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An Open Letter To The Fatwa-Mongers of Deoband From A Pious Muslim Lady
I sometimes wonder how religious scholars from other communities, such as Hindus Christians, Buddhists, and Sikhs, interact with the common folk among their co-religionists. Frankly, sometimes I really envy them. Non-Muslim women can freely ask questions to their priests, gurus and so on and discuss religious matters with them. I simply cannot, for the life of me, fathom why Muslim women cannot have a healthy and positive dialogue with the ulema. Is it because of some deep-rooted fear on both sides? Is it because of a totally unwarranted hierarchy that seems to prevail between the ulema and the common folk, paralleling that between medieval kings and their subjects? I don’t need to explain who the ‘kings’ and the ‘subjects’ here are, for surely you will understand.
During my travels, if I do happen to visit an Islamic seminary I would be delighted to meet you and discuss all these issues. I promise to come properly dressed, and along with my mahram (my husband) Inshallah. But, for heaven’s sake, don’t whisk me off into the women’s quarters or banish me to a corner. And please do not claim that my voice, too, must be ‘veiled’—which is what some of you insist in the fatwas you have issued. I have experienced that enough, and, quite frankly, am not willing to take it any longer. My dialogue is with you. I am your sister after all, and when I die I know that for my maghfirat duas will be held in your madrasas for the peace of my soul. Till I live, please allow me to let my soul to talk freely with yours. --