Art is the proper task of life

{June 2, 2007}   On Marriage and Men

This post started off as a comment on one of Sumera’s recent post but evolved into a post. There were a few points in Sumera’s post that caught my attention. First marriage being less appealing for women as they have more opportunities to be financially independent. Different people marry for different reasons and financial security is one of the main reasons, especially for women. (Note: That’s why I don’t diss doctor hunting aunties most of the time.) And there is nothing wrong with this reason since financial security is a very important thing in life. However those people who do have financial security sometimes seek something else. Reminds me of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. So allow me to put on my feminist hat and let me state that there may not be an essentialist essence of marriage. In other words there is no one particular arrangement of man and women being bound to one another that will satisfy all situations. Different arrangement may suffice for different eras and cultures. This should not be taken to mean that I saying something against any particular conception or arrangement of marriage. Socio-economic circumstances and life history are things that dictate such arrangements. Polygamy was once thought to be normal but now its either strictly forbidden in many countries or even looked down upon in some communities where it is legal. There may have been circumstances in the past that may have required it but circumstances change especially when men start exploiting something which is permissible for their own selfish ends. I always say if something (anything?) is allowed people, both men and women but in this case mostly men, will find ways to exploit. That’s the problem with rules and systems. They are essential but they also rise to loopholes, hence the law of unintended consequences.

Now the point about having different expectations for the son-in-law and for the daughter-in-law. I have noticed that the problem is almost universal but seems to be more pronounced in the desi culture (or it could just be the case that I have noticed this more before I know more about the desi culture.) Most of these problems arise because people fail to put themselves in the position of their daughter in laws (DILs) and the same applies for DILs in some case. It could just be part of the human tendency of not readily taking another person’s perspective. Do men get more from marriages? The short answer – yes selfish men do get more, most of the time anyway. I remember the true case of this desi woman whose husband used to regularly beat her, did not do work and act all pious in the mosque. ($#@ nonsense in the name of religion.) She did not contact the police for a long time because she was afraid of losing her children. Most other people also expected her to have patience (sabr). From that man’s perspective, life was a blast. He had a servant whom he did not have to pay anything who cooked, cleaned and hey he could even had sex with her in addition to a mistress that he had. What about the woman? She had to cook, clean and get beaten up by this man. Need I say more?

I do not want to sound like a man-hater which I am not so let me clarify a few points. Its good to have expectations from people but the expectations that we have should be similar for both men and women. Notice that I have said similar and not the same because I do recognize that men and women are built differently so they do have different roles. Letting one, or both, get away with anything destroys the balance in life. I have seen people turn away from Islam just because of this double standard in their culture (read desi). If more people do the same then don’t be surprised since many people try to pass their cultural practices for the religion of Islam. I usually don’t judge people but sometimes it is necessary to judge people and when one is judging people it is helpful to use the best of yardstick. The following is my yardstick and even if you pray five times a day, have a three feet long beard, like to throw random phrases in Arabic and memorized a thousand hadiaths I won’t be impressed by your so called religiosity if you do not measure up.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh said) “The most perfect believers are the best in conduct and best of you are those who are best to their wives. (Ibn-Hanbal, No. 7396)

James Bond is an unrealistic misogynist good for nothing chauvanistic pig! That’s right, that’s what he is- A Misogynist Pig! A Misogynist Pig! A Misogynist Pig! A Misogynist Pig! A Misogynist Pig!

I am glad I got that out of my system. Now back to grading.

{February 23, 2007}   Speaking of Divorce

Women in difference communities of the world have different problems and for different reasons. Here is an example of Jewish Orthodox sisters fighting for their rights.

With strident calls for action and threats of “taking to the streets” if the issue is not soon resolved, participants in the 10th anniversary conference of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) ratcheted up the rhetoric around the plight of agunot, “chained women” whose husbands refuse to grant them a religious bill of divorce.

“Let this be the last JOFA conference where we need to ask if there’s a halachic heter [permissive legal ruling] for agunot,” Tova Hartman, founder of an Orthodox feminist synagogue in Jerusalem, told the approximately 1,000 people, mostly women, who attended a conference earlier this month in New York City. “The time has come to stop kvetching.”

For many Muslims the following may sound familiar but as they say, misogyny has no religion.

In the worst cases, husbands have refused to grant religious divorces to their wives for years,

The following was shocking for me as I had never seen something like it before.

…. sometimes issuing the documents only in exchange for sizable ransoms.

Lets see, so I go to this restaurant with a couple of my friends. (Its less of a restaurant and more of a shisha hang out place). Right when we are done with food and about to return, I see a brother from the MSA from a distance so I started walking towards where he is sitting so that I can say salam. He seems to be busy so does not notice me. I freeze in my tracks, the brother seems to be making out. (The same brother who criticizes non-hijabi sisters behind their backs.) I look the other way and exit the restaurant without saying anything. One of my other friends also sees this. So we run into the same brother a few days later and he is trying to get all friendly with one of the sisters. We stop by, make an excuse to take her with us but before leaving my friend says, “We would love to stay but we have to pray out. You know praying out is better than making out.” I wish I had a camera and take a picture because his expression was as if he had just seen a ghost. Priceless.

Here is a “gem” (aka nonsense) from Abu Usamah, an American convert to Islam and misogynist. Now the question is was this person always a jerk or did he become like this after being exposed to a certain brand of Islam. I must iterate that the problem is not Islam but rather a certain type of interpretation of Islam. Here is the excerpt.

Abu Usamah: Allah has created the woman, even if she gets a Phd, deficient. Her intellect is incomplete, deficient. She may be suffering from hormones that will make her emotional.

Am I mad? You bet I am. Can these people just shut up for a change?

et cetera