My Ideal World

My ideal world would be a world free from religion discrimination. In my world, there will be the religion that people now follow, but without suppression and favoritism. People would be following their prayers, their culture and traditions, but they would also be the part of other religions’ events and practices.

My ideal world would not revise the doctrines from masculinity to femininity; however, it would add the great and historical deeds done by women in a very sophisticated way. The children of my ideal world would equally learn about Virgin Mary, Daughter Fatima and Mother Pattini as they had learned about Jesus, Mohammad and Buddha.

My ideal world would be a world with no gender bias. There would neither be patriarchic nor matriarchic society. Everyone will respect each other’s decision. There will be equal moral standard and independence. Both men and women will be honored for their duties; no matter if it is to nurture a child or to cut the stones.

My ideal world would allow each individual to take his/her personal decision. If a man can marry four wives then the women can also marry four husbands. If a wife jumps on fire after her husband’s death, then a husband also has to jump after the demise of his wife. Also, not only father can chant the rhymes on church but also nuns will have the same ability. Similarly, a woman could be a monk, priest or fakirs. There will be no set of rules to choose those holy people, but just the high level of their knowledge.

My ideal world would be a world where homosexuals will live a life without embarrass or dissatisfaction. The people would have free rights to divorce and marry a widowed. There will a common place to worship and show the devotion towards our almighty. Children and adults will not be assigned as high caste or low caste. Neither will there be enslavement nor boss classification; people will maintain their vocation with their interest and financial condition. Nevertheless, they would have a place where all these professionals and menial workers would come and share their ways of working to understand each other’s hard work.

At last but not the least my ideal world would be a world with no violence. Only peace will be found in each nook and corner of the earth. There would be a smile on each individual face wherever they go or whatever they do. Besides, it would be a world where animals and plants are equated as human beings and their living is valued.

Abuse of Religion

A few day ago, a case about domestic violence raised storm over a cup of tea. A lady professor of Dhaka University was severely beaten by her educated engineer husband. The husband not only beat her badly, but also pull out her eyes with his fingers and made her permanently blind. He escaped right after the oppression. At first the reason behind this torture was not known. That’s why, people from every sphere of life protested against the violence and they demanded for justice. After someday, the husband was caught by police and he made several excuses to save his back. One of the excuses was extra-marital affair. He said that his wife was having an extra-marital affair with a person in abroad, but he didn’t show any evidence. As soon as his statement was published through media, some people, especially men, started to oppose the women. They were kind of supporting the husband just because the woman was blamed with an extra-marital affair. Suppose the woman really had an affair with someone, but still it is not expected from an educated man to bit her wife like anything. He could have divorced her for not being loyal.

That time I was thinking that men started to oppose her because of the way they think of women. I have noticed a tendency among most of the men that whatever wrong happens in the society, such as—rape, eve-teasing, or adultery, they blame women for it. As if men don’t have any brain to think. Now that I have read the journal, named “Religion and Gender,” I came to know that it was some religious transcripts that created the idea that women are supposed to be sinful and are liable to lure men and lead them to destruction. The irony is, it also mentioned there that women are mentally weak and they are not as intellectual as men. If so, then how can women lure men to commit sin? As men are more intelligent than women, they should have understood women’s intention and keep themselves safe from them.

I feel so helpless when I see people blaming women for each and everything. I believe that those transcripts written about women are not accurate. In my opinion, they are misinterpreted or just created falsely by some men who don’t want a respectable place for women in the society. More detailed research should be done about religion and also advocated to general people so that they stop thinking women as devil or sinful.

Islam and Women Rights

The reading “Religion and Gender” points some important discrimination regarding religion and gender.  However, I would like to point out some right that Islam has given to women.  I am not going to mention about the other religions because I don’t know much about them regarding this issue.

Firstly, the religion Islam was given to the human kind in situation where people in the Arab countries were burying their new born baby girls alive or dead.  Islam strongly opposed this habit, and it encouraged the parents who give  birth to baby girls and nurture then by saying who ever parents give birth to three or more girls and nurture then properly will deserver heaven.

Secondly, Islam has given the right to a girl to choose her own husband.  She does not have to obey with the wedding proposal that her parents brought if she does not like that.  She has the right to say frankly whom she likes to marry and whom not to.

Thirdly, although divorce is the thing that Allah hates the most among the ones he accepted to do, he has given equal right for women similar to men.  Therefore, if a woman does not like her husband, then she is free to divorce him.  She neither deserves any bad treatments from her husband nor does she deserver dishonors from her society. 

Finally, I would like to mention the priority that Islam has given to education and no matter whether that’s a girl or a boy.  Both of them deserve education.  Islam says that education is a lost property of a Muslim and hence, we have to search for that.  It does not show any discrimination in any of these regards.

To sum up, these are some important issues that I thought of mentioning in the blog.  However, there are some superstitions like girl should not study and they should not go to mosque are not in the religious rules.  I don’t say we must go to mosque, but I can say that we can go to mosque, I go.  I think the rights that are given in my religion, Islam, is more than enough for me and perhaps to anybody else to lead a peaceful and trouble less life.

My response to the year as a whole

Our academic year is coming to its end. Throughout the year we have read many articles, fiction and non-fiction journals, plays, and poems. All of them were really fascinating as our teacher has chosen them very carefully for us. We did various activities like plays, gender bending day, mixed group discussions, writing blogs and so on. Basically, our readings were based on different themes such as gender, religion, family, dreams, hopes, imaginations and so on.

I learned a lot this whole year. Among all the themes, gender was the one that I enjoyed the most. Under that theme, I learned the things I had known in the past but not have realized it carefully. Now that I have learned a lot about it, I can see the clear discrimination among male and female in the society. In the past I just had accepted the rules and followed them as the society wants. However, now I am able to question the conventional rules and regulations that the society imposes on us for being a woman. Furthermore, our critical thinking practices have also helped us to analyze the matters carefully and think it through all the aspects as much as possible.

Overall, the theme of gender was applied to all the readings that we did this year. We started the course learning about this topic and ended the course learning more about this topic. Most of the readings and novels associated with the class throughout the year were somehow explaining the gender roles in the society and depicting the gender discrimination in our society. I also got to apply the things that I have learned in this class in other classes, especially about gender issues.

To sum up, the academic reading and writing class was very interesting and informative. I learned many new things about anthropology, gender, sociology, politics, and history. The most important of all of these is that I started noticing things such as gender discrimination, parents’ love towards their children, importance of family, and variations in our cultures in the society that have existed in this world but was not much noticed. I also realized that the small things we learn in every moments of our life make a big difference. Heartily thanks to our respected teacher for teaching us such great lessons which we would remember throughout our life.

Digya Shrestha

My response to “Religion and Gender”

              Reading the chapter “Religion and Gender,” of the book The Phenomenon of Religion: A Thematic Approach by Moojan Momen, I feel astonished because there is some information that I have never heard before in my religion, Christianity. For example, it is mentioned that women are represented body (bad side) while men are associated with spirit (good part) and that Eve is believed to be inferior to Adam (Momen 436). However, as I have learned from my community, Adam was not superior to Eve, and they do not blame for Eve as woman to persuade Adam to eat the forbidden fruit. Rather, I have been taught that they were both human beings, so they were easy to have sins like any other people. In addition, inside each person, male or female, there are always two parts, body and spirit. Actually, bodies are connected to bad things whereas spirits are holy. There is nothing related to gender discrimination, but men and women are equally treated by Jesus Christ.

            I find that the ideology was made of human beings who mistranslated God’s words. This is societies that have misled a lot of people to a wrong way because they have strength and social status. How could people exploit their power to change the truth? I feel indignant for women in the past who were strongly discriminated against. Why has there always been inequality in our societies? Why can people live peacefully together without dominating each other? Particularly, how can they treat women partially while they are also the other side of the whole world? Without women, how can humans’ lives continue? I wonder when the world is free of fallacies about the power and the importance of women. Therefore, I think we can totally change these fallacies one day if we together make our effort.

             As a student having chances to study these things, I feel myself responsible for escalating woman statuses in our societies. However, in my opinion, we need to focus on obtaining equity among everyone, not on retaliating by endeavoring to dominate men again. The important thing is to make all people understand their fallacies of making stereotypes over women. It is a very good step that in some religions, women have started to have stance and raised their voices for themselves. Hope that we can see the brighter world without discrimination against women in the near future.

                                                                    Works Cited

Momen, Moojan. The Phenomenon of Religion: A Thematic Approach. Oxford, 

                England: Oneworld, 1999. Print.

Thu

Wrath

In the chapter “Wrath” of the autobiography of Vasant Moon, we get to know that Ambedkar and his followers somehow tried to oppose the Quit India movement against British headed by Mahatma Ghandi by telling Hindus to enter the British army, demanding an independent country, and many others (102).

I believe that Ambedkar and his followers were right to demand for their rights. They had right to fight for their position in society, but as soon as I read about their opposition to the Quit India movement, I felt that it was wrong time to fight for their position. I think it was the time when they need to be together so that they first could get freedom from British government. It was fortunate that they got freedom from the British government at that time. I think it was quite possible that British government could trick on their politics, and let them fight with each other rather than setting them free from their control. I am not a politician to interfere in the decision of great politicians, but I think they should have been together when Congress party was fighting for the freedom of India.

Some may think that if Ambedkar and his followers had accompanied Congress that time, they would not have gained their own country as Pakistan. It is true that they gained separate country in which they made their own policy. However, we can’t forget the terrible war between two countries which lasted for several years, some may believe that the war was certain even they had not demand for the separate country at that time, but I believe if they had worked together for certain period of time, they would have solved their problem through negotiation rather than breaking up into the war.

What Religion Means For Me

Why do you pray to someone whose existence itself is a question of doubt? Once, one of my uncles had asked that questions to me.  For many nights I thought about that question. Thinking about the answer, many other questions also came into my mind. What is the purpose of religion? What benefit do I get from it? As I read the article “The Anthropological View of Religion,” I have found that the answers I came up with for those questions are quite similar to that article. Therefore, in this last blog entry, I want to share my views towards religion.

For me religion is a ray of hope. Through religion I always get hope to think for a better future. Doesn’t matter how bad the situation is, I always think that there is someone up there who will eventually pull me out from that problem. When all the hopes are shattered, it is only religion and my believe that hold me strong.

It helps me to keep faith: faith that purifies my senses and consciousness, faith that pacifies the feeling of vengeance inside me. For example, whenever I find out that somebody has done something wrong to me or I have been betrayed, I keep calm and tell myself that Allah always punishes wrong doers. Then, I no more feel any anger or hatred.

Religion is a process for me to learn to be a good human. It teaches me all the good attributes of a ideal human being. It motives me to be a better person. It restricts me from doing any wrong thing since I believe I will be punished for my wrong deeds in my afterlife. At the same time, it also motivates me to do good things so that I will get heaven in my afterlife.

Religion teaches me the method of having control on myself and on my surroundings. When I pray, I feel as if Allah is watching me and blessing me. Therefore, I feel a certain sense of peace inside me that tells me that I can control my destiny and fate as long as I am under the bless of Allah. So, I no more feel worried or confused or concern about my present or future.

Therefore, for me religion is the bright light that shows me my way in the middle of a dark obscure jungle. As long as I am under the brightness of that light, I can find my way and I feel safe, sound, and peaceful.

 

Discrimination in Religion

Since this blog entry is the last entry that I am writing this term, I would like to share my final thoughts about the article that I recently read.

We learnt about the article, “Religion and Gender,” written by Moojan Momen that particularly highlights the position and role of women in religion. With ample number of examples and exhaustive descriptions about the beliefs and thoughts of different religions towards gender, this article provides the idea that women have been discriminated in the aspect of religion as well. Before learning the article, I have never thought that religion could be so discriminating regarding gender. According to the article, almost in all the religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism, women are considered evils and the root cause of all sins (437-8). After having read the article, I came to realize that religion also practices gender discrimination, which I hadn’t thought before.

I follow Hinduism, a polytheistic religion, in which people worship many gods and goddess. Although there are many devotees of goddess, the main and supreme power is believed to be possessed by the male gods. Moreover, in the hierarchy of religion — priests are given more importance, and usually the religious leaders are men. Besides, religion has also played a vital role to augment the prevailing disparity in gender. Associating men with spirit and women with mere body, religion apparently brings partiality between genders. In my religion as well, women are considered to devote their lives to their husbands and never go against them. In the past, suttee pratha, in which women had to sacrifice their lives in the burning pyre with their husbands, was common in Hinduism. Although it is banned now, it can be said that religion actually sanctioned violence against women. In addition, sons are given priority over daughters to perform any kind of funeral- ritual rights and sons are also given right to inherit the power and property.

Talking about discrimination in religion, I would like to share my experience that had once disappointed me. In my religion, girls are not allowed to perform any ritual rites, or even participate in any kind of occasions and festivals when they are undergoing menstruation cycle. Once I had to face same problem during one of my favorite festivals named Tihar because I was having menstruation. This disappointed me a lot as I was not allowed to enjoy my festival as others did. I thought that my religion has been unfair. It was not my mistake, so why should I have to be “punished”? Why do my brothers not have any restrictions? These kinds of questions rose in my mind. However, I was pacified by my mother, telling me that it is the fate of every Hindu girl.

Thus, these are some views about my religion which I consider to be discriminative.

Religion and Women

While reading the article, “Religion and Gender,” many thoughts and questions gripped me. First, I wondered why there were only male Gods in every religion except for Hinduism. When I read about the transformation of power from the hands of female Goddesses into the hands of male Gods, I had a question, “Is women’s biology the major cause for suppression of women and their loss of power?” This may be true to some extent since the female Goddesses had to bear children and rear them.

 

The other thing that continuously haunted my mind is, “Why are women regarded as sinful, cheap, root of all evils, devil’s gateway, and so on?” I was heartbroken to encounter all these titles given to women by all the religions in some way. At the mean time, I remembered about Hindu Goddess, Durga, who is regarded as the most powerful Goddess and is provided with weapons and power by all other Gods, according to Hindu religious texts. More importantly, the major Hindu festivals are celebrated on the praise of Goddesses. Isn’t it ironic then to consider women as “the root of all evils” by the same religion?

 

When talking to one of my classmates, she said that when questioned Allah whom to give high respect and position, he had said, “Mother”. Only the fourth time he had mentioned about father. This shows that Islam has such higher status for women, but the same Islam again regards men superior to women.

 

The reading at first quite depressed me, but later I had more logical thoughts regarding it. I came to the deduction that in the beginning of civilization, men were the ones who had first access to the religious texts. They were the ones who wrote them, if not they were the ones to interpret those religious texts. It is common that whoever finds a way to dominate other group will not hesitate to manipulate the main message for their group benefits. Thus, it may have been the same to cover the aspects that prioritize women and bring into light the bad aspects of women in those religious texts.

 

Despite the fact that this reading was depressing to learn, it was thought provoking at the same time. It is after this reading that my desire to read the religious text books of the religion I follow has become more intense so that I can find out what actually is written there, and what we need to take from there and what to leave behind.

Patriarchy

Patriarchy is a society ruled by men and they have the sole power in making decisions. So far, I have experienced the control of patriarchy neither in my family nor in my school. My blog is mainly focused on the comparison of patriarchal experience between my friend Tasnia Symoon and myself. When I interviewed her last time, she said that she experienced patriarchy in several aspects of her life. In her family, her father is the one who made the decisions. Moreover, in her schools, most of her teachers were males especially the headmasters. Conversely, in my family, both my mother and father have equal right to make the right decision. Both provide suggestions and take whichever is more beneficial to our family. Also, from my elementary schools to high schools, I had studied under both male and female teachers. We have equal proportion of male and female teachers as well.
In Bhutan, no such thing called patriarchy and matriarchy exists. As long as we have the ability, a woman can become a leader, and if she doesn’t have the ability, she can land up somewhere else. Also, the same goes with men. Our entire accomplishment depends upon our qualifications, academic marks, and other necessary attributes. In the schools, I didn’t face any inequality as a girl. None of the boys dominated the environment. We had free access to every corners of the territory. However, Tasnia said that she can go outside her home, but it is not always secure.
Tasnia asserted that although she lives in a patriarchal society, she doesn’t feel any sense of inferiority. Also, she believes that it is good to have her father as the head of her family. Her father treats the children and her mother lovingly and affectionately, so she doesn’t have any negative notion about it. However, she is not happy with the fact that most schools were controlled by male principals. She raised the question why can’t a woman be the headmistress of the school? She said that woman can also do like men.
Tasnia concluded my interview by saying that both men and women are human beings, we share the same community, and we all are special in our own ways. So let us all broaden our minds leaving behind those stereotypical views about the distinctions between men and women. She ended saying all women are capable to participate in the society.