A cross-section of Muslim women feel trivial issues such as dress code or earning to make a living made no impact on the march of the contemporary and educated women, who felt no qualms in contributing to the family's income. Since Islam does not discriminate between men and women, a woman was entitled to contribute financially towards the household's income as her husband was the general opinion, they say.

For, hundreds of women of the community have now become partners in the development process.

Deoband-based Islamic seminary Darul Uloom in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh has backtracked on the controversial fatwa issued by it, prohibiting Muslim women from mingling with men in workplaces.

The seminary has also denied that it had asked Muslim women to wear “purdah” in workplaces. Only an opinion of dress code was given, it said. It also denied stating that a family's dependence on a woman's earning was illegal.

Shahnaz Sidrat, founder of “Bazme Khawateen,” an organisation working for the betterment of Muslim women, says: “I have observed hijaab [purdah] for the last 16 years in my office where there are male employees and there has been no problem. Islam permits women to work, but within the parameters of morality.”

The Deoband opinion, according to Ms. Sidrat, was liable to take the community backward. “In any case working Muslim women seldom pay heed to opinions or fatwas,” she said.

A basic fact that has often been missed is that with changing times and India progressing towards becoming a global economic powerhouse, Muslim women have emerged as major players in the development process.

Development schemes

Naish Hasan, a founder-member of the Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, told The Hindu that hundreds of Muslim women were involved in implementation of development schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme and taken up several other occupations for earning a livelihood. Ms. Hasan said she favoured the participation of Muslim women in the development process.

President of the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board, Shaista Ambar, wanted to know whether ulema can arrange a decent meal for destitute Muslim women on a regular basis. Ms. Ambar feels women are capable enough to know the limitations at workplaces imposed upon them by the “Shariat.”

Keywords: Muslim womenfatwa

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