Archetypal Motherhood and the National Agenda: The Case of the Indian Muslim Women

Main Article Content

Ayshath Shamah Rahmath
Raihanah Mohd Mydin
Ruzy Suliza Hashim

Abstract

The grand narratives of Mother India posit women’s emancipation as the central concern, insisting on her public participation in the educational and economic sectors. The relegation of the archetypal motherhood to the national periphery is strictly rooted in the Hindu traditional culture. The schisms of caste, class, and religion in contemporary society are normalised whilst the gendered undercurrents of domestic violence, chauvinism and religious sensibilities are ignored. Such polished idealisms are, in fact, far from the living reality of most women and girls across all spheres in the country. By reviewing notable texts from past and present, this research problematises the position of Muslim women in India, specifically during the nationalistic discourse and post-independent era. The national freedom struggle movement assured a democratic constitution, which primed Mother India as the figurative Indian woman encrypting ideologies from socio-religious discourses. The grand narratives often become instrumental in politicising the vested interest of the hegemonic class. The struggles of Muslim women were foregrounded not only in the gendered disparity of the religious domain but also in the socio-cultural disparities which excluded them from the domain of Indian womanhood. Mainstream history, literature and even women development organisations deliberately typified Muslim women along with the religious discourse. Briefly, in this paper, we infer that Muslim women were rendered invisible in the limelight of the archetypal Mother India, denying their social, political, cultural and literary participation. They were thus subjected to constitutional othering by the mainstream socio-political entities (who subjected them) at the onset of nationalism, which continues to exist in post-colonial discourses where women are expected to constantly negotiate their religious identity over their national identity.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Rahmath, A. S., Mydin, R. M., & Hashim, R. S. (2020). Archetypal Motherhood and the National Agenda: The Case of the Indian Muslim Women . Space and Culture, India, 7(4), 12-31. https://doi.org/10.20896/saci.v7i4.590
Section
Special Articles
Author Biographies

Ayshath Shamah Rahmath, PhD Scholar

Ayshath Shamah Rahmath is pursuing her PhD in Postcolonial literature at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (National University of Malaysia). She has worked in several educational institutions, both in the public and private sectors, in Kerala, India.

Raihanah Mohd Mydin, Associate Professor of Literary Studies, National University of Malaysia

Raihanah M.M. is a Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, National University of Malaysia, UKM. Her research includes minority fiction and comparative literature. She won the National Academic Award in 2014.

Ruzy Suliza Hashim, Professor

Ruzy Suliza Hashim is Professor of Literature at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, UKM. Her research interests include gender issues in literature and comparative literature. Her book, Out of the Shadows: Women in Malay Court Narratives, won the National Book Award in 2003.

References

Aftab, Tahera. (2008). Inscribing South Asian Women: An Annotated Bibliography and Research Guide. The Netherlands: Brill Publishers.
Albrecht, Milton. C. (1954). The Relationship of Literature and Society. American Journal of Sociology, 59 (5), 425-436.
Amin, S. N. (1996). The World of Muslim Women in Colonial Bengal, 1876-1939. E.J. BRILL: Leiden.
Bagchi, Jasodhara. (2017). Interrogating Motherhood. New Delhi: Sage Publication.
Bandyopadhyay, Aparna. (2018). Hindu Revivalism and ‘Unchaste’ Widows in Colonial Bengal. Gendered Asia: Special Issue of Asian Studies, XXXVI (1&2).
Banerjee, Sikata. (2005). Make Me a Man! Masculinity, Hinduism, and Nationalism in India. NY: State University of New York Press.
Banerjee, Sikata. (2012). Muscular Nationalism: Gender, Violence and Empire in India and Ireland, 1914-2004. NY: New York University Press.
Bose, Sugata. (2017). The Nation as Mother and Other Visions of Nationhood. Haryana: Penguin Random House India Private Limited.
Chhachhi, Amrita. (1991). Forced Identities: the State, Communalism, Fundamentalism and Women in India. In D. Kadiyoti (Ed.), Women, Islam and the State (pp. 144-175). London: Macmillan Pvt Ltd.
Chakravarti, Uma. (1989). Whatever Happened to the Vedic Dasi? Orientalism, Nationalism and a Script for the Past. In Kumkum Sangari & Sudesh Vaid (Eds.), Recasting Women: Essays in the Colonial History (pp. 27-87). New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
Chakravarti, Uma. (1993). Conceptualising Brahmanical Patriarchy in Early India: Gender, Caste, Class and State. Economic and Political Weekly, 28(14), 579-585.
Chakravarti, Uma. (2008). Beyond the Mantra of Empowerment: Time to Return to Poverty, Violence and Struggle. In Deepta Chopra & Catherine Muller (Eds.), IDS Bulletin, 47 (1A), 10-17.
Chatterjee, Partha. (1989). Colonialism, Nationalism, and Colonised Women: The Contest in India. American Ethnologist, 16(4), 622-633.
Chatterjee, Partha. (1996). Whose Imagined Community? In Gopal Balakrishnan (Ed.), Mapping the Nation (pp. 214-225). London: Verso.
Chaube, Shibani Kinkar. (2017). The Idea of Nation and its Future in India. NY: Routledge.
Chaudhury, Suchismita. (2016). Accommodating the Muslim Women within the Social Psyche of a Colonial (Hindu) India. International Journal of English Language, Literature and Humanities, IV(VII), 474-481.
Corse, Sara. M. (1997). Nationalism and Literature: The Politics of Culture in Canada and the United States. UK: Cambridge University Press.
Devji, Faisal Fatehali. (1992). Hindu/Muslim/Indian. Public Culture, 5(1), 1-18.
Dwivedi, Om Prakash (Ed.). (2012). Introduction. The Other India: Narratives of Terror, Communalism and Violence (pp. 1-13). UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Esposito, John L., & Kalin, Ibrahim (Eds.). (2011). Islamophobia: The Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century. NY: Oxford University Press.
Hadfield, Andrew. (1994). Literature, Politics and National Identity: Reformation to Renaissance. UK: Cambridge University Press.
Hasan, M. M. (2012). Marginalisation of Muslim writers in South Asian Literature: Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain’s English Works. South Asia Research, 32(3), 179-197.
Hasan, Zoya. (1998). Gender Politics, Legal Reform, and the Muslim Community in India. In Patricia Jeffery & Amrita Basu (Eds.), Appropriating Gender: Women’s Activism and Politicized Religion in South Asia (pp. 71-88). NY: Routledge.
Hasan, Zoya. (2014). Religion, Feminist Politics and Muslim Women’s Rights in India. In Kalpana Kannabiran (Ed.), Women and Law: Critical Feminist Perspectives (pp. 264-273). New Delhi: Sage Publications India Pvt Ltd.
Hansen, Thomas Blom. (1999). The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in
Modern India. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Jamil, Ghazala. (2018). Muslim Women Speak of Dreams and Shackles. New Delhi: Sage Publications.
Jenkins, Laura Dudley. (2000). Shah Bano: Muslim Women’s Right. Teaching Human Rights Online. Retrieved from https://homepages.uc.edu/thro/shahbano/index.htm
Katzenstein, Fainsod. (1989). Organizing Against Violence: Strategies of Indian Women’s Movement. Pacific Affairs, 62 (1), 53-71.
Kidwai, A.R. (Ed.). (2007). Behind the Veil: Representation of Muslim Women in Indian
Writing in English 1950-2000. New Delhi: APH Publishing Corporation.
Kirmani, Nida. (2013). Questioning the Muslim Woman: Identity and Insecurity in an Urban Indian Locality. India: Routledge.
Kumar, Radha. (1997). The History of Doing: An Illustrated Account of Movements for Women’s Rights and Feminism in India, 1800-1990 (2nd ed.). New Delhi: Zuban.
Kumar, Sanjay. (2018, 29th Dec). Controversial ‘Triple Talaq’ Bill Angers Muslims in India. Arabnews, available at http://www.arabnews.com/node/1427301/world
Maya, Katherine. (1937). Mother India. Retrieved from http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0300811h.html
Mondal, A. (2002). The Emblematics of Gender and Sexuality in Indian Nationalist Discourse. Modern Asian Studies, 36 (4), 913-936. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3876478
Mahanta, N.R & Mahanta, B. (2015). The Nation as Goddess: Ritualizing Politics, Politicizing the Sacral. In R.N. Rai, M.S. Pandey & Anita Singh (Eds.), Theory and Praxis: Indian and Western (pp. 42-52). UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Narain, Vrinda. (2008). Reclaiming the Nation: Muslim Women and the Law in India. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Naqvi, Farah. (2018, 9th May). Why, How and When Do Indian NGOs Work with Muslims? One Answer: With Discomfort and Denial. Scroll.in. Retrieved from https://scroll.in/article/877692/why-how-and-when-do-indian-ngos-work-with-muslims-one-answer-with-discomfort-and-denial
Pandey, G. (2006). Routine Violence: Nations, Fragments, Histories. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Patel, Vibhuti. (1995). The Shah Bano Controversy and the Challenges Faced by Women’s
Movement in India. In Asghar Ali Engineer (Ed.) Problems of Muslim Women in India,
(pp 140-148). India: Orient Longman.
Quazi, Suman. (2016). Muslim Women’s Rights Movement in India. CounterCurrents.org. Retrieved from https://www.countercurrents.org/quazi190416.htm
Ramaswamy, Sumathi. (2010). The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India. Durham: Duke University Press.
Rana, Suman (2017). Recasting Muslim Women in Colonial Discourse: Rokaya’s “Sultana’s Dream”. International Journal of English Language, Literature and Humanities, V(V), 394-407.
Roy, Srila. (2015). The Indian Women’s Movement: Within and Beyond NGOization. Journal of South Asian Development, 10 (1), 96-117.
Saberin, Zeenat. (2018, 19th Sep). India: Triple Talaq or Instance Divorce now a Criminal Offense. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/09/india-triple-talaq-instant-divorce-criminal-offence-180919073349658.html
Sachar, R. K. (2006). Social, Economic and Educational Status of Muslim Community in India. New Delhi: Akalank Publications.
Sarkar, Mahua. (2001). Muslim Women and the Politics of (In)visibility in Late Colonial Bengal. Journal of Historical Society, 14 (2), 226-250.
Sarkar, Mahua. (2008). Visible Histories, Disappearing Women: Producing Muslim Womanhood in Late Colonial Bengal. Durham: Duke University Press.
Sarkar, Tanika. (2001). Hindu Wife, Hindu Nation: Community, Religion and Cultural Nationalism. London: Hustle & Company.
Sarkar, Tanika. (2006). A Book of Her Own, A Life of Her Own: The Autobiography of a
Nineteenth-Century Woman. In Dilip. M. Menon (Ed.). Readings in History: Cultural History of Modern India (pp. 32-64). New Delhi: Social Science Press.
Schneider, Nadja-Christina. (2009). Islamic Feminism and Muslim Women’s Rights Activism in India: From Transnational Discourse to Local Movement - or Vice versa? Journal of International Women’s Studies, 11(1), 56-71.
Shaban, Abdul (Ed.). (2018). Introduction. Muslims in India: Politics, Exclusion and Violence (2nd ed.). NY: Routledge.
Sherin, B.S. (2011). The Labyrinth of Dissonance: Islam and Women in Kerala (Doctoral
dissertation, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala, India).
Sinha, Mrinalini. (2000). Refashioning Mother India: Feminism and Nationalism in Late-Colonial India. Feminist Studies, 26 (3), 623-644.
Sur, Esita. (2015). Politics of Locating Muslim Women in Islamic Discursive Tradition in India. Space and Culture India, 3(1), 4-16. https://doi:10.20896/saci.v3i1.135
Sur, Esita. (2018). Triple Talaq Bill in India: Muslim Women as Political Subjects or Victims? Space and Culture India, 5(3), 5-12. https://doi.org/10.20896/saci.v5i3.299
Taylor, Charles. (1994). The Politics of Recognition. In Amy Guttmann (Ed.)
Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition (pp. 25-74). Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Thapar- Bjorket, Surachi. (2006). Women in the Indian National Movement: Unseen Faces and Unheard Voices, 1930-42. New Delhi: Sage Publications.
Tharu, Susie & Tejaswini Niranjana. (1994). Problems For a Contemporary Theory of Gender. Social Scientist, 22(3/4), 93-117.
Varadarajan, Siddharth. (27 Dec 2018). Triple Talaq: Why Just Muslims, Let’s Criminalise the Abandonment of All Wives. The Wire. Retrieved from https://thewire.in/law/triple-talaq-why-just-muslims-lets-criminalise-the-abandonment-of-all-wives
Veer, Peter Van der. (1994). Religious Nationalism: Hindus and Muslims in India. Berkeley: University of California Press.