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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Why Muslims Lag Behind


Why Muslims Lag Behind

Mike Ghouse, November 1, 2007


Khuswant Singh, whom I have admired growing up, and have religiously read his Illustrated weekly, has now written a column "Why Muslims Lag behind". I am challenging his take on four issues he contends with. i) Polygamy - ii) Burqa, iii) Alcohol iv) Pork


Polygamy


Dr. Singh got that right; marry up to four wives if you can be just. Obviously, one cannot be just to all in the real sense, one woman or the other would feel saddened, taken advantage of, or feel used due to her dependency.

The provision is not a free ticket to marry four women; it was made with a social purpose to keep the society in a balance. Rather than be at the mercy of lustful men who want to keep a woman as their concubine, the woman may feel a sense of dignity even if she is playing the 2nd, 3rd or 4th fiddle by marrying to the man. However, the first wife has to see it as a social need, rather than a man-woman relationship, she may not feel the un-justness in it and may actually wilfully authorize to save a woman from being on the street. It takes a lot of genorisity on the part of the first wife to do that.

What will you do with 300,000 + women left alone in the savage war in Iraq by the death of their husband, son, brother or father? What are the choices to rehabilitate them? Let them become carriers of Aids? Find sustenance through the only thing they can trade, given the job market, their flesh? It is a tough question and answers are not easy, the provision was made for dire situations like that. However, some people will always abuse the system, no matter what system they follow.

Personally I am against polygamy, but the provision must be guarded from being abused. Dr. Naik's example that more Hindu's are polygamist is not a good reason or logic to support one's case. Even if men keep several women as their secret girl friends, it won't justify one to marry more than one woman.


Burqa

http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2007/07/burqa-to-no-burqa.html


Dr. Naik could have simply said, that the form of Burqa that is currently in practice was not the prescription of Qur'aan, rather it was the modesty clause interpreted to mean Burqa. The current form of Burqa has become a cultural symbol in the guise of religious identity, and the culture sits deeply in one's psyche than religion, and it is not easy to drop it at one's command.

Dr. Singh’s scope is narrow for him to call Burqa as a sign of backwardness, wearing a Shalwar Kameez or Saree seems backward to the westerners. I don't believe most Indian women (except the college going girls and a few westernized ones) would give up the Saree or Shalwar Kameez for a Skirt on husband or brothers call, she just won't do it, and why should she, what is the need?

Being civilized is being able to understand free choices and let people have the freedom to wear what is comfortable to them? Who sets the standards that a woman should wear bikini, mini-skirt, Saree, Abaya, or Shalwar Kameez? Why should it bother me what a woman wears, how is it coming in my way? How would it affect her ability to do the work in an office? Let it be a free choice what the woman wants to wear, what she is comfortable with. Each society has its own threshold and it lives with its own equilibrium. Each system works where it is in vogue.

Dr. Singh is a Sikh. Is keeping the hair on his face and head uncivilized, jahilya or backwardness? Absolutely not, it is a religious requirement and there is nothing wrong adhering to one’s belief and practices, it is not hurting any one nor is it hurting the keeper.

Dr. Naik is again trying to justify what the western societies do, he imagines them to be failures, they are not, indeed, they are as much a failure as any society is. Wearing Burqa was not in response to what they do, neither is it the 100% prescription of Qur’aan, he could have done well saying that the format is rather cultural than religious. Muslim women have been wearing it for centuries, has any one lost anything with that?

Oppression of women is bad, and it has absolutely nothing to do with any religion, it is the insecure men, who seek their security by oppressing women and unjustly using their religion, culture or some other excuse.

In terms of percentage, as a standard to equalize the different sizes of populations, I believe a similar percent of American women are victims of domestic violence as Indian, Muslim or Hindu women. Abuse is a man thing and not the religion. Indeed religion continues to civilize the beast and succeeds with many but fails with some.


Pork & Alcohol



It is adhering to one’s belief. I don’t see how anyone becomes backward by not drinking or forward by drinking. I don’t see how eating or not eating pork determines the economic progress or lag of a community.

Dr. Naik should just stay with the rules of the religion, all people follow the rules of their religion whether it makes sense or not. The Hindus don’t eat beef, Muslims don’t eat the pork and oops, also prohibit alcohol, Sikhs do not cut their hair, Buddhist don’t eat meat on certain days, and same goes to catholic. It is all traditions and nothing is lost following it. It gives them a sense of belonging, which in turn gives them a sense of being complete.

One should constantly search for the wisdom of why we do things? We will always find ourselves justifying it.

Dr. Naik will lose out his argument on Pork, if he bases it on health issues alone, as that is not the issue with the western societies, Pigs are farm raised, corn raised and are usually as clean as any other animal. Kids pet them too.

There is nothing wrong subscribing to certain rituals; social or religious, following which does not make one backward or forward.

It is always the freedom of choice, live and let live that is the hall mark of civil societies. Muslims do not lag behind because of Burqa, Pork, Alcohol or polygamy. They lag behind because of the education and denied opportunties.

Reference: http://hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?id=06f7254f-ebfd-4aed-93dc-1bc5e61713a4


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Article Link: http://mikeghouse.blogspot.com/2007/11/why-muslims-lag-behind.html


Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/ and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He is the founding president of the http://www.worldmuslimcongress.com/ with a simple theme: "Good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is http://www.mikeghouse.net/ and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/ and http://mikeghouse.sulekha.com/ Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com For a full bio: http://www.mikeghouse.net/ProfileMikeGhouse.asp



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Why Muslims lag behind
By Khushwant Singh

http://hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?id=06f7254f-ebfd-4aed-93dc-1bc5e61713a4

At the recent Book Fair in Delhi there was a stall selling Islamic literature. Friends who went round the stalls told me that among the hottest sellers was Answer to Non-Muslim Common Questions About Islam by Dr Zakir Naik (Madhur Sandesh Sangam).

The learned doctor, who has a phenomenal memory when it comes to quoting chapters, verses and lines of the scriptures, has chosen 20 questions, most often asked by non-believers: they include polygamy, burqa, drinking, eating pigmeat, afterlife, and kafirs. I have heard Zakir Naik hold forth on these and other subjects several times on television before large receptive audiences, who hear him spellbound. I disagree with almost everything he has to say about misconceptions about Islam. Though by definition (a kafir), I don’t believe in God, satan, angels, devils, heaven or hell, I feel hurt and angry because I am emotionally and rationally bothered by the sorry plight of Muslims today. I find Naik’s pronouncements somewhat juvenile.

They seldom rise above the level of undergraduate college debates, where contestants vie with each other to score brownie points. I will deal with only four of the twenty topics he deals with — two of minor and two of major importance. Why is eating pigmeat forbidden in Islam? Dr Naik tells us that the "pig is one of the filthiest animals on earth."

Agreed, it eats garbage, including human and animal excreta. He further adds, “The pig is the most shameless animal on the face of the earth. It is the only animal that invites its friends to have sex with its mate" I admit I was not aware of this swinish aberration. He goes on to list 70 different types of diseases caused by eating pigmeat. He does not tell us why the vast majority of non-Muslims, non-vegetarians of the world relish pigmeat in different forms: ham, bacon, pork, sausages, salami etc.

Many Pacific island economies depend on breeding pigs. I for one have not heard of great epidemics caused by consumption of pig meat. Why is alcohol forbidden to Muslims? Actually, what is forbidden by the Quran is drunkenness, not drinking. However, Dr Naik construes it to be a sin.

He says, “Alcohol has been the scourge of human society, since time immemorial. It costs enormous human lives and terrible misery to millions throughout the world."

He lists 19 diseases, including eczema, caused by intake of liquor. One does not have to quote the scriptures to prove that excessive drinking ruins one’s health, impoverishes families, leads to bad behaviour and crime. It is plain common sense. People all over the world overdo it and suffer. Those who drink within limits enjoy it. I have been drinking for 70 years. I have not been drunk even once in my life, never fallen ill nor offended anyone.

I am 94 and still drink everyday. My role model is Asadullah Khan Ghalib. He drank every evening and alone. I look forward to my sundowners. For me and for millions of others, drinking has nothing to do with religion. Let us see what Dr Naik has to say about two more serious subjects: polygamy and hijab (veil).

“The Quran is the only religious book on the face of this earth that contains the phrase "marry only one," he asserts. And explains the verse on the subject "marry women of your choice, two, three or four; but only fear that ye shall not be able to do justice (with them), then only one". And since "ye are never able to be fair and just as between women. Therefore, the verdict is in favour of one wife at a time. "Hindus are more polygamous than Muslims," writes Dr Naik.
There are more women than men in the world; so what are women who can’t find unmarried men do except become co-wives of married men? Or become “public property?” So goes the learned doctor’s argument.

He does not deign to deal with the situation as it exists today. Every other religion other than Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism now forbids men from having more than one wife at a time.

Muslims are the sole exception though only a miniscule minority, mainly Arabs, have multiple wives. Apply for a visa to some country like Indonesia and Malaysia and you will have to fill a column naming up to four wives accompanying you. The answer to the problem of women out-numbering men is not polygamy, it is freedom to engage in extra-marital relation or have them staying single. It is better than having a harem.

Dr Naik is in favour of women wearing burqas from head to foot, girls not going to mixed schools or colleges, nor going into professional institutions in which they have to expose their faces etc. This amounts to denying them, equal rights with men. In my view, shared by all my Muslim friends, burqa is the single most reprehensible cause for keeping Muslims backward (it is synonymous to jehalat — ignorance and backwardness). The sooner it is abolished, the better. He castigates the western society in no uncertain terms: “Western talk of women’s liberalisation is nothing but a disguised form of exploitation of her body, degradation of her soul and deprivation of her honour.

“Western society claims to have uplifted women. On the contrary, it has actually degraded them to the status of concubines, mistresses, and society butterflies who are mere tools in the hands of pleasure seekers and sex marketers….” All I can say in reply is “Dr. Naik, you know next to nothing about the Western society and are talking through your skull cap. People like you are making the Muslims lag behind other communities.”

3 comments:

  1. Cant agree more with you Mr. Mike.

    These are 4 most controversial topics of Islam that everybody wants to play with and I think you have given a very apt description of each.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Islam, Pseudo Dalitism and the Philosophy of Hypocrisy

    If we look at the society around us, we find good and bad everywhere. In every stratum, in every caste, in every religion we have good and bad people. A poor should be called a poor, and a rich, a rich. Being poor doesn’t make one a good person, and being rich doesn’t make one a bad person. Goodness and Badness is not dependent one’s level of income. It’s an innate nature of human beings.

    However, this innate nature is often influenced by external conditioning – such as family environment, immediate society, education, religion etc. To a Christian or a Hindu, the influence of his religion is not as strong as that on a Muslim (male). This is because a non-Muslim is never “conditioned” to think in one way - as a Muslim man is conditioned to think. A Muslim man cannot think beyond Koran. Dr. Zakir Naik of Islamic Research Foundation rightly says that for Muslims like him Koran is the benchmark for everything. Science is okay in as far as it agrees with Koran. It’s a different matter that Muslim scholars strive to extrapolate, mince and misinterpret Koranic verses to prove that they contend with science. Koran and Science is a new area of research for these Muslim “scientists” (people like Dr. Zakir Naik) to prove that Science agrees with Koran (and, not otherwise). All developments of science - theories, postulates, theorems and axioms are there in Koran, which need to be researched, unveiled and exposed. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, Quantum theory, Concepts of relativity, Postulates of Darwin… etc. are all there in Koran. Prophet Mohammed was not only a prophet; he was also a scientist-par-excellence. He had his own research laboratory with 11 lab assistants (you guess the names). It’s an irony that the developed world doesn’t recognize his scientific genius. One Koran is enough to replace all books on Math, Physics, Chemistry, Botany, and Anthropology… by just knowing and understanding the Koran, a person can understand all the secrets of nature.

    The Rich Dalits and Muslims… Thriving on Hypocrisy and Hatred towards Hinduism

    I must not deviate. Though I am a Muslim myself (a true Muslim never deviates), I am in the habit of deviating from the right path (the path of Islam) and search for newer paths. The Koran in Surah 2 (The Heifer) talks about these hypocrites like me. I, on my part, would like to talk about the hypocrites like VT Rajshekar (Editor of magazine “Dalit Voice”), Kancha Ilaiah (of “Why I am Not a Hindu” fame), Zakir Naik (Dr. Koran)… and the likes. These people portray themselves as oppressed and subjugated – as if all the agonies and sorrows on earth have befallen them. So beautifully they craft words to win audience, that the true Dalits – the really true Dalits, who are really oppressed and exploited, lose their voice. Has anyone enquired into the personal lives of these pseudo-dalits? Are they really dalits? To talk about the rights of dalits is welcome – but who is the real dalit? Whose voice is unheard of? These powerful men have themselves become rich talking about dalits and Islam, but we Muslim women continue to remain under misery and desolation. Do Muslim women have any voice? I was luckier that I married a non-Muslim. And today I have the freedom to write about the issues beyond the veil. The dalits of India are not as exploited as these leaders portray them to be. The plight of dalits (other than Muslim women) has more monetary nuances than otherwise. The oppressed are they who are financially weak. The financially strong, from whatever lower caste they may come from, are not oppressed. And this oppression too is sporadic and milder compared to the oppression that Muslim women face. India offers its citizens far more rights than any other country. But Muslim women are really oppressed, irrespective of their financial status. And the reasons are religious, not political or otherwise. Only Islam is responsible for their poor condition.

    Majority of the Hindus are liberal, respectful to other faiths and peace-loving

    My husband is a Hindu, loves me, and respects Islam more than I myself. I must say, that India offers tremendous freedom to people to speak their mind. Anti-Hindu books have sold like hot cakes – bought predominantly by Hindus only. Hindus have tremendous tenacity to accept criticism. Anti-Islam literature is mostly available online (many Islamic countries do not permit thought-provoking sites such as faithfreedom.org), but you’d find anti-Hindu books in Hindu shops! What does it speak of? If Hinduism is really that bad, if it is really that oppressive, it’d oppress anti-Hindu publications also. But it never did so. Go to any railway book stall beside Gita-Press outlet and you can freely ask for a copy of Kancha Ilaiah’s “Why I am Not a Hindu?” You can also frivolously tell the Hindu bookseller how much praise you have heard about this book from Dr. Zakir Naik (Dr. Koran) or VT Rajshekar. But I can assure you, you’d never get a hard copy of “Why I am Not a Muslim” by Ibn Warraq anywhere in India, neither in Hindu shops, nor in Muslim shops. [Read my post “Mr. Kancha Ilaiah - Why I Am Not a Muslim!’ You can use the search field on top left of this page]. You’d never get published copies of all those articles posted by Brother Ali Sina (and party) on their website http://www.faithfreedom.org. Ask for VT Rajshekar’s “Dalit Voice”, and you can easily get it in your city if you do a little search. VT Rajshekar calls the Brahmins cunning – and it’s an irony that his so called “Brahmin-ruled” India hasn’t banned his books and magazine.

    The Role of Media and Non-Muslims in Converting Muslim Women to Other Faiths

    It’s high time that media highlights the pathetic condition of Muslim women across the globe. Let not get swayed away by the baseless rants of these hypocrites. Dalitism for them is a money-making affair. The best leaders of dalits were people like Buddha, Guru Nanak, Sufiyan Thuri, Hazrat Khwaja Garib Nawaz, Sant Ravidas, Baba Bulleh Shah, Sri Ramakrishna… who really strove for an egalitarian society... without making their life-goal a money making business. At least, they were not hypocrites.

    In the end, I’d reiterate that the real dalits of India are Muslim women. They hardly have any say in anything. True liberation can only come if non-Muslims come forward to help them. Their plight is more religious than economic. They have been victims of the lop-sided and prejudiced teachings of Koran that has pushed them much behind their own men-folk (who are already behind other men of their age) in terms of education and better lifestyle. True revolution can only come if Muslim women marry non-Muslims. Christians can play a more important role. Missionaries can come forward and attract Muslim women to their fold. Secular Christian education can really go a long way in improving the status of Muslim women. Hindus need to be more liberal in converting people to their faith. There is serious lack of missionary zeal among Hindu organizations – most of them are only indolent outfits busy stopping converts to Christianity. I strongly feel that the plight of Muslim women can improve only if both Hindus and Christians come forward to uplift them. The Sikhs and Buddhists can also play important roles. Buddhists have far more missionary zeal compared to Hindus. Moreover, many Buddhists and Christians in India are non-vegetarians. This would facilitate easy conversion of Muslim women to their faiths. Let us come forward to help the really deserving dalits – the Muslim women who have been victims of worst kind of gender bias for centuries.

    Mrs. Haseena Khatun, MA
    Editor, Khawatein Voice
    www.khawatein.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dear Mrs. Haseena Khatun,

    I am glad you spoke, that is what it takes - to speak out.

    While I support many of your statements, there are some, that may not be reflective of your thought process but certainly your frustrations is coming through it.


    You asked "Do Muslim women have any voice?" Indeed, they do. You and I have to work through the medium we know to get women to speak up. 20 years from now, if all the women who have small children raise their kids to believe in equality, treat women with full respect... a whole new generation will change. Each one of us is responsible to bring about this change.

    You said " I was luckier that I married a non-Muslim. And today I have the freedom to write about the issues beyond the veil." Congratulations! I am happy that you found a supporting partner in life, and there are many, many Muslim women who are as independent as you are, even though they have married to Muslims Men. My wife went to Hajj on her own, went on a few vacations and I am happy that she enjoys that freedom and there are hundreds of Muslim men I personally know. It is not necessarily the religion, it is how you are raised, and it is obligatory on us to change the society at least in two generations. It will not happen in one day.

    You mention "India offers its citizens far more rights than any other country. But Muslim women are really oppressed, irrespective of their financial status. And the reasons are religious, not political or otherwise. Only Islam is responsible for their poor condition."

    Indeed, Muslim women are oppressed, Dalit Women are and women all over the world. You can play a major role in changing the societies, two generations from now. I do not agree with you that it is Islam, it is the same Islam that the people I know who practice where Muslim women are whoever they want to be.

    "Majority of the Hindus are liberal, respectful to other faiths and peace-loving " True, without any doubt, that is the case with Muslims, Christians, Jews and all other societies.

    You have made a good point about stores not selling anti-Islam book but selling anti-Hindu books. Dr. Zakir Naik has a good understanding of his faith, but he is bent on proving that others are not on par with his religion, that is arrogance.

    I am a Muslim and am proud of it, but I do not claim my religion to be superior, that would be arrogance, it works for me as other faiths work for others. the problem is not religion, it's understanding.

    Agree with your statement "The best leaders of dalits were people like Buddha, Guru Nanak, Sufiyan Thuri, Hazrat Khwaja Garib Nawaz, Sant Ravidas, Baba Bulleh Shah, Sri Ramakrishna… who really strove for an egalitarian society... without making their life-goal a money making business. At least, they were not hypocrites."

    Haseena, women in the world are oppressed, and it is a damn shame. Not the religion, but a number of practitioners of all faiths - Hindus, Muslims, Christians.................. treat women wrongly. Let there be no bias against any faith, it is not the faith that drives one to be wrong, it is lack of understanding.

    There are more men out there, Muslim or otherwise who defend the rights of women, they stand up for them and will do anything to bring equal rights, equal treatment. All of us are stakeholders in the development of society. I wouldn't blame any one, but simply work on changing it, one person at a time or as many as we can.

    You have my support in supporting women's rights, but don't count on bashing of any religion. It is the individuals that are wrong, not the religion.

    Mike Ghouse
    www.WorldMuslimCongress.com
    www.Foundationforpluralism.com
    www.MikeGhouse.net

    ReplyDelete