Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This Qazi is a woman

This Qazi is a woman - A Muslim woman making history.
Mike Ghouse

The story is not if a Muslim woman can oversee a wedding, or if the wedding is between a Shia or a Sunni denomination. It is about Men in general who need to feel secure in themselves in accepting women as equals. Every one is a Muslim who pledges in the existence of God and Muhammad (pbuh) as his prophet. If we don’t speak out against these, we are not fulfilling our obligation as a Muslim.

Activist Ms. Syeda Hameed in New Delhi, India has challenged the fortress traditionally guarded by men; The Qazi-ship, a function that oversees the ritual wedding vows and ceremony of Muslims. She performed the wedding ceremony of a Muslim couple, making history in the Muslim world.

The burden of proof lies with the rejecters of the idea; Men. They have to prove that a woman cannot be a Qazi. There are plenty of mis-translations to support them but that should not cut it. It has to be reviewed in the light of what is fair and just with participation from both Men and Women.

We have to work to create societies of justice and this is a good first step. Morocco has led the world in opening a seminary to train women to be scholars and Imams. It is time for us to think about this issue seriously. Rejecting an idea is an easy thing to do; debating it is the hallmark of civil societies.

Please remember that, the insecure men are afraid to lose control over the only thing left for them; religion. Muslim Men are no different in their insecurities than Jews, Hindus, Jain, Christians, Americans, Arabs, Zulus, Mongolians or the Mayans. In the ugly words of a few cultures “Women need to be put in their place” and other statements like “woman is like man’s footwear”. I am embarrassed even to write this, but these statements are real and are made in the subcontinent regardless of their religion.

If men cannot square with women on common sense and logic, they will resort to quoting, rather misquoting traditions or the holy book. Men have to learn to shed years of conditioned attitudes and become free again. Life would become more enjoyable.

Men and women are each others protectors, saviors and serve each other in living a purposeful life. One is incomplete without the other, adds the Qur'aan, "Men and Women are each others garments". Just as the garments shield one from the cold and heat, the metaphor encompasses every aspect of life including the vows; in happiness and sorrow, sickness and health, poverty or wealth, weakness or strength, difficulties and comforts, men and women are indeed each other's garment. No matter what faith or culture you follow, the essence of the vows is the same; justice.
Justice is the basis for peace, be it between spouses, family members, business partners, stockholders and consumers, president and the public, minorities and majorities, communities, nations or the globe. Whenever one takes advantage of the other, the balance is lost and the unit is crippled. In personal relationships, the disadvantaged ones are patiently waiting for the moment to get even or get justice. Justice is the hope that keeps the life moving forward.

For a relationship to flourish and be sustainable, it must be anchored in justice. The feeling where neither one feels being taken advantage of or taken for granted. Islam is about justice where not only men and women are equal in the eyes of God, but all other humans are to be treated as equals.

The article is reported in Times of India.


Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He is the founding president of World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: Good for Muslims and good for the world. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at

This Qazi is a woman

12 Oct 2008, 0239 hrs IST,

Mohammed Wajihuddin,TNN

Yojana Bhavan, at leafy Parliament Street in Lutyen's Delhi, is known more for planning the nation's destiny than housing a person whose heart beats for poetry. But enter Room Number 111 at the Planning Commission's headquarters, and a poetic aura engulfs you. On a wall, complementing photographs of a woman captured in many moods are Urdu couplets by poet Kamla Bhasin. A couplet ponders: 'Desh mein aurat agar beaabru nashaad hai/Dil par rakh kar haath kahiye desh kya azaad hai? (If the country's women feel belittled and disheartened/ Put your hand on your heart and tell me if the country is free).'

It is in this room that Planning Commission member and activist Syeda Hameed spends most of her waking hours; that is, when she is not touring the backwaters of Muzaffarnagar in UP and Mewat in Haryana, chronicling the horror of 'honour' killings or scouring the villages of Orissa to fight the communal fires stoked by Hindutva's hate brigade. And it was in this room that she got a call from a Lucknow-based fellow activist, Naish, a couple of months ago. "She sounded desperate," Syeda recalls. "She told me that if I didn't agree to solemnise her nikaah with Imraan, also an activist, she would opt for a civil marriage."

What followed next was a historic and path-breaking step in the annals of Islam in India. On August 12 this year, after solemnising Naish's nikaah with Imraan, Syeda officially became India's first woman Qazi. The nikaah was also unusual because it had four women as witnesses instead of the traditional two male witnesses. A male witness was added at the last moment lest orthodox clerics declared the nikaah null and void.

Controversy trailed the event from word go. As the cameras rolled and flashbulbs popped, a frenzy gripped the lanes of Lucknow. Uninvited guests, including an intrusive media, showed up, sensationalising what was supposed to be a private affair. Someone approached an orthodox maulvi. "A nikaah solemnised by a woman Qazi is impractical and therefore not advisable," declared Maulana Khalid Rashid from Lucknow's Firangi Mahal,, a religious organisation. Despite the severe criticism from orthodox clerics, Syeda remains steadfast: "It sent across a message that the time for change has come. Women can no longer be subjugated."

When the clergy couldn't find a convincing alibi because neither the Quran nor the Hadith (Prophet Mohammed's traditions) enjoins that only a male can officiate as a Qazi, a maulvi protested that some of the women at the ceremony had not covered their heads. "That is also an insinuation because the photographs and the videos of the marriage ceremony prove that all the women had their heads well covered," says Syeda. Another maulvi declared that the nikaah was not legitimate because the Qazi was a Shia while the couple were Sunni Muslims. Syeda's reply is that in her family Shia-Sunni marriages were common. "My illustrious ancestor Maulana Altaf Hussain Hali was a Sunni. My mother was Shia while my father belonged to the Sunni sect. My sister is married to a Sunni. For the first time, I was made to realise that I am a Shia," explains Syeda who ensured that her three children, while growing up, imbibed Islam's eclectic spirit, not the divisive dogma propagated by some clerics.

Syeda says nothing inspires her more than the works of Maulana Altaf Hussain Hali, the 19th-century Urdu poet. Musaddas-e-Hali (also called Ebb And Tide In Islam as it chronicles Islam's history in poetry) and Munaajat-e-Bewa (Lament Of The Widow) are some of his better known works. Hali's Munaajat, says Syeda, lambasts patriarchy and upholds the rights of women. "He was undeniably India's first feminist poet," she declares. And as we prepare to leave, hums another couplet on the wall: 'Chup hain lekin yeh na samjho hum sada ke haare hain/Raakh ke neeche abhi jal rahe angare hain (If I am silent, don't mistake it for my defeat/The embers beneath the ashes are burning). My Click here to comment on this story.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Email to:

Voice of Moderate Muslims

Voice of Moderate Muslims
Voice of Moderate Muslims

Moderate Islam Speaker

Moderate Islam Speaker
Moderate Islam Speaker

quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.