We live in a discriminated civilization and our ill fate is that discrimination is the foundation of our society. Religion, region, race, language, color, development, education, economics and a lot more form the slabs of segregation throughout this global civilization.
As far as religion is concerned, differentiation is understandable but it should still not be mistaken for discrimination. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism etc. all support individual rights of their followers and strictly discourage discrimination. Hinduism however has a caste system for which there certainly are issues where Dalits are considered untouchable by the Brahmans for which their justification is that all this is mentioned in their Shastras (Holy books). The Indian constitution discourages this attitude and protects individual rights.
Discrimination however does not end here, there’s a lot more to it. When I look around myself and carefully observe the society I am a part of, I can see many facets of discrimination.
For instance, when parents look for a bride for their son, they do not want a widow or a divorced woman as their daughter-in-law no matter how young the available option is. Their first and mostly the only choice is an unmarried- or as they call it an ‘untouched’ girl. Islam has no prohibition on a girl getting remarried after she has gotten a divorce or if her first husband dies, but our society has formed its own laws and prohibitions. They may however compromise if the widow or divorcee was to be a green card holder or the lone heiress of an empire.
Same is the case in academics and professions, engineers and doctors supersede all other professionals; that is what people know about these two professions, what they don’t know is that even within these two professions there is discrimination. There are good engineers & doctors and then there are the bad ones. In college, the ones who get better grades are good engineers, no matter what means they use to get those good grades. Conceptual learning is not really encouraged until it bears marks.
Professionally, the one who earns more is a good engineer. Same implies when people look for a son-in-law, the first choice is a doctor or engineer, and the second step is to choose an engineer or doctor who earns more than his contemporaries. I read a very interesting but true SMS a few days ago, which said: “He looks for a woman with a good past and she looks for a man with a good future.”
When we look at our family structure itself, we won’t be surprised to see discrimination there also. Most parents prefer and pray to have boys rather than girls whenever a new born is expected. When the result doesn’t match their expectation or liking, the poor girls have to bear the grudge for their very existence throughout their lives by being denied the independence and freedom of expression which their opposite gender may enjoy from their birth till the day they die.
Families more inclined towards religion exercise the discrimination in a way that the daughters have to strictly obey Islamic traditions by doing proper ‘parda’ (veil or abaya) and keep their lips sealed when it comes to making any choice, be it choosing a degree, friend or even a groom. The sons in the family however are free to make their choices. They are the ones who’ll be responsible for carrying the family name forward in the form of a new generation; they are the family’s pride. Unlike the strict obedience of Islamic laws, traditions and rituals which their sisters have to adhere to, they have a far more relaxed environment provided by the parents. They aren’t generally forced to grow beards or adhere to Islamic rituals like their sisters are compelled to do ‘parda’, they aren’t asked too much about what they do and who they hang out with, they are given the freedom to choose their degrees, professions and even life partners.
Parents get away by stating how naughty their son is when they’re told that he has several girlfriends. The situation is different however when they even hear a slight rumor about their daughter having a male friend.
I do not intend to challenge the true Islamic laws and traditions in any way but the same Islamic laws and traditions also do not allow men to live a life that is no-holds-barred.
I also understand that a lot is happening in our society in the name of equality and modernization that is totally unjustifiable and absurd. But still, the dilemma mentioned above is a reality which we must accept.
Now let’s come to those who use the term ‘equal rights’ in a completely different manner, the upper class and ultra-modern segment of our society. They look down upon anyone and everyone who has a weaker monetary backbone than theirs. It’s a brand conscious segment of society where discrimination is based upon Ray ban, Gucci, Prada and Armani.
I’m not sure how to conclude this piece as there doesn’t seem to be an end to this discrimination in our society. The cracked society we are part of has so many pieces which I have failed to look upon this time. Maybe I’ll have to write more someday, maybe I’ll have to cry more.
Hammad A. Mateen