Sunni leader Kanthapuram AP Aboobacker Musalyar (head of one of the traditionalist Sunni Muslims in Kerala, India) has reportedly confirmed that worst expectations of women and civil liberties advocates in India with recent comments calling the concept of gender equality “un-Islamic” and saying that women could never equal men as “they are fit only to deliver children.” It is a chilling reminder of the intense prejudices and oppression faced by women in many traditional Islamic areas.
Musalyar, 76, the chief of All India Sunni Jamiyyathul Ulama, insisted at a camp of Muslim Students Federation (MSF) in Kozhikode that women lack the mental strength and power to control the universe, “which lies in the hands of men.” Ignoring the advances in civilized countries, he predicted that “Gender equality is something which is never going to be a reality. It is against Islam, humanity and was intellectually wrong.”
He further added “Women can never equal men. They are fit only to deliver children. Women cannot withstand crisis situations.” He further denounced plans to allow girls and boys to share seats in colleges as “part of a calculated move to destroy Islam and culture.”
Musalyar is obviously an extremist and many Muslim women have made tremendous achievements in science, education, and politics. However, Musalyar’s leadership position shows that his views are shared and replicated in this area. It is a glimpse into the lives of women in the area and the religious and cultural barriers that they face.