Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Gross Injustice Through Gender Inequalities

Maroof speaks for the humanity

(Dr. Muhammad Maroof Shah, 31, was born in Kunan, Bandipore. He has pursued a career in veterinary medicine and animal husbandry, completing Bachelors's degree in veterinary sciences (BVSc) at the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry (FVSc & AH), Shuhama campus of the Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Kashmir (SKUAST-K), and MA English through the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). He is presently posted as a Veterinary Assistant Surgeon (VAS) at the Government Sheep Breeding Farm in Dachigam. Dr. Shah is the author of two books, and has lectured as a visiting fellow at the Jaipur University on Western Philosophy. In his leisure time he pursues studies in comparative religion, philosophy and literature.)

When a girl child is born ….

When it is a question of our choice vs. God’s choice we need not ask which one should be given priority and which in fact reigns ultimately. But how strange that we – most of us – think that we know better and God should accept our dictation and we go on petitioning for our choice and call it prayer. Is it imaginable that we are wiser or more knowledgeable than God? But we continue to practically assert our superior wisdom and knowledge vis-à-vis God so shamelessly by not welcoming a girl child.

I wish government to launch an awareness campaign to make truth prevail – the scientific truth that if we are bent on punishing her or teaching God a lesson for such a blunder (anyone not very happy on the birth of the girl child practically thinks he is wiser than God), for not honouring our will, we should punish the real culprit who is father or husband. Women have no role in deciding whether the new child shall be male or female. She produces the egg with x chromosome and a child is conceived when it meets either y or x chromosome. If it meets y chromosome it is a male child and if y it is a female child. Now it is male’s x or y which is decisive and which one meets the x chromosome of mother is purely a matter of chance that God controls himself. Scientifically onus lies on man rather than women and any court of law will punish the father only though ultimately he too is helpless and God does what he wants and those who accuse their wives or daughters-in law with the charge of conceiving a girl child should file a suit against God if they can. Any woman tortured on this account should easily seek justice by filing the case of slander, defamation and abuse of human rights against her accusers. Let the government fix a huge compensation for any such abuse and disqualify its employees if found guilty of such a crime. Murder is less serious crime than the slow death or mental/spiritual death that such victims are practically condemned to. Who can calculate the immensity of misery faced by a women for life in the form of bouts of depression etc. I have seen cases where more tears have flowed on this account than would be occasioned on the death of one close one in family. Women are unaware of their rights. Why don’t they seek justice?

I request victimized mothers to file cases against those who accuse them of the crime of bringing a girl child and lawyers could make great business out of such cases as it is very simple to win the case and extract huge compensation from the accusers. Many a time divorces and deaths have resulted and all these could be a matter of solicitation. If it is fundamental human right to be respectfully treated and emotionally mishandled or even physically abused as happens in these cases we could fight the cases legally. I wish some NGO take this issue and lawyers association attend to this problem. It should be possible to launch FIR against every slanderer and abuser. Government could enact fresh laws to punish the huge army of men and mothers in law who are guilty of such offenses. I wonder why we are yet to declare it as an offence. I think it needs more severe punishment than theft or corruption. I think even a few rears of rigorous imprisonment is not a sufficient imprisonment for such criminals. Employees found guilty should be retired- those who can’t honour God’s property (women) can’t be trusted to be trustees of government institutions. We don’t realize how dear every soul is to God who has made every human being with his two hands. There is no greater thing in the whole universe than human heart and there is no virtuous act greater than caring for this heart (dil anjam aanun) and conversely there can’t be greater evil than disgracing it, or injuring it. Torturing a mother for the “crime” really committed by her husband covertly or overtly (what is more killing than an abusive remark or taunt from her mother-in-law or husband and threat of a divorce if a girl child is born) is a form of slow death, a murder in cold blood that murders not only the body but lacerates the soul as well and therefore doubly punishable both here and hereafter.

Every time we feel shame or sadness for giving birth to a girl child we dishonour the divine image on which every human is created, we disgrace motherhood, we write off countless sacrifices.(which are great than the greatest sacrifices of great heroes and martyrs of history) that mother gives in nourishing a child, we authenticate Satanic reservations on Adam’s creation that the Quran narrates, we commit an unpardonable sin that no tears can wash off (Even God can’t pardon it because it concerns huqooqul ibad), we betray God’s trust and faith in us, and we stoop lower than the beasts.

Every time I go to congratulate a friend or a relative for becoming a father of a girl child I am in a fix whether to congratulate or to console or speak a few words of condolence as I don’t know how he takes it. Traditionally Kashmiris have learnt to console on these occasions by saying mubarak chu zuvow bachayi – her life was saved therefore congrats). Implied is the statement of condolence or consolation for missing the right kind of child.

For God a girl child is a gift to man. She manifests divine mercy. It is not only a gift in itself but it paves way for the greater gift of heaven in the next world. It manifests God more perfectly than male child does. I If God is love, as Jesus (AS) said, He is best manifested in mother and wife. If God is Beauty it is her face that celebrates and reveals him par excellence. As Ibn Arabi, one of the greatest Sufis and metaphysicians of Islam, said that it is feminine face that best unveils God. Beauty attracts us but great beauty liberates us even from itself as Jibran says and that is why a beautiful face can be a vehicle of salvation/enlightenment as it leads us away from itself, its form to the Essence that it dimly expresses, to the Formless who paradoxically expresses himself in all forms. It is not for nothing that hoors, who personify archetypal feminine beauty, are to be found in the heaven on the way to the Garden of Essence that is the highest paradise in Islam. Women is the gateway to God, not only for certain libertine mystics but for all mystical traditions, even the most ascetic of them Christianity. The women is not merely a creature, an object that gives pleasure, but a symbol of that which religion seeks. She is, for the most humans, for all those who love and seek love, for the poets, for the artists, for the Tantrics, for the generality of mystics especially bhaktas and most importantly for the Prophet of Islam (SAW) the medium through which divine speaks and manifests and through which the divine could be sought (the Prophet of Islam (SAW) listed women along with prayer and perfume amongst the most lovely things of the world). Contemplating the beauty of women without desire and lust in what Joyce echoing Augustine calls in the state of stasis is prayer and a mode of prayer that very few people, if any, dispense with. All prayer is essentially a feminine activity as it is emptying of oneself to the Cosmic Beauty, to Cosmic Self; it is a passive activity. One can only receive God in feminine receptive spirit. Those who don’t want to care for a girl child forgo primordial human vocation of serving/worshipping/loving God and seeing Him everywhere.

There is no such thing as mere girl children whom you can throw off in a dustbin or better abort. Metaphysically all women are loci of divine manifestations. It is slap on God to ask him to grant us male children and dislike his gift of a girl child. Asking God for boys instead of girls and going from shrine to shrine and pir to pir to impress upon Him our dislike for his likes and gifts is shameless to the extreme. Desiring a male child is human weakness but our decision to surrender to God’s will by consenting to say kalimai shahada means we no longer accept the bondage of desires and other human weaknesses. We gratefully and heroically accept God’s will, God’s choices and gifts. When I see a person not very happy on becoming a father or mother of a girl child I conclude, on the authority of the Quran and Sunna, that (s)he is yet to enter the fold of Islam. Islam, Iman, and Ahsan constitute the three ascending stages of perfection of religion. These people have yet to enter the first one. Those who don’t submit to or accept God’s will (which is the primordial meaning of Islam) are condemned to suffer and despair. They invite suffering.

Why is girl child disliked? Because it is other’s property (lukhhoond maal) and hurts our social ego and we don’t wish to be charitable. It is only our selfishness that ultimately dictates our dislike of her. So whenever you see a sad face after the birth of a girl child take it to mean that deep down this person is mean selfish godless (or better God abandoned) creature not worth meeting and making friends with. The darkness inside us is often covered but it comes to the fore on such testing moments as these. Some rationalize their preference for male children on the grounds that girls are badly treated in our society so it is better if they are not born. The question is who is responsible for this bad treatment? This reasoning implies, for instance, that the solution of poverty is to abort the children of poor parents or kill the poor. We want only good things from God as if he has really created anything bad in the ultimate sense. We are not here for comforts but bearing witness to Truth and that Truth respects no human likings and dislikings. The question is why were we brought into this world and why we will be driven back from here? Why should we cling to life? Why to bother about living life and not decide to round off the show? Why was the world made? And why God created everything in pairs? Pondering on all these questions leaves no scope for such silly things as pining for a male child or any child at all. God is the best treasurer and account manager and drawing disturbursing authority. Our job is only to do our duty. Our wages are paid exactly as required and as merited. There is no scope for mere chance. All is measured out by God as the Quran says. It is height of folly to advise God in these matters. We can’t avoid meeting our own fate that we appropriated for ourselves.

Asking saints to interfere in these matters is ideally not recommended. I am reminded of a story that someone approached a saint for the boon of a child and he resisted but upon great insistence he consented to pray and he got a handicapped child after some time and then it was a great bane for him to take care of and requested the same saint to pray for his smooth death. So it is better to pray for only one thing - to ask God to grant the vision to see things as He sees them, see things as they are. “O God, show us the things as they are” prayed the Prophet (SAW).
A girl child is not a liability for the rich class but they too dislike her. She is liked by God and His prophet; His servants have, however, mostly, different opinion and would like to advise God to think again while fashioning the sex of their child. These advisors are not worth talking to and deserve disgrace in hell. No word is mean enough for labeling them.

While pining or longing for a male child kindly remind yourself that perhaps you had sold everything – including your soul and the whole empire of desire – to God in the covenant made in preeternity (alastu birabikum) which you had revived when you consented to believe in God and his prophets by saying kalima. Let us trust in God and His wisdom who knows best what is best for us - a male child or a girl child or none at all. We are here to pine for God and there is no bliss in things other than God. (Ala bizikrillahi tatmainal qullob) How strange we pine for children. It is God’s business to distribute or withhold his bounties and not ours. Let us be Muslims. A Muslim is unattached to anything whatsoever. It doesn’t behoove him to be exulted or grieved by anything that happens under the sun. He glorifies God on every occasion. Alhamdullilah his every fibre speaks. He welcomes even death with a smile. He never complains; he only praises and celebrates. He is a lover who endures life’s hardships serenely as kisses from the Beloved.

I wish our politicians ask questions in the assembly or parliament regarding this issue and try to punish the criminals - criminals who stand against God, against humanity, against motherhood, against science and logic and ultimately who wrong their own souls by accusing, abusing and doing all kinds of subtle psychological – not even hesitating to use physical means also and give threats of divorce – torturing mechanisms. Let NGOs, lawyers, imams, doctors and other social institutions play their role in fighting these terrorists who are terrorizing countless women for no sins of their own. These terrorists are more insidious, bigger criminals that destroy the peace and dignity of countless souls even in their bedrooms. Let Muslims launch a jihad against them. Jihad is meant to be fought against all transgressors and traitors. Is it possible for our leading newspapers to present one sentence ad on front page for some time regarding these strange honour killings where a women is tortured to slow psychological/ spiritual death for the sin of motherhood? May I also request Radio Kashmir and Door Darshan to keep 30seconds slot in news etc. and announcing – ‘It is God’s “fault” to let a girl child be conceived and born. Scientifically the onus lies on male partner to decide the sex of the newborn. Beware ye women bashers. Insulting women on this issue is a crime punishable under law.” Would our CM take personal interest in this matter? I hope so.

There are few faces that glow when the news of girl child’s birth is given them. Let us be amongst those few. They alone can count as Muslims as Islam means submission of desiring/willing self to God. If we once pray like like this: ‘God! Grant us the will to will whatsoever You will’ we will never be frustrated in life and nothing will happens against pour (transformed) will. This is a corollary of the station of raza that Sufis seek. Eckhart has quoted a prayer from Seneca: “Lord, supreme Father and only Master of high heaven, I am ready for anything you will; only give me the will to want what you will.” One can quote dozens of Sufi sayings in this connection. Just one will suffice from Ba Yazid: “I only will not to will.” Hell is nothing but self will procured by sin which is a form of self-love. William Law has expressed this point succinctly. “See here the whole truth in short. All sin, death, damnation, and hell is nothing else but this kingdom of self, or the various operations of self-love, self esteem, and self seeking which separate the soul from God, and end in eternal death and hell.”

Scientifically it is absurd to blame anybody for the birth of a girl child. Metaphysically (according to Islamic metaphysics as explicated by Ibn Arabi), whatever befalls us we have asked for it so we have, in some plane that precedes out spatio-temporal being, asked for a girl child when one is born to us. It needs deep familiarity with Islamic metaphysics and Ibn Arabi to understand this point. May God grant us wisdom to appreciate His wisdom and the understanding and the vision of Him that we may wholeheartedly consent to His workings. Amen!

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