Monday, February 12, 2018

Stigmatization of dancing and singing

The region in which I live has been stratified socially, however unlike the European countries this stratification is based on the ancestry rather than the economic class. This over time has generated stereotypes which are associated with people of particular castes. The idea of this stratification based on ancestry was introduced by Aryans who employed the caste system. Since the Aryans themselves devised this system so they ascribed themselves as Brahmins, the highest of the four castes. The malaise didn’t remain limited to a certain religion but spread uncontrollably. However these social differences were adjusted according to the needs of time. For example the British gave the ‘Martial Race’ theory. This doctrine ordained that the recruits in the Indian colonial army should only belong to the martial races. However this policy upended when the cannon fodder was sorely needed in the First World War. Recruitment took place without any prejudices of caste and the soldiers recruited from non martial castes performed equally well, so that stereotype was annihilated by the ones who created it. But even in the 21st century many stereotypes still prevail. One of them is listening to music and dancing, which is considered un Islamic and it is sneered upon by the majority. Therefore it is widely believed that it only pertains to ‘marasis’ or the caste which inherited singing, dancing and entertaining people as a heirloom. Hence the members of other caste consider it below them to indulge in any of these activities. However it is important to note that the great Sufis who enhanced the outreach of Islam in India and converted people in the first place, never shied away from espousing such practices. The Sama or the devotional music and dance were an important facet of the meditation which was employed by Nizam ud din Aulia, Jalal ud din Rumi et al. Which begs the question why dancing and singing is ostracized and considered demeaning to the individual. The orthodox believers even in the times of the aforementioned mystics refuted such practices but they couldn’t bring the religious sources which prohibited them other than their own predilection. It’s time to eradicate the tunnel vision that majority has and stop the stigmatization of dancing and singing in Muslim societies.

Submitted by B.H.

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