My God is a Woman is a tale of as reformist. Safia Abbas Jafri, Who along with her communist husband dreams of a liberal and free India-an India powered by its unshackled womenfolk. Set against the tumultuous period of pre-Independence, the husband-wife duo encounters many trails and tribulations. Both die one because of fatwa and the other fighting for the cause of liberation of Muslim women.
Noor Zaheer is a research and social worker. Apart from her active life as researcher, she has written the Delhi Hindi Academy Award winner book Mere Hisse Ki Roshnai, Surkh Karwan Ke Humsafar, a travelogue of Pakistan and Bad Uraiyya, a novel.
This book has been written after 22 years of the introduction of the Bill for the Protection of Muslim Women; more than two decades after the Supreme Court's historic verdict upholding the high court's judgment of granting maintenance to a Muslim woman, Shah Bano. The manner in which the decision of the apex judicial body was quashed had provoked many progressive women to question various organizations concerned with the uplift of women. The answer they received had been the same it is up to the Muslims to make any changes in their laws. More than two decades on, we still await an initiative from a democratic set-up, which professes equality for all its citizens, towards giving a section of women the right to live with dignity. Had it been taken, this book would have become unnecessary. As the noose of the fundamentalists tightens, the target remains constant-the woman. It is time to shake off lethargy and complacency. It is time to fight back. It is time to speak and call a spade a spade because that is what it is.
As a journalist, in the early 90s, I had held three long discussions with Danial Larifi, Shah Banc's lawyer. These discussions surpassed the parameters of the newspaper interviews they were meant to be and led me towards studying the religious law for women and those existing in the constitutions of the major democratic states. In a way, these discussions have formed the background for this book.
For the facts about the Shah Bano case and the quotes in the interlude, I gratefully acknowledge the help drawn from the book Shah Bano by Janak Raj Jai. It is perhaps the most precise documentation of the pro- ceeding of the case and its aftermath. A word of thanks is due to Aastha Sharma for the pain she took in editing the book and the patience she maintained during my spells of possessive zeal for each word.
I am grateful to Renu Kaul Verrna, Publishing Director, Vitasra Publishing Pvt. Ltd., for deciding to publish the book after reading the first two chapters, but more so for standing by me whenever I had cold feet about the subject and for persuading me to give her the completed version in spite of the way freedom of speech and writing have been sidelined in the recent times.
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