18 May, 2024


The Tides

By Silma M. Ahamed

Silma M. Ahamed

He said do it, my dad.
She did it, my mom,
To guard his honour
And her beauty.
He had been told
That his women will

Determine his Akhira.
That he should
Rather die
Than let his women
Be seen.
Not for her the breeze
On her face,
The smiles,
The connection
Of eyes
Of friendship,
The changing tides
Of lips, cheeks, brows, eyes.
The veil grew on her skin
Another skin
Which is
Who she became.
I am her daughter.
And that daughter
Grew the skin.
And now, they’re ordered
To take it off. That skin
Which grew on those eyes,
Cheeks and smiles.
Peeled off. Naked.
They cower,
Mother and daughter,
Trapped indoors, rather
Than drag their king
Down to that fire.
No more now
Even the light
That seeped in
Through narrow slits.
No more,
Even that shadow world.

Ordered to veil, to guard honour and beauty, an ideology was pushed, by men through men, on their women. Willingly or unwillingly, the women took on an identity that was not. An identity that sacrificed identity.

These were the ‘reformist’ tides that swept the world. Those tides washed over our shores too. Orders flowed down from the top, from that apex, to inundate the lives of Muslims who didn’t or couldn’t brave the tides.

And then new tides. Tides of misunderstanding, fear, suspicion, hate, racism. All these wash over the women the most, the women who went with the tide.

They are left drenched, cold and bare, oppressed multiple times by multiple dictators.

Change has to come, but not through laws that break these women. Change has to come from places where fatwas spring. The Earth in its bounty is blessed with many springs. The springs to be chosen should be the ones that will help these women ride the waves, not the ones that will drown them.

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  • 0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

    • 7

      Dear Ms. Sims Ahmed

      Re: The Tides

      What a beautiful and succinct poem . My thoughts went to Rimi, the Sufi poet.

      The poem touches on several points.

      1. Misogyny. The hatred of women is inbuilt in the Theology and Ideology, as being interpreted by the Ulama, Mullahs, Moulavis and Imams, who instruct the fathers and men, who guide or force the Muslim women to follow, and then it becomes the new norm.

      Read the Chapter on women in the Quran and the numerous Hadiths on women.

      Women’s evidence is worth half as that of a man, and will inherit half as that of a man. Clearly, this is a Religion for men, just like Judaism and Christianity are.

      Judaism and Christianity reformed by going forward, becoming more humane, compared to what was in the scriptures and earlier times, inspired by God’s ‘WORD’, but for Islam, the Quran is the the literal ‘WORD’ of God, and therefore cannot be reformed, as it is the Last Revelation and Mohamed the Last Prophet.

      So, cannot expect Theological reformation of the Orthodoxy, however much science and human and civilizations norms change.

      The ‘reformation’ of the Wahhabi Orthodoxy, was to get back to the 7th Century Arabia, as practiced by the early Muslims, who lived in a tribal society, with tribal traditions, codified in the Quran, the Uthman Codex and Hadith.

      One can only expect social reformation, and that has to come from external forces, and Muslim Orthodoxy has a way out by following Taquia, or interpreting Islam and traditions for the current times.

      Is Islam a Static Ideology or a Dynamic Ideology?
      Is the Earth spread out like a carpet, as the direction of prayer and the Ramadan fasting rules require, is the Sun going around the Earth and setting down in muddy murky waters?

      Science and Reason were and are not compatible with Revelation. That was the core debate between the philosophers and the Orthodoxy.

      • 2

        Did Allah recognise the lack of Mental Strength in Men, to combat their Animal Instincts?
        Is that why He dictated that they use their Physical Strength, to Subjugate their Womenfolk, in order to distract them from Temptation?

  • 5

    Very encouraging and I admire the bravery written in words. As you have correctly identified that “REFORMIST” class is a “MINORITY”. In this county’s politics same theory is at work, i.e. a “Minority” class of politicians have been allowed to “Dictate” to a majority who incidentally put that minority to govern us. So in summery, in the sphere of religion, politics, judiciary this minority “Reformists” dictate and have established a “Slave Camp” of majority. I said, earlier too that every “dark cloud has a silver lining” Starting with 2015, that “Slave Camp” has started to FEEL and REALIZE that there is some thing terribly wrong in the whole “SET UP”. That is a good sign. Now, those in the :MAJORITY” who are “DICTATED” and “SUPPRESSED” must come out of their slumber and show that “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”. Henceforth the “DICTATED” must begin to “DICTATE” that “MINORITY” and throw them out and close the stable.

  • 11

    From pre school we r taught to integrate, work in unity for social welbeing….but d Muslim dress code does not facilitate it. So often I meet Muslim women in shops, parks beaches etc they do not meet ur eye, smile, they brush past u ….they live In a world of their own….most of my sinhala and Tamil friends complain of this seemingly arrogance. Is this a religious practice to behave like this? Black is also associated with darkness and fear ….so is this what they want to communicate to those around them?

  • 11

    To each his of her own fate. Why do women to have robe or disrobe to help men get into God’s graces? They should do it themselves.

    If it is “too lascivious” for men to behold the sight of a woman’s hair, why shouldn’t it be the same for a woman to sight a man’s hair – including the one on his face?

    Tell the men to look after their own religious merit, instead of outsourcing it to their wives, mothers and daughters.

  • 6

    I identify with this. Thank you.

    • 4


      Women are Chattel. Put on take off. Is this an ideology for men?

      The Ulama told the Sri Lankan Muslim women to discard the saree and put on the Black Abaya, Nolan and the Goni Bills attire. Otherwise, they will end up in Hell Fire in the Hereafter.

      Looks like those Sri Lankan Muslim women who listened to the Ulama, are experiencing Hell in this life, here on Earth, in Sri Lanka.

      • 1

        Muslim Countries like Jordan, do not restrict their Women to the “Black Uniform”!
        Women can choose what they Wear, and it is such a relief to see that these Women have the Freedom to Choose!

        • 0

          Even in sri lanka no one focing any one to wear just only black
          Its choosen by women itself
          This has nothing ro do with islamic teachings islam only given some guidence on how a womens attire should be, this black color concept is no where in islam

  • 3

    I identify with this difficult situation.Thank you.

  • 3

    Sister it is a good one and a useful message in art form. But sadly certain aspects of today’s Islam has gone so extreme that no Muslim or anyone for that matter, can talk about or criticise it. It is very extreme and intolerant at the moment. As you are aware many progressive, realistic, creative, enlightened Muslim women who came forward to talk about reforms are hunted down as enemies of Allah. So at present, at least for SL, both educating about blind, non productive, backward looking Islamic practices that is combined with law reforms against certain unilateral, threatening and even confrontational habits and practices. Both should go hand in hand. There is no room at all for religious extremism. I also include the present date of Buddhism here. Religion is something personal and private and only ones behaviour makes him a religious person and not his attire, dress or attitude. First we are all humans. If at all God is one. It is up to the individual which god he wants to follow. We have no right to take religion to streets. Even calling for prayers over loudspeakers has to be banned. Now even the Buddhists have started as a competition with Muslims. Remember every time you do something extreme and our our Sinhala brothers and clergy waiting to do more than what you do. They feel very insecure in SL and thus their phobia. Religion and religious practices should not threaten others and importantly should not be a nuisance to others. This is applicable to all religions. Please let us ask ourselves a question as to whether we are really true to our religions or just Pretending? If true then we need not demonstrate and exhibit to others our faith. God is within you.

  • 4

    If black associated with darkness fear Is it right to wear black clothes wear in diplomatic affairs , marriage , most man celebrities do

    • 4

      The face is an area of the body that Allah intended for the sun to shine on.

  • 0

    “April Showers bring May flower. An Arab Spring is entering by the backdoor. We saw the desert storm in the front door, in April. Windows shuttered; Houses rattled; Temples and Mosques and Churches were demolished; torn off bodies flied in the air. We counted the seconds. We were holding chest and waited to whirring noise to die in May. Now we see spring is coming from the path the monstrous wind went by. We felt the spraying drizzle (தூவானம்) was still out, but it seems the Lankawe Arab Spring- a cultural breeze- a tiny revolution.
    Human Rights Activists and women liberation organization’s fought hard to reform the MMDA. EU made promise to get that done. But the power religious politicians like Rishard, Riffti, Hakeem and other defeated even the naive changes proposed by Justice Saleem. The hope died. Then the 10 men suicides employed by Yahapalanaya left behind an unexpected, unwanted Aanduwa foreseen side effect.
    Once the suicide bombs blasted, fearing the American Navy that was standing at Hangbangtota was going entering the land, New King declared that all facial covering will be forbidden. Hakeem, Rififi … other Muslim religious politicians opted instead Yahapalanaya Aanduwa regulate the women dress, the men would order it to their women by themselves. Latheef challenged the Yahapalanaya breaking human right of men by passing them and ordering women direct what to wear. Then New King gave up to three weeks to make sure the Muslim politicians are not losing control over their men by a decision of state’s security. Then the Muslim men ordered the women to remove the face cover as they were so cowards enough to face the Sinhala Buddhist rowdies. This is how the April Desert Storm tuned into Lankawe’ May Arab Spring breeze.
    This is a culture came into the Island overnight and going with the wind, by Muslim agents bribing the Sinhala politicians with Oil Money. For them Muslim culture or even Sharia is a commodity, buyable and salable in Arabian Desert.

  • 4

    There is still hope for us, sister. I am filled with joy and optimism reading your poem and reflections.

  • 1

    Yes, we need to recognise the truth. We Muslims need to do what’s right.

  • 2

    Anybody with a respect to god dresses moderately.

    God created feeble brained animals with fur & strong brained people; men & women without fur.

    Respect god’s intention.

    Beauty isn’t to be hidden, it’s to be appreciated & hiding it or forcing to hide is a sin.

    That’s what’s civilization.

  • 0

    While awaiting my turn at a doctor’s surgery some time ago, I came across in a magazine, an old saying from Kashmir that there were three things that help to dispel sorrow from a man’s heart – water, green grass and the beauty of women. Sadly, these days I can only appreciate the beauty of mostly non Muslim women, now that others choose to hide their faces from public view.

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