No Women in the World Enjoy Perhaps a Better Status Than the Women of Iran
I stayed in Iran for 8 days. Right on the first day, I was introduced to the participants from 19 countries. I was told that I was the only Indian to have been invited, and only second one in the last fifteen years’ history of Qur’an exhibition. The other one was some calligrapher from Hyderabad who attended the exhibition several years back. The participants belonged to two categories: artists and Quranic scholars. I obviously belonged to the second category. The countries that had their representatives included Britain, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Georgia, Turkey, Palestine and Rumania.
The exhibition was just unbelievable. The decoration was fabulous, and the calligraphy, books and paintings related to Qur’an were too beautiful to believe. People in large numbers thronged to see the exhibition. I think nowhere else such a Qur’an exhibition was organized at this big level. I was particularly pleased to see that the emphasis in Iran has shifted to the Qur’an in a big way. Qur’anic centers are burgeoning all over Tehran . Of course, Iranians have huge faith in Ahl- e-Bait but they do not make issue of it the way some Indian Shia tend to do. However, I felt that the exhibition would have served the purpose better if the emphasis was on the content of the Qur’an rather than simply the Qur’anic arts. I told this to Mr. Hashmi, the chief organizer of the conference, and I have been requested to submit my plan for the next exhibition. I will Insha Allah prepare a format that will enable the visitors to understand the messages of the Holy Book.
The International Conference on Qur’an that was earlier planned was cancelled due to unknown reasons but I had the opportunity to explain my ideas of Applied Studies of Qur’an to several small groups. I explained to them that we have had been studying Tafsir of Quran for a long time, but now we must concentrate on the application of Quranic knowledge and guidance in various fields. We must endeavor to pursue Qur’anic commands at the world level in a way that the whole mankind benefits from the great social, economic and moral values of Islam.
There is a lot of propaganda in West about the status of women in Iran . What I found was a different picture altogether. I can say it for sure that no women in the world enjoy perhaps a better status than the women of Iran . Women are everywhere to see. They are in almost all the offices and the business centers. They form more than half of the population of the universities. They can be seen moving with aplomb and dignity. They are most elegantly dressed, with long shirts and Jeans and the headscarves covering all or part of the head. They are of course arguably the most beautiful women of the world. They confidently talk with men wherever required. There are no evidences of their commercial exploitation. The crimes against women are negligible compared to West. There are a very few cases of rapes, there are no teenage pregnancies (if there are any at all, they are hardly known). Most of the girls marry boys of their own choice and the government of Iran helps them marry as soon as they want to. I had a discussion with a woman who seemed to be Western minded in her approach, and criticized Islamic republic for not giving women freedom to dress. When I told her that if there was a curb on women’s dress, it was in fact a curb on men, she ultimately seemed to agree. If women wear revealing dresses, I asked her, who enjoys this site most. Men, obviously. I saw in Iran Empowerment of Women with Security. And this is what Islam prescribes. Not the Western style empowerment which has become only a tool for exploiting women by the forces of bazaar. Empowerment without security has no meaning at all.
The most wonderful spectacle of the trip to Iran was reserved for the last day of my stay in Tehran . It was the Juma Prayer at Tehran university. A gathering of about 1.5 million was there. We had the honor to get the place just behind the Imam. Ayatollah Jannati discussed the world situation in some length in his 45 minute long Khutba in Farsi. The fervor and enthusiasm of the people was worth watching. And the credit goes to the administration that it made extraordinary arrangements to handle such a big crowd.
I returned back hugely satisfied with the trip. The only negative thing I noticed was the extraordinary feeling of Persian nationalism in the minds of Iranian people. This can prove counterproductive in the long run.