My post on Sania Mirza being the face of the modern young Muslim woman drew flak from a modern young Muslim woman who commented:
Ms. Bansal, really. This is disappointing. You, as editor of JAM, believeing in stereotypes? Today, there may be a handful who aren't allowed to dream big. But that does not imply that all of us are oppressed. I do not speak because I am Muslim, but because I've seen so many Muslim women do what they want.
Everyone is dreaming, and everyone is achieving. Maybe you need to look at the situation with a little more scrutiny. Look at Negar Khan!I know alot of Muslim women. Let's just say - if you wouldn't know their names, you wouldn't think they're Muslim.
Well, Saira I wonder what you'd make of this news report. Apurv Pandit, a correspondent with The Pioneer in Bhopal filed this story recently on Tarannum Ara, a former schoolteacher from Kolkata who has just completed her MBA from IIM Indore.
I'm reproducing a couple of questions he asked - they prove my point about a Muslim woman in MBA school being unusual.
Being from a very traditional Muslim family, how did your parents react to your decision to join IIM, Indore?
Most of all, they were worried that I was going to live alone at a faraway city. It is not an accepted thing for women to do in my community. In fact, it took months of convincing to let my parents allow me to go to Indore. Now they don’t mind my going to Mumbai for the ICICI Lombard job.
Two years ago I was just another Muslim woman. Now I am a proud one at that.
Please note that last line. Being Muslim is an 'identity' thing. I can't imagine a girl called Tarana graduating from IIM Indore and saying,"2 years ago I was just another Hindu woman..."
Also, managing one's religious duties, given the pressures of modern life, is an issue for many young Muslims. Here's what Tarannum says.
How did you keep up with your religion during the two years at IIM, Indore?
Considering the tight schedule of classes, quizzes, assignments and presentations, I could not offer namaaz regularly. But I always kept a small copy of the Holy Quran with me as it gave me inner strength.
In fact, I would call upon more Muslim women as well as men from the middle-class to aspire for high-profile careers.
I hate to have to clarify this, but just because I have made these observations, there's no need to conclude I am a Hindu fanatic.
This is the tragedy of the secular vs communal debate.
There are more than two sides to every story.