5th Letter to Tahira

Page 1 of 3

Home

Incompatible Marriages
Fifth Letter to Tahira
Yes my daughter, you have understood the meaning of "Moaddah" (affection) correctly. In the dark ages Arabs used to bury their daughters alive. The Quran came to eradicate all kinds of cruelty, discrimination and exploitation. Therefore, it is impossible to believe that such a barbaric custom has survived.

Custom of Female Infanticide
The custom was forbidden, and it took a few years for this barbaric and soul-searing custom to be eradicated from this world completely. The Quran has mentioned in its typical attractive and logical style, that when that innocent girl would present her case before God against her murderer, the father, then the criminal would be asked as to what crime this helpless innocent life had committed for which he, the killer, had been so cruel to her. What answer will he have? It is so obvious. Muslims are happy that, by the grace of God, this earth-shaking barbaric custom came to an end. It is worth celebrating. But Tahira, if you look a bit deeper, you will see that this beastly and inhuman custom still prevails in the world. Perhaps you will wonder as to which lawless land can still practise such a degrading custom, during this age of civilization, culture and enlightenment. A custom in which people still bury their daughters alive! But you will be extremely amazed when you are told that this heartrending custom is actually being practiced in our country, by our nation and in our homes. We see this high-handedness, and do not feel for it at all. We ignore references to this custom in the Quran, by saying that it is about dark period of the Arabs that this horrible custom refers to, and that it has nothing to do with us.

Custom Is Still Alive!
Tahira, you know that the Quran considers every unjustified murder to be the worst crime. But this type of 'murder' (burying girls alive) is most horrible and barbaric because it involves a helpless baby, too young and unable of defending herself, and this makes it most unjustified murder. Just look around you and see how many such murders are committed right in front of your eyes. Moreover, the murderer goes about (blatantly) and displaying the blood on is sleeves, and none of the minnows of law and order can apprehend him. Tahira, I can well imagine the torment your heart might be passing through after reading the above line; and I cab well imagine your inquisitive eye looking in vain for signs of such unjustified murder. But I really wonder whether your searching eye, looking far and wide, noticing this little baby Zubaida who has been deprived of her mother and is now being reared by her maternal grandmother. Perhaps, you have not seen her deceased mother or you do not know how she died.

Waywardness of Rasheed
You may not even know that this girl is the daughter of Rasheed, who was arrested and imprisoned the other day from his gambling den. Rasheed's waywardness is not new. He has been like that since his childhood. He was still small when his father died. In a nation that has lost its collective life, its orphans either starve to death; or if they are well provided for at home but are without the guidance of a proper guardian, they become wayward and insolent. (It is a great achievement to be able to display real good character while having led the life as an orphan). As a child Rasheed was the apple of his mother's eye but, as he grew up, he started keeping bad company. His waywardness was no secret. Sometimes some elder members of the family would chastise him, but it was not really like the concern of a real father who, even if his child was being insolent or rude would still do not give up worrying about its welfare. Mother used to simmer with anguish but who would listen to her?

Shakira's Mother

http://www.tolueislam.com/Parwez/tkn/TK_05.htm

2/13/2010

5th Letter to Tahira

Page 2 of 3

Rasheed was a worthless vagrant, and nobody liked him. But God knows what came into Shakira's mother's head, that she insisted on giving her daughter's hand in marriage to Rasheed. Their family opposed it; relatives and near and dear ones were all against it; and the neighbours and residents of the area, in fact anybody who heard about it, opposed it. But she turned a deaf ear to everybody. Leave alone everybody else, even Rasheed opposed this proposal. But Rasheed's and Shakira's mothers were in favour of it. If ever any body would question Shakira's mother, she would bluntly reply that, "I had given my daughter to my sister, when my baby was still a suckling. Now I shall either send her in a palanquin to my sister's house, or her coffin would depart from my threshold. Shakira was a serious, quiet, understanding and a sensitive girl. According to the restrictions of our present society, a girl's expression of an opinion about her proposal is considered such a great sin, that there is no atonement for it. Furthermore, Shakira has a taciturn disposition, but sometimes it used to be hinted by her friends and well-wishers that she foresaw the dark future, and that her mother's insistence was her deathknell. Her last ray of hope was that Rasheed himself was against this proposal. This might save her from hell.

Wedding
But then it was the obstinacy of Rasheed's mother: "If you oppose me son, I shall take poison and commit suicide. I have given word to my sister and now I cannot back out of it", she insisted. The result was that they fixed a date, the marriage party came and all the rituals were performed. At the end, just before the send-off, they thought of another custom. The registrar of marriage contracts, the witnesses, and even the bridegroom, all knew about how both of them had been brought together unwillingly. But because of the fear of the groom's mother's annoyance, the bride's social stigma; the witnesses' integrity and the Priest's greed for his fee, nothing was considered amiss in the "will of God" and the Nabi's Sunnah. The marriage ceremony was performed. The relevant sermon was delivered. People offered lengthy supplications. Trumpets were blared, congratulations were bestowed. The Bride was brought home, which was suitably adorned. Tahira, just ponder on that relationship of matrimony (Nikah) which Quran calls a solemn covenant (4:21), and the prime condition for which is that both parties execute it willingly. Only pondering over all its aspects, should anything be decided for the future. But performing it the way it was performed for Shakira is openly ridiculing the divine law. Now we treat matrimony as a trivial custom, and the Priest recites a few memorized verses meant for such an occasion. Even, if they take those verses seriously, they would discover many a marital bliss in them, (but talk about matrimony only, the whole of Din has become a lifeless ritual to us.) Anyway, this was how Shakira started her married life. She reached her in-laws place. Nothing special happened, and time passed. But it could be seen that rosy Shakira was gradually turning into an autumn leaf. Although she tried her best to tactfully prevent Rasheed from his misdeeds, by covering up, or by serving him well, or by many sacrifices, Rasheed was a gone case. In the beginning it was indifference which gradually turned into hate and then enmity. At home she had the solace of her mother-in-law's company, but adversity does not strike alone. In less than a year Rasheed's mother passed away. Now Shakira became more helpless and Rasheed more dauntless. He frequented the house less and less, and mostly would remain out. Shakira's jewellery was the only attraction for him at home. Whenever he needed them, he would come to snatch them away. Shakira's simple father was a poor man, and although he could have afforded a few morsels for his daughter, Shakira was "thankful" person and literally lived up to her name; she would never let anybody know that she was starving. Her parents' house was just next door, but she would not let them know about her toils. Quietly she tried her hand at earning something, but there could never be a stable means of livelihood for a tormented girl. She had to work extremely hard to earn a pittance. By the grace of God the whole locality knew her and they were all in fact her near relatives. She used to see all the goodies coming to other houses, but she never manifested any discontentment. Many a time it happened that as she was about to her first meal of the day, Rasheed gate-crashed from somewhere and Shakira would quietly put that meal in front of him. He had his meal and went out grumbling (one never knows he might be beating her, taking with him whatever he saw in the house worth taking.) As I have mentioned, the whole of that locality consisted of her relations. But, Tahira, this is the biggest curse of an individualistic life-style. In times of need you are alone. As you have seen, Shakira's poor father was a simple man. All he could do as a last resort was to implore Rasheed and to serve him to the best of his capacity. But this kind of sacrifice is appreciated only where there is a fraction of humanity

http://www.tolueislam.com/Parwez/tkn/TK_05.htm

2/13/2010

5th Letter to Tahira

Page 3 of 3

left. But Rasheed used to receive all this gestures of goodwill from his poor in-laws as his right, and expected them to feel obliged. Despite all this Shakira never complained. The agony took its toll but she never let anybody know. She would cry when alone, but nobody ever saw her eyes moist. Her condition became known when her constant crying affected her eye-sight. Her eyes ached for two months. When she was slightly better, it was discovered that her eye-sight had become quite weak. Now she could not do any of those things through which she previously used to earn money. Whatever was in the house was gradually taken by Rasheed. Finally Shakira could not hide her malady. She had become skin and bones. Her friends would suggest that it was no use worrying, because worrying would not help. She would hear them and smile, and you could see every pain written in her eyes in bold letters. She would become quiet, and her condition kept on deteriorating day by day. Rasheed could not care less that a precious life was dwindling. Goodness knows since when she was having fever, but she never told anybody. When it became constant, it was discovered that she was suffering from chronic fever. It was winter and on one cold evening, somebody mentioned that police had arrested Rasheed on some vagrancy charges, and that they were not letting him off because he could not pay the required ten rupees. Shakira was wearing a woolen shawl, her last asset and her life-line. She got up quietly and sent it to neighbour for it to be sold. Although it was a fine shawl, she could hardly get ten rupees for it. She took the money and gave it to Rasheed's uncle to pay the fine. Now she could not even protect herself against cold. Fever persisted and her life was like a lamp on its last flicker. With difficulty, her mother brought Shakira to her house and whatever treatment she could afford, was being given to her daughter. Shakira had become all the more quiet. When she saw her parents struggling for medicines or resorting to prayers for her well-being, she would ask a friend of hers to tell parents not to resort to any treatment, and to let her die.

Eternal Silence
Rasheed never turned up, even by chance, to inquire about her welfare. Then one day he did come and sat near Shakira's bed-head. She looked up raising her eye-lashes, saw Rasheed and smiled, the same smile that would reveal the depth of her heart on seeing every new trouble, and which was like a surgeon's knife cutting through all our man-made laws and restrictions. A tear came to her eyes, her eyelashes became moist and a hiccup broke the last life-line. And Shakira, the picture of quiet anguish, was eternally silenced. Dear Tahira, just think, can there be any instances more distressing and inhuman than this? Just ponder how many such innocent lives are wasted because of this repression. And your society does not bat an eye for them. Tahira, you will say that corrective measures are being adopted to ameliorate such cruelties. Last year a law for the right of women to divorce was promulgated, to remedy such obstacles. There is no doubt about the good intention of such corrective suggestions. But what generally happens is that such corrective measures, instead of being beneficial for genuine cases, become manipulative tools in the hands of fraudulent people and as such defeat their purpose. Instead of eradicating the cases of evil, our corrective steps get bogged down and meet with little success.

Reformation
It is no use applying ointment to the eruptions and boils of a patient whose blood is contaminated. One eruption would be cured but two more would surface elsewhere. The real remedy would be to purify the blood. Today the whole structure of our society is disintegrating. Therefore the real remedy would be its reformation and reconstruction from scratch. The foundations of such new construction should not be laid merely on the letter of the law, but on spirit of the law, too. Unless and until one adheres to the spirit of the law there could be no change in people's hearts and minds. No aspect of society could be reformed because the change depends upon the change in minds and hearts of the people. This change is not possible unless and until man-made laws are replaced by Divine laws. God be with you! Parwez June 1954

http://www.tolueislam.com/Parwez/tkn/TK_05.htm

2/13/2010