Thursday, 29 May 2014

Heroes for my daughter (I)

Humaira Bachal from Intelligent Life: Pakistan.

Some quotations (how it is with no comment implied about how it should be) -

'Humaira says she told him, "Abbu [Daddy], if you are worried that you won’t be able to marry me off, I promise you that no matter who you produce, even if he is blind or a cripple, tell me where to sign and when to say kabool [I accept], before the magistrate, and I’ll do it, no questions asked. Just let me study." She knew it was a risk, but she was counting on her father’s love and her mother’s wisdom. "When a person is being stubborn," her mother would say, "it’s because he hasn’t understood yet. Once he understands, the severity with which he opposes you now, he will stand behind you with as much strength."'

'She remembers putting on what’s known as the "shuttlecock" burqa, head to toe, with stockings and gloves, and attending the madrassa, where the master taught from behind a purdah (screen). She became an occasional speaker at religious congregations. She instructed 350 girls in Moach Goth in namaaz, prayer, and wuzu, religious ablutions. Six months short of getting her degree, she quit.

Humaira does not name names, and keeps the details vague: there were arguments with the teachers at the madrassa, there was an attempt to kidnap her, her family feared for her safety. It’s clear that the disagreements were fundamental.

"Their concept of women was four walls and purdah. To them women are naqis-ul-aklof defective intelligence. My perspective on Islam was very different from theirs. In the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him, women were traders. Hazrat Khadija [the Prophet’s first wife] was a businesswoman. Bibi Aisha [the Prophet’s youngest wife] was a teacher of hadith, traditions of the Prophet, and fiqh, jurisprudence. In the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him, women had been sipahisalar, military commanders; they lived in camps. So is that the correct Islamor is it four walls and purdah? Islam to me is the faith which gives rights, rather than takes them away. My conscience, my heart, was not satisfied with what they were saying. Why should I take a degree to which I am opposed? What would I do with it?"'

'Mohammad Bachal has fractured his hand, and has been persuaded to retire. He thinks he must have been 18 when Pakistan was created, which would make him 84. He looks nearer 64, lean, rugged, with kohl in his eyes and a red Sindhi topi on his head. “It was jahilpan, ignorance,” he says about his years of opposition. "Even an animal will listen to a well-educated person, but illiterates are influenced by illiterates."'

'The courage of a Pakistani hero involves facing the ultimate fact of death. But the fantasy of martyrdom, where it exists, is largely a male one. A heroine needs a more supple courage. She must negotiate: with her emotions, with her adversaries, with her family, with hypocrisies. But not, if she can help it, with her ambition. "If I can teach a few mothers to read a few labels, that will be enough." That is what Humaira Bachal told herself, when she started her school.'

No comments: