Essays and Interviews
Many South Asian women writers engage with the overall quest for survival, which can be affiliated with all the themes expressed in this volume: trauma, diaspora, injustice, resistance, place, space, language, and identity. The texts discussed herein contribute to the ongoing discourse related to such themes in postcolonial studies and transnational literature, and could be used in courses on South Asian literature, women’s writing, postcolonial studies and literature, and world or transnational literature.
4. South Asian Muslim Women Speak for Their Rights and Resistance
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In a world where the words “Muslim” and “Islam” have become synonymous with terror and oppression, and evoke images of ISIS beheadings and bombings of the offices of Charlie Hebdoe, it is imperative for us to learn more about Muslim cultural practices to understand why Muslims are increasingly turning inward and even embracing practices they had long disavowed. The wearing of the veil is one of these practices that Muslim women had long sought to be liberated from and yet have now espoused as a badge of resistance and expression of their loyalty to their religion. In this paper I trace South Asian Muslim women’s attitudes towards some of their cultural practices, such as veiling, segregation, and arranged marriages, through literature written in English over the last century.
From the advent of the twentieth century, with increased English-language education for women in South Asia, Muslim women have been writing about their rights, both to function as Muslim women and to become liberated within the tenets of Islam, but, to do so on their own terms. In this essay, I hope to show how the dichotomy of both wanting to be Muslim and wanting to be liberated from certain cultural practices—those that may be seen as “oppressions by men”—is expressed and written about by women.
Today in the UK, France, and elsewhere, Muslim women’s donning of the veil in the twenty-first century, after years of having rejected it, is a gesture...
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