De Profundis


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The truth about life is like a bird in the state of constant flight from its predators. The bird will fly, only to safeguard itself. And finally, the predator will hunt it down. He will spread open his arms to collect his prize, only to realise that the bird was a bird like any other, except that it bore his reflection. He could see the repercussions of his choices, both good and bad, inscribed across its flesh. And beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

In our search for the Great Answer, of the truth about life, we tend to turn a blind eye towards the much controversial topic of  ‘religion’.
Philosophy and science are made to combat. Solitude is embraced. Or wise men are made life-long companions.
Quite a few dive into religion; some drown, some manage to anchor themselves on the shore. Emotions run high and ‘religion’ becomes our ticket to Heaven. Or Hell. In this world. And the Hereafter…

Islam – cognizance is usually a foreign word when it comes to understanding the nature of Islam. So is ‘a posteriori’.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that has exemplified hypocrisy. People flag themselves as ‘broadminded’ individuals when the truth, in fact, spells the complete opposite.
What exactly is broadmindedness? Following the latest fashion? Conversing in a foreign language? Platonic friendships? Repugnance falls short here. Broadmindedness also walks hand in hand with having the courage to entertain a notion even if we refuse to accept it. It comes from the understanding that defying social norms that incarcerate the basic laws of humanity is peremptory, no matter how old they are. It comes from respecting, and not judging, the choices that other people make, nolens volens. It comes from the understanding that showing an interest in Islam, or any religion does not qualify one as a pariah.

The popular notion is that one must accept the teachings of Islam without questioning. I dare to disagree here. If not completely, then partially. Whatever happened to reasoning and deductions? A cogent argument can convince the greatest of critics. The heart plays traitor to what the mind cannot fathom and alienating logic from religion is downright iniquitous. And who says there is no logic in Islam?

Addressing feminists like myself, it might be a good idea to review the rationale behind some of the Islamic teachings pertaining to women.

Islam asks its widows to observe a period of seclusion of around four months and ten days. No, it is not an act of suppression. It is, in fact, to facilitate them. During this time of seclusion, they do not meet any male who is not a blood relative and a potential husband. Therefore, it helps establish the paternity of their child in case she was expecting at the time of her husband’s death. Too much for DNA testing, eh? It is also to honour her feelings for her dead husband and give her time to make decisions about her future life.

Another famous paroxysm that goes vocal, is that Islam does not give women the right to divorce. It does, but that is another matter. If we are ready to bid farewell to parti pris, we may realise that women have a strong and intricate system of emotions that is played around with the hormones; and is both an invaluable asset and an inconvenience sometimes. Our mood swings are our unpredictable governors. And while we can proudly multitask and be second to none, it is also time to be practical and call the grass green. In situations where emotions play the captain, decisions that can leave indelible marks on our lives, cannot be taken. And before I am verbally stoned, no, I do agree that emotions are not bad at all; they are the real essence of life.
The correct way to divorce, as per the Islamic teachings, is to say “I divorce you” thrice. And for women, being more emotional and easily upset than men sometimes, the idea of divorcing their husbands in a rush of emotions seems quite unwelcoming. And if I, being a feminist, can understand that, why cannot anyone else?

And no, Islam does not forbid women from working. Need we be reminded that the Prophet’s (P.B.U.H) wife was a successful businesswoman?
In an era where women were incriminated for being women, Islam elevated their status and gave them rights equal to men; and that is an incontrovertible fact.

There are always exceptions to the rule. However, we must learn to discern the differences between the psychology of men and women.
The majority of the men are aggressive. They like to dominate. Very few women are like that. Hence, their role as the breadwinners of the house. Nature has moulded them to bear the despotic attitudes of the world. The majority of the women, on the other hand, are soft hearted,  and far more compromising than most men. They are the natural caretakers and the mothers. Few women are different; they are competitive, courageous, confident, daring, and as good a leader as any man along with all their feminine traits. But I repeat, few women from all levels of society are like that. The natural roles, therefore, have been designated keeping in mind the personality of the majority, to facilitate all men and women, and to ensure that no one is forced to take up responsibilities that will become an onus.

Similarly, since Islam has ascribed men as the breadwinners, is it not only fair that they get twice the share of inheritance as women? Again, the architecture of the family laws in Islam is in accordance with the generalised personalities of a vast majority of men and women.

And to answer the querulous arguments pertaining to Islam allowing the Muslim men to keep four wives at a time, it must be remembered that it was in accordance with the situation during the early days of Islam when many women were widowed during the wars. As discussed before, all women are not capable of fending for themselves and need both financial and moral support. Therefore, the Muslim men were enabled to help those women out of their predicament via a marriage that also ensured their emotional well-being, since the men are only allowed to keep four wives ONLY IF they can maintain a healthy, financial and emotional balance between them.

Seeing someone praying five times a day does not make them religious. There is a lot more to it. And mocking them for the same reason is just an illustration of how parochial we are becoming. If praying five times a day is a useful reminder of the fact that embracing the Angel of Death is inexorable and that we are answerable to Him for all our actions, what is wrong with that? If it gives us the red signal for going ahead with backbiting and hurting other people’s feelings and indulging into inhumane acts, what is wrong with that? If it allows us to medicate our apparently incorrigible habits, then what is wrong with that?

There is a dire need to embrace realism and accept the fact that pondering over the ‘why and how’ of religion does not give the world the ultimate right to subject us to their scathing, judgmental eyes. When the comprehension of literature, world politics, economics and art can be applauded and celebrated, frowning upon the desire to understand Islam or any other religion for that matter, is a quintessence.

Cognition can gift us a quietude that is our path towards unravelling the intricately woven patterns of life.

What is life? What is love? What is destiny? Why do we exist? Why do we have to die? Why does the Unthinkable happen? Why do people whose existence was a mere figment of our imagination knock at our door? Why do coincidences occur? Why is the universe a colossal of galaxies that we cannot imagine an end to? These are questions that need answers that will satisfy both the heart and the mind. How and when? That is a big major question in itself.

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