'The only chance I see of a temple being built here (Ayodhya) is when Rahul Gandhi becomes prime minister.” I was perplexed by his expectations of the young Gandhi. “Think about it.” he said solemnly, “The locks were opened when the Congress was in power; the idols were installed when the Congress was in power; the Babri Masjid was demolished when the Congress was in power. Maybe we will have the temple when the Congress is in power.'
Rahul Gandhi, are you listening? Are you worried? Are you amused?
Separetely, the above comment is from a piece on Indian Muslims, post Ayodhya, and it appeared in Caravan magazine recently. While the piece is interesting, I can't help feeling just a little frustrated by the maleness of it. Women are almost completely absent from the picture.
This is something I come up against time and again. Muslim women are almost the most visible image whenever someone chooses to write about Islam and the contemporary political problems surrounding it. Photos of faces with just the eyes showing. Or photos of smiling little girls trying to study. Or ordinary young women walking past in burqas. A lot of the issues that dominate this big question - the question of Muslims, often a minority, in present-day democracies - are also about women. The veil. Family laws. Education and political leadership. Mobility and independence.
But when it comes to the actual political-racial debate in the media, nobody seems to be talking to women. Is this because Muslim women simply do not exist as community leaders? Can they only hope to be Muslim women leaders, no more? And if this indeed is the case, isn't it time someone brought that fact into the conversation?