Friday, March 5, 2010

"Should the right to oppose Islam not exist?"

This is why they hate her.

At Taslima Nasreen's website there is a whole page of articles by her that you can download in pdf format. The following is an excerpt from "Homeless Everywhere":
When I was asked to memorize verses from the Qur’an, I first wanted to know what they meant. The Qur’an is in Arabic, whereas I read and speak Bengali. My mother said that it would please Allah if I read the Qur’an in the original Arabic. Merely reading it was one thing - I wished to know its meaning. Even my mother could not tell me what it was saying or meant to say. Eventually, this did not matter very much as at the age of twelve or thirteen. I managed to get hold of Bengali translations of both the Qur’an and the Hadith.

With the exception of my mother, no one at home seemed to be interested in or dabbled in religious affairs. And a great deal of my mother’s religiosity sprang from her disapproval of my father’s activities; also, it kept her mind occupied. Even then, she could never fully immerse herself in religion. I do not think I ever had the slightest belief in religion. My father, my brother, my uncles – those I grew up with – none of them was drawn to religion. I will not say they were all atheists, but they were all opposed to praying. This is the family I was born into and the environment I grew up in. Thus, even in childhood it did not take a major effort or struggle for me to free myself from the shackles of religion. But as a woman I had to struggle greatly to get human rights. One must realize that ours is a patriarchal society.


My father was a physician, a rationalist and man of science. He flouted convention when it came to educating his children. Most other fathers were obsessed about getting their daughters married almost as soon as they reached puberty. My father did nothing of the kind. He wanted me to get an education and be independent. It was my father who made it all possible.

When I first started writing on women’s rights, it was only natural for me to speak out against patriarchy. I strongly believe that patriarchy and religion cannot co-exist with women’s rights. I can’t exploit people. If I could, I would have said that women’s rights and human rights are compatible with religion. This has been said by politicians and the many who have been exploiting humankind for far too long. I had to oppose religion as well as traditions and customs that are based on inequality, for all of these are the very instruments that patriarchy uses to deny the rights of women. I have never believed in the use of force to achieve anything but, if I had, I could have told the world how since time immemorial the institutions of the patriarchal state have oppressed the rights of women. It is not just religious fundamentalists but also society’s women-haters, established institutions, and even governments that have fought against me. It is these very people, these regressive misogynists, who have made it their mission to destroy my life and all that I hold dear.

Most people have no concept whatsoever of human rights. The basic concepts of democracy, human rights, and women’s rights simply do not figure in quite a few nations’ list of priorities.

A sick society is one in which any woman is treated as an inferior being. This transcends mere social laws, mores, and conventions. Be it Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism or Christianity, they are united in their oppression of women. I have opposed this for as long as I can remember. The trouble, however, is that whenever I have spoken out about Islam’s oppression of women, Muslim fundamentalists, or even some non-Muslim secular forces, have branded me a Jewish or Christian or Hindu propagandist. This conspiracy to defame and slander is not new. Naturally, there are those who believe this kind of slander and find it impossible to believe that anything I write could possibly have any nobility of intention. I feel nothing but pity for such people. What such people fail to acknowledge is that without the right to disagree, no society can progress . . . .

By speaking on behalf of justice, do I deserve to be a social pariah on an entire subcontinent? Chased out, made homeless everywhere, this is justice? Are there really multitudes of human beings who approve of such behaviour? Today, I am homeless everywhere. Why? If there is no complete freedom of speech in an Islamic society, is there any hope of progress? Should the right to oppose Islam not exist?

If an Islamic society does not check fundamentalism within itself, are we to assume that the notion of moderate or progressive people in Muslim society is but a pretence? I heard that Islamic fundamentalists are just a minority. Most Muslims are moderate. How many ‘moderate Muslims’ have opposed the numerous fatwas that fundamentalists throughout the world are handing out? How many moderate Muslims have opposed the heinous acts of cruelty being perpetrated on women by fundamentalists? Where are the women – those on whose behalf and for whose sake I am writing – for whom I had to undergo so many traumas? One seldom sees them opposing what is being done to me or taking a stance on my behalf. One wonders if conscience and truth have all but been obliterated.


2 comments:

Sushanta Kar said...

I find this write up of Arundhoti good one. I didn't understand what wrong she has written as the introduction from the moderator want to say? I don't know Arundhoti as Faminist as Taslima. Taslima's faminism is neither pro-women, on human. Her's are everything individual. Taslima is a part of Indian subcontinent's elites game. I don't think an anti-people ( or isolated from Mass) Intellectual like Taslima can be compared with a great Indian like Arundhati!

Sushanta Kar said...

Sorry! Dear Moderator. I wanted to post the comment for another post heading, Arundhoti Roy on Taslima Nasreen