(Representational Image. A part of the pledge stating that a woman in the family should have equal property rights over her father’s property. (Photo | AP)
(Representational Image. A part of the pledge stating that a woman in the family should have equal property rights over her father’s property. (Photo | AP)

Clergy’s stance out of sync with what Muslim women want

Koodathayi found the pledge anti-Islamic because, according to the Sharia law, women are entitled to half the share given to the male member of the family.

The signals repeatedly emanating from a section of Muslim organisations in Kerala are disheartening. They smack of misogyny and patriarchy, out of sync with ground realities. Recently, Sunni leader Nasar Faizy Koodathayi came out against the pledge administered to the volunteers of Kudumbasree Mission, the women empowerment programme of the Kerala government. Women were asked to take an oath to ensure equal distribution of family property without gender discrimination.

Koodathayi found the pledge anti-Islamic because, according to the Sharia law, women are entitled to half the share given to the male member of the family. He argued that as per the Muslim personal law in India, the community members are allowed to go by their religious rules regarding marriage, divorce, succession, and burial rituals. Other Muslim scholars also joined the issue, some even asserting that Muslim women who take the oath would automatically become ‘Kafir’ and face excommunication.

Earlier, too, Muslim organisations had expressed similar sentiments. They protested when a school in Kozhikode introduced gender-neutral uniforms for students. Muslim groups were also up in arms against the Kerala government’s curriculum revision, suspecting a covert move to smuggle in ‘liberal ideology’ of gender neutrality and gender equality. The orthodox groups previously also held that women should not learn writing, and quoted scriptures to buttress their argument. But women came out of the shackles to get educated and live with dignity. Personalities like Maliyekkal Mariyumma and Haleema Beevi, the first woman editor in Kerala, have recorded the intensity of their struggle against the orthodoxy.

Now colleges in Kerala are teeming with girl students, many from the Muslim community. With a vengeance, they have occupied the space once denied to them. Muslim women are increasingly visible in popular agitations too. The women have not discarded their religion. They explore the rights promised to them in the religion but withheld by the clergy. Their fight is against patriarchal interpretations that go against them. The ill-timed utterances of the clergy will only make things difficult for Muslim women and provide ammunition to those trying to defame the religion.

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The New Indian Express
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