his exploits in the bazaar with a sense of pride, like a hunter discussing his successes. There are few who condemn such behaviour, but the same people would very enthusiastically join in beating one of their ‘kind’ if he is caught in the act.

Sometimes Muslims also can be very expressive, very open. Sex is not something you discuss in public but nobody stops the quack doctors and the itinerant sex experts from doing so on the roadside. The expert describes every action and every gesture in vivid detail, often with the help of Western sex magazines. And nobody seems to mind.

It is bad for a woman to show her body in public, so she has to be properly covered when she goes out. A young woman is not even supposed to buy her own under-garments until she is old. Before that, the shopping is done by her husband if she is married or by her mother or grandmother if she is single.

But it is not bad for a shopkeeper to display the same goods. Some stores love to display bras. I have never seen so many bras, in all colours and sizes, displayed from every angle, outside the Muslim world. They stare at you from store windows. Sometimes they festoon the store doorway.

Such displays are more than a mere device to sell the merchandise. Often it is an expression of the store owner’s sexuality or perhaps an attempt to lure a male customer into the shop. Youngsters can be seen staring wide-eyed at the forbidden goods. They often go inside for a closer look and end up buying something else to justify the visit.

Television and newspaper advertisements are full of sexual innuendos. Sometimes women can be seen promoting even exclusively male objects, such as a razor blade or an after-shave. When it comes to appreciating female beauty, Muslims are partial to blondes.

Fashion models in the Islamic world have mastered the art of exposing everything - while at the same time keeping a token cover-up. The qameez or the sari never slips but they can show all the curves and contours.

All this hide-and-seek has made women extremely vulnerable. They are no more the objects behind the veil that they used to be. They are no more protected from the male eyes by the four-walls and the thick curtains that separated their world from that of the men. Yet at the same time they are not allowed to come out and live with confidence.

This half-hidden and half-exposed woman gets neither the respect the Muslim culture claims to give her, nor the economic strength the opportunity to come out and work for a living provides her. She is no longer a traditional Muslim, and therefore, does not enjoy the protection her position behind the veil automatically provided her. And neither is she a fully liberated worker, like those in the West, and therefore lacks the confidence that economic freedom brings.

How does a woman feel living in such an environment?

When I saw M. K., she was playing with clay. With a pair of restless hands she would separate a piece from a lump lying on her table, shape it up, make a figure and flatten it, only to reshape it, make another and flatten it again. I watched her quietly for a few minutes and then asked her why she was doing that.

“I like playing with clay. It is so soft, so gentle, changes shape so easily. But despite its adaptability it has a definite character,” she said.

M was one of five young women artists who were exhibiting their work at a gallery in Islamabad. It was their first major exhibition and they were all excited. These were young, educated, self-confident and forward-looking women who wanted to “come out and make our contribution to developing the place where we are born,” as one of them said.

Four of the five girls had spent four years learning creative art. Now they were graduating with an intention to go out and make their mark. Before coming here, four of them studied journalism and psychology. The fifth, A. M., was a senior student and already had participated in several exhibitions.

“What does the future hold for you?” I asked one of the graduating students.

“Anything I want. Things have changed now. Ours is not the first group of girls graduating from a school or a college in Pakistan. There are hundreds of thousands of educated women in this country. Many are working outside their homes. There are women in the judiciary, in police, in engineering and at senior positions in the bureaucracy. We now even have women pilots. So I think the time has come for men to stop worrying about our future. We can take care of ourselves,” she said.

All the women said they had a strong desire to communicate with others through their work. When asked why they had not chosen journalism after studying it, they said they did not find words strong enough to communicate their feelings and so they went for a stronger medium.

N. S. is a painter. She paints portraits that are not portraits because she masks the faces of her subjects. When I asked her why, she said: “I want the viewers to try and see the real face behind the mask without removing it. It is important that we learn to do that.”

She said most people hide behind something to cover their real faces. “They carry several masks with them. One is for their family, another for their friends, one for their colleagues and yet another for their bosses. They keep changing the masks according to the occasion. To understand these people you have to unmask them, layer by layer, and then perhaps you can see their real faces.”

N uses bright colours. “People prefer to show the brighter side of their personalities. But I use the mask to expose their dark side, too,” she said.

P.M. is a sculptor. She creates female figures. One of her women is shown drowning in a whirlpool. “This is the whirlpool of race, colour, creed and religion. We are all drowning in it,” she said. She also was displaying caged women: some totally trapped in their cages, others at the brink of freedom.

She said she had distorted their faces and twisted their figures to show “how lack of freedom distorts a human being.”

P comes from a family that placed no restrictions on her. She was free to do what she wanted to. “Yet I want more freedom. I want to be free of all ties, emotional or physical.” She selected sculpture because of its “three-dimensional affect and also because it gives me more freedom to express myself.”

A Malik was also a sculptor but different from P. Her figures were tender, more feminine. They had all the curves of a female body but the faces were covered in veils. Those not wearing veils had no faces. “I am not displaying veiled figures. It is not their faces that they are hiding, it is their fears,” she said.

Fears of what? “Perhaps my women are afraid of the society, perhaps of masked men and the bearded priest or maybe they are afraid of themselves. Don’t ask me. Look around and you will find the answer,” she said.

M. A. was different from all others. Her paintings had an Islamic touch. In one of her works the “kalima” or the Muslim declaration of faith was shown emerging from behind an abstraction of lines and curves. Domes and minarets dominated her other paintings.

She does not see a conflict between the past and the present. “What we are now is because of what we were yesterday,” she said. “We are Muslims and we can’t deny that. Similarly, we also can’t deny that we live in today’s world.”

She said she was completely at ease with “what we are” and did not see the need to “act out an alien culture.”

Women are always at ease with themselves. The problem is some men are not at ease at all when there are women around. Will they ever learn to accept women as they are?

The author is a correspondent for Dawn, based in Washington, DC.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


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Anwar Iqbal is a correspondent for Dawn, based in Washington, DC.

Comments (102) Closed

huddi Jun 03, 2012 03:33pm
Maybe you should enlighten yourself with the statistics of rape in Pakistan! Not only on women but also on the street kids, and lets not forget the tribal customs! Then talk about the western world.
Saima Jun 03, 2012 03:52pm
Its really a daring and thought provoking article. There is a need to discourage the late marriages in order to save our youth to be astray!!! What i feel which is becoming the real cause of loosing our values.
maryam Jun 03, 2012 05:07pm
thn men who dont like their daughters or sisters to be stared at SHOULD NOT make life misereble for other women...................please.
huddi Jun 03, 2012 02:55pm
The answer is actually quite evident. Hiding behind Islamic laws, but never actually attempting to better oneself with their guidance. Majority of the Muslim men talk about women having to cover themselves, but not one of them will ever say, I do not have to stare at a woman. The bottom line being, even if a woman walks naked, men should have the decency not to stare at her or to take her dignity. This is the discipline which Islam teaches.
TXDTTT Jun 03, 2012 11:51am
Turns out you're just as oblivious of the women living in Pakistan. You think that Pakistan is a harrassment and rape - free society? The point of this article isn't to let women strip in public but to give them the choice to do as they please without anyone emotionally or physically dictating them.
TXDTTT Jun 03, 2012 11:46am
People like you will always succeed to get on my nerves. It might be self satisfying to act according to the Islamic Law, but its not a must for everyone. AND NO, Islam might be the right way of life but it is NOT the only right way of life. If this were true Pakistan would be a first world country supplying aid to Australia, Sweden and Switzerland. You are NO ONE to decide.
TXDTTT Jun 03, 2012 11:43am
I think the author is right in pointing out that men aren't comfotable with how women are, however its not only the men, even women discriminate against women. I used to live in an apartment in Islamabad and there were always those 'aunties' sitting in their windows or balconies spying on these girls just to mess around with their lives. A very contradicting society indeed. Men looking at pornography, harassing girls and committing homosexual acts is all normal but when a girl/woman does, its all very bizarre and shameful. Pakistan has a long way to go in liberalizing women. Its the 3rd most dangerous place for women in the world afterall.
Srini Jun 07, 2012 06:49pm
Ok. So what happens if someone does not want to follow this prescription, and they want to do it differently. for example say a woman who wants to be the bread winner, or a male who does not want the Prophet to be his role model. Is there an allowance in Islam for those people? Nope, that is where Islam fails. You cannot force choices on individuals. You cannot force rolemodel on individuals. You have to let them live their life any way they please. If not, you will have a society like Pakistan and the Arab world. Sorry to bring you the truth.
El Cid Jun 21, 2012 11:04am
Give the old man a break, or atleast overlook his senility...but your obsevation is sound.
Dhruv Jun 04, 2012 01:19pm
You should better look into the reason why Bibi Ayesha declared war against the 4th Caliph and then decide whether she did right or wrong rather than denouncing her just because she declared war against the 4th Caliph
Dhruv Jun 04, 2012 01:25pm
Dude, the same is true for our country, India, as well
A.S Jun 04, 2012 01:33pm
We need to be more like the European / Russian and N. American countries. Enough of these old ways.
KayT Jun 05, 2012 04:25am
well that classic case is everywhere in muslim majority countries!
Modesty Jun 04, 2012 10:28am
Oh people, Islam is the only religion that calls for modesty when all else is corrupt and moving with the times. Rasullah said once a person's modesty has gone, let them do what they want. This is an integral part of the faith and the systematic campaign to undermine every aspect of Islam from women to Halal food makes Muslims want to discover Islam for themselves and practice the faith more. I ask you, if Islam oppresses women, why are so many women in the west and elsewhere becoming Muslim? Why do they choose to wear the Hijab and even the full niqab/veil? They realise that society is over-sexualised and Islam stops everything from the root. Prevention is better then a cure. Alcohol has some benefits but Islam stops it. Looking at beautiful women for men has temporary benefits but what happens when men cannot control their desires? They will commit sexual crimes that are rampant and widespread in the west and is becoming more common in Muslim countries too. Muslims have made things difficult for themselves such as a ridiculous amount of dowry / mahr needed for marriage etc... And the so called moderate Muslims, please do no fall into the trap of liberating Islam as it is mentioned in the Quran, "...enter into Islam completely" Look at the UAE, their women are covered from head to toe but are they oppressed? They have separate gathering for women are the also oppressed driving a mercedes car and the latest Gucci handbag? Our minds need to literally be washed wear women are used to satisfy the lusts of men.
Vigilant Jun 04, 2012 10:36am
Good read
Modesty Jun 04, 2012 10:52am
Oh people, Islam is the only religion that calls for modesty when all else is corrupt and moving with the times. Rasullah said once a person's modesty has gone, let them do what they want. This is an integral part of the faith and the systematic campaign to undermine every aspect of Islam from women to Halal food makes Muslims want to discover Islam for themselves and practice the faith more.
El Cid Jun 10, 2012 01:25pm
They don't know me except from my comments. When they vote on them it ricochets back at them...and defines the status of women in their homes and lives. That should be obvious even to you.
El Cid Jun 08, 2012 10:50am
All those negatives suggests that the women in your homes are maids, servants and slaves rather than monarch, princesses and queen of the household...!!!
BuSaif Jun 03, 2012 10:21am
So the point is??
Socrates Jun 03, 2012 10:21am
Your analogy is wrong. Both doctors and lawyers in western countries have equal rights when it comes to marriage, divorce, testimony, inheritance, getting beaten up, and more. Islam does not give women equal rights. For example a man can divorce a woman very easily by uttering "talaaq" three times. not so for women. When parents dies the woman gets only half the inheritance of the male heirs. When did 1/2 become equal to 1?
Rana Jun 04, 2012 10:06am
Things are changing with time and are getting norms of the society. Almost every parent wants to send his/her daughter to school. At least it is their wish. In 70's norm was to wear the veil now it cant be seen even in the villages of upper Punjab. Wearing jeans by a gal was taboo a few years ago, now it is a norm at least in the big cities. I do not argue what is wrong or what is right? Women have now more rights. I dont know why women do not move freely. Nobody harms them.
El Cid Jun 21, 2012 10:47am
Excellent observation.
shaukat Ali Jun 11, 2012 12:27am
Good and i agreed to his views.
Ajaz Hussain Jun 04, 2012 09:27am
Well Written---in depth Analysis!!! We should not draw line of western and eastern women. The answer is very simple. A women even a man should dress in a way which is considred to be the dress of a civilized person in that society. I am not demanding for vail in muslim world but exposing body is bad attitutd. In a society like pakistan a moderate women should wear full cloths with Dupata on head.
El Cid Jun 05, 2012 04:09am
Non-sequitur. Does not follow. Poor logic. Apples and oranges.
El Cid Jun 13, 2012 11:12am
@Romi: Actual there is a lot going on. It is called primitive license: Satiation, not ease. Please study primitive culture some more. Civilization and clothes go together. Modesty is an adornment worth treasuring.
pr sharma Jun 15, 2012 10:30am
"females have similar rights but different roles they are adapted to and there is no question about it," When the men decides the role of women and which can not be questioned ( means it is imposed on them). where is the equal rights. this is hypocrisy.
sana fatima Jun 04, 2012 08:20am
i wud just say that the author has not actually blamed islam for any thing wrong infact he is saying that islam has to be fully implemented equally on men n women both...a girl can go out in special circumstances for education,job etc,islam doesnt restricts her from that but its the responsibility of the society n men to give them respect !!!
El Cid Jun 13, 2012 03:15pm
The more this disinformation campaign against Islam proceeds the more intelligent independent thinking people want to verify from the Quran for themselves...and realize the beauty, knowledge, and wisdom it offers.
Abu Jadeed Jun 04, 2012 08:57am
Religion and religious issue are sacred for those who followed them and not to others.keep remember plz.
Jut Jun 06, 2012 02:21pm
The author of "Muslim women: Neither hidden nor exposed" has clearly depicted the real picture of the place women in in Islamic States!
Farhan Jun 05, 2012 06:53am
Hello everyone, The article is absolutely right, the mans are guilty for it some time we treat women like dirt you have example of treble areas that whats going on with women there, having sold women like goods they thinks that they are human as well as offend we give them freedom beyond measure. in order to make society prosper we need to gives equal rights to women hope no buddy mind.. Thanks
abdal Jun 02, 2012 11:56am
I am glad somebody tried to find out the real fact behind muslim veil.
maryam Jun 02, 2012 12:02pm
Well written but some "facts" were definitely exagerated or should I say misinformed
zyn Jun 02, 2012 12:06pm
Stop drinking, stop fornicating, stop small minded unethical, liberal fascist, one liner answers to the Islamic tradition and laws of 1400 years. If you think ways of western women_is the answer then you are in fools paradise. No one is perfect, that does_not mean one should justify destroying all boundaries.
Muhammad Ilyas Khan Jun 02, 2012 03:20pm
Very insightful write-up. The ending says it all: Women are always at ease with themselves. The problem is some men are not at ease at all when there are women around. Will they ever learn to accept women as they are?
Kami Jun 02, 2012 12:14pm
Could not make sense of the article at all. Started out as an excerpt from a Nancy Friday's book , proceeded on to being a live commentary on some art exhibition and ended up in nothing. Thoughts flickering through ones complex neural linkages might not necessarily make sense to others, especially if you don't proof read your first draft...... A total waste of time.
Mian Zahid Jun 02, 2012 12:56pm
What is the purpose of publishing such a piece? Do you want to bring the same shamelessness and corruption to our women that plague western women?
Ataullah Jun 02, 2012 01:10pm
The islamic culture of segregation of sexes was based on the clear commands of Allah documented in quran and sunnah not on early marriages. All the muslims were/are required to keep their gazes down. Those who cannot/ could not afford marriage are/were required to fast more.
Salman Jun 02, 2012 01:12pm
I don't think most educated men have problem with women working or expressing themselves, like one of the interviewee said, we are all Muslims and we can't deny that, we have restrictions as an Islamic society and not just on women but also on men. And yes we probably need to enforce the restriction more properly on men! men get away when they shouldn't. I think its mainly because of lack of Islamic education in our system. Yes due to economic pressure, we can't marry early anymore, but that should change once we are on the right economic path. What I am trying to say is, if men are doing wrong, doesn't mean women should also start doing wrong, two wrongs doesn't make a right.
aaa Jun 02, 2012 01:53pm
There are always these unwritten rules which people are following. Always a hide and seek going on and the ones who master these unwritten rules somehow are the successful ones in any culture. __ Something which always surprizes me in every culture is not the lack of freedom or excess of it but the points where the ''criticism'' or ''blaming'' comes. __ A man will never get the same criticism as a woman nomatter where one goes. Blame mainly lies towards a woman if the house is unclean, child upbringing is bad, bad manners , verbal abusive language is used by a woman. The list is never ending, what sort of decor you have of the house, what sort of people you invite home, what sort of routines you have at home. How long your children are out of the house everything in the end if goes wrong a woman is blamed more than a man.
Haniya Jun 02, 2012 03:10pm
“Yet I want more freedom. I want to be free of all ties, emotional or physical.” SPOT ON!
Introspection Jun 04, 2012 09:16am
A classic case of the Qur'anic injunction's mis-translation, and mis-interpretation. You have a long way to go growing up in understanding your Creator's instructions and mandate, and its implications in denial and rebellion against His Will...Cheers!
Cyrus Howell Jun 02, 2012 03:41pm
After the Chinese Revolution in 1949 the idea of the parents choosing a husband or wife for their children was abandoned. What I object to about arranged marriages are the parents keeping their children children all their lives. "You can't make your own decisions. Daddy and Mummy will make your decisions for you." Maybe that is all right for women who do not have to leave the house for the Real World.
Pasha Jun 02, 2012 03:49pm
Poor women living in Muslim World. I feel sorry for them. Pakistani People ( society ) are very complex. They want freedom , however they still maintained Islam is solution to all their problems. We should change the name of our country--- from Pakistan to ARABISTAN..T or may ISLAMISTAN..thats the solution.
shriyansh Jun 02, 2012 04:29pm
annas Jun 02, 2012 04:35pm
Men are not at ease in the presence of women because this is not a Western Society and Islam teaches us to stay away from the Na Mahram. How would you feel once some one is staring at your daughter or sister.
Mustafa Razavi Jun 02, 2012 05:47pm
Another Western view of the Muslim society. In the West, equality for women means copying men. They haven't asked women what they want, their media has been telling women what they want.
krahim Jun 02, 2012 05:51pm
Bigots will speak very loud against such issues and talk against western women! when they themselves will ogle shamelessly and try to pass themselves before their young ones as the holiest. There is a great difference between the translation of a verse and the interpretation of the verse. Men with weakness in their own character will exploit the verses from the Koran to interpret for his vested interest!
Vin Jun 02, 2012 05:59pm
Good article, it exposes men's hippocraci. Women are most of the time happy with the things the way they are, men try to impose their belief on others. We have two separate systems one for our family women and another for the women we don't know. Women treat all men equally.
asad Jun 02, 2012 06:42pm
Men are threatened and confused , Islam never was tested as now . Islam 's early women fought battles ( Bibi Ayesha commandered jang ay jamal) . Women are part of muslim community and Pakistan needs educated women in every field and walik of life . women who trangress have to answer for themselves before their maker. So men grow up and do not force your cultural absurdities on Islam .
Doop Jun 02, 2012 07:13pm
It actually showcases the shamelessness and hypocrisy of some (not all!) men, that is its purpose according to my interpretation.
Janjua Jun 02, 2012 08:44pm
I think this is a good article. Most (not all) mulsim men are totally hypocritical, liers and pretend they want women to behave in certain ways while themslves indulging in all possible 'wrongdoings'. I think author highlights that point well.
Joe Highlander Jun 02, 2012 09:25pm
I guess there is no benefit from discussing what religion demands and what culture demands. On another issue, I think it is hoping too much that people will use their higher brain function to keep the impulses generated by certain parts of brain and hormones, in proper check. What I feel sorry the most is for ladies who spend their almost entire life confined to a house, often very small house.
Naseema Perveen Jun 02, 2012 09:30pm
to create awareness among the people to avoid bad things..its bit obvious i guess
haydar Jun 02, 2012 10:02pm
I am not being an ultra-conservative person here but how are men and women equal? Men are stronger, rougher more physical while women are kinder, gentler and more sensitive. Women have several rights in Islam that bring them level to males like they don't have to spend earned money on the family, they can keep it for themselves. But, they are suited to different roles. To say that men and women are not equal in Islam is like saying doctors and lawyers are not equal. They have similar rights, but different roles they are adapted to and there is no question about it.
ali Jun 02, 2012 11:03pm
I think that is why they call it Islamic Republic. Whatever that means. When I lived in Lahore in the 80's things were much better than now. It is hard to see any woman there now. I dont know where they hide and why? Unless women do not ask for their freedom and be happy shackled to religious doctrines,no one is going to give it to them.
Sarah Jun 03, 2012 12:05am
Dude what are you talking about?
Qutub Jun 03, 2012 12:25am
Huda Jilani Jun 04, 2012 05:20pm
Hazrat Khadija was a businessoman.. Hazrat Umme Ammara saved the Prophet's SAW life in a ghazwa.. still not the rolemodel u'd want for your daughter sir??
masmanz Jun 03, 2012 01:26am
The author says: "And neither is she a fully liberated worker, like those in the West, and therefore lacks the confidence that economic freedom brings." Living in Washington he should not be so oblivious to the plight of women in the West. Just reading simple statistics on rape and aggravated assault against women would put things in proper perspective. A worker is not 'liberated' in the real sense of the word. The plight of working women in Pakistan, especially those of lower middle or poor class is not hidden from anyone. Far from bringing any economic freedom or confidence it just brings them misery, as they are forced by their lazy husbands to work even more.
Romi Jun 03, 2012 02:00am
All this discussion by men on appropriately covering the woman's body under the guise of maintaining decorum only reeks of an excessive fascination with the woman's body. There are so-called primitive tribes in the Amazon rainforest where people walk around with barely any clothes on, and nobody bothers. The men show more maturity and ease with women around unclothed than in modern societies with fully covered women. Grow up, men.
Mustafa Razavi Jun 03, 2012 03:59am
@Mian Zahid. I agree.
Haya Jun 03, 2012 04:02am
What's new in this article? Aren't the things mentioned in it are already known to the society?
farhan ahmed Jun 03, 2012 04:33am
Being a muslim we must not cross the boundaries of Islam.The real happy successful life can be achieved by acting according to Quran and Sunnah.May Allah help and bless us.Ameen
shirin Jun 03, 2012 05:09am
Western women don't get groped on buses and sidewalks. I wear a hijab and live in the west, and I can tell you for a a fact that it is far easier to be a women in the west than in Muslim man's world. Here, men keep their eyes and their hands to themselves. I can walk whereever the heck I want without fear, and YOU, a MAN, have no idea what that feels like. You were born with that kind of freedom, but I had to come to US to get it. Please explain me why I, with my hijab, can't be allowed to just walk to the grocery store with dignity, without being molested. And why is it that you are more concerned about "ways of western women" when "ways of Muslim men&quo!
Raheel Jun 03, 2012 06:02am
simply agree with that, but at the same time we need no to follow extremists who are against women receiving education
Qazi Jun 03, 2012 06:16am
The issues mentioned in the write up are well known to every sensible person. The writer has tried to exposed a very well known fact but failed to give any conclusion and or solution. For example, are we lacking proper legislation as for law is concerned? Is our media or civil society, ulemas doing enough to carve out this evil from our society. If not then we all must initiate a collective effort to help out women. I have never roamed around in bazars for eve teasing because my mother (woman) has brought me up in such a way. I will emphasize that women, specially mothers, hold a great responsibility in shaping up this society.
Amjad Mehmood Jun 03, 2012 07:06am Mustafa Razavi , Anwar Iqbal is a Washington based Pakistani,so this is not a western view. He discussed a very insight view of a so called Muslim society...and don't blame West for women rights or equality. and by the way when Muslims asked to women about their will, but the forced marriages and sexual relations are on the way. Muslim women have a half witness in a court of law. Women can't vote...can't drive a bike or car or can't buying alone in a shop even can't perform hajj and umra.
unknown Jun 03, 2012 07:08am
El Cid Jun 03, 2012 08:17am
Where is this information you know so much about coming from? Except for certain kidnapped 'sex-slaved' in certain US counties, European towns, and South East Asia, please name those ladies, their homes and house-holds you know so much of?
El Cid Jun 03, 2012 08:20am
Yeah...and within seconds they know the men they want and the one they don't...but can be persuaded if they insist and are persistant. You don't know much about women, do you?
El Cid Jun 03, 2012 08:50am
Mustafa Razavi is absolutely right. Anwar Iqbal appears to know little of the west--being based in Washington does not cut it. AND has forgotten much of Islam. That half-witness thingy you mention, that has been so propagandised in the western websites, is a half-truth. Please read the Noble Verse. It is very clear: 'Half a witness' only pertains to drawing of financial contracts for the woman's protection. And I have yet to see a western women, or a man, to draw a financial contract alone without consulting a CPA or Attorney legal assistance. As the Noble Quran says "Let them laugh, the last laugh will be on them". So the Hahaha may indeed be on you.
El Cid Jun 03, 2012 08:53am
YOU hit the nail on the head: A soldier returning from Baghdad told me that we have made our women shameless and we are going to do the same to Muslim women..
Abdur Razzaque Jun 03, 2012 09:15am
It is an unwanted, unimportant and irrelevant issue. Please don't play and encourage others to express some kinds of objectionable opinion regarding this kind of sensitive issues. Religion and religious issues are sacred and no one has right to comment about it..........
El Cid Jun 03, 2012 09:39am
...because in ISLAM the woman owns the house. Master of her domain. She is responsible. Monarch of all that she surveys. The buck stops with her.
El Cid Jun 03, 2012 09:42am
In Islam the woman holds the key to society. She sets the future. Paradise lies under her feet.
irfan Jun 03, 2012 09:49am
if showing of their modesty is freedom..they are free.......
Wasi Jun 03, 2012 08:50pm
Very well written article. However I disagree with the point of view. The argument made was that because women are stuck in a world where they are not afforded the dignity of the veil and are already being disrespected their only choice is to "live in today's times fully" and should have the financial independance. That is a false choice. Islam is not against financial freedom for women, or men. Yet it binds by our common humanity and implores us to make the right choices. Whatever a son earns "belongs to his father". Women are not required to be the bread earners of the family. The burden falls on the men. Women are asked to not make unreasonable demands on their husbands. Men are lead by example of the prophet to help with the household chores like cooking cloeaning and doing their own work like mending their clothes. Fathers are responsible for rearing their children and in case of divorce they are responsible for taking care of their offsprings. Its a beautiful balance, and we as people stuck between two worlds have disrupted. And the author uses that false argument to advocate further disbalance: Only a fool's choice
Pradip Jun 03, 2012 08:52pm
Kudos to so much flaunting - Mr Know ALL!!
Naseema Perveen Jun 03, 2012 09:14pm
one of the ever best writing i have ever come across with..which depicts reality
Nadeem Mirza Jun 03, 2012 09:27pm
Seems like you are living in paradise where men keep their gazes lower.
Nadeem Mirza Jun 03, 2012 09:34pm
Not sure what Mr. Anwer Iqbal is trying to say..... Can somebody please translate this for me?
Maqbool Jun 03, 2012 11:44pm
The word man and womwen are mentioned equal in Quran then why not have their rights equally given to them.Its not only man's world its equal for both of them the world has to live by both either of them can not be denied of their rights, men wake up dont show your manual power to put down the women,otherwise world going to fall short.women are humen too. let them have their healthy life.They are fighting together to run this world.Be men give women their rights.
jd shami Jun 04, 2012 12:47am
what Quran has to do with this article????
jd shami Jun 04, 2012 12:48am
I think u should go and live with them.
jd shami Jun 04, 2012 12:49am
all right, do it, i will be watching.
Mansoor warraich Jun 04, 2012 04:13am
I couldnt understand what the author is trying to prove about. i think i have wasted my time in reading and trying to figure out what this article is about.I have not been indoctrinated.He is sitting in Washington and trying to tell us how we live our lives in Pakistan and how the men and women in muslim world should think and interact? The author is jumping here and there and can not concentrate on any particular theory. He has no in depth knowledge of how Pakistani society operates.
masmanz Jun 04, 2012 04:46am
Talking about the plight of Western women does not mean that there is no need to improve the situation of women in Pakistan. It is just to put the things in proper perspective. And, your comment indicates that you are not familiar with the statistics.
abdal Jun 04, 2012 04:52am
Sajid Ali Jun 04, 2012 04:53am
Bibi Ayesha commanded Jang-e-Jamal against 4th Caliph, sorry but not the role-model I'm looking for my daughter or any woman for that matter. This is where the problem is with us Muslims, our knowledge of Islam is limited to what we hear from the Sermon in mosque. If we were to do research ourselves and read the history of Islam, perhaps we'll choose our examples and role-model carefully. In return, we'll have a clear understanding of religion and Sharia't in total. As per a Hadith: For a women, to look after a family and proper up-bringing of her children has equal tha'waab as it is for a men to be in the state of Jihad in battle field. Unfortunately for us, culture comes first and then religion. By no means women are not to participate in social activities, I agree that they must be in all walk of life but I'd much rather them be influenced with the religion in this regard then Bollywood or western world for that matter.
Steve Jun 04, 2012 04:58am
Keep wandering.. If you find one, do tell me
Steve Jun 04, 2012 05:05am
For god sake, be natural, what are these last two lines??
Steve Jun 04, 2012 05:06am
I second you and admit my fault.
Awais Jun 04, 2012 08:01am
These things actually do exist in society but unfortunately we're denying them we are even not ready to confront with the truth.I think, it is high time for us to recognise the society patterns beacuse we are only who fabricate, destroy or refabricate this structure.
El Cid Jun 10, 2012 02:40pm
Haniya: Your desire suggests repressed psychopathy rather than freedom.
AHA Jun 10, 2012 03:06am
Did it ever cross you mind that these negatives suggest something about you.
pradip Jun 11, 2012 05:22am
Venomous and spiteful and the Dawn editorial allows him to do that!!
El Cid Jun 12, 2012 09:04am
This is also the Christian and Jewish way according to the Bible...actually the Bible categorically demands that the uncovered head of a Christian women be shaved bare...! Holy Mary mother of Jesus is always depicted as having her head covered and wearing a modest dress...same as Christian Nuns.
El Cid Jun 13, 2012 07:25am
Study, pray, play, fast...learn a language, climb a mountain, do charity and volunteer work to help those who have less than you in knowledge, money, experience, expertise........YOU WILL NOT GO ASTRAY!!! I PROMISE YOU.
El Cid Jun 13, 2012 07:30am
You have not stated facts. Your example is a Straw-Man.
El Cid Jun 16, 2012 04:17pm
The role of men and women are set by Nature not hypcrisy. In Islam Allah has writ the Laws of Nature. In the Noble Quran Allah promises that His laws are Immutable and Eternal. And no one can change them. In his 'Rubaiyat' Omar Khayyam translates this injunction [Sura: Al Rum] into Persian poetry as: ''The Moving Finger writes and having writ, Moves on. Nor all thy piety nor wit Shall lure it back to erase half a line, Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it." [From; The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam].