Koranen foreskriver purdah, det vil si atskillelse av kjønnene og at kvinner tildekkes. Dette betyr ikke at kvinner skal adlyde koranen, skriver Taslima Nasrin, forfatter fra Bangladesh, som er drapstruet av islamister for sitt engasjement for menneskerettigheter. Taslima oppfordrer kvinner til å ta et oppgjør med dette undertrykkende plagget: Brenn burkaen!
I Outlookindia.com skriver Taslima om hennes mor som bar burka: ”My mother used purdah. She wore a burqa with a net cover in front of the face. It reminded me of the meatsafes in my grandmother’s house. One had a net door made of cloth, the other of metal. But the objective was the same: keeping the meat safe. My mother was put under a burqa by her conservative family. They told her that wearing a burqa would mean obeying Allah. And if you obey Allah, He would be happy with you and not let you burn in hellfire. My mother was afraid of Allah and also of her own father. He would threaten her with grave consequences if she didn’t wear the burqa.”
Kvinner har også seksuelle behov, fortsetter Taslima: “Women too have sexual urges. So why didn’t Allah start the purdah for men? Clearly, He treated them on unequal terms.”
Som jente utfordret Taslima jevnlig moren om bruk av burka: ”Ma, don’t you suffocate in this veil? Don’t you feel all dark inside? Don’t you feel breathless? Don’t you feel angry? Don’t you ever feel like throwing it off? My mother kept mum. She couldn’t do anything about it. But I did. When I was sixteen, I was presented a burqa by one of my relatives. I threw it away.”
Taslima peker på at ideen med purdah dateres tilbake til 300 år f.Kr. Det var kvinnene i aristokratiske assyriske familier som måtte leve i atskillelse: ”The women of aristocratic Assyrian families used purdah. Ordinary women and prostitutes were not allowed purdah. In the middle ages, even Anglo-Saxon women used to cover their hair and chin and hide their faces behind a cloth or similar object. This purdah system was obviously not religious. The religious purdah is used by Catholic nuns and Mormons, though for the latter only during religious ceremonies and rituals. For Muslim women, however, such religious purdah is not limited to specific rituals but mandatory for their daily life outside the purview of religion.”
Hvorvidt det er obligatorisk for muslimske kvinner å bære burka strides de lærde om. Taslima mener det er obligatorisk og henviser blant annet til dette hyppig siterte koranverset: “Og si til de troende kvinner, at de skal dempe sine øyekast, og holde sitt kjønnsliv i tømmene, og vise sitt pryd, unntatt det av den som kommer til syne. La dem trekke sløret over sitt bryst og ikke vise sitt pryd til andre enn sine ektemenn, sine fedre, svigerfedre, sønner, stesønner, brødre, nevøer eller deres hustruer, eller sine slaver, eller menn som betjener dem, men er hinsides kjønnsbegjær, eller barn som ikke forstår seg på kvinners nakenhet. La dem heller ikke trampe med føttene, slik at det kan erkjennes hva de skjuler av pynt” (koranen 24:31).
Hun peker også på hadith (hva Muhammed skal ha sagt), som bygger opp under at en streng fortolkning av purdah: ”There are many views on why and how the Islamic purdah started. One view has it that Prophet Mohammed became very poor after spending all the wealth of his first wife. At that time, in Arabia, the poor had to go to the open desert and plains for relieving themselves and even their sexual needs. The Prophet’s wives too had to do the same. He had told his wives that «I give you permission to go out and carry out your natural work». (Bukhari Hadis first volume book 4 No. 149). And this is what his wives started doing accordingly. One day, Prophet Mohammed’s disciple Uman complained to him that these women were very uncomfortable because they were instantly recognisable while relieving themselves. Umar proposed a cover but Prophet Mohammed ignored it. Then the Prophet asked Allah for advice and he laid down the Ayat (33:59) (Bukhari Hadis Book 026 No. 5397). This is the history of the purdah, according to the Hadis. But the question is: since Arab men too relieved themselves in the open, why didn’t Allah start the purdah for men? Clearly, Allah doesn’t treat men and women as equals, else there would be purdah for both! Men are higher than women. So women have to be made walking prisons and men can remain free birds.”
Et annet syn på purdah, skriver Taslima, er at ”purdah was introduced to separate women from servants”. Et tredje syn oppstod på bakgrunn av en historie om Muhammeds barnebrud Aisha: ”Prophet Mohammed’s wife Ayesha was very beautiful. His friends were often found staring at her with fascination. This clearly upset the Prophet. So the Quran has an Ayat that says, «Oh friends of the prophet or holy men, never go to your friend’s house without an invitation. And if you do go, don’t go and ask anything of their wives». It is to resist the greedy eyes of friends, disciples or male guests that the purdah system came into being. First it was applicable to only the wives of the holy men, and later it was extended to all Muslim women. Purdah means covering the entire body except for the eyes, wrist and feet. Nowadays, some women practise the purdah by only covering their hair. That is not what is written in the Hadis and the Quran. Frankly, covering just the hair is not Islamic purdah in the strict sense.”
Omlag 100 år etter Muhammeds død, hadde purdah-systemet spredt seg til hele Midtøsten: “In the early Islamic period, Prophet Mohammed started the practice of covering the feet of women. Within 100 years of his death, purdah spread across the entire Middle East. Women were covered by an extra layer of clothing. They were forbidden to go out of the house, or in front of unknown men. Their lives were hemmed into a tight regime: stay at home, cook, clean the house, bear children and bring them up. In this way, one section of the people was separated by purdah, quarantined and covered.”
Så til kjernespørsmålet: Hvorfor dekkes kvinnene? ”Because they are sex objects. Because when men see them, they are roused. Why should women have to be penalised for men’s sexual problems? Even women have sexual urges. But men are not covered for that. In no religion formulated by men are women considered to have a separate existence, or as human beings having desires and opinions separate from men’s. The purdah rules humiliate not only women but men too. If women walk about without purdah, it’s as if men will look at them with lustful eyes, or pounce on them, or rape them. Do they lose all their senses when they see any woman without burqa?”
Til dem som mener at koranen ikke sier noe om purdah, utfordrer Taslima på denne måten: Men hvis koranen krever purdah – hva så? Purdah er og blir kvinneundertrykkende, derfor skal kvinner uansett ikke adlyde: “If the Quran advises women to use purdah, should they do so? My answer is, No. Irrespective of which book says it, which person advises, whoever commands, women should not have purdah. No veil, no chador, no hijab, no burqa, no headscarf. Women should not use any of these things because all these are instruments of disrespect. These are symbols of women’s oppression. Through them, women are told that they are nothing but the property of men, objects for their use. These coverings are used to keep women passive and submissive. Women are told to wear them so that they cannot exist with their self-respect, honour, confidence, separate identity, own opinion and ideals intact. So that they cannot stand on their own two feet and live with their head held high and their spine strong and erect.”
Mange eldgamle tradisjoner har dødd ut, men ikke purdah, tvert om er systemet på fremmarsj i deler av verden, inkludert Europa: ”Some 1,500 years ago, it was decided for an individual’s personal reasons that women should have purdah and since then millions of Muslim women all over the world have had to suffer it. So many old customs have died a natural death, but not purdah. Instead, of late, there has been a mad craze to revive it. Covering a woman’s head means covering her brain and ensuring that it doesn’t work. If women’s brains worked properly, they’d have long ago thrown off these veils and burqas imposed on them by a religious and patriarchal regime.”
Og hva skal kvinner gjøre, spør Taslima: ”They should protest against this discrimination. They should proclaim a war against the wrongs and ill-treatment meted out to them for hundreds of years (…) They should throw away this apparel of discrimination and burn their burqas.”