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FEBRUARY 2001

MONTHLY    *    Vol 15-02 No:170    *   FEBRUARY 2001 / ZIL-HIJJA 1421H
  email: editor@islamicvoice.com

MUSLIM WOMEN IN ISLAM


Hijab is Back in Mumbai
Oasis International School : Whiff of Fresh Breeze
Imdad-e-Nisa Trust : Helping the Distressed

Hijab is Back in Mumbai

Hijab is increasingly being seen as an ideal costume and a social leveller by Mumbai girls

M. H. Lakdawala in Mumbai

Muslim Women in Hijab

FROM parental pressure to peer pressure to self-choice Pardah, Hijab or Burqa has come full circle. There was a time when everybody seemed to be shouting, ‘Off with the purdah and hijab’. The dominant voices belonged to women, the majority of whom were forced to follow the custom or were forced to wear it due to parental pressure.

In Mumbai a bunch of teenagers thinks that the hijab is the ideal costume when any girl has to go outside. And mind you it is not because of the in-house training that they say it. It’s simply because the hijab has its own advantages. “One would think that this confined, restricted or even held the wearer, prisoner. Those summers are particularly hot when you wear a hijab. Eve-teasing is not a new concept and most certainly, every girl at some point in time has been victim to it. That’s where the hijab comes to the rescue,” says Unaiza a third year student of Maharashtra College. Abida Khan of Rizvi college of Architecture initially hated wearing hijab. Fear of her elder brother made her wear it. “I used to remove It as soon I reached the bus stop. But gradually I felt more comfortable in it as it protected me from the lustful glances”.

Hijab is such an overall that it obviates the need for dressing up anew everyday. Besides it is a great social leveller. No one bothers whether the dress beneath is worth Rs. Ten thousand or just a few hundreds

Zeenat Baig, a Management student is the only Muslim in her class. Her classmates used to tease her as orthodox. When she explained its advantages their attitude towards her changed completely. “In fact my friends from other communities have stopped wearing tight and revealing dresses. Most of my classmates now prefer wearing dupatta”, said Zeenat. “I see that most men are very courteous to women in hijab. And frankly, given an option I would love to wear one, only so that I can walk on the street without having to worry about eve-teasers, says Kavita, classmate and friend of Zeenat. Teens are always there to make fashion statements. And you never tire of it.

“The veil has connotations that ward off male attention. It signifies a certain sense of security, maybe the girls father or brother is around. Is a thought that would come to mind,” says Tabbassum of Tibbia Unani Medical college. It’s interesting to see how men make way for those in hijab. A hijab clad woman would automatically be given respect wherever she goes. Black signifies mystery in almost all languages, the hijab sends out that message.

Neha Shaikh, Final year student of MBBS got married last year. She wears burqha inspite of her husband, a businessman, not liking it. “I feel very uncomfortable without hijab. I hate people who keep on staring at you. Its so disgusting”, said Neha. As a compromise with her Husband, Abid whenever she goes out with him, Neha wears a loose shawl which matches her dress.

Many college girls these days opt for it as hijab can be a boon. An answer to the girl who has to face the street Romeos. “It’s pure psychology. If a man cannot see the face, he would not risk making a pass, just in case the seemingly delicate girl turns out to be an old lady his nightmare would come alive,” says Yasmin Sayed of Burhani College. Age and your body language speaks sooner than you think. A girl’s physique will show how physically vulnerable she can be. But thanks to the hijab a man never pushes his luck there.

Shahnaz, Farhana, Nahid, Reshma and Rabia all are doing post graduation from Mumbai University and all of them love to wear hijab. “Beside the safety aspect, the hijab can also reduce the difference between the haves and the have-nots. Who can tell that the dress beneath is worth ten thousand or a mere hundred? Says Shahnaz.” Not to mention the fact that your clothes don’t get dirty and no one can tell how many times you have repeated your favourite dress,” says Rabia.

Farhana prefers burqa as it covers the person from head to toe, away from the ultra-violet rays of the sun. “This is the perfect solution to pollution and tanning . No more greasy or ineffective sun-screens,” she said.

There’s always something great about experimenting with new and mundane things. Pardah which traditionally is, considered a taboo is becoming fashion statement for the growing generation. 

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Oasis International School

Whiff of Fresh Breeze

A group of women in Bangalore have come up with a school that blends Montessori system with Islamic curriculum

By A Staff Writer

Oasis International School

NO one looked into the child’s inner self more profoundly than the famed Italian educator Madame Montessori. Her play way method of education continues to be the in-thing at modern schools all across continents.

A group of Muslim women in Bangalore are now blending the Islamic curriculum with the Montessori system. The outcome is a school, snugly nestling into a sylvan corner of the City. Even the name, Oasis International School, aptly befits the budding institution, for it comes as a fresh whiff of breeze in the otherwise musty corridors of education.

For long Muslim parents in Bangalore had faced the Hobson’s choice of sending their kids to missionary schools. English being the market mantra, and there being no effort to develop an alternative Islamic curriculum in English, missionary schools were considered the best bet. But then slowly, the cultural alienation of the kids began to show itself. The community grew aware of the split personality of the younger generation.

Summer Islamic camps did much to reveal the two worlds in which Muslim children were forced to reside: a material world where Islamic morals and manners formed no part of their curriculum. And the other, their families and homes, where Islam was practised just in rituals. There were few bridges that connected the two. Be it Kalima, Namaz, Ramadan or Hajj, the kids never got to know their relevance to life. It was a soulless Islam.

The Oasis School has precisely stepped into this gap. Says founder trustee of the school Ayesha Masood, “We impart meaning to all that a Muslim is supposed to do in his life. Given the impressionable brains, the children absorb them, and Insha Allah, it will remain with them forever”. Ayesha perceived the conflicting pulls and pressures on children while holding session in the summer camps. “The problem was too monumental and the summer camps were too small an effort in applying correctives,” she adds.

The training of senses being central to the Montessori system, Oasis believes in giving hands-on training. Says Principal Azeeza Wajid, “In order to show them plants and flowers we take the children to parks where they can have a direct exposure to the colour, texture and size of the plants and leaves. Animals are better understood when we take them to farms. The children brought 15 kinds of fruits for a class on the topic. Field visits and learning experience thus enhance children’s cognitive power.

Following national curriculum of United Kingdom schools, Oasis has currently 50 boys and girls in play school, Montessori, reception and the first grade and will be upgrading every year till it reaches the secondary level. With able advice from experts such as Anne Warrior and Muneera Akhtar, Oasis is all set to blaze a new trail in the world of schooling in Bangalore.

For more information contact: Oasis International School, 9 Ramakrishnappa Road, Cox Town, Bangalore-560005, Ph: 080-5485594, E-mail : oasisint@usa.net

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Imdad-e-Nisa Trust

Helping the Distressed

A women’s body is making difference in lives of hundred of women by attending to their primary needs

By A Staff Writer

FOR Bangalore’s Imdad e Nisa Trust, “Help a woman, and save a family” seems to be the motto. Imdad has chosen to spot the women in need and distress and rescue them from the misery through medical aid, monthly stipends, funding kids’ education and by setting up new homes after marriage.

Cook Habeeba Bi of Bangalore, a severe diabetic lost her toe. She was about to lose her foot. But Imdad’s timely help saved her from a crippled existence. She is back to her job and prays for helping hands of Imdad. Widow Jameelunnissa’s hearth is kept warm with help from Imdad which provides her a monthly stipend. Similarly, Arabic tutor Shahzadi Bi has been spared of an accursed life after an accident, thanks mainly to Imdad’s life. Widow Yakuth Sultana manages her life with four kids through income raised by a sewing machine gifted by Imdad. These may be but a few instances of how Imdad has made meaningful forays into individual women’s lives.

Imdad had an accidental birth. Social worker Munazzira Modi thought of setting up a voluntary organization following the sudden dissolution of the managing committee of the Bangalore’s Muslim Orphanage by the Waqf Board way back in 1993. As a member, she had become a beacon of hope for orphan girls by helping them in several ways. She had acted as a matchmaker for several of these girls instilling hope into their otherwise bleak lives. Without her in the committee, the prospects of several of these girls getting married had suddenly dimmed. It was realized that the girls needed a pair of caring hands and aching hearts more than a roof overhead. She gathered the wives of the outgoing members of the Committee and set up the Imdad e Nisa Trust. Now the Trust operates from Modi’s car shed, the improvised office of the Imdad. She is ever there to take up s.o.s. calls from women in need of urgent help. Imdad’s helping hands reach out to set up new homes or send back the kids to schools or heal back the sick and the infirm to health.

Over the years, Imdad has become a household name among Bangalore Muslims who have referred to the Imdad scores of cases of the needy. Today, thanks to Imdad’s help, 300 students continue their education in schools while its women members decided among themselves to adopt the entire Jai Bharthi Urdu Higher Primary School in a Bangalore slum moved by its plight. Ever since its adoption, the school with 300 and odd students has undergone a sea change. Imdad assisted a paraplegic, Zareena to set up a workshop for producing equipment for handicapped persons. A child is helped to stand on his own feet every month through supply of calipers, crutches and special shoes. According to another member Shireen Rahman, Imdad has been behind Zareena in running a society known as PLEASE, dedicated to the cause of rehabilitation of the handicapped.

With education, rehabilitation, marriages, and medical relief forming the major outgo for Imdad e Nisa, the organization currently disburses nearly Rs. 8 lakh each year.

Imdad e Nisa Trust can be contacted at 32, Coles Road, Frazer Town, Bangalore-560005, Phone: 80-5485877, Fax: 6635210, E-mail : shireen@blr.vsnl.net.in

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