Beyond Patriarchy: Woman, Islam, Pakistan

As I see it: A religion that grants women more freedom and rights than most has been wrongly used to colonize them for far too long

Dr Zainab Aman at The Express Tribune: The non-dismissive and dogmatic spirit of poet Fahmida Riaz’s “Chaadar aur chaar-diwari” has been haunting me since March 8th. Her, ‘bring this show to an end now Sire, cover it up now. Nor I, but you need this chaadar now,’ shout relevance more than ever. Her deconstructive poetry became polemical against a dictator’s harmful portrayal of women’s bodies as the symbol of honor for the nation. Years later, the enduring relevance of her dismantling verses prompts a poignant question about the unchanged societal view of women in Pakistan.

3 women: Unfinished painting by Irshad Salim (2023/2024)

Not long ago, a woman in Lahore narrowly escaped with her life as a charged mob called for her beheading. Fueled by ignorance and purporting a religion that has called more for peace than anything, they demanded rectification. The woman later appeared on television, seeking forgiveness for wearing attire that wasn’t provocative in any way to begin with. It wasn’t revealing or morally offensive. The only shortcoming was that it had calligraphy over it that could be misinterpreted by those unable to read Arabic, ultimately leading them to mistakenly believe it’s a Quranic verse. She was presented as the culprit heavily covered with a large chadar, accepting blame for a crime that isn’t even listed.

And it’s not the first time that our religion and its masculine interpretation has been used as tools to subjugate women, demanding conformity to a cultural construct of honor. For years now, a sinister culturally driven interpretation has taken over our society, one that is far away from the essence of Islam. At the forefront of it all has been the not so gender-neutral blasphemy law.

More here.

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