(By Sehar Sheikh)
With Eid-ul-Fitr approaching near, the shopping frenzy is already at its peak. Every Muslim specially young girls have started getting the entire quintessential ready for the celebration of the auspicious event. I am also one among the womenfolk who wait for Eid-ul-Fitr all the year long for this is a day marked with exuberance, vividness and celebration. Getting new finely stitched clothes, jewellery, make up, mehndi and other accessories are all I ask for the Big Day. And with an intention to shop for all these items, I visited a few shopping centers across my city.
However, the scenes that I witnessed there really made me wonder if we are really living in an Islamic Republic? Are the sleeveless, without dupatta women roaming about in shopping centers really fit into the sanctified image of a Muslim woman? Why have we, as individuals and as a society on the whole, have digressed so much from our religious teachings, norms and values? Why do we simply ignore so many anti-Islam happenings around us? Why do we feel or try to look modern when disobeying Allah’s teachings?
While shopping for the Eid, I noticed a lot of illegitimate things happening around me. However, as I am a woman myself, I would discuss the ill-doings into which my kind has indulged inadvertently. Undoubtedly and unfortunately, most shopkeepers in our bazaars are males. It’s a dilemma that from hairclip to sandals women have to purchase everything from the male shopkeepers. But as we have hardly any alternative available, we have to purchase, bargain and communicate with them. However, what I have noticed is that females go a step further and needlessly gossip with salesmen who also respond with frivolous remarks. Not only that, it is a common sight that before purchasing, young girls try on the jewellery in front of a mirror in the shop. While they wear different styles of jewellery and look at themselves into the mirror, the shopkeeper keeps on passing rave comments on their beauty. Not only that, most often than not girls extend their hands to male shopkeepers to help them in wearing the glass bangles with ease and without letting them break.
Similar scenes are witnessed at shoe houses. As they show various pair of shoes to female customers, shopkeepers actually help them in wearing these shoes. And then, women catwalk all over the shop before finally deciding on a particular pair. The worst happens in tailor shops where tailor masters measure and re-measure their female customers in order to get précised ‘fitting’. Needless to say, all this is extremely disliked by Allah and His Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.).
It is not that I witnessed all this for the first time in my life; I am well acquainted to all these scenarios since my childhood. The thing is that as I step up the ladder of maturity, I have started to analyze things rationally- keeping in view our religious and social values. I have found that transgressing from the commandments of Allah and Holy Prophet (PBUH) have resulted into a lot of complexities and problems which the West has already faced and now we too are following the footprints of the West. I have found that imitating ‘hot chics’ and ‘cool boys’ has seriously affected the psyche, abilities and character building of our young generation. I have found that ‘enlightened moderation’ has in fact turned into ‘enlightened botheration’ because we have adopted only negative points of modern societies and have ignored the few positive ones.
Media has also played a pivotal role in letting the young generation go astray. Many a time, most of us do/see things that go against Islamic principles but we don’t even notice that something anti-Islam has happened. Even state TV channel now shows women in western attire, getting their hair and make up done by male stylists. Thus we don’t bother that a na-mahram touches our feet, hands or body when we go shopping. This is really appalling on our behalf.
A few months back, in an Islamic magazine, I read a story that had a deep impact on me and my friends. The story portrayed a would-be bride who had inadvertently let many males (including her tailor, jeweler, hair stylist, make up man, camera man and driver etc.) touch her and pass comments on her beauty before she got married. Just before her wedding she dreamt that she was being thrown into the Hell on the charges of adultery. She pleaded that she is innocent but she got the reply that “After being touched, admired and fantasized by countless men, you claim to be innocent? Your husband should be the only man to do so. However, it’s a pity that he turned up last in the line. You are nothing but an adulteress. Throw her into the Hell.”
Unfortunately, we are living in a society where we ourselves have developed circumstances in which following Islamic principles has become a difficult task. For example, if we have to get higher education, we have no other option than to study in co-educational institutes. In offices, bazaars and public places, we have to work/correspond with males. Staying in the safe and cozy environment of home might be the dream of many Muslim women. But this is not a choice for many. Nevertheless, to make both ends meet, to contribute towards the national economic growth and prosperity or to simply use their knowledge and make their own identity, many women step out and work in the field. Dealing with salesmen, vendors, rickshaw or taxi drivers, college clerks and male colleagues has become somewhat unavoidable. However, we still can try to remain in our limits building a three feet radius around us, avoiding any kind of touch- whether sensual or not, avoid gossiping with males and covering ourselves properly.
I am not a religious scholar nor am I a perfect Muslim. Perhaps, no one amongst us is an ideal Muslim. But we can always try to come as close as possible to the ideal. No matter to which social class we belong to, all of us have to face the same end, same questions and same scale of awards and punishments. So why do things that would become an impediment in our way to Paradise? Everyone gets married one day. So why let na-mehrams touch us or devour our beauty? Why let our spouses be last in the line when there is no queue and only one person is supposed to praise our features? Think about it before you next step out of your home.