Police force Madras University to cancel Islamic feminist’s lecture

July 30, 2013
CJP and Muslims for Secular Democracy disappointed, ashamed over gagging of Amina Wadud
CJP, Muslims for Secular Democracy and Communalism Combat are disappointed and ashamed at the gagging of Ms. Amina Wadud.  We, who are fighting for justice in Gujarat amongst others, are disappointed and ashamed at the reported intolerance of Muslim groups from Chennai threatening to create a law and order problem resulting in the cancellation of the lecture on ‘Gender and Reform in Islam’ by the internationally renowned African American follower and scholar of Islam, Dr. Amina Wadud scheduled for July 29 at the University of Madras. We condemn the feeble capitulation of the Tamil Nadu state.
The Chennai police reportedly sent a text message to the university’s vice-chancellor, R Thandavan stating: “Police cannot allow this (the lecture) considering law and order. Please take action to suspend/cancel the programme”.  The vice-chancellor timidly complied.  All three stakeholders of our society have made us less proud as Indians. 
Ms Wadud is a practising, devout Muslim, one of the founders of Sisters in Islam, an international women’s group fighting for  gender-justice. In 2005, Ms Wadud became the first woman in modern times to lead a mixed-gender Friday prayer in New York. She has done so again on several occasions outside the US on the invitation of Muslim groups.  It is her battle for gender justice within Islam (as in all societies) that is being opposed, her voice being denied and her views sought to be blanked out.
After being stranded for hours at the Calicut airport waiting to catch a flight to Chennai, Ms Wadud was left with no choice but to return to her hotel from where she has sent out a message, 
“Clearly, India and I are not destined to be partners in the struggle for human dignity. I accept that and surrender.” All we the undersigned can say in response to Ms Wadud’s painful decision is that as Indians, including Indian Muslims, we are ashamed. We hope she changes her mind and we’ll be privileged to host her.   Taizoon Khorakiwala                                                                  Nandan Maluste President, CJP                                                                              Vice-President, CJP

                               Teesta Setalvad                                                                           Javed Anand                                                                       Co-editor, Communalism Combat                                                  General Secretary, Muslims for Secular Democracy (MSD) ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–  Letter from Amina Wadud “Clearly, India and I are not destined to be partners in the struggle for human dignity. 

I accept that and surrender”

I am forwarding my letter to parties at Madras University and the US Consulate office in Chennai in response to the decision to withdraw the invitation to speak at Madras University scheduled for today Instead I have returned to my apartment in Calicut with the express plans to leave India as soon as I have completed some commitments that I have in the region.

I will no longer agree to participate in any public event or participate at any university or college or community organization in the wake of this. The most wonderful thing about being in my 6th decade of life and to professionally retired is that I value my spiritual and wholistic well being over and above notoriety and income.

  As I walk to the grave it is ridiculous for me to agree to take on anything that would deter me from meeting my Lord with a smile on my face. Clearly, India and I are not destined to be partners in the struggle for human dignity.  I accept that and surrender Please feel free to share and discuss. your sister in Islam Amina Wadud Background: As-Salaamu Alaykum and Peace, I do feel it is necessary to follow up my hurried comments from last night with a more substantive and reasoned account of my reaction. 

As I had mentioned, I did some surgery about 10 days ago and the mere fact that I had to sit in the airport for 7 hours quite naturally affected my ability to respond without showing the great discomfort I felt.  However the physical discomfort was alleviated by returning to my own bed and getting a good night’s rest, leaving the matter of intellectual assault and the attack on my dignity as person still in tact.  Thus I respond only to that at this time. As the matter was relayed to me, some “extreme or fractional group”‘ claimed I had given a lecture (public address) some where in Tamil Nadhu and there had been a problem created (either to the audience, the general public or the people at large??).

Since I have NEVER been in Tamil Nadhu except at the tourist site on the southern most tip, (back in November 2012… without incident) this means that a lie has been cast upon me and a slander of my character. Not only have I never created any problem in an audience or general public in Tamil Nadhu I have

1) NEVER given any public address there 2) NEVER been said to have created even the slightest stir while giving one of at least 12 public/university or college lectures and a half dozen public speaking at other grass roots or community organizations and equal number of interviews.

2)There is PUBLIC record regarding my actual activities since I have been in India and each will substantiate my counter claim that NO PROBLEM has ever ensued upon my public address.

3) that this actual record should have to surrender to vicious lies and that there is NO RECOURSE for me to defend my honor, means I am subject to the dishonor proposed against my person and my character BY OTHERS unknown to me and that those who had taken the responsibility to invite me are themselves helpless to either defend me or support my counter claims.

4) meanwhile the threat of violence is totally UNACCEPTABLE. I will acknowledge that there is a struggle some times for justice, freedom and human dignity and I will acknowledge that there have been dyer consequences for some who have defended these virtues, Mahatma Gandhi and Dr, Reverend Martin Luther King were both violently assassinated WHILE on the journey to freedom, I never the less do NOT advocate violence nor tolerate.

I find the threat of it, and the support given to those who advocate it against innocent persons, to be the last straw to my mission to research Islam in the largest Nation-State where Islam is a minority of quite a long time.  By that I mean it has been here for more than a millennium, in a minority status; and this is unique world wide.

I had HOPED to find a vision, perspective and experience of Islam that could assist with the way we negotiate the future of Islam in the world, where we are also a minority but have an substantial history. Alas, those hopes are dashed as I would never again agree to further participate in the way in which Islam is negotiated here, experienced by the believers and shared with their friends and neighbors of other faith or no faith tradition, in this context.

I wish you all the best as you will inherit this nation-state for long after my one person has gone back to my own home and continued the struggle for justice and dignity in many more global context. This letter and its content are solely my own and as such will be shared with any interested party I deem related to the matters discussed here in.

sincerely and with salaam,

Prof. Dr. Amina Wadud