“Don’t act like the hypocrite, who thinks he can conceal his wiles while loudly quoting the Koran.”
– Hafez, 14th Century Iranian Poet
Genre: Non Fiction
Soraya M.’s husband, Ghorban-Ali, couldn’t afford to marry another woman. Rather than returning Soraya’s dowry, as custom required before taking a second wife, he plotted with four friends and a counterfeit mullah to dispose of her. Together, they accused Soraya of adultery. Her only crime was cooking for a friend’s widowed husband. Exhausted by a lifetime of abuse and hardship, Soraya said nothing, and the makeshift tribunal took her silence as a confession of guilt. They sentenced her to death by stoning: a punishment prohibited by Islam but widely practiced. Day by day sometimes minute by minute Sahebjam deftly recounts these horrendous events, tracing Soraya’s life with searing immediacy, from her arranged marriage and the births of her nine children to her husband’s increasing cruelty and her horrifying execution, where, by tradition, her father, husband, and sons hurled the first stones.
This is one woman’s story, but it stands for the stories of thousands of women who suffered and continue to suffer the same fate. It is a story that must be told.
On J.K. Rowling’s BIRTHDAY (July 31), I had met a few girlfriends, and while returning it was drizzling slightly. And as I was trying to reach home as fast as possible before the rains came, a sign on the opposite road caught my eye. “Books at Rs. 10/-” it said. Quickly calculating total number of cash I had with me, I totally went all the way back to that stall. Rs. 10/- books were too few and were magazines and books for kids, but even though he had this amazing collection of books at a much cheaper rates! And while I was debating to go for a Nicholas Sparks or a Khalid Hosseini, my eyes fell upon a thin book at the top “Stoning of Shoraya M.”. That is the book that I could not find even in the top bookstores! I had seen the movie a few years ago, and that had made quite an impact on me, so got the book along with Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J. K . Rowling).
Let me start off the review with the movie trailer, as I had seen the movie before the book. (You could also find the full movie on YouTube)
The movie had made quite an impression. And as it was based on the true story, both book and the movie told the similar story, the book has more details about Soraya’s past and her personality.
The story shows how rules of the God can be used against a person for personal gains.
Soraya’s Aunt Zahara was the oldest lady in the village and through her we see the changing political and religious winds in the Islamic country. Where earlier she was free to give her opinions, her opinions and thoughts were now of no consequence, due to the widespread propaganda of religious elements. Zahara is shown to be strong woman with a mind of her own. Her constant references to God shows she is religious as well as brings out the contrast between her idea of God and the ideas of “Men of God”.
When Soraya is told that she is being suspected of infidelity, she is expected to prove her innocence. When Zahara asks how is one expected to prove that? She is told that if a man accuses his wife of infidelity, she has to prove her innocence, and if a woman accuses her husband of infidelity, she has to prove her claim. This line itself summarizes the entire thought process.
Also, after hearing about her sentence, and as she waits for her stoning, Soraya realizes that her “dignified” silence has worked against her. In a society where a good woman is supposed to be quiet and dignified, and where speaking up for oneself is a sign of rebelliousness, how exactly does this silence work?
The weird thing that happened was that after the stoning, the men asked the women to “take care” of Soraya’s body! They had done the will of God and now the women were supposed to clean up their mess.