“For what sin was she created?”

A Hazara woman in Central Afghanistan. Photo: urozgan.org

“For what sin was she killed?” (Al-Takwir: 9)

This is a popular verse in Quran that Muslim preachers and orators use a lot in  mourning ceremonies of Martyrs. In particular, the Shias use it during Moharram days when they commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the prophet’s grandson in 680 AD.

This verse is part of the  Al-Takwir (the overthrowing) Sura, where God describes the Judgement Day and apocalypse. The Sura goes like this:

When the sun is wrapped up [in darkness]. And when the stars fall, dispersing. And when the mountains are removed. And when full-term she-camels are neglected. And when the wild beasts are gathered. And when the seas are filled with flame. And when the souls are paired. And when the girl [who was] buried alive is asked. For what sin was she killed.  And when the pages are made public. And when the sky is stripped away. …………………. (The full text here).

The verse in question is one of the rare examples where God turns feminist and criticizes the long-established Arab tradition of burying the female children alive right after they were born. This tradition which had roots in tribal honor was demolished when the Arabs converted to Islam (however, still in many Muslim countries in the world, including Afghanistan, it’s a shame for a man if his wife gives birth to a girl – although they don’t bury the babies anymore).

Asad Buda, a writer in Kabul has written a lyrical short piece about his mother and rest of Afghan mothers, inspired by the above picture which shows a white-haired woman in central Afghanistan carrying a large load of plants on her back. The woman’s face is wrinkled, her body is bent, her cloths are old and dirty, she is exhausted of walking the long mountain road and will be even more exhausted until she arrives home. This is her entire life suffering in misery, poverty and isolation until the day she dies. Buda has altered that Quranic verse and asks: “For what sin was she created?” His question is addressed to God who should give an answer on Judgement Day to many millions of Afghan women. Only if that day ever comes.

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