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Mothering A Muslim Hardcover – 8 Jan 2018
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Meticulously researched and sobering. This is essential reading for all parents and all schools – and for anyone thinking about the India which we want our children to grow up in.’ – Shalini Advani, Director, Pathways School Noida
Mothers of the others – this is a must-read. A sensitive, eye-opening narrative which every parent and those who work with children must read.’ – Arun Kapur, Director, Vasant Valley School
About the Author
Nazia Erum runs a fashion start-up called The Luxury Label. She lives in Noida.
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The author even points out the changed scenario after the 2014 elections. She adds that media is playing a major role here in opinion formation, since right from the national anthem debate to the lynchings over beef…to now the triple talaq law debate, the Muslim community is being projected in a light like never before. And all this is going into innocent minds since the men of the house, no matter what, will always be either involved in politics or be a part-and-parcel of it. That’s how, the usual and unusual political conversations and religious mindset is flowing from our living rooms to the kindergarten classroom! Adding to this, how the sections in school are arranged on the basis of languauges (urdu and Sanskrit) thereby further unfortunately dividing the children on the basis of language (and obviously religion). This is the point where, the school authorities and teachers have to step in. The young minds are too naive to define a muslim or a pakistani, these issues are quite sensitive to be ignored. Rather more focus should be there on open and productive discussions on such topics.
There is also focus on women and their stories allows the book to take a distinctly feminist outlook on religion and identity. At a point, the author comments on what is expected from Muslim women in terms of how they dress, look and behave. She talks about how if a Muslim woman wears the hijab or not is often used to judge her morality and ‘Muslimness’.
The author’s writing style is punctuated by her desire to get a point across to her readers. This book will not be a comment on the superiority of any religion, rather it takes into consideration the effect that negative bias has on children. She writes in a very collected and concise manner. It’s a short book and can finish in less than half a day.
This book is written by a mother. It’s for all of us. To introspect as a society that what kind of present and future are we building up by instilling such thoughts in the minds of young who are not even able to differentiate the right and wrong. A must read!
There are three specific things that I find particularly noteworthy in Erum's book. One, that she is able to link the many instances of bullying and regressive stereotyping of young Muslim children in different educational institutions to the rise of conservative politics in and around the world where the burden of demonstrating patriotism mostly falls on those from the minority and vulnerable sections of the society. Two, that Erum realises that religious discrimination produces a certain kind of complex in the minds of most of the children exposed to it and it forces them to re-orient themselves in their understanding of the world that they live in. They have to (re)evaluate all the people and situations they encounter in terms of their recently acquired awareness that they are Muslims. Third, distinct from a certain strand of scholarship on the relationship between education and religion and the situation of the minority subject therein, Erum's book also turns the critical gaze inward into the Muslim community itself and bravely points out that accompanying the Islamophobia in the world outside the Muslim family is a streak of conservatism that forces individuals within to ask if, on their own, they are Muslim enough. Such a streak of conservatism that itself sticks to and forces others to adhere to a particular definition of being Muslim in contemporary India is, as Erum recognises, perhaps as dangerous as Islamophobia that seems to be widespread anyway.
Moreover all the stories are from elite Muslims, would be better if there was some insight on middle class and lower middle class families as they constitute majority.
At last one can give a read, it is a nice book.