Recently, a Muslim woman wasn't allowed to keep the mic with her Niqab on. A R Rahman's daughter shared stage with him on the ten-year celebration of Slumdog Millionaire. When pictures of Khatija Rahman in a saree and a Niqab surfaced online, A R Rahman was trolled massively for what was deemed as his daughter's ‘regressive’ choice of clothes.
With a well-fostered and rarely challenged Islamophobia in Indian society, an elementary education to counter popular stereotypes is imperative. Therefore, it is also important to start this pathshala right away.
Why Trolling A R Rahman or His Daughter Is Wrong
Trolling A R Rahman for her daughter's dress is enough indication that even with their slogans of women empowerment, some people still think that a father is supposed to dictate the choices of women in the family that he heads.
Trolling A R Rahman’s daughter for wearing a niqab is another way of saying, “Please take it off, we want to see you, your face and your skin”. This is a subtle way of harassing her to strip and, consequently, hyper-sexualising her.
Muslim lives exist in a different structure of beliefs, which can only be understood with an unbiased look at these as authentic alternate ways of life. The language of the totalitarian western discourses is inadequate to represent it. Additionally, colonial legacy has polluted our ways of meaning-making, which makes many reckon and represent Muslims as either foreign invaders or the oppressed, backward lot.
Lack of Support for Muslim Women
While the winds of change and a massive support base of young Indians come to the rescue of women being shamed for wearing clothes conventionally considered revealing; this support is seldom extended to young Muslims whose choices are different.
Muslim women have been left far behind in the on-road as well as digital marches of the progressive liberals.
Their choices are barely understood and even attempts in this direction are still a far cry in India.
The young millennial activists have always turned their attention towards the West to tutor them in progress and protest. Yet, Indians have largely ignored the new wave of women movements in the West that have Muslims at the forefront. Though one may have valid reservations with the politics of representation of these trends, in all its twisted grace, these are still welcome. Travel eastwards and we find no mention of Muslims.
Yes to Biryani, No to Burqa
The ‘progressive’ masala that the ‘woke’ millennials consume on the internet every second has unanimously ignored the rights and voices of young Muslims. This phantom is rarely seen. It lies between Burqas and Biryanis.
In the Indian media scene, Muslims are still looked at as regressive victims, who need to be saved. Some sections of the famously known Azadi gang and their followers have also failed at accepting young Muslims as they exist.
In comet-like cases when Muslims are mentioned in the universe of new media houses— which cater to the ‘aware’ Indians— acceptance only goes as far as Biryanis. Thank god for Biryanis!
It is high time people of privilege step aside and let Muslim women speak. This inadequate representation and support is communal to the core. Those who self-identify as progressive activists are being complicit in this culture of hate by practicing comfortable activism. India is far behind in acknowledging Islamophobia. It is especially hopeless to witness all sections sidelining concerns of Muslims. This vivisection of timeless Islamophobia coupled up with the obscure cultures of complicity in communal hatred by the progressive sections should ring a bell in all alike.
(Tooba Towfiq is a student of English Literature from Delhi University. This is a personal blog and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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