The ‘un-Islamic’ punch

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Women are human as well

 

An answer to a question on Quora regarding the best punch in boxing says: ‘As a generalisation, a right cross will suit many taller people, and a right hook many who are short at the weight they compete at. But whatever gets the best results, then that’s your best punch, no matter what else applies.’

This definition applies well to ‘un-Islamic’, the punch that hits the hardest. No matter what else applies (or does not apply), that word will always get results.

A petition for removing a humorous advertisement that says a woman can hire a Careem taxi to run away from her wedding has been filed in the (Lahore) High Court, claiming the advertisement violates Section 31 of the Pakistan Constitution.

In other words, the petition claims the advertisement is ‘un-Islamic’.

Section 31 speaks of the ‘Islamic way of life’, and says that:

1: Steps shall be taken to enable the Muslims of Pakistan, individually and collectively, to order their lives in accordance with the fundamental principles and basic concepts of Islam and to provide facilities whereby they may be enabled to understand the meaning of life according to the Holy Quran and Sunnah.

There is more, but that is irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

Let’s not even touch the question of humour which is what Careem strove to apply, of whether or not running away is a fundamental requirement of a sane and happy life, or about whether or not it is allowed in religion. It is fatiguing even to contemplate such discussions.

What we can discuss is marriage.

Is marriage necessarily the only option for a woman in Pakistan or elsewhere? In Pakistan is it the best option? Is marriage defined as the subjugation of one party or complete power over one by the other? Is being married a synonym for losing all rights to a decent human existence? And if marriage fails, is it okay to leave it, all other things considered?

It is time to stop using Islam as a weapon. Islam is first and foremost a guide towards a life of happiness– for all of us, not for half the society, to be employed with consent and not by force. It’s time we understood that and acted accordingly

The most recent relevant news that has come to light is of the woman who was beaten, and apparently made to dance nude in front of his colleagues by her husband. When she went to the police for help, they asked her for money instead of providing protection. No surprises.

Given the option, leaving her marriage would probably have been the least demeaning option for Asma, the lady above, except that this case coming to light exposes many other similar cases. Such as an even more recent case in Peshawar where the wife was allegedly subjected to similar treatment by the husband.

These are not isolated cases. The Georgetown Institute of Women, Peace and Security Index studies 153 countries to obtain a ranking of women’s security in those countries. It is horrifying to find the Islamic Republic of Pakistan almost at the bottom of that list, above only Yemen, Afghanistan and Syria.

Is this state of affairs Islamic? Is it right? Does it not violate Section 31? Is this status quo what we are trying to protect? Must a woman remain in a marriage that steals her dignity, ends her happiness and her life?

How about the forced conversions followed by marriage that have been taking place for years in Pakistan? They came into the limelight suddenly most recently when the Prime Minister spoke against them. Is it Islamic to force a woman to change her religion and then marry her against her will to someone?

Is it Islamic to marry off underage girls to old men? To marry off women without their consent? To mistreat them, and torture them, and provide no redress? Is it Islamic to use a wife as free labour? As a sex slave?

How did a petition against a harmless advertisement skip the queue the way it has when all these other cases should be taking up what space there is?

It is time men in Pakistan took their heads out of the sexual nosebag to seriously examine their own priorities.

Eve-teasing, that charming South Asian euphemism for harassing women in public, is a daily occurrence for every woman in Pakistan, regardless of age, clothing, place or time. Perhaps we should examine– before we take anything else into account– how closely this conforms to Section 31. Would you say this practice ‘individually and collectively, enables women to order their lives in accordance with the fundamental principles and basic concepts of Islam and provide facilities whereby they may be enabled to understand the meaning of life according to the Holy Quran and Sunnah’?

Let us look at ‘honour’ killings, where men are able to kill and get away with killing women of their family for marrying someone of their own choice. One such killing occurred just the other day in Karachi when a man allegedly killed his sister and brother-in-law for that reason. It happens all the time.

If the LHC has any sense it will allow the Careem advertisement to remain, with its blessings, if not with to provide viewers with a laugh, then as a warning. Women, after all, are human as well. Or aren’t they?

It is time to stop using Islam as a weapon. Islam is first and foremost a guide towards a life of happiness– for all of us, not for half the society, to be employed with consent and not by force. It’s time we understood that and acted accordingly.