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Dowry, a bane in Muslim community

By Mumtaz Mazumdar
Bengali Muslims are a major population in the northeast or the simply the
 Muslims who speak Bangla, apart from the Manipuri, the Assamese, and others. Barak Valley in Assam has a big Muslim population. These Muslims are also half populated by

women as anywhere, in any community. Decadal surveys in India have always found Muslims with more females. However, there are shareable commonalities with rest communities, if not in population. One such is dowry. Dowry is ages-old women related social issue. Muslim women are packaged in this shareable part. Today, it has fully integrated in Barak’s Muslim marriages too, as in rest of our country. Dowry payment related crimes are daily news among Muslims too.  

It is seen that, each pre marriage discussion seem to be initiated, not for relation sake, or for knotting two beings in a holy relation, which has deep and broad connections with jannat (heaven) and jahanoom (hell). Rather, this money-minded world has been affecting Barak Muslims too, from years. Here, Muslims too calculate with both sides. Certain adjustments will take place, if the bride is black skinned, under-literate, under-heighted, etc. This adjustment should come up only in the form of dowry-payment. It should whiten our eyes to see, that the truck driver who, trays the gems to the new house gets a more gleeful welcome than the new relative! A delayed dowry may float stunning remarks from the greedy, lolling, angry in-laws. It’s as if, only begins with trucked gems, and not in the loops of amazing, new, relations! It has become the social axe to scare all acquaintances about the bride’s being enough rich. Not just the boy’s side, even the fee-male side would want to display their ability. The more you give, the more, your position becomes stronger in society.

The anecdote, that Bibi Fathima, was too, supposed to be given dowry by her Prophet {MPBUH} father, is used as an example to justify the dowry system. Was not dowry meant to be only gifts given by the parents within their limits, to the parting daughter? Why is a fixed list been made? Isn’t the list increasing? What will be the limit? Now lands, cars, flats, diamonds. What next? Helicopters? Islands? Ships? Will the fee-tag remain as long as fee-males sigh in earth? Even if thinking minded or educated on-the-way-to becoming bride says to her mother that no things be given to her. Her mother may wriggle eyebrows and ire out, “I never heard of any marriage without things. Even rickshaw pullers give mats to their daughters’’.

Do we see this fee-system as only, payment to the kind groom party and over? To scorn a layer deeper, it should tick that, fee-males also change in brain-games and thoughts. Barak’s Muslim families are undergoing changes too, in this age of explosion. Fast splitting families are part of these changes. Can we relate dowry to the micron and nucleating of families? Do women forgive and forget these measuring systems? Does it get deleted from their minds and consciousness? Perhaps never! Ask any woman, at any age. She will perfectly tell you this printed incident, a day before her dying date. She grows up her children, gnawing the dowry story list, passing her anger and frustration, to the gen next. This extends to the gaping relation within the family. In between the marriage and death, a woman has so much to blast, from the pent-up grudges, heaped, due to dowry payment. She may flaunt her car and micro oven in front of the old sister-in-law, who had bought only wooden furniture years back, which are filled with old airs now in comparison to today’s newest dowry accessory. 

But, does she really forget, that, she came with heavyweight appliances? At least, today’s thoughtful, educating Muslim women may not unwind it. Does not the heart get too burnt, even for the spouse who was supposed to be her only love? The sensitive heart may forget to give birth to love ever again? There is a thick wall formed between her longed heart and the new family around. The thickness slips in the hardening heart, making it only a noisy wooden piece. Rewinding, can the wife’s entire lifetime food, lodging’s sums be given by her first home? Does spouse’s house ever become her own as exactly as her father’s house? There has to be the technical stay in the spouse’s so-called home. Confession of a daughter about her tribal-mother’s rebelled love marriage to her Bengali Muslim father and her mother’s sense of relief after her father’s death may stun us. Incident may be related to the non-acceptance of the converted woman, her arriving empty handed and if she gives birth to daughters. Her sweet hubby’s death may open her path back to her soberer, silent, hills.

Drastic psychological changes take place in the female minds after the nuptial knots. Northeast Muslim women aren’t untouched too. The new woman knows, she has to fight, to cling to the earth of the new family. All other mild or hyper qualities in her may get vapid in the new fight club. Don’t Muslim women misspent lives now, when, it’s an age of explosive knowledge? Mismatched dowry can create lifelong problems. Also, today’s fee-males are hyper sensitive, to bear lingering insults. She doesn’t wait a minute to split. Extreme cases may show that she may prefer staying in her Abba’s home more, if the spouse remains uninfluenced by her. Dowry effect will make her store the stories for the children, and the woman mostly remains successful in winning them to her side. What, as a result of all these? From the first unit, that is the family. Don’t women form the base, of happiness and strength to all? So the base gets disturbed in the initials. Crumpled families sleek around us. All the positive energy of the woman may get affected by the new, clubbed life, resulting in her stunning reactions. She surely fails to give her best to the spouse, children and others.

Can these be ever demolished? Can innocence be ever born in the greedy money-minded world? When Muslims are supposed to lead sober lives materially? None can be sure. The way of the world will continue. Sometimes, we may think that, some matriarchal societies are better, in comparison to our elated communities. Only, when a Muslim woman too becomes a woman like others, she may get slight, thread-line values? Again, there is a hyped stigma, even in Barak about Muslim women as a very backward minority within minority. It is partly true, but the valley’s Muslim women, may be seen, not only as the one, dowry oppressed, but, amazingly reaching the major cities of country and abroad as confident professionals.  

They may religiously accept burkhas and at the same time may enjoy, learning Indian classical dances. These Baraki women know, cooking traditional dry fish and baking cakes. Along with, they are informed that market’s cakes be avoided as far as possible, as rum may have been poured to fluff them. Muslim women do heights too, in preserving Islamic practices. Away from dowry, there are growing Muslim women bands in the tea and rice valley, which are very conscious about the importance of literacy, higher education and career. But, do they remain, untouched by the future impacts of dowry? A new class is emerging here too, as a section of Muslim women, who are literate and jobbed.

These fee-males are expected to bring dowry fees, which shall consist of more modern appliances and new electrical goods. And, along with, these magic dolls are expected to bring more ability to manage all what comes in life, to her deciphered spouse and his kind family.     May 2010

The author has completed her Masters in English Literature. She is based in Silchar, Assam.