The Candid Eye

March 14, 2010

Islamic clerics oppose women`s reservation

Not only certain political parties, but even some influential Islamic scholars and clerics are strongly opposed to the women`s reservation bill.

Their opposition seems to stem from the fact that such a provision will not only entitle but also encourage more and more Muslim women to take a plunge into politics, where it would not be possible for them to strictly adhere to the tenets of the Shariat.

Purdah & Muslim Women

Maulana Saeed-ur Rehman, principal of the Lucknow-based internationally renowned Nadwat-ul-Ulema seminary, told IANS: “It was un-Islamic for any Muslim woman to contest an election in a secular nation.”

“Muslim women could contest elections in theocratic Islamic states because they would have to necessarily remain in `purdah` while there was no such restriction in secular societies.”

Purdah & Muslim Women

The principal of the institution that remains a host to students from leading Islamic nations across the globe, contended Islam did not permit participation of women in people`s parliament simply because that would mean close interaction with men. “They could, however, join the proceedings of a parliament where there was ample provision for `purdah` and proper segregation of women,” he said.

Asked whether that would not lead to creating more illiteracy among Muslim women, he shot back: “Islam is not against education of women, but the idea is to let them acquire education but remain within the confines of their homes, as Islam clearly prescribes `purdah` for them and holds that they must look after their homes.”

City`s Naib Imam Maulana Khalid Rasheed, who also heads Lucknow`s oldest Islami seminary Firangi Mahal, feels otherwise. “There is nothing wrong about a Muslim women participating in active politics and contesting elections. After all, so many Muslim women have done well in politics”, he said.

“However, I am opposed to the women`s reservation bill as it was contradictory to the fundamental provisions of any democratic society,” he argued. “In fact, reservation within reservation was against the spirit of the Indian constitution,” he stressed.

Leading Shia cleric and scholar Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, however, believed in the line adopted by the Nadwa principal. Asked how an Islamic state like Iran allowed women to participate in various political activities, he replied: “Well, Iran does have women members of parliament, who go through the process of elections, but they strictly follow the `purdah` system.”

“Even when they sit in their parliament, they observe complete seclusion,” he said, adding this could not be possible in Indian parliament.”Any woman entering the electoral fray would have to go into lanes and bylanes, stand on dais and brush shoulders with men. How can Islam permit all that?” he asked.

Source: Asian Lite

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