The tradition of Hak Bakshish or ‘Wives Of Quran’ is a well guarded secretive practice of forcibly marrying off women, specially among the Sayed community, to the Quran prevalent in the Sindh area of Pakistan.
While we are aware of despicable anti-women barbaric practices in Muslim personal law like FGM, polygamy, Mutah (temporary marriage), Halala (institutionalised rape), Triple Talak (instantaneous arbitrary divorce by Muslim husband); the tradition of a Muslim woman condemned to a marriage with a holy book still remains secretive.
What Is Hak Bakshish?
Many women from the Sayed families are married off to the Quran and barred to marry any man all their life. ‘Hak Bakshish’ literally means giving up the right to marry.
This tradition practically enslaves the women who literally serve their families as unpaid bonded labourers, minding the children, doing anything and everything for the family within the constraints of four walls.
They are completely isolated from the outside world and banned from stepping out of their house once they are married off to the Quran. The ceremony of marriage is performed by dressing up young girls in all wedding fineries as in a regular marriage, but a cloak of black ‘chaddar’ is put on her covering her up fully so that people cannot see even her face.
After marriage to the book, she leads a life of complete isolation by doing house work and reading the Quran. Her existence is filled with drudgery and denied even the smallest of pleasures of family life and companionship.
Misogynistic Reason Behind Practice Of Hak Bakshish
There are two reasons for this highly discriminatory, patriarchal practices and inhuman practice. Sayeds impose this practice of denying marriage rights to their daughters to avoid marriage of their girls to other castes and maintain ‘purity’ of their clans when they are not able to get suitable alliances for their daughters or sisters within their own family.
They also marry off their daughters or sisters to Quran to keep their property (jaidad) within their own family, as the girl’s share of property would remain within the family if she remains unmarried. So, they use Quran and religion as a handy tool to perpetuate gross human rights violations of their own daughters/ sisters.
Reported Cases Of Hak Bakshish
An incident of Hak Bakshish highlighted by the Pakistan Press International (PPI) said, “Seven years ago, Zubaida Ali witnessed a bizarre ceremony in her ancestral village in Sindh where her cousin Fareeba was married to the Holy Quran. It was extremely odd and, of course, very tragic. Fareeba, who is a very pretty girl and was then around 25 years old, was dressed as a typical bride, with red, sequined clothes, jewelry and mehndi patterns on her hands and feet but over all this, she was draped in an enveloping dark chaadar. There was music and lots of guests but no groom,– Zubaida, 33, was quoted as saying by IRIN, the UN information unit in a report.
Families use Haq Bakshish to prevent property leaving the family when a girl weds someone who is not a relative. Fareeba, who can now never wed a man, spends most of her time studying the Holy Quran or stitching. She is a `Hafiza”, or one who knows the Holy Quran by heart.”
Hak Bakshish Thrives Despite Being A Punishable Offence
Pakistan has outlawed Hak Bakshish and is a punishable offence with a seven year imprisonment. Despite it being a criminal offence, the abominable practice of enslaving women by Hak Bakshish still thrives in Sindh among the Syeds as these incidents are not reported to the police as the Syeds are supposed to be direct descendants of Mohammed, the founder of Islam.
Although Hak Bakshish is mainly practiced by Syeds, some lower caste Muslims girls are also forcibly wedded to Quran and made to serve Mazars (tombs of Sufis) all their life without marrying a man.
These young girls are many a times even sexually exploited as some of them have reportedly become pregnant and given birth to children. When the women become pregnant, they feign ignorance about the impregnator. Soon the women are hailed to be holy as “Virgin Mary” who is called “Hazrat Maryam” by Muslims and the new-borns are visited by many people with gifts for blessings from the ‘holy’ child!
While Islam claims to be an egalitarian religion with no caste based classification or discrimination and claims to be the first faith to give property rights to women, the tradition of Hak Bakshish exposes their caste biases and racism as also convoluted means to deny women property rights to whatever little unequal property that she is entitled to according to Shariat.
Hak Bakshish also exposes the claim of liberal intelligentsia who would want us to believe that Muslim marriages are very liberal because it is not a sacrament but a civil contract between two consenting individuals. The same liberals either feign ignorance or are not aware that women are forcibly married off to an inanimate book without the girl’s consent!
While the Hindu practice of Devdasi system, where young female artists well trained in classical dance and music dedicate their lives in the service of God in temples, has been outlawed and subjected to much criticism and ridicule world over by Hinduphobics the tradition of Hak Bakshish is a well guarded dark secret among the believers and never open to criticism or censure.
It might take ages for the Muslim women to be freed from enslavement of being “Wives of Quran”.
Information and image source: Taboo Of Haq Bakshish In Pakistan Where Women Marry The Quran (parhlo.com)
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