“God helps those who help themselves,” Muslim women went by this adage in the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections and took a revolutionary step towards lead a dignified life. By voting in large numbers for BJP, something that their community leaders told them expressly not to do, they aligned themselves with the national mainstream. By doing so, they snubbed the fundamentalists, the clerics and those community leaders who in reality are communal leaders.
Now, Muslims voting for BJP is something that many people cannot digest. But facts are there for all to see. The scale of the saffron victory in India’s most politically significant state could not have been possible without Muslims voting in large numbers for BJP. All other so-called secular parties – mainly like Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress – have traditionally used the Muslim voter to stop BJP in its tracks. The tactic they have always deployed is to create a ‘Hindutva-phobia’ among Muslims. But today, Muslims, especially Muslim women, are aware of this scare tactics and have come to know the true colour of this “secular” brigade.
In primetime TV debates, some self-declared community leaders such as Maulana Ansar Raza and Sajid Rashidi issued threatened by using comments like “Tum triple talaq ke liye kuch karke to dekho, Hum dilli ki gaddi par rehna bhula denge” (Try banning triple talaq, we ensure you are unseated from New Delhi). The clerics tried their best to demoralise us for our fight against the Un-Quranic practice of Talaq-e-Biddat, yet we broke the politics of fear. We gave a better reply to those political parties who always did “politics of appeasement” and never tried to promote the Muslims especially Muslim women. In this triple talaq battle the “secular” parties never adopted any stand against injustice, discrimination and violation of the rights of a Muslim woman. But they have never shied away from supporting fundamentalists and clerics.
They tried to push Muslim women into the ring of clerics or self-declared representatives of the community in the name of religion by saying, “It is the internal matter of Muslim community. No one should interfere in it.” On the other hand, BJP came forward with a strong affidavit filed before the Supreme Court.
Of course, much has been said about the fact that BJP did not give a single ticket to Muslim candidates in UP whereas BSP, SP and Congress alliance gave tickets to hundreds to Muslims. But we also knew this fact that no one other than BJP supported us – the Muslim women – in our battle. In every past election the so-called secular parties promised but did not deliver. That’s why we gave BJP a chance to do something for us.
I was born and brought up in a religious atmosphere as my father was a Hafiz-Quran’. My maternal uncle was Umar Khayyam, Saharanpuri, a Hindi film script writer. They both fought against unwarranted practices throughout their life. Umar mamu wrote four movie scripts based on personal laws: There was Nikah which was based on triple talaq, another one was Bewafa Se Wafa that talked about the challenges of succession and inheritance, in Deedar-e-yaar he brought out the story of how consent of nikah is gained by fraud. And Jodha Akbar was based on the rights of women who marry into another community or religion.
I have also done hifz of some chapters of Quran attended meetings of Jamat-e-Islami and understand the position of woman there. Through my work I am trying to present the real and true message of Islam before the society. My father tolerated this disgusting society when he sent my sister to Agra for B.Ed training in 1988.
Here, I would like to share that I filled the nomination for the seat of Chairperson of Nagar Palika Parishad, Saharanpur, in Local Bodies Election of 2000 but couldn’t contest due to the heavy opposition and pressure on my father by the so-called community leaders. As my father was a ‘Hafiz-Quran’ this act was considered Un-Islamic and was expected to not cross the boundaries. After that I always tried to break the nexus of these so-called religious leaders in the name of religion. If BJP won the Deoband assembly seat – “garh of fundamentalist” – along with other densely Muslim populated area seats like Meerut, Bijnor etc it is clear indication that the time has come to stop the so-called community leaders from influencing our lives so that we can lead our life in our own way not as dictated by fundamentalists. I’m not the only sufferer of fundamentalists, every second or third Muslim woman is victimized by these religious leaders.
Farha Faiz is an advocate and president of Rashtrawadi Muslim Mahila Sangh, an RSS-affiliated organisation. All views are personal.