Nazira Zayn al-Din

Hans Rustad

Den syriske skri­ben­ten Sami Mou­bayed for­tel­ler en inter­es­sant his­to­rie som sier noe om en utvik­ling i gal ret­ning. På 1920-tallet var det en pike i Damas­kus, Nazira Zayn al-Din, som leste Kora­nen på egen hånd og kom frem til at det ikke var noen plikt å bære hijab. Hun skrev en bok hvor hun påpekte at den “util­slørte” ver­den var mer frem­skre­den en den til­slørte. Det ble et vold­somt opp­styr. Boken kom i flere opp­lag. Men ingen angrep henne eller truet henne. Det ville garan­tert skjedd idag.

Seventy years ago, in April 1928, a 20-year-old girl named Nazira Zayn al-Din wrote a book cal­led Unvei­ling and Vei­ling, say­ing she had read, under­stood and inter­preted the Holy Koran. The­re­fore, she said, she had the aut­hority and ana­ly­ti­cal skills to chal­lenge the teachings of Islam’s cle­rics, men who were far older and wiser than she. Her inter­pre­ta­tion of Islam, she boldly said, was that the veil was un-Islamic. If a woman was for­ced to wear the veil by her fat­her, hus­band or brot­her, Zayn al-Din argued, then she should take him to court. Other ideas pre­sented by her were that men and woman should mix socially because this devel­ops moral pro­gress, and that both sexes should be edu­cated in the same class­rooms. Men and women, she said, should equally be able to hold pub­lic office and vote in govern­ment elections.

They must be free to study the Koran them­sel­ves, and it should not be dictated on them by an oppres­sive older gene­ra­tion of cle­rics, she said. Finally, Zayn al-Din com­pared the “vei­led” Mus­lim world to the “unvei­led” one, say­ing the unvei­led one was bet­ter because rea­son reig­ned, rat­her than religion.

Her book cau­sed a thun­der­storm in Syria and Leba­non. It was the most out­rage­ous assault on tra­ditio­nal Islam, coming from Zayn al-Din, who was a Druze. The book went into a second edition wit­hin two mon­ths, and was trans­lated into seve­ral lan­gua­ges. Great men from Islam, inclu­ding the muftis of Bei­rut and Dama­scus, wrote against her, argu­ing that she did not have the aut­hority to speak on Islam and dis­miss the veil as un-Islamic. Nobody, how­e­ver, accu­sed her of trea­son or blasphemy. They accu­sed her of bad vision resul­ting from bad Isla­mic education.

Some cle­rics ban­ned her book. Some, how­e­ver, such as the Syrian scho­lar Mohammad Kurd Ali, actually embraced it, buy­ing 20 copies for the Arab Lan­guage Assem­bly and wri­ting a favo­rable review.

But despite the uproar, which las­ted for two years, the Syri­ans and the Mus­lim estab­lish­ments did not let the issue get out of hand. They did not lead street demon­stra­tions for weeks, as if the Mus­lim world had no other con­cern than Nazira Zayn al-Din. Zayn al-Din was still free to roam the stre­ets of Syria and Leba­non, wit­hout being har­assed or kil­led by those who hated her views. The lea­ders of Islam in 1927-30 were by far too busy to occupy them­sel­ves, and the Mus­lim com­mu­nity at large, with the ideas of a 20-year-old girl. They had to attend to their mos­ques, run their charity orga­niza­tions, answer theo­lo­gical ques­tions, cater to Mus­lim edu­ca­tion, lead poli­ti­cal issues, and fight the French.

Mou­bay­eds egent­lige ærend er stri­den om the Jewel of Med­ina, den his­to­riske roma­nen om Aisha. Han site­rer fra pro­fes­sor ved Texas Uni­ver­sity, Denise Spell­berg, som utløste at Ran­dom House trakk boken, rett før den skulle publiseres.

Det er inter­es­sant at man i Ves­ten nå fin­ner aka­de­mi­kere ved aner­kjente uni­ver­si­te­ter som bru­ker sine kunn­ska­per til å angripe ytrings­fri­he­ten i reli­gio­nens navn. Spell­berg kom­mer med et opp­sikts­vek­kende state­ment: You can’t play with a sacred his­tory. Det vil si at reli­gions­kri­tikk, satire, og kunst er under­lagt reli­gio­nen. Dette har et aner­kjent for­lag bøyd seg for.

Accor­ding to Denise Spell­berg, a pro­fes­sor of his­tory and Middle East stu­dies who read parts of the book, the work makes “fun of Mus­lims and their his­tory” and is a “very ugly, stu­pid piece of work.” Spell­berg went on:

“I don’t have a pro­blem with his­to­ri­cal fic­tion. I do have a pro­blem with the deli­be­rate mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion of his­tory. You can’t play with a sacred history…The com­bi­na­tion of sex and vio­lence sells novels. When com­bined with fal­si­fi­ca­tion of the Isla­mic past, it exploits Ame­ri­cans who know not­hing about Aisha or her seventh-century world and counts on stir­ring up con­tro­versy to increase sales.”

Defen­ding Aisha
Sami Mou­bayed
Dama­scus, Syria
Sami Mou­bayed is a Syrian poli­ti­cal ana­lyst and his­to­rian based in Dama­scus, Syria




Om du ikke følger Document på sosiale media kan du følge oss på e-post.

Donere engangsbeløp?Kan du forplikte deg til fast betaling?

Penger kan også doneres til kontonummer 15030249981. Du kan også støtte oss ved å kjøpe bøker eller varer.

Leserkommentarer på Document er gjenstand for moderering, som ikke skjer kontinuerlig og under enhver omstendighet ikke om natten. Vi ønsker en respektfull tone uten personangrep, sleivete språk eller flammende retorikk. Vis særlig nøkternhet når temaet er følsomt. Begrenset redigering av skjemmende detaljer kan finne sted. Skriv til debatt@document.no dersom du ikke forstår hvorfor en kommentar uteblir. Se her for nybegynnerhjelp.