Bringing a change within a family is a mammoth task. It is especially difficult when people are deep into a false belief that women, in Islam should not have an access to education and work. More than that, it is a symbol of prestige to have a girl married at the age of 17-18 by spending lavishly, which is more of ‘customs and society’ than of religion. Most of the Muslims, be it within my family or in TN or in India, are conservative than religious.
Trying to break all the man-made barriers and looking deeply into what is said by the Almighty (in the Holy Quran and by the life of Prophet Muhammed, peace and blessings of the Lord be upon him) and implementing that in life is as complicated as it sounds. The duties and responsibilities of a man and a woman in the family are clearly established in the religion: that man should work and earn for the family and woman should take care of the family and children. Even if the girl is capable of earning, it is the man’s responsibility to spend for the family and he can never escape from it and just because she goes outside and earns, she cannot escape her responsibility to her family.
Islam places a huge importance on thinking and pondering.
The Holy Quran 038.029
“(It is) a Book We have revealed to you abounding in good that they may ponder over its verses, and that those endowed with understanding may be mindful.”
And it never differentiates between men and women. Every human being is required to think and think a lot to understand and appreciate His words. That is why we see a huge number of people reverting to Islam not because of any groups attempting to do so, but reading and understanding the Quran and the Hadith.
Coming back to the topic, many Muslims here fail to understand this concept and keep away religion from practicing it in their daily lives. One of my colleagues who has spent a considerable time in learning about Islam expressed his unhappiness about how Muslims in TN are so unaware of the religion. I must admit to my shame that, a huge chunk of us don’t even know as much as he does.
The problem of a Muslim woman like me who aspires to pursue her education and career is like a two edged sword. One is her family which is resistant to come out of the so called man-made tradition and the other is the outer world which has negative opinions about Islam. Alhamdhulillah (Praise be to the Almighty), TN is a great place to be, to be very honest, I have not faced much of problems for practicing my religion like how others do in other parts of our country or in the world. Wherever I go, people have always appreciated my endeavors and encouraged me a lot, be it my profs or docs or anyone for that matter. There were a couple of very old professors in BIM (Anantharaman Sir and ARR Sir, both in their 80’s, maasha Allah) who were very fond of me. However, expecting everyone to be the same is foolish. When I attended an interview for an IT company based in Bangalore, which is popular for its employee friendly policies, most of the questions were centered around my community. It was beyond one’s natural ability to tolerate when the questions are in a mocking tone.
It is not right on my part to blame them. Because the onus of proving that a religious Muslim woman can perform as much as the others in the organization lies on us. It is too much on our part to wait for things to come to us easily. We need to struggle a lot. That ‘We’ is this (my) generation of Muslim women, who are coming out of the society-made shell. When many around me advised me not to go to Ethiraj just because I may be treated differently, I ignored them and went ahead to find how false their conceptions are.
I really got excited to see this article from Knowledge at Wharton, which echoes my thought:
I wish that all Muslim women understand that the world is not hostile, and even if they are, it is our duty to change that. Let us hope for the same, insha Allah..