• "Women, you should stay within the four boundaries of your home. You should not roam around outside of your home. Who said it? Allah said it." — Allama Shah Ahmed Shafi

"Hey women, if you believe in Holy Quran, the Quran was also revealed about you. Women, you should stay within the four boundaries of your home. Do not roam around the outside of your home. Who said it? Allah said it."

These were the words recently said by the 94-year-old cleric, Allama [scholar] Shah Ahmed Shafi, who has millions of followers. He is Chairman of the Board of the Bangladesh Qawmi Madrassa, the non-government religious schools; and also the chief of the Islamist organization Hefajat-e-Islam, and his preachings have appeared recently in an Internet YouTube video posted by Al-Arab Enterprise.

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh has expressed her deep concern over the anti-woman views of the cleric. His remarks have also been criticized by female members of Bangladesh's national parliament, cultural organizations, rights organizations and the progressive fronts.

Shafi's influence in society, however, is enormous; the main opposition party BNP, and largest Islamist party, Jammat-e-Islam, both support him.

Shafi went on: "The women before prophet Muhammad's generation used to roam around without a veil. So, do not come out of your homes. Do not roam around naked (note: most of the Islamists of the sub-continent consider non-veil or non-Burqa clothing tantamount to nudity) in the streets, markets and shops. Be careful. Ask your husband and son to go to markets. Stay at your husband's home and safeguard the furniture of your husband. Look after sons, daughters and children. This is your task."

"Your girls," he has said, "are studying in schools, colleges and universities. Make them educated just up to class [grade] four or five, if they can keep track of their husband's finances. Women are like tamarind. Your mouth salivates when you visit the part of a market where people are selling tamarind. Women are worse than that. When you see women, your soul salivates. You want to marry her. If you study day and night with womenfolk, you cannot control your desire. If you walk along with them on the streets, shake hands with them, you cannot control yourself. No matter how old you are, your heart will have ill desire. If someone says his heart is not feeling ill desire, then I have to say he has impotency: your manliness has been collapsed. Only very old man and diseased persons do not feel any desire. Otherwise every man, every boy feels desire. That is why a veil is mandatory. Do veil yourselves [women], and make others do the same."

Shafi mentioned the approximately four million garment women workers of Bangladesh by asking, "Why are you allowing your daughters to work at garment factories? You have no idea which man she starts to roam with. How can there be savings when she earns by doing adultery?"

The government of Bangladesh, the most densely populated country in the world, has been desperately fighting to control its population; it has160 million people in a land smaller than the state of Iowa. But Shafi says, "Marry one, two, three or four wives. Our prophet had eleven."

"Why are you using birth control?" he argues with Muslims, Do you understand what birth control means? It means men are turned impotent and women's genitalia are zipped up, lest they conceive. They [birth control medical workers] are putting their hands inside women, in the place of childbirth, in the places of shame, and putting diaphragms so that sperm cannot enter."

The cleric, who is aware of the differences between impotence, vasectomy or ligation said, "The elephants, tigers, pigs, and monkeys are increasing. These animals are eating our fields. Have you made any of these impotent? Why are you only making humans impotent?"

The animals of Bangladesh are not only endangered, their scarcity reached a crisis level years ago. There are but a few elephants surviving in a small hilly area; and the international animal preservation community is concerned that the Royal Bengal Tigers are rapidly vanishing from Sundarban, the largest mangrove forest in the world.

The cleric called on people to demonstrate in the capital, Dhaka, twice: on April 6, and on May 5. He demanded 13 points to be implemented, including:

  • Pass a law in parliament keeping the maximum punishment of death sentence to prevent defaming Allah, the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and smear campaigns against Islam.
  • Repeal all laws contrary to the Qur'an and Sunnah
  • Take measures for stringent punishment against the self declared atheists, bloggers, and anti-Islamists who made derogatery remarks against Muhammed.
  • Officially declare Qadianis (Ahmadyyas) as non-Muslims.
  • Stop setting sculptures up at intersections, schools, colleges, and universities across the country.
  • Make Islamic education mandatory from primary to higher secondary level, cancelling the anti-Islamic women policies and anti-religion education policy.

Tens of thousands of Islamists responded to his call; the capital was completely shut down by his followers. Government officials only pushed back the Islamists by using force.

Political analysts said that five municipal elections were affected by that decision: all five government supported mayoral candidates were defeated.

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