Hamare Baarah: Maulana Rahmani calls for sensitivity in portrayal of communities in media

Hyderabad Desk

Hyderabad: The controversy surrounding the film Hamare Baarah has ignited significant unrest in the Muslim community in India. The film, which allegedly distorts Quranic verses to propagate a narrative blaming Muslims for population growth, has been met with outrage. The courts have responded by banning the release of the movie, yet the dissatisfaction among Muslims persists, fueled by a broader sense of being unfairly targeted.

There are reports that in one of the States, a court has given permission for the screening of the film.

Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, President of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), has been vocal in his condemnation of the film. He criticized the filmmakers for their erroneous interpretation of Islamic scriptures, arguing that such distortions are not only misleading but also designed to incite hostility against Muslims. According to Maulana Rahmani, the Quranic verses have been taken out of context and manipulated to fit a pre-determined narrative that unfairly vilified the Muslim community.

Broader sentiment

Maulana Rehmani’s objections reflect a broader sentiment of frustration and anger among Muslims, who feel that the community is being scape-goated. This incident is not isolated; it fits into a pattern of actions and rhetoric that many Muslims perceive as an attempt to demonize them. The film’s depiction of Muslims as responsible for population expansion is seen as part of a strategy to create a divisive atmosphere and promote communal discord.

The controversy over Hamare Baarah underscores the delicate balance between freedom of expression and the need to protect religious sentiments. While the courts have mostly acted to prevent the release of the film, the deeper issue remains: the need for respectful and accurate representation of all communities in media. Misrepresentation and vilification not only harm the targeted community but also erode the social fabric.

Hamare Baarah, the trailer of which is out, shows a person resembling a cleric, dressed in the traditional garb of scholars and wearing a turban, powerfully reciting a verse from the Quran: “Your wives are a place of sowing of seed for you, so come to your place of cultivation however you wish” (Al-Baqarah, 2:223). Then various vile scenes are presented. One scene shows a pregnant woman who does not want to engage in physical relations with her husband, but the husband forcibly insists. Another scene depicts a very sick woman who apologizes to her husband, yet the husband still tries to force physical relations. In each scene, the man is shown as a Muslim and the woman in a veil, so viewers can infer that such actions are typical of Muslims. The impression is given that this is why Muslims have many children, suggesting that a Muslim wife gives birth to twelve children.

Politicians should bear responsibility

In a statement, Maulana Rahmani took strong exceptions to the films and said responsible persons like the Prime Minister and Home Minister have already vitiated the atmosphere by using slogans like Hum Paanch, Hamare Pachaas (We five and ours are fifty). On the same lines, this film now highlights the oppression of women and the abundance of offspring.

The notion that a man has the right to act as he pleases in his relationship with his wife is completely incorrect and does not align with the spirit of Shariah, Maulana Rahmani said. The Quran’s analogy of a wife to a field is a delicate indication of the love and care a farmer has for his field; he protects it, safeguards it from harmful things, and nurtures it in every way before reaping its fruits. This indicates that a husband’s relationship with his wife should not merely be about fulfilling his desires and then becoming indifferent to her problems and needs. Rather, he should treat her with kindness at every step, protect and care for her, ensure she receives proper medical treatment and nutrition, give her full love and attention, and then seek the fruits, which are the children, Maulana Rahmani explained.

A husband’s relationship with his wife should not be like that of animals, where the male has no concern for the female’s food, shelter, or medical needs after mating. Instead, his relationship should be like that of a farmer with his field, indicating that a woman is not just a means for pleasure but a life partner. Their physical relationship should serve a better and legitimate purpose, characterized by enduring love and mutual respect. It is unfortunate that such an important command of the Quran is being presented in a negative light contrary to its true spirit.

“Muslims should understand the reality of this propaganda and convey the truth to their fellow citizens, so that the veil of falsehood can be lifted,” Maulana Rahmani said.

Desire for children

Stating that the desire for children is an instinct, he said every religion and civilized society has accepted this. The Hindu society itself teaches this as is stated in the Yajur Veda: “O Nashu! Just as a bull impregnates cows to increase progeny, so should householders impregnate their wives to increase offspring” (Yajurveda Bhashya, Part 3).

To understand the importance placed on the desire for children in Hinduism, one need only look at the Niyog Law. Pandit Dayanand Saraswati, citing Hindu religious texts, has written that even a widow should establish physical relations with her brother-in-law to have children: “O widow! Leave your deceased husband and accept the living brother-in-law, that is, another husband. Live with him and bear children, and the children thus born will be considered those of your original husband. (Satyarth Prakash, Chapter 4, Section 133).

Hindu scriptures

Quoting the Hindu scriptures, Maulana Rahmani points out how the ‘Niyog’ practice allows a woman to have children with another man even while her husband is alive if he is unable to produce offspring. Pandit Dayanand Saraswati states: “Niyog also applies during the husband’s lifetime. If the husband is incapable of producing children, he should permit his wife: O virtuous woman desiring children! Seek another husband besides me, for I cannot give you offspring. Thus, the woman can have children with another man under the practice of Niyog” (Satyarth Prakash, Chapter 4, Section 138).

These clarifications show the high importance placed on having children in Hinduism. According to the Mahabharata, Lord Vasudeva had sixteen thousand one hundred queens, of which eight were more famous (Mahabharata, Part 4-15). Lord Krishna also had sixteen thousand queens (Mahabharata, Part 5-28). “According to the original teachings of Hinduism, a Brahmin can have four wives, a Kshatriya can have three, a Vaishya can have two, a Shudra can have one, and a king can have as many wives as he wishes. Naturally, with such a large number of wives, the number of children will also be proportionate. “So why is there so much outcry over the number of children among Muslims,” Maulana Rahmani asks.

Referring to the contemporary political leaders, especially those associated with the Sangh Parivar, he said many have more than one wife, and most have a significant number of children in their families. A politician recently declared openly that Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Yogi Adityanath, Amit Shah, Ashok Singhal, and Himanta Biswa Sarma each have seven siblings, while RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat has four siblings, and Guru Golwalkar had a dozen children. “This statement was made boldly, and none of them dared to refute it”, the Maulana Rahmani said.

The reality, he explained, is that Muslims do not engage in a deliberate effort to have more children compared to other societies, nor does the Quran suggest that a woman should present herself for her husband’s sexual pleasure without regard to her health and circumstances and that she cannot refuse him. Islamic jurists have clearly stated that it is not permissible for a husband to have physical relations with his wife beyond her capacity and strength.

Maulana Rahmani has called for promoting a narrative that seeks to build understanding rather than division. He also stressed the need for sensitivity and accuracy in media portrayals, especially in a diverse and pluralistic society like India.

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