Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) is shocked by the blatantly anti-women diktat of the spokesman of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, ‘Maulana’ Sajjad Nomani.
In a video clip posted on youtube (https://youtu.be/tyO5E8MgQEQ), the influential cleric with a large following among Muslims across the country can be seen and heard issuing the edict: “Do not send your girls to college unaccompanied, not even with a hijab. This is haram, haram (forbidden, sinful). On this night of holy Ramzan, I send this curse on parents who send their daughters to a coaching centre or college unaccompanied: unless they mend their ways, may Allah condemn them to hell.”
Nomani further declared: hijab or burqa is not enough… it is the duty of parents to keep in touch with the college principal and urge her/him to inform them if their daughter bunks any classes.
The word ‘Maulana’ means a learned Muslim scholar but the latest fulmination of Nomani reeks of blatant ignorance and misogyny. Where does his dire warning leave his flock of followers? How practical is it for either of the parents to accompany their hijab or burqa-clad daughter to college and back, then to coaching classes and back on an everyday basis? What if they have more than one daughter, pursuing different courses/careers, attending different colleges? And what if both parents are working?
Nomani’s imagery and advise are patently feudal; unsuited for Indian Muslims who are overwhelmingly working class. Does it also mean that sending their daughter to a hostel is out of the question? Is this not an indirect way of advising parents to keep their daughters away from higher education? And what about the sons: do as they please?
When the Taliban recaptured power in Afghanistan in 2021, Nomani was among the first to rejoice and dash off his congratulations to the mullahs. His blatantly anti-women utterances are proof of his Talibani mindset. By damning those who do not follow his diktat to hell, Nomani is attempting to exert pressure upon and influence his followers to discriminate against women in the community and deprive them of their agency, right to move freely and right to education which are provided under the Indian Constitution.
Muslim women are leaders and educators of today, with equal rights and entitlements. Nomani is not only threatening those rights directly by misrepresenting and using the tool of religion, but is misusing his authority to propagate inequality and orthodoxy. The IMSD categorically rejects Nomani’s antediluvian ideas and underlines that they do not represent the opinion of all Indian Muslims. This moral policing of women should stop and the likes of Nomani should be called out by all right-thinking Indians.
Many decades ago, it was this very mindset which advised Muslims to keep away from modern education as a result of which Muslims are the most deprived community in India. Today, when Muslim women are coming out in large numbers to access higher education, it should be welcomed and the community should put structures in place to facilitate this process. Instead, we have regressive minds like Nomani who want to put breaks on Muslim women empowerment and re-domesticate them. In particular, we appeal to Muslim organizations to condemn this anti-women statement of Nomani.
- A. J. Jawad, Advocate, Chennai
- Aftab Khan, Journalist, Nasik
- Anjum Rajabali, Film Writer, Mumbai
- Arif Kapadia, IMSD, Business, Activist, Mumbra, Thane
- Arshad Alam, IMSD, Columnist, New Age Islam, Delhi
- Aziz Lokhandwala, Businessman, Mumbai
- Bader Sayeed, Advocate, former MLA, Chennai
- Bilal Khan, IMSD, Activist, Mumbai
- Farhan Rahman, Asst. Prof., Ranchi University, Ranchi
- Feroze Mithiborwala, IMSD, Co-convener, Bharat Bachao Andolan, Mumbai
- Gauhar Raza, Anhad, Delhi
- Irfan Engineer, IMSD Co-convener, CSSS, Mumbai
- Javed Anand, IMSD Convener, CJP, SabrangIndia Online, Mumbai
- Kasim Sait, Businessman, Philanthropist, Chennai
- Khadija Farouqui, IMSD, Activist, Delhi
- Lara Jesani, IMSD, PUCL, Mumbai
- Mansoor Sardar, IMSD, Bhiwandi
- Massoma Ranalvi, IMSD, We Speak Out, Delhi
- Mohammed Imran, PIO, USA
- Muniza Khan, IMSD, CJP, Varanasi
- Naseeruddin Shah, Actor, Mumbai
- Nasreen Fazelbhoy, IMSD, Mumbai
- Qutub Jahan, IMSD, NEEDA, Mumbai
- (Dr) Ram Puniyani, IMSD, Author, Activist, Mumbai
- Rashida Tapadar, Academic, Activist, Nagaland
- Ratna Pathak, Actor, Mumbai
- Sabah Khan, IMSD, Parcham, Mumbra/Mumbai
- Saif Mahmood, IMSD, Supreme Court Lawyer, Delhi
- Shabana Azmi, Actor, Former MP, Mumbai
- Shabana Mashraki, IMSD, Consultant, Mumbai
- Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad, Delhi
- Shama Zaidi, Documentary Film Maker, Mumbai
- Shamsul Islam, Author, Delhi
- Sheeba Aslam Fehmi, IMSD, TV Commntator, Delhi
- Simantini Dhuru, Documentary Film Maker, Mumbai
- Sohail Hashmi, IMSD, Sahmat, Delhi
- Sultan Shahin, Editor-in chief and publisher, New Age Islam, Delhi
- Taizoon Khorakiwala, Businessman, Philanthropist, NRI
- Teesta Setalvad, IMSD, CJP, SabrangIndia Online, Mumbai
- Yash Paranjpe, Activist, Mumbai
- Yousuf Saeed, Documentary Film Maker, Delhi
- Zakia Soman, BMMA, Delhi
- Zeenat Shaukat Ali, IMSD, Wisdom Foundation, Mumbai