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* Illiteracy, Hygiene and Condition of Muslim Women

 Illiteracy, Hygiene and Condition of Muslim Women

 Nafisul Hasan

After Sachar committee report, a number of seminars are being organized on “What is next after the report”.  Let us ponder as to how many delegates, after attending such seminars, are visiting the dense dirty by lanes of Muslims mohallah where illiteracy, dirtiness (gandagi) and  malnutrition among women is widespread.

Mentioning about the cleanliness and personal hygiene , I fail to understand if there  is any place to dirtiness ("gandagi" ) and tardiness in  Islam. Poverty is one thing and cleanliness is another. I am struggling hard to inspire Muslim parents to send their children to our school in neat and proper uniform (schools provides it free of cost  to many of them) with nails properly trimmed and hair combed but the result is not encouraging. While inspecting morning assembly, I have to, at times, send students back home who come school late , without home work , unclean with  untidy uniform. Doing this , I  face the ire of arrogant parents. I wonder if maintaining hygiene and cleanliness of their children is also a costly affair and a burden on parents ? I also can not  understand why there is so much arrogance among Muslim parents who loose temper at  us on complaint of their childrens' careless ness towards studies, home work , school bags , performance, tardiness and  uncleanliness , health and hygeine.? The solution is  regular conduction of paraents -teachers meetings and continous hammering and preachings to parents /students and this  I am doing it. But our parents do not consist the the whole of the Muslims common mass, the community where the message needs to be percoldared.

I find substantial  religious dawah work taking place among Muslims but I haven’t come across any movement from within the community on family welfare measures that includes cleanliness of the Mohallah in general and personal hygiene in particular. I get envious to find well educated followers of Shri Ravi Shankar , the famous Guru of "Art of Living"  brooming by lanes of their localities and I get depressed when I see majority of Muslim mohallah full of rags /filth where you find untidy children playing whole day hurling  abuses on each other and their parents least caring. Is this the "Quam" that is going  to face the challenges of the modern world. We have Jamat Tabligh doing praiseworthy work towards promotion of Deen in our daily life , can we have, on similar lines a "Jamat e Talim"  that can  start a movement to promote cleanliness ,personal hygiene , family welfare measure, ban on dowry, extravaganza in marriages, smoking, , compulsory modern education to each child and most important  “planning of a family”,  that makes Muslims a quam to stand at par with other developed community.(any taker?)


Condition of Muslim women 


As regards condition of Muslim women, let me candidly opine that the equality to a Muslim woman enshrined in the religion of Islam remains only inside the scriptures or books or at the most in three words "qubool" uttered by her at the time of her Nikah. The hypocrisy within men comes at surface instantly thereafter as in families (Muslim masses) the boys are given preferences over girls in all the fields be it higher education or better placements.

Higher education to women

Higher education to Muslim women has added salts to their wounds. Sounds strange? But it is  an irony of Muslim community, a hard reality. Aren't umpteen number of highly educated spinsters sitting at home for want of an equally educated groom which they do not find among Muslims.
I met a parent at Lucknow who were compelled to marry their brilliant Post graduate daughter (teaching in a school ) to a Matric failed boy, just for the sake of the girl crossing marriageable age and thus saving their beloved daughter from the taunts of society/relatives. Imagine the pain, sorrow and the agony of such a Muslim girl having dreams of marrying to a highly educated well placed groom but getting married to a Matric failed guy lest she should sit at home as spinster ,crying whole  life under veil and bearing harsh taunts of her relatives.
Isn't it a sheer cruelty on girl’s destiny. ? "What to do " said the aggrieved parent. "We can not allow my daughter to sit at home for ever. As we looked for a suitable groom among Muslim families, the demands are extremely high, even if their boy is just High school or Inter mediate but owns a small shop or business with petty income. We are a lower middle class people and have other daughters of  marriageable age. This “rishta” is not demanding much dowry as others do. What to do sir"? The pain clearly peeps out of their eyes. With wet eyes , the middle class parents of the girl in reference finally added with a sigh " Oh, we did a mistake. We should not have provided higher education to our daughters." It pains. It really does.

We therefore must concentrate on higher education of boys to produce well placed Muslim grooms  so that no Post Graduate Muslim girl remain un married and sits at home as an spinster.

Women’s misery and men’s world 

That was about the deplorable status of unmarried Muslim girls. The condition of married women is further  appalling. To be harsh a bit,  men have perceived them as “machines” or the “fields where they can go and come as they desire” and a living creatures that  can be “slapped” on mistakes .To add salts to the injuries of women, men’s  inspiration to this theory is derived from the interpretation of Quranic Ayats. There was a post on net by certain Mr Rahmatullah with the header – “let them stop producing children”. Here also women are blamed to “produce more number of children” giving a clean chit to men. But as I see it practically, let me put it candidly that it is men who are to be  blamed for most of the miseries of women be it more number of children or malnutrition.As rightly said- " behind every successful man, there is a woman" and she is his wife in deed but still this  is the "men’s world" all around (esp. in Muslim world) .  I have heard women saying in disgust " perhaps God Himself is a male" . But in changing times and nuclear families women have to play a very important part. We therefore must give our women a due share- MOST IMPORTANT THEIR IDENTITY, the "Astitva" (described very rightly in Hindi ) which gets SHROUDED under the clouds of her parents and after marriage ,husband's sir names

 I have a strong belief that if Muslim community has to progress, it has to empower its women folk. And that will come only by empowering them thru higher education and skills.  If we educate a boy, he builds  a family but if we  educate a girl, she builds the whole maa'shra , the society.

*The author is a  founder of Sir Syed Public School (SSPS) and Sir Syed Adult Education and Training center (SADET) at Dehradun for underprivileged section of the society..