Sunday, June 1, 2008

A State of Ignorance

I had some guests come visit us today from India. Unfortunately they weren't too religious. Without going into further detail about how nonreligious they were, I want to bring up something that really bothered them.

My mother tries not to go in front of non-Mahrem men like a Muslim woman is supposed to according to the Shariah. Not only did these guests not observe this practice but they were unfamiliar with it. Yes, they knew the term "Purdah" and understood what it meant but it seemed as though, especially the wife, had experienced it for the very first time. They wanted my mother, to come and eat together on the table where there were both men and women seated. My mother had to explain to them that she observes "Purdah" and cannot sit with them at the table. This is not an unusual thing for non-Muslims or even new Muslims. but these were Muslims who lived in India. Though Muslims were in the minority, the Muslims still ruled the country for thousands of years. I don't understand how Muslims who still live in India have become so ostracized with their religion, themselves.

Another incident which my grandmother brought up was what happened in Dubai quite a few years ago. Some lady at a gathering guessed that my grandmother was from Pakistan and her friend was from India. How? The length of the Saree's. A Saree is, pretty much a long cloth literally wrapped around a woman's body. When Indian women(Muslim or not) wear the Sari, it shows their stomach but Pakistani Muslim women cover atleast their stomach. Considering that many Muslims migrated from present day India to present-day Pakistan, it is unusual that Muslims living in Pakistan have become in a sense more religious.

Maybe, the "Purdah" was not something new to them. Maybe, it was something of the past. The "Purdah" was quite prominent in the subcontinent for a long time even after it started disappearing in the Middle East. So then, what happened? Did the Muslims who left to Pakistan also take their religion with them? That can't be the answer. India is not far behind in producing scholars and works of Islamic art. Zakir Naik is probably one of the most prominent and The Sealed Nectar(Ar-Raheeq ul Mukhtum) is also written by an Indian Muslim.

Cultural Diffusion

I remember back in the US my teachers used to describe cultural diffusion as a good thing. They described America as a melting pot, where cultures of different parts of the world would combine together.

Personally, I never liked cultural diffusion. Cultural diffusion has its good aspects since it causes people to accept others and not be too reproachful of those who are not like them. Nevertheless, it causes a lot of bad to come as well. What I'm guessing happened to the Muslims in India, is that they were affected by cultural diffusion and in an attempt to be accepted by the non-Muslims of India, they lost much of their religion.


Anonymous said...

intresting.... i wonder who those guests were... just another cheek pinching/ pyaaring/hugging random relative maybe .. lol
but u know the sari part, thats not true. maybe stomach-covering saris are more prevalent in pak than india, but its so NOTT true that all pakistani women do! i totally dont get this concept;; wearing western clothes which show ur body is bad, but all of a sudden, if its a sari,and ur stomach shows? hey no problem.

Abu AbdurRahman said...

well yeah you're right but thats a different topic in itself. these people who i'm talking about are the 'traditional' people who won't wear western clothing cause its anti-traditional. Unfortunately they are not religious except when it comes to "Islamic" customs(which are often Bid'ah anyway).