Have you read this thank you letter by Kunwar Khuldune Shahid?

Have you read this thank you letter by Kunwar Khuldune Shahid?  [Link shared by Arun]
Spent the morning reading in details about what made him write this. Let me share what I learnt.
Background:
1.

Femen activists have declared 4 April “topless jihad day” as a gesture of support for a Tunisian woman who was threatened with death by stoning for baring her breasts online.

Amina Tyler ignited a storm when she posted images of herself with the words “Fuck your morals” written across her chest to the Femen-Tunisia Facebook page.

Another image with: “My body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour”, written …across her bare chest, was also posted…

In what is believed to be her final interview before her disappearance, Amina told Federica Tourn she believes she will be beaten or raped if the Tunisian police find her  [From here]

And some reactions:

2.

Muslimah Pride: We Reject Femens Islamophobic and Neo-Colonialist Crusade to Save Us

… Instead of ‘getting naked’ Muslim women from across the world tweeted and uploaded pictures of themselves to Facebook in their hijabs, niqabs, and western attire. They held up signs telling the world why they were proud of their identities and did not need racist Islamophobic women to dictate to them on how they should dress.

3. Another indignant reaction.

I Am Not Oppressed

..as though there is only one way to be ‘free.’

FEMEN protests … In perpetuating the belief that there is only one way to go about being free, FEMEN provides a narrow-minded solution that is not feasible for anyone else to fit into.

Femen’s response.

4.

You say we are Islamophobes, just recently we heard from anti-gay Catholics that we are Christianophobes. Yes, I’m scared of all your religions … I’m an atheist and I cannot say that you are atheistophobe as there is nothing that you can be scared of. You personally have rights to believe in whatever you want …but until the moment there are no stones, bullets and blood of your religion we are going to fight it. [Topless in the Country of Hijab? – by Femen leader Inna Shevchenko]

5.
“And you can put as many scarves as you want if you are free tomorrow to take it off and to put it back the next day but don’t deny millions of your sisters who have fear behind their scarves… ” [Topless in the Country of Hijab?]
The letter.
6.
A letter of gratitude to #MuslimahPride social media jihadis
Dear Muslimaat,
I don’t have words to express my gratitude and appreciation for your noble battle against evil. …
What the ignorant world does not realise is that once you have the permission of your husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, the approval of your neighbours, in-laws, their relatives and the consent of your spiritual guardians, their God and their scriptures, you can be quite the rebels. It takes a lot of courage to ridicule something that is already taboo where you live. It takes volumes of bravery and valour to bow down to the status quo, and toe the lines that have been forced upon you. It takes unbelievable amounts of gallantry to act out a script that someone else has written for you. And it must take guts and the proverbial cojones to take a stand against cruelty and the personification of tyranny that a horde of topless women is.
Who are those shameless activists to try and liberate you? Do they not realise that you can’t be liberated without the permission of your mehrams? I can’t thank you enough for choosing to be more offended by naked bodies than dead bodies.
Thank you for citing your personal example to highlight how you wear the hijab by your own choice, ignoring the fact that an overwhelming majority of Muslim women are coerced into doing so. Thank you very much for making the whole debate about you, when it was always about the torment and suffering that most of the Muslim women are going through.
Thank you for accepting contrasting definitions of modesty for men and women, and for not being a source of strength for your sisters and daughters, vindicating the men’s claim of you being the weaker sex. Thank you for teaching your daughters about the sin that having sex is, throughout their lives, and then compelling them to do it immediately with a man they first met a couple of hours ago, after signing a few papers and getting the clergy’s approval.

Religion cannot be thrust upon a child or a spouse?

Was glad to read,

Religion cannot be thrust upon a child: Bombay high court.

A minor girl’s father (behind bars for fatally stabbing her mother) and aunt were not granted the child’s custody.

They wanted the three year old to be raised as per their religion, with rituals performed and ideals of their religion taught to the child.

The court rejected the argument that a man’s religion must prevail upon his child, saying it was directly contrary to the freedom of religion under the Constitution and it would also be gender discriminatory.

And now glad to read that religion is not being thrust upon a spouse either.

Kareena has not converted to Islam: Sharmila Tagore

Has Kareena converted to Islam?
She hasn’t converted, but she is now the Begum of Pataudi. He is the Nawab, so Kareena is the Begum.

Wouldn’t it be good if religion became more a matter of choice and beliefs than birth and marriage?

Also, do you think the sentiments of atheists, rationalists, skeptics and agnostics deserve respect? Is ‘not being Religious’ a Right?

Comments moderation is enabled. 

Related Posts:

How do women benefit from religion?

Atheism: Taking Stock – The Wild Child

Yes, these Shaadis are legal! – The Times of India

Census will ask family members individually about their faith – The TOI

 

Guess which one of these Rangoli Portraits is me?

An atheist friend commented that lighting diyas on Diwali is a religious thing to do. Do you think it’s possible to celebrate Diwali without feeling very religious about it?  Do you see Diwali as ‘victory of good over evil’? Whose victory was it and who benefited (or not) from that victory?

A friend and her family leave for a small beach village every Diwali (with their dog), a lot of people buy gifts and some play cards, some have family gatherings. Many make sweets at home. Many spring clean and redecorate their homes. How do you celebrate Diwali? Do you see fire crackers as an unavoidable part of Diwali celebrations? (We have not bought any fire crackers for more than twenty years now).

One of these two Diwali masterpieces is supposed to be ‘same to same’ me 🙂 [Made by an eight year old Rangoli artist] Guess which one!

1. Rangoli Portrait One.

2. Rangoli Portrait Two.

So which one do you think is me? 😉

Related Posts:

Recognizing Ram was a “Bad” Husband

“Hoping god grants more wisdom to your parents to make you understand things and train you to be a good indian wife.”

What do these emails say about those who wrote them? Do you know somebody who would agree with these two emails?

I am sure there are women who have other options [meaning they are self reliant and have no social pressures to get married and stay married (or die trying)] and would still be willing to marry men like these email writers… but I do wonder why any woman would want to do that.  

This is from the feisty blogger who received these two (and more such) emails.

Strangely I never knew I would be the centre of so much attention and that too male attention of some other kind. I started blogging as a means of being expressive about the atrocities we women face from being emotionally abused for being a girl to the physical torture we bear every day of our lives. I did a few posts on the cultural paradigm that the society is trapped in and how we women are often viciously the attention seekers for all the wrong reasons. A lot of guys mailed me often after reading my posts since I belong to a rigidly patriarchal society and as norm they didn’t expect a girl like me from the community. Lately though it started bothering me, with my dead grand parents and parents being the target. And only when I was thankful of not being a part of the community, I realized that even the www had no place for a girl like me who is just trying to make the society aware of the brutalities we are facing in the name of religion, culture and traditions and the solutions that can heal the wounded society.

Is it wrong that I am too vocal about the dowry practices in our community or the other unequal practices not finding favour with me.

What do you think.?

– Rinzu Rajan

***

And here are just two of those emails.

First email from a male reader:

Dear rinzu

…i read your posts and was horrified in the manner you had to bash out at the practice of surnames and their usage. why is it troubling you lady the age old practice that india and its women have followed.? and don’t you think acceptability into your husband’s household would be sought by both him and his parents.? accepting a husband’s first name has been the old adage in the south Indian communities that do not have defined family names. And i presume in all likelihood that you would be doing so in the future when you get married to show respect and adoration to your husband and his family. Women are not supposed to dominate men in the indian society and in the christian communities the man is the head of the woman as you might have read in the bible (verses 1 Corinthians 11:2) and further on in the other verses of the bible.
Also your posts on the practice of streedhanam (dowry) usage of minnu were just not acceptable. One girl’s words and actions or beliefs can’t change a tradition that is here to stay.I just hope that you give up on your nasty stubbornness before you get married. It is because of women like you that the divorce rates in india are on the rise.

THINK ABOUT IT.!

Regards and may god grant you wisdom

R

***

Second well meaning email from a male reader:

Dearest rinzu

i found you to be a pretty girl by your facebook photos but had never though that women like you exist in this world. don’t you think girls should be pretty and shy and quiet and not be as arrogant as you are. what issues you have with marriageable age is still a question i am trying to ponder on? dont you think that (all) girls should get married by the age of 25 so that they can give birth to healthy kids and make a beautiful family. don’t you think girls were made to give birth to children and support a husband by cooking and cleaning for him. no matter how educated a girl is, ultimately she has to do all this for a husband and even my mother and sisters got married at the right age meant for a girl. then why question the marriageable age theory? i think even your parents might have thought of it and might be soon getting you married. no matter how many degrees you earn at the end of the day every girl is supposed to be a husband welfare organization and a momma welfare role as you said in your posts. and hoping god grants more wisdom to your parents to make your understand things and train you to be a good indian and christian wife.

god bless u

v

***********

Updated to ask: Do you think Indian parents are under pressure to raise daughters who tolerate some amount of gender bias, injustice and unhappiness without complaining? 

Related Posts:

Role Call: Beyond a Husband Welfare Organization and a Mommy Welfare Roll. – Rinzu Rajan

Early and arranged marriages within the community prevent social ills.

How important is it for a girl to get married?

What good is being liberal or modern if your daughter gets divorced in the first year of the marriage?

Should women go to this temple?

Sisters and daughters are requested to keep their bodies covered with clothes according to their modesty. Mothers are requested to make their pampered daughters  dress in modest clothes, if they don’t listen, keep them at home.

This picture was shared by Hrishikesh on facebook.

What kind of message does such a message give to those visiting the temple?

That, the way women dress is everybody’s business.

I also thought the tone of the message was arrogant and sarcastic, ‘apni laadli‘ translates to ‘your brat of a daughter‘.

I know I would not visit a place that does not seem to respect women and thinks I can’t decide what I should wear, because I am a woman.

Also, should there be a dress code for going to temples? If yes, should it be applied only to sisters and daughters? Don’t women devotees find men dressed in certain styles offensive? For example, no shirts and kurtas are compulsory for men? No instructions to behave in a ‘modest manner’ for Brothers and Sons?

Whoever put that notice also seems to believe the stereotype that  mothers are the weaker parents who the children don’t listen to.  (That children should be controlled by a father’s firm hand 🙄 and that spoiled children are a mother’s doing.)

Anju Gandhi and Desi Girl blogged about the need for creating special gods and places of worship where women are respected as individuals with intelligence, on all the days of the month.

Note: Ladli roughly translates to brat, can be used lovingly or sarcastically.

Should religion be seen as a personal matter?

Mixed with politics, religion stops being about god or personal beliefs, and starts being about taking control over lives and choices of those who follow or don’t follow it.

Religion empowered can redefine rape in the US. “Rape is only really rape if it involves force.” So an  incest victim, or an unconscious, incapacitated, or unable to resist person, should not be seen as a rape victims? [Link, ‘Yes Means Yes!‘]

All the hard work to create awareness about sexual crimes, to be undone to prevent women from having a choice in a decision that can’t be easy anyway. If it isn’t rape, then there is no justification for an abortion.

*

Religion allowed a 14 year old child in Bangladesh to be killed for ‘adultery’, when at 14, she could only have  been a victim of child abuse or rape by her 40 year old, married cousin. The rapist ran away. The 14 year old ‘endured about 80 lashes before collapsing‘.

*

Religion allowed a seventeen year old boy in Pakistan to be ‘arrested under Blasphemy ordinance for writing unpleasant remarks about the prophet’.

…Chairman Intermediate Board of Karachi… admitted that he was aware of the severe repercussions.

“It was the boy’s neck or mine. I was aware of the harsh consequences which the boy and his family would have to go through, but we could not do anything… or else we would be in hot water. The professor who checked the papers had sent reports … to other places. My hands were tied.”

*

Religion could be behind Ugandan gay rights activists, David Kato, being beaten to death.

“David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. evangelicals in 2009,” At his funeral the presiding pastor called on homosexuals to repent or “be punished by God” and when they protested, the pastor refused to conduct the burial. [Click to watch the video]

*

Presence of religion in politics allowed some to find justifications for Graham Staines and his two minor sons to be burnt to death while sleeping inside a station wagon at Manoharpur,” the intention was to teach a lesson to Graham Staines about his religious activities”

[The Bench later deleted this passage, click to read details.]

*

Without religion being in power, this graphic video of flogging of a Sudanese woman by policemen who are laughing at her pain, would not have been possible. It seems she was to be given 53 lashings for indecent dressing.

*

Not very different from,

Two years ago, hooligans in Mangalore used religion to object to what they claimed was indecent dressing and behavior, by beating and molesting innocent citizens. Their sentiments were hurt when they were compared to the  likes of the policemen in the video above.

Of course there is a basic difference. The victim in Sudan was legally an offender.  Indian law and society saw the violent, attacking mob as the criminal.

Not sure if they have been subjected to any kind of, what is described above as ‘teaching a lesson’.

Wordless Wednesday? Casteless India.

Translation:

We can change our religion, why can’t we change our caste?

Don’t let caste-divides break India.

Would love to know what the first few lines in the video below made you think. He says he is quoting from the veda.

Video from here, on Yayaver’s blog.

Related posts:

Modern Agraharam near Hyderabad – Keep out if you are not a Brahmin.



Draw Mohammad Day:Two responses.

In response to Draw Muhammad Day, May 20th –

1.

Sami Zaatari has created a counter group on Facebook for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It’s called ‘Honour the Prophet Muhammad’

He says,  “The way we shall respond is not by violence, or threats, or insults. No, we shall respond back with wisdom, and with the most important tool we have – the truth.

The prophet Muhammad himself stated that the strong Muslim was the one who could control his anger, and control his emotions…

Responding with threats … simply feeds the propaganda, and makes them say ‘look! You see, we are right, the Muslims are violent!’ Therefore as Muslims we should be better.

On May 20th we shall release our own video …which shall compile some of the greatest examples of the prophet Muhammad. You too can take part, by posting several Islamic narrations that showed the kindness, mercy, humbleness, generosity, and sincerity of the prophet Muhammad…

[Click on the video to hear more.]

About Freedom of Speech he says,

“At the end of the day, everybody is talking about freedom, freedom of speech etc etc. Use your freedom just as I am using my freedom, use your freedom to speak up in a civilised dignified manner, show how great the Prophet Mohammad was. So go on use your freedom to show them the truth of the Prophet Mohammad.”

2.

Another voice. [Thanks for this Link Charakan.]

“We have been acting exactly as the creators of that page intended us to. Acting as the promoters and publicists of that page
But we have done more than that. With the Lahore High Court decision we have allowed the PTA and authorities another precedent and excuse to aggressively “manage” the internet; something that can and will be misused in the future.”

I agree with both.

Whenever we think we are stopping someone from hurting our sentiments by curtailing their freedom of expression (right or wrong), we also empower someone (e.g. the government, extremists, or even  religious leaders)  to shut our own mouths.  😦

Related posts:

Have you seen ‘Khuda ke liye’?

Who defines the limits of your freedom?

NOTE: Comment moderation is enabled.

Because I say so?

Surbhi shared this link in a comment on ‘I don’t understand unquestioning faith‘.

I have no idea how many parents take this sort of advice seriously.

Why child marriage?

… before her mind is distributed by thoughts of love and desire …. The innocent child that she is now,  …(her husband) alone is her guru (teacher) and that he alone is her Isvara.(god)

In childhood a girl does not ask questions... out of her simple faith.. This faith, formed in her innocence, will take firm root in her mind when she becomes older and begins to understand things… and she will always look upon him as Paramesvara. (god)

Maybe  we should change the title to ‘Why not child marriage’ and gift the link to all parents.

These two news articles in the TOI this morning made me wonder why all religions seem to favour those who have written/interpreted the rules. For example, Hinduism favours the upper caste male, most other religions seem to favour men who interpret the rules.

Saudi court lets bride, 12 divorce-80-yr old Hubby

According to local reports, the girl was married to her father’s cousin last year against her wishes and those of her mother. The marriage was sealed with a dowry of 85,000 riyals and consummated.

The case had sparked debate in Saudi Arabia, with some judges and clerics using Prophet Muhammad’s marriage to a nine-year-old girl as justification of child marriage. [Link]

Those who can’t marry little children, find other ways to abuse them.

US sex abuse victim to sue Pope

They were deaf, but they were not silent. For decades, a group of men who were sexually abused as children by the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy at a school for the deaf in Wisconsin reported to every type of official they could think of that he was a danger, according to the victims and church documents.

I don’t understand unquestioning faith.

How do we get so awed with religion/faith/belief/spiritualism/custom/tradition/culture/god-men/etc that we stop using our own minds?

I was curious about Art of Living. I had liked most of the things Shri Shri Ravi Shankar recommended – kindness, global brotherhood, respect for all religions, a good deed every day. But  I remember feeling disappointed when I heard – “Leave your doubts outside that door. Come with total faith. Do not question. Just believe.” Isn’t that blind faith or ‘andha-vishvaas‘?

Was it faith that made someone agree to sign a non-disclosure agreement like this?

Volunteer understands that these activities (tantra sex) could be physically and mentally challenging, and may involve nudity, access to visual images, graphic visual depictions, and descriptions of nudity and sexual activity, close physical proximity and intimacy, verbal and written descriptions and audio sounds of a sexually oriented, and erotic nature, etc.

God-men helping women conceive is nothing new. ‘Bhaskar Bharti‘ on Sony TV touched upon this. ‘Sister of my heart’ by Chitra D Banerjee shows it works. In ‘I take this woman‘ by Rajinder Singh Bedi, Sarupo who was a god-men’s disciple, says she had no choice but to conceive or her husband would have brought another wife. (‘Ek Chadar Maili see‘ is based on this book).

Did the male and female disciples of celibate Nityananda never consider the possibility of his being err… of his not being celibate?

Nithyananda Swami was reportedly running a sex racket from his ashrams… “He lured these women, most of who were divorcees, under the guise of tantra and promised that they would inherit his divine powers if they had a physical relationship with him,”

“…he so impressed his devotees with his ‘powers’ that many of them even donated their property and wealth to him.”

Such gurus and swamis are many. I would suspect foul play if someone accepts money, or lives in luxury without working to pay for it.

My mom’s driver says large portions of land were seized by his disciples, for a guruji, who started a kitchen where the ghee for pooris never finished. I asked him why doesn’t he make sure nobody in those villages ever goes hungry. He thought I was being a non-believer. (And that’s blasphemy.)

An educated,  wealthy family I know also lives their life according to their special guruji. They spend many hours every morning in a puja room, and were delighted to find their neighbors believed in the same guru.

Another spiritual organization fed poor children, I had volunteered with a believing friend. Their focus was a video film that was being made, the children were treated with an almost disdain.

Why do some of us need gurus?

I can understand respect for someone whose ideals one respects. I can’t understand why we feel the need to worship, belief, obey, never hear a word against…

Nityanand says, “In a way this defamation has taught me lessons about society… It has made me more responsible. Now, I have decided not to experiment with anything that is not accepted by society widely…”

He compares himself with other ‘masters’.

“This has happened to all masters, even to Adi Shankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna. When the masters are in the body, they have to go through this. It is inevitable.”

I am sure there are those who believe when he says, “When that video was taken, I was in a state of trance. My personal life has been misrepresented and my privacy has been invaded.” [Videos available on You Tube]

Modi said  Nityananda ‘was committed to the traditions of Adi Shankaracharya and the principles of advaita’. He ‘also accepted a donation from Nithyananda’s organisation for the state’s Kanya Kelavani programme.

Either Modi couldn’t see through this guy, or he saw through him.

Now this god-man has a case against him ‘for hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus.’

Related Posts:

How do women benefit from religion?

Should religion be seen as a personal matter?

Religion Makes Us Kind and Good!?

Narayana! Narayana!

Some doors are different… they are closed for fifty percent of the population.