Muslim rule refers to dominion by the Muslim community which was majorly realized in Asia from the tenth century. The Muslim rule was characterized by regulation over their women, which were eventually adopted by the Hindu community. This paper seeks to discuss the exposure that the Hindu and Muslim women were allowed during the Muslim rule. This paper will look into the participation of these women in fields such as politics, religion and literature with respect to the period of Muslim rule.
The culture under the Muslim rule was characterized by seclusion of women and usage of veil in both public and private places. This seclusion contributed to a passive nature of women at the time as they were by tradition kept out of activities which included politics and religion. Women were reduced to just spectators in most of the communal activities.
There was however cases and instances where some women rose beyond tradition and were seen to actively engage in some of these activities. Active participation of a woman in politics under the Muslim rule was for example realized in the thirteenth century. Though the phenomenon of women’s involvements in such activities had been a gone practice in the region, Turkan who had been a queen rose to the political scene after her husband’s death to try and influence succession of her husband.
Her husband had chosen one of his daughters to succeed him upon his death while Turkan felt that her son was supposed to be the next king of the Delhi territory. The political activism of Turkan were however unsuccessful and she together with her son were jailed paving way for Raziyyah, who had been proposed by the former king to rise to the throne.
Turkan’s imprisonment that led to her fall was attributed to a high level of corruption in the empire that forced servants to arrest her. Women’s involvement in political leadership however continued with Raziyyah being accorded the crown. Raziyyah showed deviation from the expected norms for women and disregarded the usage of veil besides wearing men’s clothes. She was later assassinated for a biased court judgment in which she favored a man.
Political involvement of women was again later realized in the Muslim world in the sixteenth century. Though not established to thrones, a number of women are reported to have actively helped Babur in establishing a throne of Moghul territory in the year 1526. These women, including Babur’s mother helped him to fight his enemies and even provided him with financial support as he undertook his move to conquer India (Pletcher 121).
The same sixteenth century witnessed the rise of Nur Jahan to political heights. Nur is reported to have been her husband’s political advisor throughout his reign. A later political involvement of women was significantly noted in the nineteenth century when Rani Lakshmi was involved in a political battle to establish her son onto her husband’s throne following her husband’s death. Her political influence was further felt by her participation in fights against the British rule.
She even engaged in military activities which later caused her death. Involvement of women in politics and leadership in Muslim emperors was generally realized in two perspectives. There were the set of women who engaged in politics to establish themselves as leaders and those whose fights were to retain thrones for their sons in order to protect lineage leadership (Notes 1).
From the onset of Muslim rule, seclusion of women, both Muslim and Hindu, was realized in almost every aspect of their lives. Religion and literature were not spared as women were deprived of even access to education and religious engagements. A revolution in the Hindu religion, however, led to a poetic participation of women which was adopted as a means to spreading the religion.
The involvement of women in this poetic preaching had two aspects of liberation to the group that had been confined by tradition. The first aspect was their preaching which is reported to have attracted a very large audience. Their preaching, though through poems, put them at technically the same level as religious leaders, a position that was reserved for men. This revolution therefore led to the involvement of these women in religious activities. The use of poems in these occasions was artistic, just as much as they were religious.
This revolution therefore gave an opportunity for women to rise and reclaim what had been taken away from them by the emergence of the seclusion tradition. Involvement of these women in the dual activities that served both religious and literal values was first undertaken by Antal in the ninth century (Notes 1). Others included Mahadevi Akka and Mirabai whose participations in the religious poetry were realized in twelfth and fifteenth centuries respectively (Jayapalan 74).
Even though the Muslim rule introduced seclusion of women that was later spread to Hindu community, women later broke away from this tradition and were gradually involved in political, religious and artistic practices.
Jayapalan, Nem. History of India. New Delhi, India: Atlantic Publishers, 2001. Print.
Notes. Spread of Islam in South Asia, 1000-1700. Class Notes, n.d. Print
Pletcher, Kenneth. The history of India. New York, NY: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2010. Print.