Sunday 20th Apr 2014
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Consequences of Crossing the Yellow Line

Cover Story

DR. S. AUSAF SAIED VASFI brings to light the atmosphere of promiscuity prevailing in the West because of laxity of moral values. He suggests that the Muslim world, and our country India also, should stick to the family values to avoid falling into th

What are the consequences of crossing or erasing the thin line of demarcation between the two sexes?

Before delving deep into the subjects, let us reiterate that Islam encourages segregation of sexes. But it does not discourage women from entrepreneurship, earning, running or owning any sort of legitimate business provided they scrupulously follow the Islamic code in this regard.

What is the Code?
To quote the Qur’an: “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do.” (24:30)
For women the Holy Book stipulates: “Say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms…” (24:31)
The Last Prophet (peace be on him) was asked by Allah: “O Prophet tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close around them… Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (33:59)

Society’s Health
Does it not stand to commonsense that for the robust health of a society, certain egalitarian mannerisms are a must? Think of the scenario in which men habitually keep their gaze lower and women, as a part of their routine, do not demonstrate their assets publicly and keep themselves within loose shrouds to evade the preying eyes.
It is because of this elastic dress-code, that the occurrence of crimes against women is the lowest (repeat lowest) in the Islamic world.

In Muslim World
Unfortunately, the said dress code is not being followed fully in the Muslim world. But still in some important countries, majority of women follow it. In Saudi Arabia , law requires a full black cloak, called “abaya”, a scarf and veil for all. In Iran , a majority of women wear “roo-sari” or scarf and a cloak or chador, required by law. Some women wear veil also. In Egypt , between 70 and 80 per cent women wear scarf. The government does not encourage scarf or veil. In Indonesia and Malaysia , the use of scarf has come into vogue after the revival of Islam. In Iraq , many wear scarves while others veils. In some parts of the war-torn country, veil is a must. In Jordan “conservative” women are required to wear veil or scarf. In Kuwait , Lebanon and Syria , the use of headscarf has got popular during the recent years. In Tunisia the use of scarf was banned in public places in the 1980s. In Turkey , the use of scarf is banned by law in offices and institutions. It is, nevertheless popular at private level. In India , Pakistan and Bangladesh shroud, chador and veil are used by the majority of Muslim women.

Two Opponents Only
In Muslim history, there have been only two persons who banned the use of hijab –Mustapha Kamal Pasha of Turkey Mohammad Raza Shah Pehalvi of Iran .
Today the so-called progressive forward-looking and enlightened consider hijab, veil or anything like that a retrograde fad or custom or cultural remnant. But to their utter chagrin, despite all-round degeneration womenfolk in the Islamic world prefers hijab, veil or scarf.
The latest row on the non-issue erupted in London in October in a somewhat innocuous way when Mr. Jack Straw asked Muslim women to remove their veil while seeing him in his office in his constituency. When his request was widely commented upon, Muslims saw a subtle effort at assimilation. Sheikh Ibrahim, a trained Imam, went to the extent of saying: “I have a beard and I wear a traditional long shirt. Sometimes I wear a turban and a hat. Am I going to be his next subject of concern?
The attitudes hardened. Mr. Straw later on said: “I am concerned about Muslim “separateness”. He also held out his view: “Ideally I would like the garment to be discarded altogether.”
Mr. Tony Blair completed what had been left un-said by Mr. Straw. To quote him: “I think we do need to confront this issue about how we integrate people properly with our society.” The Mayor of London, Mr. Ken Livingstone joined the issue by asking the Muslim women to “give up veil.”

Cross Defended
The Tories too followed when a young Muslim female teacher, Ms Aisha Azmi refused to lift her veil in front of her male colleagues in her school class. Mr. Phil Woolas saw “voluntary apartheid” in the Muslim observance of their religious instruction.
This demonisation of Islam received a marked dent when political commentators recalled Prime Minister Tony Blair’s cabinet ally Mr. Peter Hain’s support to a British Airways employee’s decision to challenge the airline for refusing to let her wear a cross around her neck while at work.
Nadir was touched when Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, Mr Trevor Philips wrote in the Sunday Times: “This angry debate could be the trigger for the grim spiral that produced riots in the north of England five years ago. Only this time the conflict would be much worse. We need to chill.”

European Values
The argument of dissenters boiled down to the point: “Islam cannot be reconciled with European values.”
What are those values, you, in all innocence, can ask. Hold your breath. They expect you to show calm and total tolerance to outrages on Islam, its Last Prophet (peace be on him) and the Islamic values. For example, Europeans do not expect you to react when it is published that Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) was “a merciless warlord, a looter, a mass murderer of Jews and a polygamist.”
Recently The New York Times referred to, as an instance of Muslim intolerance, the security reasons based cancellation of a scene in the German Mozart Opera, showing Prophet Muhammad’s severed head (peace be on him). Is, by the way, caricaturing or showing the murder of a Divine Prophet a value, a civilizational value?
If you react to this vulgarization of values, you ruin several risks, including those of alienation, disengagement besides the charge of triggering the “clash of civilizations”.
We honestly fail to appreciate the thesis that civilization has come to an end in the west. But after a dispassionate pause, we recover and understand that really civilization has come to an abrupt end in the western hemisphere.

Ground Reality
Amidst this deepening hoo-ha against Islam and Muslims, what is the ground reality there? The ground reality there, according to some agencies, is: marriage does not figure today in nearly 55.8 million American family households. It comes to 50.2 per cent. Thus traditional marriage has now ceased to be the preferred living arrangement in the majority of American households. This is what the US Census Bureau said in its latest figures dealing with the 2005 survey. More than 14 million of Americans are headed by single women, another five million by single men, while 36.7 million belonged to a category, described as “non-family households” – a term that experts said referred primarily to gay or heterosexual couples cohabiting out of formal wedlock.
In addition there were more than 30 million unmarried men and women living alone, who are not categorised as families, the Census Bureau reported. By comparison, the number of traditional households with married couples at their core stood at slightly more than 55.2 million, or 49.8 per cent of the total.

6 Years Ago
It is fair to recall that the said trend represents a dramatic change from just six years ago, when married couples made up 52 per cent of 105.5 million American households. Mr. Douglas Besharov, a sociologist with the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think-tank, has, in this backdrop, appropriately remarked: “It is difficult for the traditional family to emerge unscathed after three and a half decades of divorce rates reach 50 per cent and five decades out-of-wedlock births.”
“Change is in the air,” Mr. Besharov said in a recent interview with the State Department journal called US Society and Values. “The only question is whether it is catastrophic or just evolutionary.”
He predicted that cohabitation and temporary relationships between people were likely to dominate America ’s social landscape for years to come.
“Overall, what I see is a situation in which people – especially children will be much more isolated, because not only will their parents both be working, but they’ll have fewer siblings, fewer cousins, fewer aunts and uncles,” the scholar argued.
What he did not argue or lament is the existence of illegitimate parents and their illegitimate progeny. Because long ago, the question was swept under carpet.

Domestic Reality
What is the reality at home?
The domestic reality, as we see in the words of a press release of Population Council, on October 13, is: The in-depth survey of boys and girls aged between 15 and 24 in Pune –just one case in point – concludes that about one in five young boys and one in 20 young girls have pre-marital sex. Though urban youngsters are more sexually active, their rural counterparts are not behind. It was also found that despite strict parental supervision and norms discouraging sexual relationships, unmarried partnership are formed in almost 15 to 30 per cent of young men and 10 per cent women.
Had these ground realities taken place if she, half-clad and half-naked, had not been brought to the streets?
This question stares right across the face of Washington , nay the west as a whole, and also New Delhi : where are now astrologers asked by some parents whether their would-be daughter-in-law would be a virgin?



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