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  • The Islamic dance party

    by Fe'reeha
    25th November, 2005 at 4:42 am    

    It was but fate that after reading posts on South Asian hypocrisy here on Pickled Politics that I ended up being at such an interesting event this week.

    The best way to describe the experience of being at what the organisers called “an Islamic dance party” is perhaps - unbelievably interesting.

    The concept was intriguing. The organiser, Bushra, told me it was a dance party for Muslim women who do not get to go to usual dance parties.

    “It is a strictly all-women function in respect of Islamic tradition. Also, we are giving a large portion of the money raised by this event to the victims of earthquake in Pakistan.” She added.

    Hmmmm…. so they (sort of) thought of everything. No men to worry for the women with hijabs, a tag of charity for the further softening their image… but what about music?

    Surely they were not going to make women dance on the lonely beat of “daff” ( a type of drum), the only music allowed according to most Islamic scholars.

    “Oh, we have belly-dancing, which is allowed in Islamic countries.”

    This really amused me. While I am not against mixed or secluded dance parties, what intrigued me was the simple debate by which she made a seemingly un-Islamic event kosher. Who says house-wives are not smart?

    And this was not the only thing that I learned about house-wives last week. The event itself was an eye-opener.

    The dance floor was packed with women, some in hijab, some in low cuts, most in shalwar kameez and some holding their children. The male DJ was made to sit in a separate room so he could not see what was going on.

    My first feeling was that of being trapped in a lesbian club. But as music got louder and the two belly dancers came into the centre (did I miss telling you they were males?), I started thinking it was high time we gave vent to the frustrated emotions of suppressed South Asian women.

    I saw in horror, an unbelievable role-reversal, as women went wild over the erotic moves of the belly dancers.

    But towards the end I considered it a harmless event which provided a good time to average South Asian mothers who usually do not get such entertainment.

    Afterwards, I found some more information on this site. Dr. Su’ad Salih, professor of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) at Al-Azhar University, states: “Islam is a religion of moderation; it does not prevent singing and dancing, but it forbids anything that stimulates people’s (sexual?) desires, whether it be among men or women.”


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    1. DesiPundit » Dancing Hijabs

      [...] An Islamic Dance Party anyone asks Pickled Politics. Only women, male belly-dancers allowed and the proceeds go to charity. Hhmm. I like. [...]

    1. Kashif — on 25th November, 2005 at 7:22 am  

      Islamic Dance Parties? Great !! Next in line is Islamic Pork and Islamic Rape

    2. contrarymary — on 25th November, 2005 at 10:43 am  

      what’s the hassle with this?

      presumably women were there because they wanted to be and there was no coercion involved.

      it sounds like a nice event, more from the point of view that Fe’reeha states - south asian women getting together for a social event of their own organising and volition.

      though I’m sure there will be more posts and reactions of Kashif’s ilk.

    3. mellow — on 25th November, 2005 at 11:58 am  

      Sounds like a perfectly sensible approach to providing women a safe and comfortable environment to let their hair down and have a good time.

      Not sure about the male belly dancers though (where can I get an application form ? I got a great belly :o )

      *Wondering if I should draw attention to the incedences of rape in Islamic societies are no better than in other societies* @ Kashif

    4. sonia — on 25th November, 2005 at 12:06 pm  

      ” but it forbids anything that stimulates people’s (sexual?) desires, whether it be among men or women”

      what rubbish! if that were the case people would be encouraged to be monks instead of what they are - which is at the end of the day to find a stable partner to engage in monogamous sex. not all that different from the values and norms of other societies.

      people who go to such silly lengths and have silly fears about ‘sexual desires’ must think everyone is an animal who can’t control their ‘urges’ and that we don;t have ‘free will’ which basically i think is an insult and moreover acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy in as much as it perpetuates that kind of thinking.

      look what happened in all-boys schools ( and all-girls schools i bet - though we don’t hear so much about that..) where they thought they were keeping them away from ‘girls’ and ‘ desire’. Hah.

      its one thing if a bunch of women want to hang out together. its another if the ‘authority’ thinks somehow they’ve managed to ‘tame’ these women.

    5. Jai Singh — on 25th November, 2005 at 12:17 pm  

      Sonia, this is how the whole concept of “purdah” started — because some of the men concerned found contact with women in their normal daily lives (outside of their spouses and family members) to be a distraction from spirituality.

      Before you interpret my message as justifying this concept, let me quickly state that I do in fact agree with your own message.

    6. Jai Singh — on 25th November, 2005 at 12:18 pm  

      *Sonia, this is how the whole concept of “purdah” started

      Plus separate women’s quarters, keeping men and women segregated, “laaj” etc.

    7. sonia — on 25th November, 2005 at 1:21 pm  

      i dont think its so simple. that’s how the ‘purdah’ concept has been perpetuated….it wasn’t like there wasn’t any and then some blokes said oh we cant do any work, let’s think of a solution – hey presto! This is what we’ll come up with..’

      the start of this ‘covering up’ concept? - well its not such a surprise. i wouldn’t say it was a hard and fast concept either - it has become so in recent times thanks to the interference of a lot of pesky mullahs ( + other conservative types)

      But its not that weird or abnormal a custom – let’s think back :

      I think –culturally and historically - in situations like being outside in the market place or somewhere ‘alien’ generally - it was women of ‘good society’ who would have something to prevent what was considered the ‘riff-raff’ on the street from leering too closely. Could have been a bonnet, a mediaeval veil for a princess, the bit of the sari over the head, a big hat, some sort of scarfy thing, overcoat - whatever -.depending on where you were.

      you generally found this more in places and days where there wasn’t much safety and you couldn’t guarantee protection from the law so it was each for their own sort of thing. And it wasn’t probably considered ‘polite’ for a ‘genteel’ woman to be seen outside without whatever it was e.g. in Britain up to the early 20th century – if you were without a bonnet, you were definitely not ‘genteel’ and probably a prostitute - who else would flaunt such social norms?

      and you can find other examples from other places across the world. In the mediaeval age-aristocratic ladies when in the public eye would have to be dressed in a certain way that was ‘considered appropriate to their station’.

      and I think that was a pretty similar situation historically to women in arabia etc.

      BUT since then the ‘hijab’ has become a political symbol and has been turned into artificial religious construct and displaced from its context and the social setting.

      Also a lot of people possibly don’t seem to realize that say in south asian countries – if you’re a middle class woman you’ll have different standards of dress to adhere to than some poor ‘beggar’ on the street – who might be a woman in a sari with nothing else on. I don’t see people looking at the two in the same way – and certainly you don’t find mullahs condemning the poor women in villages who go about their normal lives and don’t have time to waste on worrying about the fact they don’t wear a bra never mind a ‘blouse’. Oh no – the mullahs spend their time looking at middle class women and suggesting they aren’t covered up enough. In my opinion these things are closely tied together.

      Of course that changes in the British context– you don’t have the poor living side by side in such disparity in the same way you have across the indian sub-continent– so that possibly skews the ‘hijab’ thing further. It’s not obvious that a different set of ‘norms’ apply to different groups.

      And also in a context of becoming a symbol of ‘religious difference’ and for some a symbol of the ability to hang on to the right to practise their own religion - hence the hijab becomes quite political. Also obviously it became political when certain dodgy nation-states sought to impose them on women through the rule of law. ( Very dodgy indeed)

      So its a pretty complex set of issues overall..i do think there’s always a danger of getting fixated on things.

      Now the other issue – of men seizing upon this and saying ‘oh we got distracted and couldn’t do our work’ – well historically that’s not all valid as the sphere of life pretty much kept men and women separate anyway – patriarchal societies meant that women stayed at home, generally in the ‘back of the house’ – i.e. the kitchens etc. and well-to –ladies hanging out in their chambers with their ladies-in-waiting and all sorts of things. So who was getting in the way of work? The men kept their ‘work’ separate..and didn’t make it easy for women to strike out on their own..

      And back to the ‘social classification’ concept again– you’ll notice – again historically – whilst most of these men were happy to have their genteel and polite women at home, outside of home they were quite happy to associate with ‘bawdy’ women { interestingly – who when they wandered around ‘outside’ looked very different to someone’s ‘genteel’ woman..)

      So sorry for all the rambling here – what I’m trying to get across is that sociologically speaking this whole thing has had a lot to do with notions of ‘ownership’ in patriarchal societies – and you can see that now also being applied in the religious context, without being specified as such. It’s when these issues are negated by those ‘religious’ men who would have everyone think it’s some straightforward rule and blah blah that we have to put our thinking hats on!

      making people feel uncomfortable around the other sex
      has never benefited society - and its counter-productive because it means people spend more time thinking about the opposite sex anyway.. ( ha)

    8. fotzepolitic — on 25th November, 2005 at 2:01 pm  

      packed with women, some in hijab [...] women went wild over the erotic moves of the belly dancers…

      So women who cover themselves in order to prevent men from “losing control” turn around and happily lust after uncovered men.

      My brain hurts.

      Muslim hypocrisy aside, I did a documentary on a specific form of bellydancing, and interviewed an incredibly buff gay male who performed it, and watched women gleefully stuff dollar bills in his coin belt. His moves were somewhat different than the women in his troupe (he focused a lot on upper-body and sword work), but he could do a belly roll like nobody’s bidniss.

    9. contrarymary — on 25th November, 2005 at 2:33 pm  

      sonia - nice one for killing the post with an essay

    10. Sunny — on 25th November, 2005 at 2:44 pm  

      making people feel uncomfortable around the other sex
      has never benefited society - and its counter-productive because it means people spend more time thinking about the opposite sex anyway.. ( ha

      Sonia that’s all you needed to say! along with - the hijab is just a political construct turned into a religious one. Then we’d be sorted :)

    11. Jez — on 25th November, 2005 at 2:48 pm  

      i like sonia , but the fact that she’s a member of the freemasons makes me a bit suspecious. shhh ..

    12. sonia — on 25th November, 2005 at 3:32 pm  

      he heh good one

    13. sonia — on 25th November, 2005 at 3:33 pm  

      well i wouldn’t have to write ‘essays’ if it weren’t for the fact that its such a bl:::dy confused topic.

    14. sonia — on 25th November, 2005 at 3:35 pm  

      and why should it only be the blog authors who can write ‘longish’ articles and the rest of us have to stick to ‘short’ posts?!

    15. Maharajah Ranjit Singh — on 25th November, 2005 at 3:39 pm  

      Its not really about South Asian women is it?

      I mean this is easy to laugh at so I wont - but its not South Asianism that is the feature here - its the Muslim thing.

      Sikh and Hindu girls dance merrily wherever they want, and so do alot of Pakistani girls too.

      Go to a bhangra dance anywhere - it simply isnt an issue.

      I dont understand how this can be termed reflective of South Asian life for women.

    16. Maharajah Ranjit Singh — on 25th November, 2005 at 3:51 pm  

      I mean, I’m not saying that the issue of South Asian hypocrisy doesnt arise - but women dancing is not an issue for Sikhs or Hindus (or lots of Muslim Pakistanis) - so I dont understand how it can be categorised as a South Asian thing. Surely its a question of Islamic hypocrisy. Of course there are many examples of Sikh hypocrisy we can talk about, but this isnt one of them.

      So I just dont understand what being Asian has to do with this. Its a Muslim thing, right? This taboo against dancing?

    17. Sunny — on 25th November, 2005 at 3:51 pm  

      MRS - Not really. The purdah is a big thing in parts of India too, especially Rajasthan. While Sikh and Hindu girls (here and some parts of India) dance merrily, in certain parts its not that simple.

      And given that last night I briefly attended an MTV Base party which was organised to raise money for the Kashmir Earthquake, and it was choc-ful of many Muslims, I’d say dancing is not exclusively the preserve of non-Muslims :)

    18. Mirax — on 25th November, 2005 at 3:55 pm  

      ‘I dont understand how this can be termed reflective of South Asian life for women.’

      So true. Esp when the only form of music that’s deemed acceptable is one ‘allowed’ in islamic countries(having male belly dancers was a nice twist, I liked that!), and one’s own native musical heritage is scorned. When there is so much great Indian music to dance to.! Hypocrisy upon hypocrisy.
      Women who allow so much of their freedom to compromised for the sake of religion deserve the joyless, segregated and circumscribed lives they chose.

    19. Jai Singh — on 25th November, 2005 at 3:56 pm  

      The Maharajah is correct.

      Regardless of whatever was going on in the rest of the world, women in the Indian subcontinent did not “veil themselves” or practice total segregation from men until the Turkic-Mughal invasions, with the consequent influx of certain Islamic/Middle Eastern attitudes in these matters. This is not to such such attitudes regarding women did not exist in parts of the world without an Islamic cultural dominance — they did — but in the case of South Asia, this happens to be where it came from.

      With regards to its origin in Islam, it was indeed the way I described it in my original message. Some of Mohammad’s companions were complaining about feeling spiritually distracted by the presence of women, there was a child in the vicinity who was listening to the conversation and essentially said “Wouldn’t the best solution therefore be that women should not be seen ?”; Mohammad praised the child and decided to implement the idea.

      But yes, it does also have a great deal to do with controlling women; there is quite a good article regarding this in Iran (obviously relevant to South Asia, considering the medieval historical ties and cultural influx from the region):

    20. Jai Singh — on 25th November, 2005 at 4:00 pm  

      With regards to Rajasthan, it was more heavily involved in the governance and military of the Mughal Empire than any other non-Muslim part of the subcontinent, which is why the purdah custom became particularly prevalent there (and has continued to be so).

    21. Mirax — on 25th November, 2005 at 4:04 pm  

      What purdah is there for non-muslims in india, Sunny? Please elaborate, I am curious to know more. The only non-muslims who adopted purdah (custom of the muslim invaders) were some of the high-caste Hindus who have dropped this habit as far as I am aware. Mixed dancing occurs even in rural areas in the form of folk dances.

      I find it odd that you bring up purdah in some beknighted area of India when the discussion is about something that took place in the UK last weekend.

    22. Siddharth — on 25th November, 2005 at 4:11 pm  

      I think this just goes to show that the veil, in many quarters, is synonymous with cheesy hypocricy. I think its disengenuous to title this article Islamic Dance Party. A better one would have been Burkha Nights or Get yer Jalaba off for the Girls. ;-)

      No disrespect, but did any of the belly dancers get their johnsons waxed?

    23. Sunny — on 25th November, 2005 at 4:36 pm  

      Mirax My point is that this subjugation of women by having them hidden is not just a Muslim trait. It does take part (sometimes in different forms) in parts of India too. In Rajasthan, which I travelled fairly recently, I saw Indian women covering their faces, sometimes up to the eyes, using their chunnis. It was a bizarre atmosphere and I had heard that fights sometimes use to break out of someone checked out someone’s woman too closely.

      That is a Rajput trait. In parts of Bihar too, there is a real tussle over the “honour of women”, where women are raped in retaliation for disrespecting caste barriers. But then you could say that is the Biharis for you.

      Female infanticide is meanwhile quite big in South India etc.

      To me these are all examples of female subjugation - whether you see them expressed as purdah or other ways.

      Jay said:
      Some of Mohammad’s companions were complaining about feeling spiritually distracted by the presence of women, there was a child in the vicinity who was listening to the conversation and essentially said “Wouldn’t the best solution therefore be that women should not be seen ?”; Mohammad praised the child and decided to implement the idea.

      Something similar is also attibuted to the Buddha, who was against the idea of women priests or having them part of the congregation I’m told. When I recently attended a buddhist meditation centre, men and women were seperated.

      Admittedly I did feel the urge to check out the women (but was obviously denied) but that is besides the point. :(

    24. Jai Singh — on 25th November, 2005 at 4:50 pm  

      Correct about the Rajasthani custom, but this comes from the close historical ties the region, and in particular the aristocracy, had with the Mughal ruling class.

      It’s not originally a “Rajput” trait per se. One should read up on Rajput history over the past 1000 years since the defeat of Prithiviraj Chauhan in order to find out more.

      For example, considering that Chittorgarh was attacked and tens of thousands of soldiers slaughtered (not to mention the simultaneous ritual suicide of the high-born women trapped inside the fortress in order to evade capture and rape) by one of the Sultans and his invading army — purely because the Sultan got a momentary glimpse of the Rajput king’s wife and wanted her for himself — it’s not surprising that Rajasthani women would subsequently cover their faces. This is a very, very famous — and obviously tragic — episode in Rajasthani history.

      But the major reason is the massive influx of Mughal cultural factors, as described before. These customs have remained in some of the more conservative rural areas even if the non-Hindu religious origin has been forgotten and the societal justification is now obsolete.

    25. Jai Singh — on 25th November, 2005 at 4:52 pm  

      On a side note, the Sikh Gurus explicitly condemned both gender segregation and the veiling of women in front of men, and they specifically referred to this practice within Islam in particular.

    26. Siddharth — on 25th November, 2005 at 4:54 pm  

      Women have been prone to be segregated and shrouded in the antar mahal in India since the Vedic times. Though I guess this was more inline with high caste behaviour, as MiraX has suggested.

      An more interesting phenomenon are the Tuarag of North Africa. Muslims - but here the MEN are veiled and the women are NOT.

    27. Jai Singh — on 25th November, 2005 at 4:59 pm  

      =>”Women have been prone to be segregated and shrouded in the antar mahal in India since the Vedic times.”

      Siddharth can you please supply some on-line references for this.

      Also, this is somewhat contradicted by various historical accounts, not least — in the context of high-caste life — with regards to the Swayamvar ceremony. The woman wasn’t exactly veiled purdah-style in the presence of her prospective grooms.

    28. Siddharth — on 25th November, 2005 at 5:07 pm  

      Jai - I can’t find any links , but I saw a superb Bengali film the last month called, in fact, Antar Mahal, by Rituporno Ghosh. And the whole film, set in Bengal of the 19th century, deals with the repressed sexuality of the women of the household of a zamindar (land owning gentry type) and how they live secluded lives. Recommended.

    29. Tanvir — on 25th November, 2005 at 5:10 pm  

      It would be nice if people could find a middle way… you have one extreme where I think even most of the hijab-haters here would even agree isnt to everyone’s tastes.

      And then you have the other where it is felt that a woman should be entirely covered to the point where they have a net over their eyes and all you see is a moving tent.

      I think women should be free to do what they want, that is, covering should not be enforced upon them by husbands or fathers, but rather something out of choice for the numerous very very good and respectable reasons for not showing their body - which is what many people here seem to be missing, probably because it is convenient and fits better with the prejudiced view that all of these women are absolutely forced to cover their selves out of a culture of subjugation.

      Contrary to these one-sided theories, there are many women out there (and I’d say the vast majority of British Muslim women fall into this category) who cover themselves out of choice. My mother wears a hijab (where she covers her hair) much against my father’s wishes (who feels it is unnecessary)…. because that is how she feels comfortable [NOT TO MAKE A POLITICAL STATEMENT] but because there are specific religious morals that instruct women to dress modestly, cover their beauty - im sure even non-Muslim Indian parents would like to see their daughters dressed reasonably modestly - just how far this is taken is the real debate - and this should be up to the individual - and people’s views should be respected.

      I have seen in Gudwaras even, where women cover their heads…as a sign of respect to the Guru Granth Sahib, and there are Muslim women out there who cover themselves as a respect for God and his teachings.

      Going back to this ‘Islamic Dance party’ - what is Islamic about it? What is the difference between those male belly dancers being there and women dancers performing for men?? I don’t object or judge or have a problem with such events. What I do object to is them being called ‘Islamic’ - when blatantly they are not. They should tell it how it is [a women only party] and nothing else.

    30. Sunny — on 25th November, 2005 at 5:12 pm  

      My feeling rather is that any custom that focuses very much on “honour”, and by that means “female honour” ends up being very over-protective and patronising towards women. Therefore I wouldn’t say this Rajput trait is a direct lifting of Mughal traditions because the Rajputs resisted the Mughals qute violently (for a while anyway).

      In the partition for example, women were raped by men on all sides in attempts to sully “the honour” of the other side and degrade them. Such messed up thinking is always a result when a woman becomes the subject of “honour” then a person in her own right. This thinking isn’t beyond that of many Punjabi men (though Sikhism has resisted against this).

      This “our women are being converted / preyed upon” rubbish (frequent today in British Sikh/Hindu communities) is a symptom of that. Women are not allowed to have their own will or brains. They’re constantly being referred to as pawns between more stronger powers.

    31. Jai Singh — on 25th November, 2005 at 5:16 pm  


      I’ve heard of that film and will check it out. Although 19th Century Bengal isn’t exactly “Vedic times” ;)


      Both women and men (regardless of their religious affiliation) are expected to cover their heads in gurdwaras, as a recognition of being on “holy ground” and as a sign of respect to God. It isn’t because of any modesty-derived “veiling” in front of the Guru, either in the present day or historically.

    32. Siddharth — on 25th November, 2005 at 5:19 pm  

      Although 19th Century Bengal isn’t exactly “Vedic times”

      True, but the practice of seclusion is Traditional. And that invariably means going back to earliest sources.

    33. Jai Singh — on 25th November, 2005 at 5:27 pm  

      =>”Rajputs resisted the Mughals qute violently (for a while anyway).”

      With the exception of the Sisodiyas in what later became the princely state of Udaipur, the Rajputs — after being either coerced or militarily defeated — became fully-integrated members of the aristocratic Mughal machinery and they did indeed adopt the “purdah” custom — along with many others, both in the styles of their royal councils and their day-to-day social interaction — from Mughal traditions. Buddy this is a historical fact; apart from the huge amount of historical evidence and records from those times, you can also ask anyone who has Rajput or Rajasthani ancestry to confirm this.

      And women in general in the region started veiling themselves because of the military and civilian Muslim personnel who became frequent travellers in the region, both due to the aforementioned trickle-down cultural influence of the Rajput aristocracy and also for their own protection.

      Your examples from the last 60 years or so are relevant and correct, but not in the context of pre-Islamic Rajputana. Rajput soldiers did not attack civilians, and there were enough attacks against Rajput fortresses which resulted in the men being slaughtered in battle and the women subsequently having to commit ritual immolation via the “jauhar” ceremony.

    34. Mirax — on 25th November, 2005 at 5:29 pm  

      Sid, so far the only source for your assertion for seclusion from vedic times is a recent movie set in 19th century bengal- don’t you think you should do better than simply parrot the practice is ‘traditional’ and expect us to leave it at that?

      Your point about the Tuareg : they are traditionally a matriachal society but their way of life (and the women’s freedom)is actually being threatened by the resurgence of ‘pure’ Islam. You once (wrongly ) pointed out that muslim societies in SE Asia are matriachal (to sort of prove how tolerant Islam is); you may be interested to know much of the traditional (and pre-islamic) matriachal customs or adat of sumatra and malaysia have been slowly abandoned in the last 2-3 decades , due to the muscularity of ‘pure’ Islam again.

    35. Jai Singh — on 25th November, 2005 at 5:30 pm  

      =>True, but the practice of seclusion is Traditional. And that invariably means going back to earliest sources.

      Indian society wasn’t exactly “Vedic” by the time the Turkic-Mughals came along. You need to take into consideration a gap of several thousand years, along with the substantial Buddhist period in-between, and the fact that by no means were all Indian regions Vedic in their interpretation and practice of Hinduism.

    36. fotzepolitic — on 25th November, 2005 at 5:41 pm  

      but rather something out of choice for the numerous very very good and respectable reasons for not showing their body

      What, as if everything available in British clothing stores is restricted to thongs and daisy dukes? For crying out loud, “dressing modestly” hardly requires a body-length flowing muumuu and a headscarf. Today I’m wearing jeans and my boyfriend’s sweatshirt because it’s farking cold out, and I don’t think men on the tube will be leering at me. Heck, when I was a teen us girls LIVED in baggy clothes because we had some sort of misplaced shame about our bodies developing, unlike all the girls and their muffin-tops today. ;) All I’m saying is, if modesty is your goal, it’s not hard to find Western clothing that no one will blink twice at. I think it’s more of a conscious segregation on the part of those women. An Ismaili Muslim once told me that when all the African-born desi Muslims came to the UK in the ’70s, an important imam told them to wear skirts and style their hair and blend in, because integrating and succeeding in the new culture was the most important thing.

    37. Siddharth — on 25th November, 2005 at 5:42 pm  

      MiraX: you’re right, I am expecting you to believe me without supplying any sources. My problem is I don’t have any and can’t be arsed to look up google. Excuse me for arguing from the hip. Most social customsand norms involving gender norms in India, taht have survived the erosion of these values in the last century so or so, are Traditional and that means they certainly go back to vedic times.

      Yes I did claim once that the entire SE Asia to be matriarchial, but I knew I was wrong about that even as I clicked the Send button. Unforgiveable, I know. I should have qualified it to mean Muslim Bengal, which is certainly not the entire SE Asia. And like the Malays is also suffering from the blight of Wahabbi muscularists.

    38. Mirax — on 25th November, 2005 at 5:48 pm  

      why is modesty only incumbent upon women anyway? what’s so sexual about hair in particular?

      Tanvir, you can file me under hijab-hater if you like to put people away in neat boxes since I find ALL the reasoning behind the hijab pretty shoddy. That does not mean that I hate muslims but I guess that distinction may escape some on this blog.

    39. Mirax — on 25th November, 2005 at 5:53 pm  

      I noticed at the time Sid but let it pass. However, I did not even guess that you were including Bengal under SE Asia. Sorry, us real SE asians are pretty clear that Bengal is nowhere part of the neighbourhood.

    40. Sunny — on 25th November, 2005 at 5:56 pm  

      Jai - as the Rajputs were quite enthusiastic on Sati, and I think the most recent case was also from there, I wouldn’t blame all their sexist and patriarchal customs on the Mughals (who of course were no examples of sex equality themselves).

    41. Tanvir — on 25th November, 2005 at 6:32 pm  

      Mirax,I dont need to file you under anything, you have done it yourself, you obviously dont agree with the ethic of a hijab, so dont wear one, but respecting someone else’s choice is a different matter this is the area you have self-admittedly put yourself in a category.

      As with putting people in boxes, I myself as a man follow the men’s guidlines for dresscode, something often forgotten in the sexist world of Asian culture.

    42. Tanvir — on 25th November, 2005 at 6:33 pm  

      oh yeh…nice advert at the bottom of the page btw.

    43. Jai Singh — on 25th November, 2005 at 7:07 pm  


      Sati and Jauhar are 2 different concepts, despite the fact that both involve female self-immolation.

      “Jauhar” developed specifically in response to the tendency of invading Muslim armies to capture and attempt to rape the women of defeated Rajput armies — a practice the Muslim soldiers involved justified under their interpretation of the Quranic injunction of allowing them to capture such women and keep them as “wives and concubines”. In fact, Guru Gobind Singh explicity prohibited his soldiers from acting in this same fashion towards the women of armies the Khalsa defeated, specifically because this attitude was prevalent in the context of Islamic warfare, and he told his warriors not to behave in a “tit-for-tat” manner in this matter.

      Here’s a good summary of the Rajput custom of jauhar.

      I’m certainly not ascribing all of Rajput society’s misogynistic and partriarchal attitudes to the Mughals; but in the case of the “veiling” of women in front of men and so on, it is an established historical fact that they did indeed adopt this from their close links to — and interaction with — the Muslim aristocracy. Ditto for other high-caste Hindus, although as mentioned before this custom then trickled down into the rest of Hindu society in the affected regions too.

    44. sonia — on 26th November, 2005 at 4:02 am  

      jai singh i wasn’t clear about exactly what you said higher up about the Moghuls. you weren’t suggesting they were turkic were you? because they weren’t -they were ‘persianized’ mongols. interestingly enough they picked up people’s cultures along the way hence in persia they’d picked up poetry and islam. the other interesting thing is they also had an impact on persian art by infusing it with chinese art. ( they’d come to persia via china..)

    45. Mirax — on 26th November, 2005 at 5:57 am  

      Talking of niqabs,

      Here’s the BBC on a privately run islamic school where the girls are walking black shrouds and prayer seems the most important thing on the curriculum.

    46. Vikrant — on 26th November, 2005 at 10:13 am  

      As a member of now dying tribe of Marathi speaking Sisodiya Rajputs who sought refuge in Shivajis Kingdom i can atest that many Rajput clans did indeed collaborate with the Mughals and adopted many of Islamic customs. There are many instances of Mughals marrying Rajput princes (remember Jodha Bai?). Many Rajputs were also compelled to convert to Islam. In Pakistan many Muslims claim to be of Rajput descent.

    47. Jai Singh — on 26th November, 2005 at 11:56 am  


      By “Turkic” I was referring specifically to the Delhi Sultans, although it is often also used as a broader generic term (re:

      When I used the term “Turkic-Mughal” I was therefore talking about the initial invasions resulting in the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate, along with Islamic rule in other parts of northern India; followed of course by the Mughal invasion and imperial rule, initiated by Babur.

    48. Col. Mustafa — on 26th November, 2005 at 1:57 pm  

      ffs how does so much dialogue come into play over this.

      If it was a bunch of white house wives going to a strip club there would be no topic whatsoever.
      If its a bunch of male muslim men indulging in sexual activity i.e prostitution, or bestiality, there would also be no topic.
      Alright, maybe if it was bestiality.
      So why is this an issue?
      Thats the real question.
      Women should be allowed to do whatever they want.
      If they wanna have a dance party, good on them.
      But i know there would be an immense amount of jealous, overbearing, insecure muslim males that would want to put a stop to this, especially if there wife is taking part.
      How do you change that mentality?
      errrm, it usually starts during childhood, so i guess then.
      Men have to be taught early to understand that women are also human beings with the same urges, feelings and emotions.
      Im quite happy to hear this as its about time.

    49. blue mountain — on 26th November, 2005 at 2:26 pm  

      Post no. 45…Sonia

      i wasn’t clear about exactly what you said higher up about the Moghuls. you weren’t suggesting they were turkic were you? because they weren’t -they were ‘persianized’ mongols.

      There is a huge scholarly debate about the ethnicity of “Turk” and “Tartar”. Mughals themselves called them “Turks” and they spoke Turkic Language. Persian was the lingua franca and the language of Royal Court. Mughals called their homemeland “Turkistan”.

      The entire Indo-Islamic period was marred in infighting among the Persian speaking Irani/Tajik ,Turani(origin Central Asia mother tongue Turkic language),Pathans and Hindustanis.

    50. blue mountain — on 26th November, 2005 at 2:28 pm  

      oops …sorry for the linguistic errors

    51. blue mountain — on 26th November, 2005 at 3:01 pm  

      However it is generally accepted that Turk/Mongol/Tartar emigrated to Central Asia after China constructed it’s great wall of defence against plunder and anarchy.

      After conquest and intermingling with Central Asians,Turk/Mongol/Tartar became a menace to civilised world (India/Persia/Arabia/Caucasus/Europe).

    52. NM — on 31st December, 2005 at 9:50 pm  

      Why was I not told about this party??!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! normal everyday situations pardah is meant to be in the mind, their shouldn’t be a need to segregate.

      ps, just found this website from that asiana magazine.


    53. serina — on 9th March, 2006 at 6:12 pm  

      I agree asian women should have fun in everyday life, enjoy life while were alive, we only live once!
      This is what most people say, but i have not heard many one muslim say: “Lets pray, we only live once. Pray now before its too late’. (Not everyone)
      Do you agree.
      In islam Music is forbidden ,and so there is nothing in the quran or hadith to say you are aloud to listen to “RnB, pop etc”. Basically you are not aloud to listen to any thing which involves themes which involve the human hearts to stir with desire and love. Because then the shaitaan comes in and misleads the son of Adam (as).
      Why dont we muslims come together and teach the ‘children” and the “parents’ in our society in this western country about Islam. I promise you not everyone understands religion, some people dont even know who the prophet is, or what the shahadah is. Some children dont even know who Allaah is.
      So why dont we come together and educate the Muslim community with the blessed religion islam.
      So why not do something for charity in the way of Allaah!

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