Muslim Women in South India: Reading Selected Narratives of Sara Aboobacker

  • S.R. Ayshath
  • M.M. Raihanah.
  • Ruzy Suliza Hashim

Abstract

This paper explores the narratives of Sara Aboobacker (1936-), a prolific South Indian Muslim woman writer. In her thirty years of literary production, Aboobacker’s narratives showcase female characters from the South Indian Muslim community and highlight the varied experiences and the multiple identities they possess in a multicultural society. This study relies on the term “Muslimwoman” coined by Miriam Cooke whereby she homogenises Muslim women all over the world. The study proposes that undifferentiating the female experiences of Muslim women as suggested by Cooke requires a more refined categorisation incorporating the heterogeneous identity of Muslim women especially in multicultural societies. The current reading attempts to address this concern with a two-part discussion of Aboobacker’s narratives. The first part focuses on the three primary religious concepts of talaq or divorce, polygamy and purdah, and conveys that though Aboobacker’s female characters are situated in a local environment, their concerns mirror some of the issues pertinent to Muslim women around the world. The second part problematises the gendered, inter-ethnic and inter-religious connections in Aboobacker’s works through which she constructs the heterogeneous identity and experience of South Indian Muslim women parallel to the female issues of all downtrodden classes in a multicultural society like India. We contend that while Aboobacker’s narratives provide us with an insight into the ways in which South Indian Muslim women navigate various pathways that demonstrate the magnitude of their challenges in integrating multiple identities, they should also be recognised for showcasing perennial, universal challenges relating to Muslim women’s rights globally.

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Author Biographies

S.R. Ayshath
Ayshath Shamah Rahmath is pursuing her PhD in Postcolonial literature at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (National University of Malaysia). She has worked in several educational institutions, both in the public and private sectors, in Kerala, India.
M.M. Raihanah.
Raihanah M.M. is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, UKM. Her research includes minority fiction and comparative literature. She won the National Academic Award in 2014.
Ruzy Suliza Hashim
Ruzy Suliza Hashim is Professor of Literature at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, UKM. Her research interests include gender issues in literature and comparative literature. Her book, Out of the Shadows: Women in Malay Court Narratives, won the National Book Award in 2003.
Published
2016-12-15
How to Cite
Ayshath, S., Raihanah., M., & Hashim, R. S. (2016). Muslim Women in South India: Reading Selected Narratives of Sara Aboobacker. Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 10(2). Retrieved from https://journals.iium.edu.my/asiatic/index.php/AJELL/article/view/895
Section
Section III: General Section: Articles and Interviews