Writers! Are you ready for the 23rd or do you think we all need an extension? I do that all the time as a teacher so don’t mind it at all 🙂
Since I am interested in CyberReligion, I thought I’d post something for all my online readers and friends. Enjoy!
Every night I lie in bed
This little prayer inside my head
God bless my mom and dad
And bless my little children too.
And God there’s just one more thing
I wish that you would do
If you don’t mind me asking,
Would you bless my ‘puter too?
Now I know that it’s not normal
To bless a small machine,
But listen just a second
And I’ll try to explain .
You see, this little metal box
Holds more than odds and ends.
Inside those small components
Rest a hundred loving friends.
Some, it’s true, I’ve never seen,
And most I’ve never met.
We’ve never even shaken hands
Or truly hugged, and yet
I know for sure they love me
By the kindness that they give,
And this little scrap of metal
Is how I get to where they live.
By faith is how I know them,
Much the same as you,
And sharing our lives brings them close –
From that our friendship grew.
Please take an extra minute
From your duties up above
To bless this little hunk of steel
That’s filled with so much love.
Dowry is called “Dahej” in India (“Jahez” in Pakistan) and “is the payment in cash or/and kind by the bride’s family to the bridegroom’ s family along with the giving away of the bride ( called Kanyadaan) in Indian marriage . Kanyadanam is an important part of Hindu marital rites. Kanya means daughter, and dana means gift. Dowry originated in upper caste families as the wedding gift to the bride from her family. The dowry was later given to help with marriage expenses and became a form of insurance in the case that her in-laws mistreated her. Although the dowry was legally prohibited in 1961, it continues to be highly institutionalized. The groom often demands a dowry consisting of a large sum of money, farm animals, furniture, and electronics. The practice of dowry abuse is rising in India. The most severe in “bride burning”, the burning of women whose dowries were not considered sufficient by their husband or in-laws. Most of these incidents are reported as accidental burns in the kitchen or are disguised as suicide… According to Government figures there were a total of 5,377 dowry deaths in 1993, an increase of 12% from 1992.” (Source)
Dahej is a Hindu tradition and is very different from the Islamic concept of dowry in which the bridegroom gives a kind of dowry to the bride which is known as mahr. “Mahr is a tradition in Islamic marriage. It is a mandatory gift given by the groom to the bride. Unlike a bride price, however, it is given directly to the bride and not to her father. Although the gift is often money, it can be anything agreed upon by bride and groom such as a house or viable business that is put in her name and can be run and owned entirely by her if she chooses” (Source). For an interesting discussion on mahr, read Sumera’s post.
Dahej is openly condemned by many families, yet it has successfully become part of the marriage system in Muslim countries in South Asia like Pakistan and Bangladesh. Rich Pakistani families give anything from large electronic appliances to property and imported cars to their daughters in dahej. Usually the dahej is displayed publicly for everyone to admire. The practice of dahej is definitely against the teachings of Islam but it is still practiced by many Muslim families.
How many of you believe that dahej should be a necessary part of South Asian Muslim marriages? What about mahr – is handsome mahr important? How can we end the practice of dahej?
Bride burning by Aisha
Marriage Contract by Sumera
Note: I wrote this poem a few years ago stirred by the tragedy of a friend. I thought about publishing it here after a friend suggested that some women may appreciate the feminist imagery.
This was years later since
Her mother used to wake her on dewy mornings,
Calling her Houri; her beauty; her heart.
And she would marvel at herself
By puckering her lips and pinching her rosy cheeks redder,
And sighing deeply so her bosom would heave;
All for the reflection in the mirror.
This was soon after he whisked her away
On a white horse that galloped faster than she could sigh
To keep her locked in his white-washed clay fort.
No matter how long she stood against them,
The solid ashen walls did not reflect.
So she puckered and pinched and sighed blindly;
All for the reflection in his eyes.
But they were as dreary as the walls –
Dull, yet fiery; carnal but passionless.
Oh, those sweltering beads of sweat that deposited on his brow;
And the blue veins that swelled up on his large brown hands;
That Satanic smile that lingered just at the edges of his almost indigo mouth;
And the bull-like nostrils which flared when he inhaled deeply;
Just at the sight of her nubile body!
The Lance wages war inside the Tilth;
This, she was never told.
She knocked and knocked on the slammed shut doors of Compassion
Till her knuckles bled and opened raw
And fingernails left gaping wounds in the posh goose-down.
“Omi, he forces himself upon me every night!” she cried into her armpit.
“What nonsense?! There is no rape in marriage! It is manly love
For a young and rosy wife, my child.”
The blue spot on her thigh where he left his thumb print
In his bid to balance and pull up straight;
The purple one on her left shoulder blade where he bit
To control the lunging beast inside;
And that invisible gash on her soul that he left forever
In the name of marital union were all for
The lawful wife to whom he came as he willed.
It burned and scorched and singed forever,
Forever, and forever; she knew eternity well.
Eternity is when you scream silently
Swallowing the putrid blood that drips inside your throat
With each thrust, nibble, and tug.
Eternity is when you could devour your own womb,
Just because there is no rape in marriage!
They said she couldn’t refuse her man
They told her to make haste when he calls
So she stripped her soul and let it sit at the foot of the bed
While the flesh lay cold on colder red satin sheets
But something went terribly wrong; for the soul cursed her all night,
Each night; while the angels never blessed her for
All that she endured in the name of matrimony.
Between his heavy, odorous breaths in her neck
She looked up and saw the Spirit clinging onto the pallid ceiling
Looking directly into her lifeless eyes and she knew then
She would always be cursed and wait perpetually to be blessed.
So on a summer’s night she ran clutching the hand of her Spirit
Between the two giant mounds,
Under her feet gushed forth springs of fresh blood.
That night her spirit and she ascended to the Heavens
And they say she looks down from among the stars
To bless young married couples in love
Who see their reflections in each others’ eyes
And speak sweet words of Love into each others’ ears.
She blesses neither al-sakouti, nor al-besiss
For Silence and Insolence make a deadly duo.
Her Spirit returns every summer on a silent night
To wake her Omi just like she used to wake her once upon a time
The old woman hurriedly shrouds the mirrors
Because they can’t reflect her Houri anymore
She whispers in her Omi’s elderly ear
A secret her Omi never knew she would live to hear
Just because she thought there is no rape in marriage.
This is a list of women who showed interest in participating in the Online Islamic Feminism Conference:
I think I want to write on Challenges of practicing Islam for Muslim women in the West. What do you all think?
Please spread the word. More information is here.