Deoband-based Darul-Uloom has issued a fatwa against using nail polish among Muslim women, calling it an “un-Islamic” practice. As reported by ANI, Mufti Ishrar Gaura, a cleric at the seminary, has asked Muslim women to “use mehendi on their nails” instead. It must be mentioned that Deoband had previously issued a fatwa against the practice of shaving and waxing among women on religious grounds. Seems like the institution has an aversion to aesthetics, or perhaps sees women’s desire to look beautiful as religious transgression.

The thing common among all extremist groups across religions is that they have an endless list of “Nos” for women. Be it applying makeup, painting nails or wearing jeans, why is it that it is women who are burdened with dictates in the name of safeguarding the religion? Why does the affinity towards fashion or aesthetics among women scare the radicals so much?

Perhaps it is easier for them to oppress a submissive gender furthermore, than put the stronger one in line. Or perhaps women bear the brunt of being unofficial guardians of the cultural practices.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • Darul-Uloom Deoband has issued a fatwa against using nail polish among Muslim women, calling it an “un-Islamic” practice.
  • The thing common among all extremist groups across religions is that they have an endless list of “Nos” for women.
  • Often the extremist bodies issue dictates for propaganda, to simply garner media and public attention.
  • Women have long-endured oppression in all walks of their lives because their freedom makes others insecure.

Often extremist groups issue such dictates for propaganda, to simply garner media and public attention. But issuing fatwas or denouncing any modern practice among women as un-cultural or un-religious is also a way to impose restrictions on them. It forces them into giving up things which liberate them in some way. As most cultures still consider women to be flag bearers of traditions, their liberation is perceived as a threat. Aren’t women supposed to sit at home and rear children and pass down traditions to them? Isn’t this their primary duty towards their home, community and faith? Heavens forbid if they want to paint their nails or colour their hair! We will have such morally deviant next generation.

Women have long-endured oppression in all walks of their lives because their freedom makes others insecure.

But this speaks more about people’s belief in their own religion. How weak do they think their religion is, if it is at threat from nail paint? This fatwa and many more “orders” which have preceded it show lack of confidence among certain keepers of culture and virtues. Of how they feel threatened by modernity and think their religious identity is at the risk of becoming oblivious.

This insecurity is leading many people down the path of oppressing women. But today women understand the gender dynamics in our society. They understand how dictates are implemented on them to snatch away their freedom, all in the name of preserving culture.

We have seen women stand up against oppression more this year, than ever before. If religious bodies want to stay relevant today, they cannot do so by imposing unreasonable dictates. They will have to adapt to modern times and be inclusive. All such dictates can get them, is a little screen time and perhaps a few appearances on news channels.

Picture Credit: The Renaissance

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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