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-akl—of
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 Islam—or
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
'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.'