ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Listening to Muslim Women

Muslim Women Speak: Of Dreams and Shackles by Ghazala Jamil, New Delhi, California, London and Singapore: Sage Publications and New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2018; pp xxiv + 190, 595.

 

Two discourses about Muslims loom large in India’s imagination, points out Ghazala Jamil. One stream of literature is consumed by the image of “Islamic” fundamentalism and terrorism, while the other is intrigued by Muslims’ poor record on socio-developmental indices. “The centering of the Muslim men is common to both kinds of discourses,” she notes. What about Muslim women? Why do we only hear of them in relation to their victimisation at the hands of Muslim men?

Muslim Women Speak: Of Dreams and Shackles is as much on the apparent silence of Muslim women as it is on the research practices that further this silence. Jamil’s book has been published at a time when discourses on the Muslim women are in a state of flux. In 2018, Parliament criminalised Triple Talaq despite the Supreme Court having struck it down as unconstitutional the year before. Importantly, the Prime Minister and the larger right-wing ecosystem in India spoke of it in a language that implied them to be heroic rescuers of miserable Muslim women from the clutches of the beastly Muslim men. While reports of several Muslim women benefiting from the new law have emerged,1 one only needs to look at the government’s response to the recent women-led anti-national register of citizens and Constitutional (Amendment) Act protests to understand that Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) concern for the Muslim woman stops when there is no chance to demonise Muslim men.

The problem is that in the public sphere the Indian Muslim women’s voice is merged, dissol­ved, and thus, lost in the Muslim male voice, while the Muslim male voice is effectively silenced except when it is raised to curtail Muslim women’s rights and freedom. (p 98)

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Updated On : 17th May, 2021

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