FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Islam Promises Redemption, Growth, and Deliverance: Acquittal of Asia Bibi

The acquittal of Asia Bibi, who, several years ago, was accused of having committed blasphemy, portends well for civil society in Pakistan and paves the way for human rights. This judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan could, potentially, diminish the potency of militarized interventions.

I emphasize that I have always considered Islam an emancipatory religion, which advocates social equality, economic and political democratization, and empowerment of minorities. The religion that I was raised in opposed to the subjection of religious minorities to a centralized and authoritarian state. Equality before law, and in economy, politics, and society is in perfect consonance with the Islamic thought that I revere.

False allegations do not hold water, and religion can neither be distorted nor can it be employed to settle scores in feuds and vendettas. There is no place for slander and libel in Islam.

The religion that I was raised in doesn’t bay for the blood of the innocent, the vulnerable, and the marginalized. Nor can the religion that I was raised in be reduced to fire and brimstone sermons by myopic preachers.

As I emphasize in my book Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between India and Pakistan, I was raised in a secular Muslim home where we were encouraged to speak of the “liberation of women” and of a culturally syncretic society. I was taught that Islam provides women with social, political and economic rights, however invisible those rights are in our society. It was instilled in me that Islam gives women: property rights – the right of Mrs Ghulam Kabra, a Kashmiri state subject, to inherit the property to which she was the legal heir was challenged as early as 1939 because she had married a non-state subject, but the High Court legislated that she could inherit the property bequeathed to her by her parents. Muslim women have the right to interrogate totalizing social and cultural institutions. Muslim women enjoy the right to hold political office – Khalida Zia and Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh, Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, Najma Heptullah and Mohsina Kidwai in India, my maternal grandmother Begum Akbar Jehan in Kashmir (who represented the Srinagar and Anantnag constituencies of J & K in the Indian parliament from 1977–79 and 1984–89, respectively, and was the first president of the J & K Red Cross Society, from 1947 to 1951; see Lok Sabha 2000). Muslim women have the right to assert their agency in matters of social and political import. They also have the right to lead a dignified existence in which they can voice their opinions and desires so as to “act upon the boundaries that constrain and enable social action by, for example, changing their shape or direction” (Hayward 1998: 271).

Progressive interpretations of Islam guarantee women substantial rights. This needs to be underscored by responsible scholarship, judicial processes, and social work.

It is imperative that governments in South Asia recognize the worth of the peace-building work that humanitarian and women’s organizations can contribute at the local and regional levels.

Asia Bibi’s acquittal is also an effective way to make a humanitarian and gender perspective viable in South Asia. South Asian societies are recognizing the terror caused by predatory discourses that swoop down on the vulnerable and devour them in the process.

Those who claim to be the sole interpreters and guardians of Islam cannot be allowed to distort its message of redemption, growth, and deliverance.

Sanctioned extremist religious and political ideologies in either Pakistan or India will not enable my State, Jammu and Kashmir, to move forward. It would be utterly foolish to smirk at the religious, provincial, and sectarian violence or growing obscurantism in either Pakistan or India, because that simply doesn’t bode well for a peaceful resolution and developmental politics in my neck of the woods.

More articles by:

Nyla Ali Khan is the author of Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism, Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir, The Life of a Kashmiri Woman, and the editor of The Parchment of Kashmir. Nyla Ali Khan has also served as an guest editor working on articles from the Jammu and Kashmir region for Oxford University Press (New York), helping to identify, commission, and review articles. She can be reached at nylakhan@aol.com.

January 17, 2019
Stan Cox
That Green Growth at the Heart of the Green New Deal? It’s Malignant
David Schultz
Trump vs the Constitution: Why He Cannot Invoke the Emergencies Act to Build a Wall
Paul Cochrane
Europe’s Strategic Humanitarian Aid: Yemen vs. Syria
Tom Clifford
China: An Ancient Country, Getting Older
Greg Grandin
How Not to Build a “Great, Great Wall”
Ted Rall
Our Pointless, Very American Culture of Shame
John G. Russell
Just Another Brick in the Wall of Lies
Patrick Walker
Referendum 2020: A Green New Deal vs. Racist, Classist Climate Genocide
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Uniting for a Green New Deal
Matt Johnson
The Wall Already Exists — In Our Hearts and Minds
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Flailing will get More Desperate and More Dangerous
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Three
January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: When Just One Man Says, “No”
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Two
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail