When Mary Wollstonecraft, the English writer and advocate of women’s equality wrote, ““I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves”, she perhaps did not realize how long and complex this journey of self-affirmation would take for women who came after her. Even today, women are patently ‘unfree’ to make their own decisions.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the pivotal figure who envisioned, by way of the divine revelation sent to him, a society where a woman, although working within a moral and ethical framework, could dream of a dignified life for herself. The Qu’ran speaks of the act of witnessing that the buried girl child will give against those who oppressed her (81:8-9). The verses reveal that it will not be the oppressors who will be asked to give a justification for their testimony but the oppressed who will retell her experience of cruelty. But enforced voicelessness persist in our society, leading our contributors to ponder on the real meaning of ‘freedom’ in this issue.
This month marks yet another year of the nation’s independence from colonial rule. But this can be at best marked in a moment of self-reflection rather than celebration. The pandemic may have offered us a breather for now but the disaster left in its wake looms large; on all indices of gender, equality, human development and freedom, India is faltering. What freedom can we speak of today?
It is also the time of Hijra, the migration. The emigration to Madina in Islamic history also is reflective of the many journeys we must make – to the truth, a return to the Creator, and towards hope and betterment for ourselves and those around us.
With that hope, we present our sixth issue