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GIO stands to reclaim girls' rights: P. Ruksana

P. Ruksana, state president for Kerala Chapter of Girls Islamic Organization is interviewed by Fousiya Shams for Aramam women's monthly magazine.

Some excerpts from the interview:

Please share on GIO’s missions and way before.

We want to take Girls Islamic Organization to new heights by mentoring the girls through debates, academic readings and hence enrooting them in spiritual and moral basis. We plan different programmes to nurture in the girls’ community a sense of service and creativity. At district levels, we want to take up the organization to be more responsive and intervening community. For this, deviating from the common practices of girls’ organizations, we will emphasis on programmes which would make them to represent Muslim women in the modern society with dignity and esteem.

How far Muslim girls, with Hijab, can represent the Islamic Girls Movement?

Indeed, the mainstream society even this day also considers a Muslim girl, who upholds Islamic ideals, ‘orthodox’. Even though they are educated and well advanced in their social status, they are viewed as scapegoats of religion. This prejudice is asserted by some literatures and films. They are reluctant to acknowledge the Muslim girl, who is at its best in her academics, interferes in the social issues, talks with insight and writes with profoundness. This reluctance is stemmed from their hate towards Islamic dress code. Hence, Muslim girls confront a dilemma in campuses. According to the secular mainstream, able, bold and educated woman should deprived signs of Muslim woman. GIO strived and contributed largely to reclaim the identity and self of Muslim girl and enabled her to stand with pride to represent Muslim woman inside the campus.

In contrast to other student organizations, GIO has adopted the streets not campuses as her platform. Why GIO functions under the banner of SIO inside the campuses?

GIO is an organization with its own agenda and identity working in campuses and streets alike. There is no question of difference with SIO in this regard. It will have its own agenda and programmes from unit level itself. For some period, this system was weak. In this term, we have prioritized campus as our field of operation. GIO aims for the academic and creative development of girls. GIO itself will take up the issues faced by girls in campuses and women in the public. At the same time, during campus elections and other needed occasions, GIO will stand in line with SIO.

The fundamental teachings of Islam and the attitude of contemporary Muslims are of stark contrasts. Have you ever tried to recognize and resist this?

I am firmly convinced that, we, the Muslim women are not yet granted with consideration and love as taught by Allah and his messenger. It is indeed among the Muslim community itself, often women is dishonored and her rights are withheld. In comparison with other religious organizations, Jamaate Islami has gone ahead for the reformation of women. Yet I believe we have to focus on more issues. Inside the community itself, different scholars have read Muslim women in different perspectives. We are in high need of a perspective which would clearly determine her space and potential. In the absence of such a perspective, Muslim women are classed among the most unprivileged and enslaved which would lead to a vulgar presentation of Islam.

Though pointing to historical facts and instances for women’s rights in Islam, why there is no response even in a low voice, inside the Muslim community? For example, in the matters related to dowry. Often instances are quoted from history to show how Muslim women expressed their strength in demanding their Mahr. Why GIO is not coming forward to encourage the girls to stand against dowry and enable them to demand their Mahr? Is history just for hair rising?

Yes,indeed with pleasure and pride, we quote the instances from Islamic history women demanded their Mahr. The Mahr system has helped to the raise the dignity of Muslim women. GIO has seriously taken up the issue of dowry.  I am dreaming a school of girls who dare to demand their Mahr. Ofcourse, GIO will take an important step in this regard.

Recently GIO was termed by Maharashtra state government as terrorist organization and a probe followed it. What is your say?

It is just a plain instance revealing the secret agenda of certain people who are the kingpins to propagate nothing other than terrorism could be disseminated from Islam. Their main agenda is to come down against those who represent Islam in all its finest expressions. Those who dream of depression of Islam may be afraid of Muslim girls’s envious achievement in the field of education and social activities.