I fully agree with contents of letter by Shafi Aga (Islamic Voice, January ’08) Praying five times a day does not mean other restrictions are removed. In Melbourne, after winning the semi final, Mirza, with gay abandon, embraced her male partner and the photo was splashed in all leading newspapers in India. Does offering five time prayer permit this also? I have not seen a Western woman player do this?
I beg to differ with Mohammad Shafi Aga on Dr. Zakir Naik’s opinion on women’s tennis dress. If we go through the statements made in the media, it is not just Dr Naik who has spoken on this issue. Other prominent religious scholars like those from the AIMP Board, Islamic centre New Delhi, are reportedly not opposed to on the court dress of the tennis player. Scholars’ opinions may widely vary depending on how they recommend an injunction to be practiced, to the letter or in its spirit.
The Prophet, peace be upon him. permitted Abubakar to let his robe trail since he was not doing it out of pride. He made this comment when he saw Abubakar constantly pulling his robe and tucking it in to prevent it from trailing. Abubakr was trying to follow the commandment on trailing clothes to the letter whereas the Prophet’s remark amounts to advising him to follow it in its spirit. There were several other occasions when the Prophet wanted the companions to follow his commands in spirit, rather than in letter.
Against this background, it is not quite correct to liken a girl playing tennis, moving over the court and stamping her foot to return a shot with a woman displaying her charm and stamping her feet, perhaps with anklets, to attract men. Furthermore, it is a misplaced concern that a high profile tennis player will set a bad precedent for our girls since, majority of our girls do not even have a remote chance to indulge in such an exclusive sport. Decades ago a girl from an elite Muslim family of a civil servant became a first class Bharathnatyam dancer at the age of ten. She went on to become rich and famous. But what did not happen was, taking this artist as icon; girls from Muslim mohallas did not end up as classical dancers. Being a sports person or an artist requires inborn talent and aptitude and one cannot achieve this stature just by copying another.
If our religious leaders truly care for the Muslim girl child, they would rather work to solve the present problems of our girls. Today young adolescent Muslim girls from poor families are being married off in large numbers to very old men from abroad leaving them with an uncertain and bleak future. Instead, the girls’ parents get a tacit support from certain qazis, who, with their narrow interpretation of the shariah benevolently permit such marriages. It is here, that the spirit of the law assumes even greater importance. I agree with Mr. Shafi that, no one else is answerable to Allah in the case of the tennis player, but in the case of the young girls, whose lives are ruined by these unworthy marriages, surely Allah will bring to books all those who are a party to their misery. Anyone who wants to show genuine concern for our women folk should first develop the sense of priority.
Dr A. Ahmed