Wednesday, December 3, 2008
In the lands of India the actual translation of the word purdah is screen or veil. Purdah is the practice that includes the seclusion of women from public observation by wearing concealing clothing from head to toe and by the use of high walls, curtains, and screens erected within the home. Purdah is practiced by Muslims and by various Hindus, especially in India. The limits imposed by this practice vary according to different countries and class levels. Generally, those women in the upper and middle class are more likely to practice all aspects of purdah because they can afford to not work outside the home.
Purdah probably developed in Persia and later spread to Middle Eastern lands. Purdah flourished in ancient Babylon. No woman could go outside unless masked and chaperoned by a male from the family. Even parts of the household were separated as a practice of segregation. The ancient Assyrian women also had to remain inside behind curtains where darkness and little breeze prevailed. In the 7th century A.D., during the Arab conquest of what is now Iran, the Muslims probably adapted the idea of purdah to their religion. The Prophet Muhammad reintroduced the custom as part of the Islamic tenets of faith. As time went by the laws associated with purdah became more severe. During the British domination in India, the observance of purdah was very strictly adhered to and widespread among the Muslims.
Some critics see purdah as an evil influence that has only suffocated the rights of women and perpetuated male chauvinism. They point towards the Muslims in India who have shut off women from the outside world in order to make them ignorant of the practicalities of life. To them it has deprived the woman of economic independence and forces these females to produce chauvinistic boys and submissive girls. In order to keep females submissive, women know only what their fathers, husbands, and sons want them to know. Critics see women who practice purdah as having no voice or free will.
Others, mostly believers in Islam, see purdah as a very positive and respectful practice that actually liberates women. It is viewed as liberating because it brings about an aura of respect. Women are looked at as individuals who are judged not by their physical beauty but by their inner beauty and mind. By covering themselves, women are not looked at as sex objects that can be dominated. For the Muslims, purdah is an act of faith that entails the acts of honor, respect, and dignity. Islam exalts the status of women by commanding that women should enjoy equal rights with men and remain on the same footing as them. When a woman covers herself she places herself on a higher level and allows men to see and respect her for her intellect, faith, and personality. The physical person is to play no role in social interaction.
The role of purdah in any culture has become more controversial since the rise of the women's movement. Purdah has almost disappeared in the Hindu practice and is practiced to greater and lesser degrees in many of the Islamic countries. Either way the practice of purdah is looked at, whether in a negative or positive light, it stills remains an integral part of everyday life for some peoples and marks a part of their culture.
I’m proud of the Muslim women, wherever they are, who did cover themselves underneath the purdah. Sometimes, it is hard to explain about this type of appearance, and when it comes to critics, people keep on judging it but still nothings happen due to that. That is the power of Allah SWT. And me, hoping that someday and somewhere, I can follow up the practice of Purdah and behaves like our Prophet’s wives did before. Isolating me as Allah did mention that, Al fitnatul ashadu minal qadh (fitnah itu lebih teruk daripada membunuh). Having a simple life throughout the world and be extraordinary in front of Allah. That’s a dream to be done now and until whenever. Do’akan ana…insya Allah…
idea-cerebellum- Ummi Nur Syakirin (ahliaHerman) at 3:28 PM