Highlights from Mujeeb Jaihoon’s speech on the intellectual renaissance of Kerala’s Muslim women at Zaitoon International Girls School, Kottakkal, Kerala, on July 10 2017.
Kerala Islam: Sages through the Ages
Historians estimate the legacy of Kerala Islam by at least 1000 years old, while others ambitiously mark it as nearly as old as the Prophetic era. Like any other non-Arabian Islamic cultures, Muslim Kerala has produced several luminaries in both scholarly and saintly domains, besides poetic and political realms. The early believers made bold attempts to integrate with the local cultures resulting in symbiotic dialects, architectural patterns and poetic works peculiar to what we could conveniently categorize under the contributions of Kerala Islam.
Islamic Spirituality: Democratic, not Patriarchal
A crude conundrum, however, of this cultural legacy is its hall of fame is absolutely dominated by men alone. It is impossible to admit the absence of women names was purely accidental or even incidental. Women, in both the letter and spirit of Quran, are only as much biological and spiritual as their male counterpart are. Islam’s spirituality is essentially democratic, not patriarchal as its men innocently assume.
Kerala Muslim women have tremendous intellectual and spiritual potential which has largely been ignored by its profoundly patriarchal society. It would be incredibly difficult for a researcher, let alone a common man, to recollect at least ten noteworthy names from the pages of Muslim Kerala’s Islamic scholarship.
Lifting the Intellectual Veil
The demand for Islamic scholarship from Kerala women is much more than ever before. At a time when the Faith is under military and malignant ambush, there has been no better opportunity, read responsibility, for women scholars to come out of their intellectual veils.
Oppression of Women: The Islamophobe Buzzword
It is also to be noted that a major part of the intellectual inquisition of Islam is in the name of oppression of its women. Only a definitive women Islamic scholarship can put up a credible counter offensive. Men scholars would not be as much psychologically qualified as the women to deliberate on issues specifically targeted at the feminine psyche.
Is Kerala Islam prepared to give such a space to its ‘fair and lovely’ folk? Don’t expect an answer from your menfolk. Only you can intervene to address this historical vacuum. Is it hard to imagine a female scholar in future Kerala tutoring the men students in religious sciences? Since, the Companions of Prophet could and did too.
Respect Words, God’s Holy creation
Words are among God’s holiest and magnificent creations. For, HE chose words, not music or paintings, to compassionately communicate and graciously guide the children of Adam.
A simple word like ‘Rose’ would bring into your mind a thousand shades of ideas, ranging from smell, freshness, love, mother, woman, thorn to God’s creativity. God has contained an ocean of meanings in a single word.
Words are, thus, among God’s precious creations. You have to respect and salute each one of them.
Posted July 24 2017